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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|A NEW DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE||31|
|AN ANTI-AMERICAN PROPAGANDA DOCUMENT||32|
|THE FOOD SITUATION AT A GLANCE||61|
|THE KAISER’S NEW YEAR ORDER TO THE ARMY AND NAVY||102|
|THE WILSON WILL||115|
The Haupttelegraphenamt (the Chief Telegraph Office) in Berlin is the centre of the entire telegraph system of Germany. It is a large, brick building in the Franzoesischestrasse guarded, day and night, by soldiers. The sidewalks outside the building are barricaded. Without a pass no one can enter. Foreign correspondents in Berlin, when they had telegrams to send to their newspapers, frequently took them from the Foreign Office to the Chief Telegraph Office personally in order to speed them on their way to the outside world. The censored despatches were sealed in a Foreign Office envelope. With this credential correspondents were permitted to enter the building and the room where all telegrams are passed by the military authorities.
During my two years’ stay in Berlin I went to the telegraph office several times every week. Often I had to wait while the military censor read my despatches. On a large bulletin board in this room, I saw, and often read, documents posted for the information of the telegraph officials. During one of my first waiting periods I read an original document relating to the events at the beginning of the war. This was a typewritten letter signed by the Director of the Post and Telegraph. Because I was always watched by a soldier escort, I could never copy it. But after reading it scores of times I soon memorised everything, including the periods.
This document was as follows:
Office of the Imperial Post & Telegraph
August 2nd, 1914.
Announcement No. 3.
To the Chief Telegraph Office:
From to-day on, the Post and Telegraph communications between Germany on the one hand and:
1. England, 2. France, 3. Russia, 4. Japan, 5. Belgium, 6. Italy, 7. Montenegro, 8. Servia, 9. Portugal;
on the other hand are interrupted because Germany finds herself in a state of war.
(Signed) Director of the Post and Telegraph.
This notice, which was never published, shows that the man who directed the Post and Telegraph Service of the Imperial Government knew on the 2nd of August, 1914, who Germany’s enemies would be. Of the eleven enemies of Germany to-day only Roumania and the United States were not included. If the Director of the Post and Telegraph knew what to expect, it is certain that the Imperial Government knew. This announcement shows that Germany expected war with nine different nations, but at the time it was posted on the bulletin board of the Haupttelegraphenamt, neither Italy, Japan, Belgium nor Portugal had declared war. Italy did not declare war until nearly a year and a half afterwards, Portugal nearly two years afterward and Japan not until December, 1914.
This document throws an interesting light upon the preparations Germany made for a world war.
The White, Yellow, Grey and Blue Books, which all of the belligerents published after the beginning of the war, dealt only with the attempts of these nations to prevent the war. None of the nations has as yet published white books to show how it prepared for war, and still, every nation in Europe had been expecting and preparing for a European conflagration. Winston Churchill, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, stated at the beginning of the war that England’s fleet was mobilised. France had contributed millions of francs to fortify the Russian border in Poland, although Germany had made most of the guns. Belgium had what the Kaiser called, “a contemptible little army” but the soldiers knew how to fight when the invaders came. Germany had new 42 cm. guns and a network of railroads which operated like shuttles between the Russian and French and Belgian frontiers. Ever since 1870 Europe had been talking war. Children were brought up and educated into the belief that some day war would come. Most people considered it inevitable, although not every one wanted it.
During the exciting days of August, 1914, I was calling at the belligerent embassies and legations in Washington. Neither M. Jusserand, the French Ambassador, nor Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador, nor Count von Bernstorff, the Kaiser’s representative, were in Washington then. But it was not many weeks until all three had hastened to this country from Europe. Almost the first act of the belligerents was to send their envoys to Washington.
As I met these men I was in a sense an agent of public opinion who called each day to report the opinions of the belligerents to the readers of American newspapers. One day at the British Embassy I was given copies of the White Book and of many other documents which Great Britain had issued to show how she tried to avoid the war. In conversations later with Ambassador von Bernstorff, I was given the German viewpoint.
The thing which impressed me at the time was the desire of these officials to get their opinions before the American people. But why did these ambassadors want the standpoints of their governments understood over here? Why was the United States singled out of all other neutrals? If all the belligerents really wanted to avoid war, why did they not begin twenty years before, to prevent it, instead of, to prepare for it?
All the powers issued their official documents for one primary purpose—to win public opinion. First, it was necessary for each country to convince its own people that their country was being attacked and that their leaders had done everything possible to avoid war. Even in Europe people would not fight without a reason. The German Government told the people that unless the army was mobilised immediately Russia would invade and seize East Prussia. England, France and Belgium explained to their people that Germany was out to conquer the world by way of Belgium and France. But White Books were not circulated alone in Europe; they were sent by the hundreds of thousands into the United States and translated into every known language so that the people of the whole world could read them.
Then the word battles between the Allies and the Central Powers began in the United States. While the soldiers fought on the battlefields of Belgium, France, East Prussia and Poland, an equally bitter struggle was carried on in the United States. In Europe the object was to stop the invaders. In America the goal was public opinion.
It was not until several months after the beginning of the war that Sir Edward Grey and Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg began to discuss what the two countries had done before the war, to avoid it. The only thing either nation could refer to was the 1912 Conference between Lord Haldane and the Chancellor. This was the only real attempt made by the two leading belligerents to come to an understanding to avoid inevitable bloodshed. Discussions of these conferences were soon hushed up in Europe because of the bitterness of the people against each other. The Hymn of Hate had stirred the German people and the Zeppelin raids were beginning to sow the seeds of determination in the hearts of the British. It was too late to talk about why the war was not prevented. So each set of belligerents had to rely upon the official documents at the beginning of the war to show what was done to avoid it.
These White Books were written to win public opinion. But why were the people suddenly taken into the confidence of their governments? Why had the governments of England, France, Germany and Russia not been so frank before 1914? Why had they all been interested in making the people speculate as to what would come, and how it would come about? Why were all the nations encouraging suspicion? Why did they always question the motives, as well as the acts, of each other? Is it possible that the world progressed faster than the governments and that the governments suddenly realised that public opinion was the biggest factor in the world? Each one knew that a war could not be waged without public support and each one knew that the sympathy of the outside world depended more upon public opinion than upon business or military relations.
How America Was Shocked by the War
Previous to July, 1914, the American people had thought very little about a European war. While the war parties and financiers of Europe had been preparing a long time for the conflict, people over here had been thinking about peace. Americans discussed more of the possibilities of international peace and arbitration than war. Europeans lived through nothing except an expectancy of war. Even the people knew who the enemies might be. The German government, as the announcement of the Post and Telegraph Director shows, knew nine of its possible enemies before war had been declared. So it was but natural, when the first reports reached the United States saying that the greatest powers of Europe were engaged in a death struggle, that people were shocked and horrified. And it was but natural for thousands of them to besiege President Wilson with requests for him to offer his services as a mediator.
The war came, too, during the holiday season in Europe. Over 90,000 Americans were in the war zones. The State Department was flooded with telegrams. Senators and Congressmen were urged to use their influence to get money to stranded Americans to help them home. The 235 U.S. diplomatic and consular representatives were asked to locate Americans and see to their comfort and safety. Not until Americans realised how closely they were related to Europe could they picture themselves as having a direct interest in the war. Then the stock market began to tumble. The New York Stock Exchange was closed. South America asked New York for credit and supplies, and neutral Europe, as well as China in the Far East, looked to the United States to keep the war within bounds. Uncle Sam became the Atlas of the world and nearly every belligerent requested this government to take over its diplomatic and consular interests in enemy countries. Diplomacy, commerce, finance and shipping suddenly became dependent upon this country. Not only the belligerents but the neutrals sought the leadership of a nation which could look after all the interests, except those of purely military and naval operations. The eyes of the world centred upon Washington. President Wilson, as the official head of the government, was signalled out as the one man to help them in their suffering and to listen to their appeals. The belligerent governments addressed their protests and their notes to Wilson. Belgium sent a special commission to gain the President’s ear. The peace friends throughout the world, even those in the belligerent countries, looked to Wilson for guidance and help.
In August, 1914, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, the President’s wife, was dangerously ill. I was at the White House every day to report the developments there for the United Press. On the evening of the 5th of August Secretary Tumulty called the correspondents and told them that the President, who was deeply distressed by the war, and who was suffering personally because of his wife’s illness, had written at his wife’s bedside the following message:
“As official head of one of the powers signatory to The Hague Convention, I feel it to be my privilege and my duty, under Article III of that Convention, to say to you in the spirit of most earnest friendship that I should welcome an opportunity to act in the interests of European peace, either now or at any other time that might be thought more suitable, as an occasion to serve you and all concerned in a way that would afford me lasting cause for gratitude and happiness.
“(Signed) Woodrow Wilson.”
The President’s Secretary cabled this to the Emperors of Germany and Austria-Hungary; the King of England, the Czar of Russia and the President of France. The President’s brief note touched the chord of sympathy of the whole world; but it was too late then to stop the war. European statesmen had been preparing for a conflict. With the public support which each nation had, each government wanted to fight until there was a victory.
One of the first things which seemed to appeal to President Wilson was the fact that not only public opinion of Europe, but of America, sought a spokesman. Unlike Roosevelt, who led public opinion, unlike Taft, who disregarded it, Wilson took the attitude that the greatest force in the world was public opinion. He believed public opinion was greater than the presidency. He felt that he was the man the American people had chosen to interpret and express their opinion. Wilson’s policy was to permit public opinion to rule America. Those of us who spent two years in Germany could see this very clearly.
The President announced the plank for his international policy when he spoke at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association, at Washington, shortly after the war began.
[Illustration: First page of the author’s passport.]
“The opinion of the world is the mistress of the world,” he said, “and the processes of international law are the slow processes by which opinion works its will. What impresses me is the constant thought that that is the tribunal at the bar of which we all sit. I would call your attention, incidentally, to the circumstance that it does not observe the ordinary rules of evidence; which has sometimes suggested to me that the ordinary rules of evidence had shown some signs of growing antique. Everything, rumour included, is heard in this court, and the standard of judgment is not so much the character of the testimony as the character of the witness. The motives are disclosed, the purposes are conjectured and that opinion is finally accepted which seems to be, not the best founded in law, perhaps, but the best founded in integrity of character and of morals. That is the process which is slowly working its will upon the world; and what we should be watchful of is not so much jealous interests as sound principles of action. The disinterested course is not alone the biggest course to pursue; but it is in the long run the most profitable course to pursue. If you can establish your character you can establish your credit.
“Understand me, gentlemen, I am not venturing in this presence to impeach the law. For the present, by the force of circumstances, I am in part the embodiment of the law and it would be very awkward to disavow myself. But I do wish to make this intimation, that in this time of world change, in this time when we are going to find out just how, in what particulars, and to what extent the real facts of human life and the real moral judgments of mankind prevail, it is worth while looking inside our municipal law and seeing whether the judgments of the law are made square with the moral judgments of mankind. For I believe that we are custodians of the spirit of righteousness, of the spirit of equal handed justice, of the spirit of hope which believes in the perfectibility of the law with the perfectibility of human life itself.
“Public life, like private life, would be very dull and dry if it were not for this belief in the essential beauty of the human spirit and the belief that the human spirit should be translated into action and into ordinance. Not entire. You cannot go any faster than you can advance the average moral judgment of the mass, but you can go at least as fast as that, and you can see to it that you do not lag behind the average moral judgments of the mass. I have in my life dealt with all sorts and conditions of men, and I have found that the flame of moral judgment burns just as bright in the man of humble life and limited experience as in the scholar and man of affairs. And I would like his voice always to be heard, not as a witness, not as speaking in his own case, but as if he were the voice of men in general, in our courts of justice, as well as the voice of the lawyers, remembering what the law has been. My hope is that, being stirred to the depths by the extraordinary circumstances of the time in which we live, we may recover from those steps something of a renewal of that vision of the law with which men may be supposed to have started out in the old days of the oracles, who commune with the intimations of divinity.”
Before this war, very few nations paid any attention to public opinion. France was probably the beginner. Some twenty years before 1914, France began to extend her civilisation to Russia, Italy, the Balkans and Syria. In Roumania, today, one hears almost as much French as Roumanian spoken. Ninety per cent of the lawyers in Bucharest were educated in Paris. Most of the doctors in Roumania studied in France. France spread her influence by education.
The very fact that the belligerents tried to mobilise public opinion in the United States in their favour shows that 1914 was a milestone in international affairs. This was the first time any foreign power ever attempted to fight for the good will—the public opinion—of this nation. The governments themselves realised the value of public opinion in their own boundaries, but when the war began they realised that it was a power inside the realms of their neighbours, too.
When differences of opinion developed between the United States and the belligerents the first thing President Wilson did was to publish all the documents and papers in the possession of the American government relating to the controversy. The publicity which the President gave the diplomatic correspondence between this government and Great Britain over the search and seizure of vessels emphasised in Washington this tendency in our foreign relations. At the beginning of England’s seizure of American merchantmen carrying cargoes to neutral European countries, the State Department lodged individual protests, but no heed was paid to them by the London officials. Then the United States made public the negotiations seeking to accomplish by publicity what a previous exchange of diplomatic notes failed to do.
Discussing this action of the President in an editorial on “Diplomacy in the Dark,” the New York World said:
“President Wilson’s protest to the British Government is a clear, temperate, courteous assertion of the trade rights of neutral countries in time of war. It represents not only the established policy of the United States but the established policy of Great Britain. It voices the opinion of practically all the American people, and there are few Englishmen, even in time of war, who will take issue with the principles upheld by the President. Yet a serious misunderstanding was risked because it is the habit of diplomacy to operate in the dark.
“Fortunately, President Wilson by making the note public prevented the original misunderstanding from spreading. But the lesson ought not to stop there. Our State Department, as Mr. Wickersham recently pointed out in a letter to the World, has never had a settled policy of publicity in regard to our diplomatic affairs. No Blue Books or White Books are ever issued. What information the country obtains must be pried out of the Department. This has been our diplomatic policy for more than a century, and it is a policy that if continued will some day end disastrously.”
Speaking in Atlanta in 1912, President Wilson stated that this government would never gain another foot of territory by conquest. This dispelled whatever apprehension there was that the United States might seek to annex Mexico. Later, in asking Congress to repeal the Panama Tolls Act of 1912, the President said the good will of Europe was a more valuable asset than commercial advantages gained by discriminatory legislation.
Thus at the outset of President Wilson’s first administration, foreign powers were given to understand that Mr. Wilson believed in the power of public opinion; that he favoured publicity as a means of accomplishing what could not be done by confidential negotiations; that he did not believe in annexation and that he was ready at any time to help end the war.
Before the Blockade
President Wilson’s policy during the first six months of the war was one of impartiality and neutrality. The first diplomatic representative in Washington to question the sincerity of the executive was Dr. Constantine Dumba, the exiled Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, who was sent to the United States because he was not a noble, and, therefore, better able to understand and interpret American ways! He asked me one day whether I thought Wilson was neutral. He said he had been told the President was pro-English. He believed, he said, that everything the President had done so far showed he sympathised with the Entente. While we were talking I recalled what the President’s stenographer, Charles L. Swem, said one day when we were going to New York with the President.
“I am present at every conference the President holds,” he stated. “I take all his dictation. I think he is the most neutral man in America. I have never heard him express an opinion one way or the other, and if he had I would surely know of it.”
I told Dr. Dumba this story, which interested him, and he made no comments.
As I was at the White House nearly every day I had an opportunity to learn what the President would say to callers and friends, although I was seldom privileged to use the information. Even now I do not recall a single statement which ever gave me the impression that the President sided with one group of belligerents.
The President’s sincerity and firm desire for neutrality was emphasised in his appeal to “My Countrymen.”
“The people of the United States,” he said, “are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to the government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honour and affection to think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion, if not in action.
“My thought is of America. I am speaking, I feel sure, the earnest wish and purpose of every thoughtful American that this great country of ours, which is of course the first in our thoughts and in our hearts, should show herself in this time of peculiar trial a nation fit beyond others to exhibit the fine poise of undisturbed judgment, the dignity of self-control, the efficiency of dispassionate action; a nation that neither sits in judgment upon others nor is disturbed in her own counsels and which keeps herself fit and free to do what is honest and disinterested and truly serviceable for the peace of the world.”
Many Americans believed even early in the war that the United States should have protested against the invasion of Belgium. Others thought the government should prohibit the shipments of war supplies to the belligerents. America was divided by the great issues in Europe, but the great majority of Americans believed with the President, that the best service Uncle Sam could render would be to help bring about peace.
Until February, 1915, when the von Tirpitz submarine blockade of England was proclaimed, only American interests, not American lives, had been drawn into the war. But when the German Admiralty announced that neutral as well as belligerent ships in British waters would be sunk without warning, there was a new and unexpected obstacle to neutrality. The high seas were as much American as British. The oceans were no nation’s property and they could not justly be used as battlegrounds for ruthless warfare by either belligerent.
Germany, therefore, was the first to challenge American neutrality. Germany was the first to threaten American lives. Germany, which was the first to show contempt for Wilson, forced the President, as well as the people, to alter policies and adapt American neutrality to a new and grave danger.
“Pirates sink another neutral ship”
On February 4th, 1915, the Reichsanzeiger, the official newspaper of Germany, published an announcement declaring that from the 18th of February “all the waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland as well as the entire English channel are hereby declared to be a war area. All ships of the enemy mercantile marine found in these waters will be destroyed and it will not always be possible to avoid danger to the crews and passengers thereon.
“Neutral shipping is also in danger in the war area, as owing to the secret order issued by the British Admiralty January 31st, 1915, regarding the misuse of neutral flags, and the chances of naval warfare, it can happen that attacks directed against enemy ships may damage neutral vessels.
“The shipping route around the north of The Shetlands in the east of the North Sea and over a distance of thirty miles along the coast of The Netherlands will not be dangerous.”
Although the announcement was signed by Admiral von Pohl, Chief of the Admiralty Staff, the real author of the blockade was Grand Admiral von Tirpitz. In explanation of the announcement the Teutonic-Allied, neutral and hostile powers were sent a memorandum which contained the following paragraph:
“The German Government announces its intention in good time so that hostile as well as neutral ships can take necessary precautions accordingly. Germany expects that the neutral powers will show the same consideration for Germany’s vital interests as for those of England, and will aid in keeping their citizens and property from this area. This is the more to be expected, as it must be to the interests of the neutral powers to see this destructive war end as soon as possible.”
On February 12th the American Ambassador, James W. Gerard, handed Secretary of State von Jagow a note in which the United States said:
“This Government views these possibilities with such grave concern that it feels it to be its privilege, and indeed its duty in the circumstances, to request the Imperial German Government to consider before action is taken the critical situation in respect of the relations between this country and Germany which might arise were the German naval officers, in carrying out the policy foreshadowed in the Admiralty’s proclamation, to destroy any merchant vessel of the United States or cause the death of American citizens.
“It is of course unnecessary to remind the German Government that the sole right of a belligerent in dealing with neutral vessels on the high seas is limited to visit and search, unless a blockade is proclaimed and effectively maintained, which the Government of the United States does not understand to be proposed in this case. To declare and exercise the right to attack and destroy any vessel entering a prescribed area of the high seas without first accurately determining its belligerent nationality and the contraband character of its cargo, would be an act so unprecedented in naval warfare that this Government is reluctant to believe that the Imperial German Government in this case contemplates it as possible.”
I sailed from New York February 13th, 1915, on the first American passenger liner to run the von Tirpitz blockade. On February 20th we passed Queenstown and entered the Irish Sea at night. Although it was moonlight and we could see for miles about us, every light on the ship, except the green and red port and starboard lanterns, was extinguished. As we sailed across the Irish Sea, silently and cautiously as a muskrat swims on a moonlight night, we received a wireless message that a submarine, operating off the mouth of the Mersey River, had sunk an English freighter. The captain was asked by the British Admiralty to stop the engines and await orders. Within an hour a patrol boat approached and escorted us until the pilot came aboard early the next morning. No one aboard ship slept. Few expected to reach Liverpool alive, but the next afternoon we were safe in one of the numerous snug wharves of that great port.
A few days later I arrived in London. As I walked through Fleet street newsboys were hurrying from the press rooms carrying orange-coloured placards with the words in big black type: “Pirates Sink Another Neutral Ship.”
Until the middle of March I remained in London, where the wildest rumours were afloat about the dangers off the coast of England, and where every one was excited and expectant over the reports that Germany was starving. I was urged by friends and physicians not to go to Germany because it was universally believed in Great Britain that the war would be over in a very short time. On the 15th of March I crossed from Tilbury to Rotterdam. At Tilbury I saw pontoon bridges across the Thames, patrol boats and submarine chasers rushing back and forth watching for U-boats, which might attempt to come up the river. I boarded the Batavia IV late at night and left Gravesend at daylight the next morning for Holland. Every one was on deck looking for submarines and mines. The channel that day was as smooth as a small lake, but the terrible expectation that submarines might sight the Dutch ship made every passenger feel that the submarine war was as real as it was horrible.
On the 17th of March, arriving at the little German border town of Bentheim, I met for the first time the people who were already branded as “Huns and Barbarians” by the British and French. Officers and people, however, were not what they had been pictured to be. Neither was Germany starving. The officials and inspectors were courteous and patient and permitted me to take into Germany not only British newspapers, but placards which pictured the Germans as pirates. Two days later, while walking down Unter den Linden, poor old women, who were already taking the places of newsboys, sold German extras with streaming headlines: “British Ships Sunk. Submarine War Successful.” In front of the Lokal Anzeiger building stood a large crowd reading the bulletins about the progress of the von Tirpitz blockade.
For luncheon that day I had the choice of as many foods as I had had in London. The only thing missing was white bread, for Germany, at the beginning of the war, permitted only Kriegsbrot (war bread) to be baked.
All Berlin streets were crowded and busy. Military automobiles, auto-trucks, big moving vans, private automobiles, taxi-cabs and carriages hurried hither and thither. Soldiers and officers, seemingly by the thousands, were parading up and down. Stores were busy. Berlin appeared to be as normal as any other capital. Even the confidence of Germany in victory impressed me so that in one of my first despatches I said:
“Germany to-day is more confident than ever that all efforts of her enemies to crush her must prove in vain. With a threefold offensive, in Flanders, in Galicia and in northwest Russia, being successfully prosecuted, there was a spirit of enthusiasm displayed here in both military and civilian circles that exceeded even the stirring days immediately following the outbreak of the war.
“Flags are flying everywhere to-day; the Imperial standards of Germany and Austria predominate, although there is a goodly showing of the Turkish Crescent. Bands are playing as regiment after regiment passes through the city to entrain for the front. Through Wilhelmstrasse the soldiers moved, their hats and guns decorated with fragrant flowers and with mothers, sisters and sweethearts clinging to and encouraging them.”
A few weeks before I arrived the Germans were excited over the shipment of arms and ammunitions from the United States to the Allies, but by the time I was in Berlin the situation seemed to have changed. On April 4th I telegraphed the following despatch which appeared in the Evening Sun, New York:
“The spirit of animosity towards Americans which swept Germany a few weeks ago seems to have disappeared. The 1,400 Americans in Berlin and those in the smaller cities of Germany have little cause to complain of discourteous treatment. Americans just arriving in Berlin in particular comment upon the friendliness of their reception. The Germans have been especially courteous, they declare, on learning of their nationality. Feeling against the United States for permitting arms to be shipped to the Allies still exists, but I have not found this feeling extensive among the Germans. Two American doctors studying in German clinics declare that the wounded soldiers always talk about ‘Amerikanische keugel’ (American bullets), but it is my observation that the persons most outspoken against the sale of ammunition to the Allies by American manufacturers are the American residents of Berlin.”
Two weeks later the situation had changed considerably. On the 24th I telegraphed: “Despite the bitter criticism of the United States by German newspapers for refusing to end the traffic in munitions, it is semi-officially explained that this does not represent the real views of the German Government. The censor has been instructed to permit the newspapers to express themselves frankly on this subject and on Secretary Bryan’s reply to the von Bernstorff note, but it has been emphasised that their views reflect popular opinion and the editorial side of the matter and not the Government.
“The Lokal Anzeiger, following up its attack of yesterday, to-day says:
“’The answer of the United States is no surprise to Germany and naturally it fails to convince Germany that a flourishing trade in munitions of war is in accord with strict neutrality. The German argument was based upon the practice of international law, but the American reply was based upon the commercial advantages enjoyed by the ammunition shippers.’”
April 24th was von Tirpitz day. It was the anniversary of the entrance of the Grand Admiral in the German Navy fifty years before, and the eighteenth anniversary of his debut in the cabinet, a record for a German Minister of Marine. There was tremendous rejoicing throughout the country, and the Admiral, who spent his Prussian birthday at the Navy Department, was overwhelmed with congratulations. Headed by the Kaiser, telegrams came from every official in Germany. The press paid high tribute to his blockade, declaring that it was due to him alone that England was so terror-stricken by submarines.
I was not in Germany very long until I was impressed by the remarkable control the Government had on public opinion by censorship of the press. People believe, without exception, everything they read in the newspapers. And I soon discovered that the censor was so accustomed to dealing with German editors that he applied the same standards to the foreign correspondents. A reporter could telegraph not what he observed and heard, but what the censors desired American readers to hear and know about Germany.
[Illustration: A Berlin “Extra”]
I was in St. Quentin, France (which the Germans on their 1917 withdrawal set on fire) at the headquarters of General von Below, when news came May 8th that the Lusitania was torpedoed. I read the bulletins as they arrived. I heard the comments of the Germans who were waging war in an enemy country. I listened as they spoke of the loss of American and other women and children. I was amazed when I heard them say that a woman had no more right on the Lusitania than she would have on an ammunition wagon on the Somme. The day before I was in the first line trenches on the German front which crossed the road running from Peronne to Albert. At that time this battlefield, which a year and a half later was destined to be the scene of the greatest slaughter in history, was as quiet and beautiful as this picturesque country of northern France was in peace times. Only a few trenches and barbed wire entanglements marred the scene.
On May 9th I left St. Quentin for Brussels. Here I was permitted by the General Government to send a despatch reflecting the views of the German army in France about the sinking of the Lusitania. I wrote what I thought was a fair article. I told how the bulletin was posted in front of the Hotel de Ville; how the officers and soldiers marching to and away from the front stopped, read, smiled and congratulated each other because the Navy was at last helping the Army “win the war.” There were no expressions of regret over the loss of life. These officers and soldiers had seen so many dead, soldiers and civilians, men and women, in Belgium and France that neither death nor murder shocked them.
The telegram was approved by the military censor and forwarded to Berlin. I stayed in Belgium two days longer, went to Louvain and Liege and reached Berlin May 12th. The next day I learned at the Foreign Office that my despatch was stopped because it conflicted with the opinions which the German Government was sending officially by wireless to Washington and to the American newspapers. I felt that this was unfair, but I was subject to the censorship and had no appeal.
I did not forget this incident because it showed a striking difference of opinion between the army, which was fighting for Germany, and the Foreign Office, which was explaining and excusing what the Army and Navy did. The Army always justified the events in Belgium, but the Foreign Office did not. And this was the first incident which made me feel that even in Germany, which was supposed to be united, there were differences of opinion.
In September, 1915, while the German army was moving against Russia like a surging sea, I was invited to go to the front near Vilna. During the intervening months I had observed and recorded as much as possible the growing indignation in Germany because the United States permitted the shipment of arms and ammunition to the Allies. In June I had had an interview with Secretary of State von Jagow, in which he protested against the attitude of the United States Government and said that America was not acting as neutral as Germany did during the Spanish-American war. He cited page 168 of Andrew D. White’s book in which Ambassador White said he persuaded Germany not to permit a German ship laden with ammunition and consigned for Spain to sail. I thought that if Germany had adopted such an attitude toward America, that in justice to Germany Washington should adopt the same position. After von Jagow gave me the facts in possession of the Foreign Office and after he had loaned me Mr. White’s book, I looked up the data. I found to my astonishment that Mr. White reported to the State Department that a ship of ammunition sailed from Hamburg, and that he had not protested, although the Naval Attache had requested him to do so. The statements of von Jagow and Mr. White’s in his autobiography did not agree with the facts. Germany did send ammunition to Spain, but Wilhelmstrasse was using Mr. White’s book as proof that the Krupp interests did not supply our enemy in 1898. The latter part of September I entered Kovno, the important Russian fortress, eight days after the army captured it. I was escorted, together with other foreign correspondents, from one fort to another and shown what the 42 cm. guns had destroyed. I saw 400 machine guns which were captured and 1,300 pieces of heavy artillery. The night before, at a dinner party, the officers had argued against the United States because of the shipment of supplies to Russia. They said that if the United States had not aided Russia, that country would not have been able to resist the invaders. I did not know the facts, but I accepted their statements. When I was shown the machine guns, I examined them and discovered that every one of the 400 was made at Essen or Magdeburg, Germany. Of the 1,300 pieces of artillery every cannon was made in Germany except a few English ship guns. Kovno was fortified by German artillery, not American.
A few days later I entered Vilna; this time I was moving with the advance column. At dinner that night with General von Weber, the commander of the city, the subject of American arms and ammunition was again brought up. The General said they had captured from the Russians an American machine gun. He added that they were bringing it in from Smorgon to show the Americans. When it reached us the stamp, written in English, showed that it was manufactured by Vickers Limited, England. Being unable to read English, the officer who reported the capture thought the gun was made in the United States.
In Roumania last December I followed General von Falkenhayn’s armies to the forts of Bucharest. On Thanksgiving Day I crossed by automobile the Schurduck Pass. The Roumanians had defended, or attempted to defend, this road by mounting armoured guns on the crest of one of the mountain ranges in the Transylvanian Alps. I examined a whole position here and found all turrets were made in Germany.
I did not doubt that the shipment of arms and ammunition to the Allies had been a great aid to them. (I was told in Paris, later, on my way to the United States that if it had not been for the American ammunition factories France would have been defeated long ago.) But when Germany argued that the United States was not neutral in permitting these shipments to leave American ports, Germany was forgetting what her own arms and munition factories had done for Germany’s enemies. When the Krupp works sold Russia the defences for Kovno, the German Government knew these weapons would be used against Germany some day, because no nation except Germany could attack Russia by way of that city. When Krupps sold war supplies to Roumania, the German Government knew that if Roumania joined the Allies these supplies would be used against German soldiers. But the Government was careful not to report these facts in German newspapers. And, although Secretary of State von Jagow acknowledged to Ambassador Gerard that there was nothing in international law to justify a change in Washington’s position, von Jagow’s statements were not permitted to be published in Germany.
To understand Germany’s resentment over Mr. Wilson’s interference with the submarine warfare, three things must be taken into consideration.
1. The Allies’ charge that all Germans are “Huns and Barbarians.”
2. The battle of the Marne and the shipment of arms and ammunition from the United States.
3. The intrigue and widening breach between the Army and Navy and the Foreign Office.
One weapon the Allies used against Germany, which was more effective than all others, was the press. When the English and French indicted the Germans as “Barbarians and Huns,” as “pirates,” and “uncivilised” Europeans, it cut the Germans to the quick; it affected men and women so terribly that Germans feared these attacks more than they did the combined military might of their enemies. This is readily understood when one realises that before the war the thing the Germans prided themselves on was their commerce and their civilisation,—their Kultur. Before the war, the world was told by every German what the nation had done for the poor; what strides the scientists had made in research work and what progress the business men had made in extending their commerce at the expense of competitors.
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.
After General von Kluck was wounded and returned to his villa in Wilmersdorf, a suburb of Berlin, I took a walk with him in his garden and discussed the Marne. He confirmed what Zimmermann stated about the shortage of ammunition and added that he had to give up his reserves to General von Hindenburg, who had been ordered by the Kaiser to drive the Russians from East Prussia.
At the very beginning of the war, although no intimations were permitted to reach the outside world, there was a bitter controversy between the Foreign Office, as headed by the Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg; the Navy Department, headed by Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, and General von Moltke, Chief of the General Staff. The Chancellor delayed mobilisation of the German Army three days. For this he never has and never will be forgiven by the military authorities. During those stirring days of July and August, when General von Moltke, von Tirpitz, von Falkenhayn, Krupps and the Rhine Valley Industrial leaders were clamouring for war and for an invasion of Belgium, the Kaiser was being urged by the Chancellor and the Foreign Office to heed the proposals of Sir Edward Grey for a Peace Conference. But the Kaiser, who was more of a soldier than a statesman, sided with his military friends. The war was on, not only between Germany and the Entente, but between the Foreign Office and the Army and Navy. This internal fight which began in July, 1914, became Germany’s bitterest struggle and from time to time the odds went from one side to another. The Army accused the diplomats of blundering in starting the war. The Foreign Office replied that it was the lust for power and victory which poisoned the military leaders which caused the war. Belgium was invaded against the counsel of the Foreign Office. But when the Chancellor was confronted with the actual invasion and the violation of the treaty, he was compelled by force of circumstance, by his position and responsibility to the Kaiser to make his famous speech in the Reichstag in which he declared: “Emergency knows no law.”
But when the allied fleet swept German ships from the high seas and isolated a nation which had considered its international commerce one of its greatest assets, considerable animosity developed between the Army and Navy. The Army accused the Navy of stagnation. Von Tirpitz, who had based his whole naval policy upon a great navy, especially upon battleship and cruiser units, was confronted by his military friends with the charge that he was not prepared. As early as 1908 von Tirpitz had opposed the construction of submarines. Speaking in the Reichstag when naval appropriations were debated, he said Germany should rely upon a battleship fleet and not upon submarines. But when he saw his great inactive Navy in German waters, he switched to the submarine idea of a blockade of England. In February, 1915, he announced his submarine blockade of England with the consent of the Kaiser, but without the approval of the Foreign Office.
By this time the cry, “Gott strafe England,” had become the most popular battle shout in Germany. The von Tirpitz blockade announcement made this battlecry real. It made him the national hero. The German press, which at that time was under three different censors, turned its entire support over night to the von Tirpitz plan. The Navy Department, which even then was not only anti-British but anti-American, wanted to sink every ship on the high seas. When the United States lodged its protests on February 12th the German Navy wanted to ignore it. The Foreign Office was inclined to listen to President Wilson’s arguments. Even the people, while they were enthusiastic for a submarine war, did not want to estrange America if they could prevent it. The von Tirpitz press bureau, which knew that public opposition to its plan could be overcome by raising the cry that America was not neutral in aiding the Allies with supplies, launched an anti-American campaign. It came to a climax one night when Ambassador Gerard was attending a theatre party. As he entered the box he was recognised by a group of Germans who shouted insulting remarks because he spoke English. Then some one else remarked that America was not neutral by shipping arms and ammunition.
The Foreign Office apologised the next day but the Navy did not. And, instead of listening to the advice of Secretary of State von Jagow, the Navy sent columns of inspired articles to the newspapers attacking President Wilson and telling the German people that the United States had joined the Entente in spirit if not in action.
THE GULF BETWEEN KIEL AND BERLIN
At the beginning of the war, even the Socialist Party in the Reichstag voted the Government credits. The press and the people unanimously supported the Government because there was a very terrorising fear that Russia was about to invade Germany and that England and France were leagued together to crush the Fatherland. Until the question of the submarine warfare came up, the division of opinion which had already developed between the Army and Navy clique and the Foreign Office was not general among the people. Although the army had not taken Paris, a great part of Belgium and eight provinces of Northern France were occupied and the Russians had been driven from East Prussia. The German people believed they were successful. The army was satisfied with what it had done and had great plans for the future. Food and economic conditions had changed very little as compared to the changes which were to take place before 1917. Supplies were flowing into Germany from all neutral European countries. Even England and Russia were selling goods to Germany indirectly through neutral countries. Considerable English merchandise, as well as American products, came in by way of Holland because English business men were making money by the
The latter part of April on my first trip to the front I dined at Great Headquarters (Grosse Haupt Quartier) in Charleville, France, with Major Nicolai, Chief of the Intelligence Department of the General Staff. The next day, in company with other correspondents, we were guests of General von Moehl and his staff at Peronne. From Peronne we went to the Somme front to St. Quentin, to Namur and Brussels. The soldiers were enthusiastic and happy. There was plenty of food and considerable optimism. But the confidence in victory was never so great as it was immediately after the sinking of the Lusitania. That marked the crisis in the future trend of the war.
Up to this time the people had heard very little about the fight between the Navy and the Foreign Office. But gradually rumours spread. While there was previously no outlet for public opinion, the Lusitania issue was debated more extensively and with more vigour than the White Books which were published to explain the causes of the war.
With the universal feeling of self confidence, it was but natural that the people should side with the Navy in demanding an unrestricted submarine warfare. When Admiral von Bachmann gave the order to First Naval Lieutenant Otto Steinbrink to sink the Lusitania, he knew the Navy was ready to defy the United States or any other country which might object. He knew, too, that von Tirpitz was very close to the Kaiser and could count upon the Kaiser’s support in whatever he did. The Navy believed the torpedoing of the Lusitania would so frighten and terrorise the world that neutral shipping would become timid and enemy peoples would be impressed by Germany’s might on the seas. Ambassador von Bernstorff had been ordered by the Foreign Office to put notices in the American papers warning Americans off these ships. The Chancellor and Secretary von Jagow knew there was no way to stop the Admiralty, and they wanted to avoid, if possible, the loss of American lives.
The storm of indignation which encircled the globe when reports were printed that over a thousand people lost their lives on the Lusitania, found a sympathetic echo in the Berlin Foreign Office. “Another navy blunder,” the officials said—confidentially. Foreign Office officials tried to conceal their distress because the officials knew the only thing they could do now was to make preparation for an apology and try to excuse in the best possible way what the navy had done. On the 17th of May like a thunderbolt from a clear sky came President Wilson’s first Lusitania note.
“Recalling the humane and enlightened attitude hitherto assumed by the Imperial German Government in matters of international life, particularly with regard to the freedom of the seas; having learned to recognise German views and German influence in the field of international obligations as always engaged upon the side of justice and humanity;” the note read, “and having understood the instructions of the Imperial German Government to its naval commanders to be upon the same plane of human action as those prescribed by the naval codes of other nations, the government of the United States is loath to believe—it cannot now bring itself to believe—that these acts so absolutely contrary to the rules and practices and spirit of modern warfare could have the countenance or sanction of that great government. . . . Manifestly submarines cannot be used against merchantmen as the last few weeks have shown without an inevitable violation of many sacred principles of justice and humanity. American citizens act within their indisputable rights in taking their ships and in travelling wherever their legitimate business calls them upon the high seas, and exercise those rights in what should be a well justified confidence that their lives will not be endangered by acts done in clear violation of universally acknowledged international obligations and certainly in the confidence that their own government will sustain them in the exercise of their rights.”
And then the note which Mr. Gerard handed von Jagow concluded with these words:
“It (The United States) confidently expects therefore that the Imperial German Government will disavow the acts of which the United States complains, that they will make reparation as far as reparation is possible for injuries which are without measure, and that they will take immediate steps to prevent the recurrence of anything so obviously subversive of the principles of warfare, for which the Imperial German Government in the past so wisely and so firmly contended. The Government and people of the United States look to the Imperial German Government for just, prompt and enlightened action in this vital matter. . . . Expressions of regret and offers of reparation in the case of neutral ships sunk by mistake, while they may satisfy international obligations if no loss of life results, cannot justify or excuse a practice, the natural necessary effect of which is to subject neutral nations or neutral persons to new and immeasurable risks. The Imperial German Government will not expect the Government of the United States to omit any word, or any act, necessary to the performance of its sacred duty of maintaining the rights of the United States and its citizens, and of safeguarding their free exercise and enjoyment.”
Never in history had a neutral nation indicted another as the United States did Germany in its first Lusitania note without immediately going to war. Because the Foreign Office feared the reaction it might have upon the people, the newspapers were not permitted to publish the text until the press bureaus of the Navy and the Foreign Office had mobilised the editorial writers and planned a publicity campaign to follow the note’s publication. But the Navy and Foreign Office could not agree on what should be done. The Navy wanted to ignore Wilson. Naval officers laughed at President Wilson’s impertinence and, when the Foreign Office sent to the Admiralty for all data in possession of the Navy Department regarding the sinking of the Lusitania the Navy refused to acknowledge the request.
During this time I was in constant touch with the Foreign Office and the American Embassy. Frequently I went to the Navy Department but was always told they had nothing to say. When it appeared, however, that there might he a break in diplomatic relations over the Lusitania the Kaiser called the Chancellor to Great Headquarters for a conference. Meanwhile Germany delayed her reply to the American note because the Navy and Foreign Office were still at loggerheads. On the 31st of May von Jagow permitted me to quote him in an interview saying:
“America can hardly expect us to give up any means at our disposal to fight our enemy. It is a principle with us to defend ourselves in every possible way. I am sure that Americans will be reasonable enough to believe that our two countries cannot discuss the Lusitania matter until both have the same basis of facts.”
The American people were demanding an answer from Germany and because the two branches of the Government could not agree on what should be said von Jagow had to do something to gain time. Germany, therefore, submitted in her reply of the 28th of May certain facts about the Lusitania for the consideration of the American Government saying that Germany reserved final statements of its position with regard “to the demands made in connection with the sinking of the Lusitania until a reply was received from the American Government.” After the note was despatched the chasm between the Navy and Foreign Office was wider than ever. Ambassador Gerard, who went to the Foreign Office daily, to try to convince the officials that they were antagonising the whole world by their attitude on the Lusitania question, returned to the Embassy one day after a conference with Zimmermann and began to prepare a scrap book of cartoons and clippings from American newspapers. Two secretaries were put to work pasting the comments, interviews, editorials and cartoons reflecting American opinion in the scrap book. Although the German Foreign Office had a big press department its efforts were devoted more to furnishing the outside world with German views than with collecting outside opinions for the information of the German Government. Believing that this information would be of immeasurable benefit to the German diplomats in sounding the depths of public sentiment in America, Gerard delivered the book to von Jagow personally.
In the meantime numerous conferences were held at Great Headquarters. Financiers, business men and diplomats who wanted to keep peace with America sided with the Foreign Office. Every anti-American influence in the Central Powers joined forces with the Navy. The Lusitania note was printed and the public discussion which resulted was greater than that which followed the first declarations of war in August, 1914. The people, who before had accepted everything their Government said, began to think for themselves. One heard almost as much criticism as praise of the Lusitania incident. For the first time the quarrel, which had been nourished between the Foreign Office and the Admiralty, became nation-wide and forces throughout Germany lined up with one side or the other. But the Navy Department was the cleverer of the two. The press bureau sent out inspired stories that the submarines were causing England a loss of a million dollars a week. They said that every week the Admiralty was launching two U-boats. It was stated that reliable reports to Admiral von Tirpitz proved the high toll taken by the submarines in two weeks had struck terror to the hearts of English ship-owners. The newspapers printed under great headlines: “Toll of Our Tireless U-Boats,” the names and tonnage of ships lost. The press bureau pointed to the rise in food prices in Great Britain and France. The public was made to feel a personal pride in submarine exploits. And at the same time the Navy editorial writers brought up the old issue of American arms and ammunition to further embitter the people.
Thus the first note which President Wilson wrote in the Lusitania case not only brought the quarrel between the Navy and Foreign Office to a climax but it gave the German people the first opportunity they had had seriously to discuss questions of policy and right.
In the Rhine Valley, where the ammunition interests dominated every phase of life, the Navy found its staunchest supporters. In educational circles, in shipping centres, such as Hamburg and Bremen, in the financial districts of Frankfort and Berlin, the Foreign Office received its support. Press and Reichstag were divided. Supporting the Foreign Office were the Lokal Anzeiger, the Berliner Tageblatt, the Cologne Gazette, the Frankforter Zeitung, the Hamburger Fremdemblatt, and the Vorwaerts.
The Navy had the support of Count Reventlow, Naval Critic of the Deutsche Tageszeitung, the Taeglische Rundscha, the Vossische Zeitung, the Morgen Post, the B. Z. Am Mittag, the Muenchener Neueste Nachrichten, the Rheinische Westfaelische Zeitung, and the leading Catholic organ, the Koelnische Volks-Zeitung.
Government officials were also divided. Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg led the party which demanded an agreement with the United States. He was supported by von Jagow, Zimmermann, Dr. Karl Helfferich, Secretary of the Treasury; Dr. Solf, the Colonial Minister; Dr. Siegfried Heckscher, Vice Chairman of the Reichstag Committee on Foreign Relations; and Philip Scheidemann, leader of the majority of the Socialists in the Reichstag.
The opposition was led by Grand Admiral von Tirpitz. He was supported by General von Falkenhayn, Field Marshal von Mackensen and all army generals; Admirals von Pohl and von Bachmann; Major Bassermann, leader of the National Liberal Party in the Reichstag; Dr. Gustav Stressemann, member of the Reichstag and Director of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company; and von Heydebrand, the so-called “Uncrowned King of Prussia,” because of his control of the Prussian Diet.
With these forces against each other the internal fight continued more bitter than ever. President Wilson kept insisting upon definite promises from Germany but the Admiralty still had the upper hand. There was nothing for the Foreign Office to do except to make the best possible excuses and depend upon Wilson’s patience to give them time to get into the saddle. The Navy Department, however, was so confident that it had the Kaiser’s support in everything it did, that one of the submarines was instructed to sink the Arabic.
President Wilson’s note in the Arabic case again brought the submarine dispute within Germany to a head. Conferences were again held at Great Headquarters. The Chancellor, von Jagow, Helfferich, von Tirpitz and other leaders were summoned by the Kaiser. On the 28th of August I succeeded in sending by courier to The Hague the following despatch:
“With the support of the Kaiser, the German Chancellor, Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, is expected to win the fight he is now making for a modification of Germany’s submarine warfare that will forever settle the difficulties with America over the sinking of the Lusitania and the Arabic. Both the Chancellor and von Jagow are most anxious to end at once and for all time the controversies with Washington desiring America’s friendship.” (Published in the Chicago Tribune, August 29th, 1915.)
“The Marine Department, headed by von Tirpitz, creator of the submarine policy, will oppose any disavowal of the action of German’s submarines. But the Kaiser is expected to approve the steps the Chancellor and Foreign Secretary contemplate taking, swinging the balance in favour of von Bethmann-Hollweg’s contention that ships in the future must be warned before they are torpedoed.”
One day I went to the Foreign Office and told one of the officials I believed that if the American people knew what a difficult time the Foreign Office was having in trying to win out over the Admiralty that public opinion in the United States might be mobilised to help the Foreign Office against the Admiralty. I took with me a brief despatch which I asked him to pass. He censored it with the understanding that I would never disclose his name in case the despatch was read in Germany.
A few days later the Manchester, England, Guardian arrived containing my article, headed as follows:
HOLLWEG’S CHANGE OF TUNE
Respect for Scraps of Paper
LAW AT SEA
Insists on Warning by Submarines
TIRPITZ PARTY BEATEN
Kaiser Expected to Approve New Policy
“New York, Sunday.
“Cables from Mr. Carl W. Ackerman, Berlin correspondent of the United Press published here, indicate that the real crisis following the Arabic is in Germany, not America. He writes:
“The Berlin Foreign Office is unalterably opposed to submarine activity, such as evidenced by the Arabic affair, and it was on the initiative of this Government department that immediate steps were taken with Mr. Gerard the American Ambassador. The nature of these negotiations is still unknown to the German public.
“It is stated on the highest authority that Herr von Jagow, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg are unanimous in their anxiety to settle American difficulties once and for all, retaining the friendship of the United States in any event.
“The Kaiser is expected to approve the course suggested by the Imperial Chancellor, despite open opposition to any disavowal of submarine activities which constantly emanates from the German Admiralty.
“The Chancellor is extremely desirous of placing Germany on record as an observer of international law as regards sea warfare, and in this case will win his demand that submarines in the future shall thoroughly warn enemy ships before firing their torpedoes or shells.
“There is considerable discussion in official circles as to whether the Chancellor’s steps create a precedent, but it is agreed that it will probably close all complications with America, including the Lusitania case, which remained unsettled following President Wilson’s last note to Germany.
“Thus if the United States approves the present attitude of the Chancellor this step will aid in clearing the entire situation and will materially strengthen the policy of von Bethmann-Hollweg and von Jagow, which is a deep desire for peace with America.”
After this despatch was printed I was called to the home of Fran von Schroeder, the American-born wife of one of the Intelligence Office of the General Staff. Captain Vanselow, Chief of the Admiralty Intelligence Department, was there and had brought with him the Manchester Guardian. He asked me where I got the information and who had passed the despatch. He said the Navy was up in arms and had issued orders to the General Telegraph Office that, inasmuch as Germany was under martial law, no telegrams were to be passed containing the words submarines, navy, admiralty or marine or any officers of the Navy without having them referred to the Admiralty for a second censoring. This order practically nullified the censorship powers of the Foreign Office. I saw that the Navy Department was again in the saddle and that the efforts of the Chancellor to maintain peace might not be successful after all. But the conferences at Great Headquarters lasted longer than any one expected. The first news we received of what had taken place was that Secretary von Jagow had informed the Kaiser he would resign before he would do anything which might cause trouble with the United States.
Germany was split wide open by the submarine issue. For a while it looked as if the only possible adjustment would be either for von Tirpitz to go and his policies with him, or for von Jagow and the Chancellor to go with the corresponding danger of a rupture with America. But von Tirpitz would not resign. He left Great Headquarters for Berlin and intimated to his friends that he was going to run the Navy to suit himself. But the Chancellor who had the support of the big shipping interests and the financiers, saw a possible means of checkmating von Tirpitz by forcing Admiral von Pohl to resign as Chief of the Admiralty Staff. They finally persuaded the Kaiser to accept his resignation and appoint Admiral von Holtzendorff as his successor. Von Holtzendorff’s brother was a director of the Hamburg-American Line and an intimate friend of A. Ballin, the General Director of the company. The Chancellor believed that by having a friend of his as Chief of the Admiralty Staff, no orders would be issued to submarine commanders contrary to the wishes of the Chancellor, because according to the rules of the German Navy Department the Chief of the Admiralty Staff must approve all naval plans and sign all orders to fleet commanders.
Throughout this time the one thing which frightened the Foreign Office was the fear that President Wilson might break off diplomatic relations before the Foreign Office had an opportunity to settle the differences with the United States. For this reason Ambassador Gerard was kept advised by Wilhelmstrasse of the internal developments in Germany and asked to report them fully but confidentially to Wilson. So, during this crisis when Americans were demanding a break with Germany because of Germany’s continued defiance of President Wilson’s notes, the American Government knew that if the Foreign Office was given more time it had a good chance of succeeding in cleaning house. A rupture at that time would have destroyed all the efforts of the Foreign Office to keep the German military machine within bounds. It would have over-thrown von Jagow and von Bethmann-Hollweg and put in von Tirpitz as Chancellor and von Heydebrand, the reactionary leader of the Prussian Diet, as Secretary of State. At that time, all the democratic forces of Germany were lined up with the Foreign Office. The people who blushed for Belgium, the financiers who were losing money, the shipping interests whose tonnage was locked in belligerent or neutral harbours, the Socialists and people who were anxious and praying for peace, were looking to the Foreign Office and to Washington to avoid a break.
THE HATE CAMPAIGN AGAINST AMERICA
While Germany was professing her friendship for the United States in every note written following the sinking of the Lusitania, the government was secretly preparing the nation for a break in diplomatic relations, or for war, in the event of a rupture. German officials realised that unless the people were made to suspect Mr. Wilson and his motives, unless they were made to resent the shipment of arms and ammunition to the Allies, there would be a division in public opinion and the government would not be able to count upon the united support of the people. Because the government does the thinking for the people it has to tell them what to think before they have reached the point of debating an issue themselves. A war with America or a break in diplomatic relations in 1915 would not have been an easy matter to explain, if the people had not been encouraged to hate Wilson. So while Germany maintained a propaganda bureau in America to interpret Germany and to maintain good relations, she started in Germany an extensive propaganda against Wilson, the American press, the United States Ambassador and Americans in general.
This step was not necessary in the army because among army officers the bitterness and hatred of the United States were deeper and more extensive than the hatred of any other belligerent. It was hardly ever possible for the American correspondents to go to the front without being insulted. Even the American military attaches, when they went to the front, had to submit to the insults of army officers. After the sinking of the Arabic the six military observers attached to the American Embassy were invited by the General Staff to go to Russia to study the military operations of Field Marshal von Mackensen. They were escorted by Baron von Maltzahn, former attache of the German Embassy in Paris. At Lodz, one of the largest cities in Poland, they were taken to headquarters. Von Maltzahn, who knew Mackensen personally, called at the Field Marshal’s offices, reported that he had escorted six American army officers under orders of the General Staff, whom he desired to present to the Commander-in-Chief. Von Mackensen replied that he did not care to meet the Americans and told von Maltzahn that the best thing he could do would be to escort the observers back to Berlin.
As soon as the military attaches reached Berlin and reported this to Washington they were recalled.
* * * * * * * *
Cowards, who kill three thousand miles
See the long lines of shrouded forms increase!
Yours is this work, disguise it as you may;
But for your greed the world were now at peace.
Month after month your countless chimneys
Slaughter your object, and your motive gain;
Look at your money,—it is wet with gore
Nothing can cleanse it from the loathsome stain.
You, who prolong this hideous hell on
Making a by-word of your native land,
Stripped of your wealth, how paltry is your worth!
See how men shrink from contact with your hand!
There is pollution in your blood-smeared
There is corruption in your pact with Death,
There is dishonor in the lie, oft-told,
Of your “Humanity”! ’Tis empty breath.
What shall it profit you to heap on high,
Makers of orphans! a few millions more,
When you must face them—those you caused to die,
And God demands of you to pay your score?
He is not mocked; His vengeance doth not
His cup of wrath He lets you slowly fill;
What you have sown, that also shall you reap;
God’s law is adamant,—“Thou shalt not kill”!
Think not to plead:—“I
did not act alone,”
“Custom allows it,” and “My dead were few”;
Each hath his quota; yonder are your own!
See how their fleshless fingers point at you, at you!
You, to whose vaults this wholesale murder
Mere needless increments of ghoulish gain,
Count up your corpses on these blood-soaked fields!
Hear . . . till your death . . . your victims’ moans of pain!
Then, when at night you, sleepless, fear
Watch the thick, crimson stream draw near your bed,
And shriek with horror, till the dawn of day
Shall find you raving at your heaps of dead!
JOHN L. STODDARD.
The League of Truth Head Offices for Germany: Berlin W 40 Potsdamer Str.
July 4th, 1916. Printed by Barthe & Co., Berlin W.
* * * * * * * *
But this was not the only time von Mackensen, or other army officers, showed their contempt for the United States. After the fall of Warsaw a group of American correspondents were asked to go to the headquarters of General von Besseler, afterward named Governor General of Poland. The general received them in the gardens of the Polish castle which he had seized as his headquarters; shook hands with the Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Swiss and South American newspaper men, and then, before turning on his heels to go back to his Polish palace, turned to the Americans and said:
“As for you gentlemen, the best thing you can do is to tell your country to stop shipping arms and ammunition.”
During General Brusiloff’s offensive I was invited together with other correspondents to go to the Wohlynian battlefields to see how the Germans had reorganised the Austrian front. In a little town near the Stochod River we were invited to dinner by Colonel von Luck. I sat opposite the colonel, who was in charge of the reorganisation here. Throughout the meal he made so many insulting remarks that the officer who was our escort had to change the trend of the conversation. Before he did so the colonel said:
“Tell me, do they insult you in Berlin like this?”
I replied that I seldom encountered such antagonism in Berlin; that it was chiefly the army which was anti-American.
“Well, that’s the difference between the diplomats and the army. If the army was running the government we would probably have had war with America a long time ago,” he concluded, smiling sarcastically.
Shortly after the sinking of the Lusitania the naval propaganda bureau had bronze medals cast and placed on sale at souvenir shops throughout Germany. Ambassador Gerard received one day, in exchanging some money, a fifty mark bill, with the words stamped in purple ink across the face:
“God punish England and America.” For some weeks this rubber stamp was used very effectively.
The Navy Department realised, too, that another way to attack America and especially Americans in Berlin, was to arouse the suspicion that every one who spoke English was an enemy. The result was that most Americans had to be exceedingly careful not to talk aloud in public places. The American correspondents were even warned at the General Staff not to speak English at the front. Some of the correspondents who did not speak German were not taken to the battle areas because the Foreign Office desired to avoid insults.
The year and a half between the sinking of the Lusitania and the severance of diplomatic relations was a period of terror for most Americans in Germany. Only those who were so sympathetic with Germany that they were anti-American found it pleasant to live there. One day one of the American girls employed in the confidential file room of the American Embassy was slapped in the face until she cried, by a German in civilian clothes, because she was speaking English in the subway. At another time the wife of a prominent American business man was spit upon and chased out of a public bus because she was speaking English. Then a group of women chased her down the street. Another American woman was stabbed by a soldier when she was walking on Friedrichstrasse with a friend because she was speaking English. When the State Department instructed Ambassador Gerard to bring the matter to the attention of the Foreign Office and to demand an apology Wilhelmstrasse referred the matter to the General Staff for investigation. The soldier was arrested and secretly examined. After many weeks had elapsed the Foreign Office explained that the man who had stabbed the woman was really not a soldier but a red cross worker. It was explained that he had been wounded and was not responsible for what he did. The testimony of the woman, however, and of other witnesses, showed that the man at the time he attacked the American was dressed in a soldier’s uniform, which is grey, and which could not he mistaken for the black uniform of a red cross worker.
It was often said in Berlin, “Germany hates England, fights France, fears Russia but loathes America.” No one, not even American officials, questioned it.
The hate campaign was bearing fruit.
In January, 1916, there appeared in Berlin a publication called Light and Truth. It was a twelve-page circular in English and German attacking President Wilson and the United States. Copies were sent by mail to all Americans and to hundreds of thousands of Germans. It was edited and distributed by “The League of Truth.” It was the most sensational document printed in Germany since the beginning of the war against a power with which Germany was supposed to be at peace. Page 6 contained two illustrations under the legend:
WILSON AND HIS PRESS IS NOT AMERICA
Underneath was this paragraph:
“An American Demonstration—On the 27th of January, the birthday of the German Emperor, an immense laurel wreath decorated with the German and American flags was placed by Americans at the foot of the monument to Frederick the Great (in Berlin). The American flag was enshrouded in black crape. Frederick the Great was the first to recognise the independence of the young Republic, after it had won its freedom from the yoke of England, at the price of its very heart’s blood through years of struggle. His successor, Wilhelm II, receives the gratitude of America in the form of hypocritical phrases and war supplies to his mortal enemy.”
[Illustration: First page of the magazine “Light and Truth”]
One photograph was of the wreath itself. The other showed a group of thirty-six people, mostly boys, standing in front of the statue after the wreath had been placed.
When Ambassador Gerard learned about the “demonstration” he went to the statue and from there immediately to the Foreign Office, where he saw Secretary of State von Jagow. Gerard demanded instantaneous removal of the wreath. Von Jagow promised an “investigation.” Gerard meanwhile began a personal investigation of the League of Truth, which had purchased and placed the insult there.
Days, weeks, even months passed. Von Jagow still refused to have the wreath removed. Finally Gerard went to the Foreign Office and told von Jagow that unless it was taken away that day he would get it himself and send it by courier to Washington. That evening Gerard walked to the statue. The wreath had disappeared.
Week by week the league continued its propaganda. Gerard continued his investigation.
July 4, 1916, another circular was scattered broadcast. On page 1 was a large black cross. Pages 2 and 3, the inside, contained a reprint of the “Declaration of Independence,” with the imprint across the face of a bloody hand. Enclosed in a heavy black border on page 4 were nine verses by John L. Stoddard, the lecturer, entitled “Blood-Traffickers.” (Printed in the beginning of this chapter.)
The league made an especial appeal to the “German-Americans.” Germany, as was pointed out in a previous article, counts upon some German-Americans as her allies. One day Ambassador Gerard received a circular entitled “An Appeal to All Friends of Truth.” The same was sent in German and English to a mailing list of many hundred thousands. Excerpts from this read:
“If any one is called upon to raise his voice in foreign lands for the cause of truth, it is the foreigner who was able to witness the unanimous rising of the German people at the outbreak of war, and their attitude during its continuance. This applies especially to the German-American.
“As a citizen of two continents, in proportion as his character has remained true to German principles, he finds both here and there the right word to say. . . .
“Numberless millions of men are forced to look upon a loathsome spectacle. It is that of certain individuals in America; to whom a great nation has temporarily intrusted its weal and woe, supporting a few multi-millionaires and their dependents, setting at naught—unpunished—the revered document of the Fourth of July, 1776, and daring to barter away the birthright of the white race. . . . We want to see whether the united voices of Germans and foreigners have not more weight than the hired writers of editorials in the newspapers; and whether the words of men who are independent will not render it impossible for a subsidised press to continue its destructive work.”
Gerard’s investigation showed that a group of German-Americans in Berlin were financing the League of Truth; that a man named William F. Marten, who posed as an American, was the head, and that the editors and writers of the publication Light and Truth were being assisted by the Foreign Office Press Bureau and protected by the General Staff. An American dentist in Berlin, Dr. Charles Mueller, was chairman of the league. Mrs. Annie Neumann-Hofer, the American-born wife of Neumann-Hofer, of the Reichstag, was secretary. Gerard reported other names to the State Department, and asked authority to take away the passports of Americans who were assisting the German government in this propaganda.
The “league” heard about the Ambassador’s efforts, and announced that a “Big Bertha” issue would be published exposing Gerard. For several months the propagandists worked to collect data. One day Gerard decided to go to the league’s offices and look at the people who were directing it. In the course of his remarks the Ambassador said that if the Foreign Office didn’t do something to suppress the league immediately, he would burn down the place. The next day Marten and his co-workers went to the Royal Administration of the Superior Court, No. 1, in Berlin, and through his attorney lodged a criminal charge of “threat of arson” against the Ambassador.
The next day Germany was flooded with letters from “The League of Truth,” saying:
“The undersigned committee of the League of Truth to their deepest regret felt compelled to inform the members that Ambassador Gerard had become involved in a criminal charge involving threat of arson. . . . All American citizens are now asked whether an Ambassador who acts so undignified at the moment of a formal threat of a wholly unnecessary war, is to be considered worthy further to represent a country like the United States.”
Were it not for the fact that at this time President Wilson was trying to impress upon Germany the seriousness of her continued disregard of American and neutral lives on the high seas, the whole thing would have been too absurd to notice. But Germany wanted to create the impression among her people that President Wilson was not speaking for America, and that the Ambassador was too insignificant to notice.
After this incident Gerard called upon von Jagow again and demanded the immediate suppression of the third number of Light and Truth. Before von Jagow consented Mrs. Neumann-Hofer turned upon her former propagandists and confessed. I believe her confession is in the State Department, but this is what she told me:
“Marten is a German and has never been called to the army because the General Staff has delegated him to direct this anti-American propaganda. [We were talking at the Embassy the day before the Ambassador left.] Marten is supported by some very high officials. He has letters of congratulations from the Chancellor, General von Falkenhayn, Count Zeppelin and others for one of his propaganda books entitled ‘German Barbarians.’ I think the Crown Prince is one of his backers, but I have never been able to prove it.”
On July 4th, 1915, the League of Truth issued what it called “A New Declaration of Independence.” This was circulated in German and English throughout the country. It was as follows:
* * * * * * * *
Seven score years have elapsed since those great words were forged that welded us into a nation upon many fiery battlefields.
In that day the strong voices of strong men rang across the world, their molten words flamed with light and their arms broke the visible chains of an intolerable bondage.
But now in the red reflex of the glare cast from the battlefields of Europe, the invisible manacles that have been cunningly laid upon our freedom have become shamefully apparent. They rattle in the ears of the world.
Our liberty has vanished once again. Yet our ancient enemy remains enthroned in high places within our land and in insolent ships before our gates. We have not only become Colonials once again, but subjects,—for true subjects are known by the measure of their willing subjection.
We Americans in the heart of this heroic nation now struggling for all that we ourselves hold dear, but against odds such as we were never forced to face, perceive this truth with a disheartening but unclouded vision.
Far from home we would to-day celebrate, as usual, the birthday of our land. But with heavy hearts we see that this would now seem like a hollow mockery of something solemn and immemorial. It were more in keeping with reality that we burnt incense upon the altars of the British Baal.
Independence Day without Independence! The liberty of the seas denied us for the peaceful Commerce of our entire land and granted us only for the murderous trafficking of a few men!
Independence Day has dawned for us in alien yet friendly land. It has brought to us at least the independence of our minds.
Free from the abominations of the most dastardly campaign of falsehood that ever disgraced those who began and those who believe it, we have stripped ourselves of the rags of many perilous illusions. We see America as a whole, and we see it with a fatal and terrible clarity.
We see that once again our liberties of thought, of speech, of intercourse, of trade, are threatened, nay, already seized by the one ancient enemy that can never be our friend.
With humiliation we behold our principles, our sense of justice trodden underfoot. We see the wild straining of the felon arms that would drag our land into the abyss of the giant Conspiracy and Crime.
We see the foul alliance of gold, murderous iron and debauched paper to which we have been sold.
We know that our pretenses and ambitions as heralds of peace are monstrous, so long as we profit through war and human agony.
We see these rivers of blood that have their source in our mills of slaughter.
The Day of Independence has dawned.
It is a solemn and momentous hour for America,
It is a day on which our people must speak with clear and inexorable voice, or sit silent in shame.
It is the great hour in which we dare not celebrate our first Declaration of Independence, because the time has come when we must proclaim a new one over the corpse of that which has perished.
Berlin, July 4th, 1915.
* * * * * * * *
The League of Truth, however, was but one branch of the intricate propaganda system. While it was financed almost entirely by German-Americans living in Germany who retained their American passports to keep themselves, or their children, out of the army, all publications for this bureau were approved by the Foreign Office censors. Germans, connected with the organisation, were under direction of the General Staff or Navy.
In order to have the propaganda really successful some seeds of discontent had to be sown in the United States, in South America and Mexico as well as in Spain and other European neutral countries. For this outside propaganda, money and an organisation were needed. The Krupp ammunition interests supplied the money and the Foreign Office the organisation.
For nearly two years the American press regularly printed despatches from the Overseas News Agency. Some believed they were “official.” This was only half true. The Krupps had been financing this news association. The government had given its support and the two wireless towers at Sayville, Long Island, and Tuckerton, N. J., were used as “footholds” on American soil. These stations were just as much a part of the Krupp works as the factories at Essen or the shipyards of Kiel. They were to disseminate the Krupp-fed, Krupp-owned, Krupp-controlled news, of the Overseas News Agency.
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.
At the beginning of the war, when the British censors refused the American correspondents in Germany the right of telegraphing to the United States via England, the Berlin Government granted permission to the United Press, The Associated Press and the Chicago Daily News to send wireless news via Sayville. At first this news was edited by the correspondents of these associations and newspapers in Berlin. Later, when the individual correspondents began to demand more space on the wireless, the news sent jointly to these papers was cut down. This unofficial league of American papers was called the “War-Union.” The news which this union sent was German, but it was written by trained American writers. When the Government saw the value of this service to the United States it began to send wireless news of its own. Then the Krupp interests appeared, and the Overseas News Agency was organised. At that moment the Krupp invasion of the United States began and contributed 800,000 marks annually to this branch of propaganda alone.
Dr. Hammann, for ten years chief of the Berlin Foreign Office propaganda department, was selected as president of the Overseas News Agency. The Krupp interests, which had been subscribing 400,000 marks annually to this agency, subscribed the same amount to the reorganised company. Then, believing that another agency could be organised, subscribed 400,000 marks more to the Transocean News Agency. Because there was so much bitterness and rivalry between the officials of the two concerns, the Government stepped in and informed the Overseas News Agency that it could send only “political news,” while the Trans-ocean was authorised to send “economic and social news” via Sayville and Tuckerton.
This news, however, was not solely for the United States. Krupp’s eyes were on Mexico and South America, so agents were appointed in Washington and New York to send the Krupp-bred wireless news from New York by cable to South America and Mexico. Obviously the same news which was sent to the United States could not be telegraphed to Mexico and South America, because Germany had a different policy toward these countries. The United States was on record against an unlimited submarine warfare. Mexico and South America were not. Brazil, which has a big German population, was considered an un-annexed German colony. News to Brazil, therefore, had to be coloured differently than news to New York. Some of the colouring was done in Berlin; some in New York by Krupp’s agents here. As a result of Germany’s anti-United States propaganda in South America and Mexico, these countries did not follow President Wilson when he broke diplomatic relations with Berlin. While public sentiment might have been against Germany, it was, to a certain degree, antagonistic to the United States.
Obviously, Germany had to have friends in this country to assist her, or what was being done would be traced too directly to the German Government. So Germany financed willing German-Americans in their propaganda schemes. And because no German could cross the ocean except with a falsified neutral passport, Germany had to depend upon German-Americans with American passports to bring information over. These German-Americans, co-operating with some of the Americans in Berlin, kept informing the Foreign Office, the army and navy as well as influential Reichstag members that the real power behind the government over here was not the press and public opinion but the nine million Americans who were directly or indirectly related to Germany. During this time the Government felt so sure that it could rely upon the so-called German-Americans that the Government considered them as a German asset whenever there was a submarine crisis.
When Henry Morgenthau, former American Ambassador to Turkey, passed through Berlin, en route to the United States, he conferred with Zimmermann, who was then Under Secretary of State. During the course of one of their conversations Zimmermann said the United States would never go to war with Germany, “because the German-Americans would revolt.” That was one of Zimmermann’s hobbies. Zimmermann told other American officials and foreign correspondents that President Wilson would not be able to bring the United States to the brink of war, because the “German-Americans were too powerful.”
But Zimmermann was not making these statements upon his own authority. He was being kept minutely advised about conditions here through the German spy system and by German-American envoys, who came to Berlin to report on progress the German-Americans were making here in politics and in Congress.
Zimmermann was so “dead sure” he was right in expecting a large portion of Americans to be disloyal that one time during a conversation with Ambassador Gerard he said that he believed Wilson was only bluffing in his submarine notes. When Zimmermann was Under Secretary of State I used to see him very often. His conversation would contain questions like these:
“Well, how is your English President? Why doesn’t your President do something against England?”
Zimmermann was always in close touch with the work of Captains von Papen and Boy-Ed when they were in this country. He was one of the chief supports of the little group of intriguers in Berlin who directed German propaganda here. Zimmermann was the man who kept Baron Mumm von Schwarzenstein, former Ambassador to Tokyo, in the Foreign Office in Berlin as chief of foreign propaganda and intrigue in America and China. Mumm had been here as Minister Extra-ordinary several years ago and knew how Germany’s methods could be used to the best purpose, namely, to divide American sentiment. Then, when Zimmermann succeeded Jagow he ousted Mumm because Mumm had become unpopular with higher Government authorities.
One day in Berlin, just before the recall of the former German military and naval attaches in Washington, I asked Zimmermann whether Germany sanctioned what these men had been doing. He replied that Germany approved everything they had done “because they had done nothing more than try to keep America out of the war; to prevent American goods reaching the Allies and to persuade Germans and those of German descent not to work in ammunition factories.” The same week I overheard in a Berlin cafe two reserve naval officers discuss plans for destroying Allied ships sailing from American ports. One of these men was an escaped officer of an interned liner at Newport News. He had escaped to Germany by way of Italy. That afternoon when I saw Ambassador Gerard I told him of the conversation of these two men, and also what Zimmermann had said. The Ambassador had just received instructions from Washington about Boy-Ed and von Papen.
Gerard was furious.
“Go tell Zimmermann,” he said, “for God’s sake to leave America alone. If he keeps this up he’ll drag us into the war. The United States won’t stand this sort of thing indefinitely.”
That evening I went back to the Foreign Office and saw Zimmermann for a few minutes. I asked him why it was that Germany, which was at peace with the United States, was doing everything within her power to make war.
“Why, Germany is not doing anything to make you go to war,” he replied. “Your President seems to want war. Germany is not responsible for what the German-Americans are doing. They are your citizens, not ours. Germany must not be held responsible for what those people do.”
Had it not been for the fact that the American Government was fully advised about Zimmermann’s intrigues in the United States this remark might be accepted on its face. The United States knew that Germany was having direct negotiations with German-Americans in the United States. Men came to Germany with letters of introduction from leading German-Americans here, with the expressed purpose of trying to get Germany to stop its propaganda here. What they did do was to assure Germany that the German-Americans would never permit the United States to be drawn into the war. Because of their high recommendations from Germans here some of them had audiences with the Kaiser.
Germany had been supporting financially some Americans, as the State Department has proof of checks which have been given to American citizens for propaganda and spy work.
I know personally of one instance where General Director Heinicken, of the North German-Lloyd, gave an American in Berlin $1,000 for his reports on American conditions. The name cannot be mentioned because there are no records to prove the transaction, although the man receiving this money came to me and asked me to transmit $250 to his mother through the United Press office. I refused.
When Zimmermann began to realise that Germany’s threatening propaganda in the United States and Germany’s plots against American property were not succeeding in frightening the United States away from war, he began to look forward to the event of war. He saw, as most Germans did, that it would be a long time before the United States could get forces to Europe in a sufficient number to have a decisive effect upon the war. He began to plan with the General Staff and the Navy to league Mexico against America for two purposes. One, Germany figured that a war with Mexico would keep the United States army and navy busy over here. Further, Zimmermann often said to callers that if the United States went to war with Mexico it would not be possible for American factories to send so much ammunition and so many supplies to the Allies.
German eyes turned to Mexico. As soon as President Wilson recognised Carranza as President, Germany followed with a formal recognition. Zubaran Capmany, who had been Mexican representative in Washington, was sent to Berlin as Carranza’s Minister. Immediately upon his arrival Zimmermann began negotiations with him. Reports of the negotiations were sent to Washington. The State Department was warned that unless the United States solved the “Mexican problem” immediately Germany would prepare to attack us through Mexico. German reservists were tipped off to be ready to go to Mexico upon a moment’s notice. Count von Bernstorff and the German Consuls in the United States were instructed, and Bernstorff, who was acting as the general director of German interests in North and South America, was told to inform the German officials in the Latin-American countries. At the same time German financial interests began to purchase banks, farms and mines in Mexico.
THE DOWNFALL OF VON TIRPITZ AND VON FALKENHAYN
After the sinking of the Arabic the German Foreign Office intimated to the United States Government and to the American correspondents that methods of submarine warfare would be altered and that ships would be warned before they were torpedoed. But when the Navy heard that the Foreign Office was inclined to listen to Mr. Wilson’s protests it made no attempt to conceal its opposition. Gottlieb von Jagow, the Secretary of State, although he was an intimate friend of the Kaiser and an officer in the German Army, was at heart a pacifist. Every time an opportunity presented itself he tried to mobilise the peace forces of the world to make peace. From time to time, the German financiers and propaganda leaders in the United States, as well as influential Germans in the neutral European countries, sent out peace “feelers.” Von Jagow realised that the sooner peace was made, the better it would be for Germany and the easier it would be for the Foreign Office to defeat the military party at home. He saw that the more victories the army had and the
The repeated violations of the pledges made by the Foreign Office to the United States aroused American public opinion to white heat, and justly so, because the people here did not understand that the real submarine crisis was not between President Wilson and Berlin but between Admiral von Tirpitz and Secretary von Jagow and their followers. President Wilson was at the limit of his patience with Germany and the German people, who were becoming impatient over the long drawn out proceedings, began to accept the inspired thinking of the Navy and to believe that Wilson was working for the defeat of Germany by interfering with submarine activities.
On February 22nd, 1916, in one of my despatches I said: “The patient attitude toward America displayed during the Lusitania negotiations, it is plain to-day, no longer exists because of the popular feeling that America has already hindered so many of Germany’s plans.” At that time it appeared to observers in Berlin that unless President Wilson could show more patience than the German Government the next submarine accident would bring about a break in relations. Commenting on this despatch the Indianapolis News the next day said:
“In this country the people feel that all the patience has been shown by their government. We believe that history will sustain that view. Almost ten months ago more than 100 American citizens were deliberately done to death by the German Government, for it is understood that the submarine commander acted under instructions, and that Germany refuses to disavow on the ground that the murderous act was the act of the German Government. Yet, after all this time, the Lusitania case is still unsettled. The administration has, with marvellous self-restraint, recognised that public opinion in Germany was not normal, and for that reason it has done everything in its power to smooth the way to a settlement by making it as easy as possible for the Imperial Government to meet our just demands. Indeed, the President has gone so far as to expose himself to severe criticism at home. We believe that he would have been sustained if he had, immediately after the sinking of the Lusitania, broken off diplomatic relations.
“But he has stood out against public opinion in his own country, waited ten months for an answer, and done everything that he could in honour due to soften the feeling here. Yet just on the eve of a settlement that would have been unsatisfactory to many of our people, Germany announced the policy that we had condemned as illegal, and that plainly is illegal. The trouble in Berlin is an utter inability to see anything wrong in the attack on the Lusitania, or to appreciate the sense of horror that was stirred in this country by it. The idea seems to be that the policy of frightfulness could be extended to the high seas without in any way shocking the American people. Nothing has come from Berlin that indicates any feeling of guilt on the part of the German people or their Government.
“In the United States, on the contrary, the act is regarded as one of the blackest crimes of history. And yet, in spite of that feeling, we have waited patiently for ten months in the hope that the German Government would do justice, and clear its name of reproach. Yet now we are told that it is Germany that has shown a ‘patient attitude,’ the implication or insinuation being that our long suffering administration has been unreasonable and impatient. That will not be the verdict of history, as it is not the verdict of our own people. We have made every allowance for the conditions existing in Germany, and have resolutely refused to take advantage of her distress. We doubt whether there is any other government in the world that would have shown the patience and moderation, under like provocation, that have been shown by the American Government in these Lusitania negotiations.”
I sent the editorial to von Jagow, who returned it the next day with the brief comment on one of his calling cards: “With many thanks.”
About this time Count Reventlow and the other naval writers began to refer to everything President Wilson did as a “bluff.” When Col. E. M. House came to Berlin early in 1916, he tried to impress the officials with the fact that Mr. Wilson was not only not bluffing, but that the American people would support him in whatever he did in dealing with the German Government. Mr. Gerard tried too to impress the Foreign Office but because he could only deal with that branch of the Government, he could not change the Navy’s impression, which was that Wilson would never take a definite stand against Germany. On the 8th of February, the London Times printed the following despatch which I had sent to the United States:
“Mr. Gerard has been accused of not being forceful enough in dealing with the Berlin Foreign Office. In Berlin he has been criticised for just the opposite. It has been stated frequently that he was too aggressive. The Ambassador’s position was that he must carry out Mr. Wilson’s ideas. So he tried for days and weeks to impress officials with the seriousness of the situation. At the critical point in the negotiations various unofficial diplomats began to arrive and they seriously interfered with negotiations. One of these was a politician who through his credentials from Mr. Bryan met many high officials, and informed them that President Wilson was writing his notes for ’home consumption.’ Mr. Gerard, however, appealed to Washington to know what was meant by the moves of this American with authority from Mr. Bryan. This was the beginning of the reason for Secretary Bryan’s resigning.
“Secretary Bryan had informed also former Ambassador Dumba that the United States would never take any position against Germany even though it was hinted so in the Lusitania note. Dumba telegraphed this to Vienna and Berlin was informed immediately. Because of Mr. Gerard’s personal friendship and personal association with Secretary of State von Jagow and Under Secretary of State Zimmermann, he was acquainted with Secretary Bryan’s move. He telegraphed to President Wilson and the result was the resignation of Mr. Bryan.”
In December, the Ancona was torpedoed and it was officially explained that the act was that of an Austrian submarine commander. Wilson’s note to Vienna brought about a near rupture between Austria-Hungary and Germany because Austria and Hungary at that time were much opposed to Germany’s submarine methods. Although the submarines operating in the Mediterranean were flying the Austrian flag, they were German submarines, and members of the crews were German. Throughout the life of the Emperor Franz Josef the Dual Monarchy was ruled, not from Vienna, but from Budapest by Count Stefan Tisza, the Hungarian Premier. I was in Budapest at the time and one evening saw Count Tisza at his palace, which stands on the rocky cliff opposite the main part of Budapest, and which overlooks the valley of the Danube for many miles. Tisza, as well as all Hungarians, is pro-American before he is pro-German.
“To think of trouble between Austria-Hungary and the United States is sheer nonsense,” he said in his quiet but forceful manner. “I must confess, however, that we were greatly surprised to get the American note. It is far from our intention to get into any quarrel with America. Perhaps I should not say quarrel, because I know it would not be that, but of course matters do not depend upon us entirely. There is no reason for any trouble over the Ancona question. It must be settled satisfactorily,” he said emphatically, “not only from the standpoint of the United States, but from our standpoint.”
The Ancona crisis brought the Foreign Office new and unexpected support. Hungary was opposed to a dispute with America. In the first place, Hungarians are more of a liberty loving people than the Germans, and public opinion in Hungary rules the country. While there is a strong Government press, which is loyal to the Tisza party, there is an equally powerful opposition press which follows the leadership of Count Albert Apponyi and Count Julius Andrassy, the two most popular men in Hungarian public life. Apponyi told me on one occasion that while the Government was controlled by Tisza a great majority of the people sided with the opposition. He added that the constant antagonism of the Liberals and Democrats kept the Government within bounds.
Hungarians resented the stain upon their honour of the Ancona incident and they were on the verge of compelling Berlin to assume responsibility for the sinking and adjust the matter. But Berlin feared that if the Ancona crime was accredited to the real murderers it would bring about another, and perhaps a fatal crisis with the United States. So Vienna assumed responsibility and promised to punish the submarine commander who torpedoed the ship.
This opposition from Hungary embittered the German Navy but it was helpless. The growing fear of the effects which President Wilson’s notes were having upon Americans and upon the outside neutral world caused opposition to von Tirpitz to gain more force. In desperation von Tirpitz and his followers extended the anti-American propaganda and began personal attacks upon von Bethmann-Hollweg.
Bitterness between these two men became so great that neither of them would go to the Great Headquarters to confer with the Kaiser if the other was there. The personal opposition reached the point where the Kaiser could not keep both men in his cabinet. Von Tirpitz, who thought he was the hero of the German people because of the submarine policy, believed he had so much power that he could shake the hold which the Kaiser had upon the people and frighten the Emperor into the belief that unless he supported him against the Chancellor and the United States, the people would overthrow the Hohenzollern dynasty. But von Tirpitz had made a good many personal enemies especially among financiers and business men. So the Kaiser, instead of ousting the Chancellor, asked von Tirpitz to resign and appointed Admiral von Capelle, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and a friend of the Chancellor, as von Tirpitz’ successor. Admiral von Mueller, Chief of the Naval Cabinet, who was always at Great Headquarters as the Kaiser’s personal adviser on naval affairs, was opposed to von Tirpitz and exposed him at the Great Headquarters conferences by saying that von Tirpitz had falsified the Navy’s figures as to the number of submarines available for a blockade of England. Von Capelle supported von Mueller and when the friends of von Tirpitz in the Reichstag demanded an explanation for the ousting of their idol, both the Chancellor and von Capelle explained that Germany could not continue submarine warfare which von Tirpitz had started, because of the lack of the necessary submarines.
This was the first big victory of the Foreign Office. The democratic forces in Germany which had been fighting von Tirpitz for over a year were jubilant. Every one in Germany who realised that not until the hold of the military party upon the Kaiser and the Government was dislodged, would the Government be able to make peace now breathed sighs of relief and began to make plans for the adjustment of all differences with the United States and for a peace without annexation. Von Tirpitz had had the support of all the forces in Germany which looked forward to the annexation of Belgium and the richest portions of Northern France. Von Tirpitz was supported by the men who wanted the eastern border of Germany extended far into Poland and Lithuania.
Even Americans were delighted. Washington for the first time began to see that eleven months of patience was bearing fruit. But this period of exaltation was not destined to last very long. While the Chancellor had cleaned house in the Navy Department at Berlin he had overlooked Kiel. There were admirals and officers in charge there who were making preparations for the Navy. They were the men who talked to the submarine commanders before they started out on their lawless sea voyages.
On March 24th the whole world was shocked by another U-boat crime. The Sussex, a French channel steamer, plying between Folkstone and Dieppe, was torpedoed without warning and Americans were among the passengers killed and wounded. When the news reached Berlin, not only the Chancellor and the Foreign Office were shocked and horrified, but the American Embassy began to doubt whether the Chancellor really meant what he said when he informed Gerard confidentially that now that von Tirpitz was gone there would be no new danger from the submarines. Even the new Admiralty administration was loathe to believe that a German submarine was responsible.
By April 5th it was apparent to every one in Berlin that there would be another submarine crisis with the United States and that the reactionary forces in Germany would attempt again to overthrow the Chancellor. Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, who had been doing everything possible to get some one to propose peace, decided to address the Reichstag again on Germany’s peace aims. It was announced in the newspapers only a few days beforehand. The demand for tickets of admission was so great that early in the morning on the day scheduled for the address such dense crowds surrounded the Reichstag building that the police had to make passages so the military automobiles could reach the building to bring the officials there.
The Chamber itself was crowded to the rafters. On the floor of the House practically every member was in his seat. On the rostrum were several hundred army and naval officers, all members of the cabinet, prominent business men and financiers. Every one awaited the entrance of the Chancellor with great expectations. The National Liberals, who had been clamouring for the annexation of Belgium, the conservatives, who wanted a stronger war policy against England, the Socialists, who wanted real guarantees for the German people for the future and a peace without annexation, sat quietly in their seats anxiously awaiting the Chancellor’s remarks which were expected to satisfy all wants.
The Chancellor entered the chamber from the rear of the rostrum and proceeded to his desk in the front platform row, facing the House and galleries. After a few preliminary remarks by President Kaempf, the Chancellor arose. To the Chancellor’s left, near the rear of the hall among his Socialist colleagues, sat a nervous, determined and defiant radical. He was dressed in the uniform of a common soldier. Although he had been at the front several months and in the firing line, he had not received the iron cross of the second class which practically every soldier who had seen service had been decorated with. His clothes were soiled, trousers stuffed into the top of heavy military boots. His thick, curly hair was rumpled. At this session of the Reichstag the Chancellor was to have his first encounter with Dr. Karl Liebknecht, the Socialist radical, who in his soldier’s uniform was ready to challenge anything the Chancellor said.
The Chancellor began his address, as he began all others, by referring to the strong military position of the German army. He led up, gradually, to the subject of peace. When the Chancellor said: “We could have gotten what we wanted by peaceful work. Our enemies chose war.” Liebknecht interjected in his sharp, shrill voice, “You chose the war!” There was great excitement and hissing; the President called for order. Members shouted: “Throw him out!” But Liebknecht sat there more determined than ever.
The Chancellor continued for a few minutes until he reached the discussion of the establishment of a Flemish nation in Belgium, when Liebknecht again interrupted, but the Chancellor continued: “Gentlemen, we want neighbours who will not again unite against us in order to strangle us, but such that we can work with them and they with us to our mutual advantage.” A storm of applause greeted this remark. Liebknecht was again on his feet and shouted, “Then you will fall upon them!”
“The Europe which will arise from this, the most gigantic of all crises, will in many respects not resemble the old one,” continued von Bethmann-Hollweg. “The blood which has been shed will never come back; the wealth which has been wasted will come back but only slowly. In any case, it must become, for all living in it, a Europe of peaceful labour. The peace which shall end this war must be a lasting one and not containing the germ of a fresh war, but establishing a final and peaceful order of things in European affairs.”
Before the applause had gotten a good start the fiery private in the Socialists’ rank was again on his feet, this time shouting, “Liberate the German people first!”
Throughout the Chancellor’s speech there was not one reference to the Sussex. The Chancellor was anxious if he could to turn the world’s attention from the Sussex to the larger question of peace, but the world was not so inclined. On the 18th of April I asked Admiral von Holtzendorff, Chief of the Admiralty Staff, for his opinion about the Sussex. Two days later he approved the interview, in which I quoted him as saying:
“We did not sink the Sussex. I am as convinced of that as of anything which has happened in this war. If you read the definite instructions, the exact orders each submarine commander has you would understand that the torpedoing of the Sussex was impossible. Many of our submarines have returned from rounding up British vessels. They sighted scores of passenger ships going between England and America but not one of these was touched.
“We have definitely agreed to warn the crews and passengers of passenger liners. We have lived up to that promise in every way. We are not out to torpedo without warning neutral ships bound for England. Our submarines have respected every one of them so far, and they have met scores in the North Sea, the Channel and the Atlantic.”
On the same day that Ambassador Gerard handed von Jagow Secretary Lansing’s note, Under Secretary of State Zimmermann approved the von Holtzendorff interview. Zimmermann could not make himself believe that a German submarine was responsible and the Government had decided to disavow all responsibility. But such convincing reports began to arrive from the United States and from neutral European countries which proved beyond a doubt that a German submarine was responsible, that the Government had to again bring up the submarine issue at Great Headquarters. When the von Holtzendorff interview was published in the United States it caused a sensation because if Germany maintained the attitude which the Chief of the Admiralty Staff had taken with the approval of the Foreign Office, a break in diplomatic relations could not be avoided. Secretary Lansing telegraphed Ambassador Gerard to inquire at the Foreign Office whether the statements of von Holtzendorff represented the opinions of the German Government. Gerard called me to the Embassy but before I arrived Dr. Heckscher, of the Reichstag Foreign Relations Committee, came. Gerard called me in in Heckscher’s presence to ask if I knew that the von Holtzendorff interview would bring about a break in diplomatic relations unless it was immediately disavowed. He told Dr. Heckscher to inform Zimmermann that if the Chief of the Admiralty Staff was going to direct Germany’s foreign policies he would ask his government to accredit him to the naval authorities and not to the Foreign Office. Heckscher would not believe my statement that Zimmermann had approved the interview and assured Gerard that within a very short time the Foreign Office would disavow von Holtzendorff’s statements. When he arrived at the Foreign Office, however, Zimmermann not only refused to disavow the Admiral’s statement but informed Heckscher that he had the same opinions.
President Wilson was at the end of his patience. Probably he began to doubt whether he could rely upon the reports of Ambassador Gerard that there was a chance of the democratic forces in Germany coming out ahead of the military caste. Wilson showed his attitude plainly in the Sussex note when he said:
“The Government of the United States has been very patient. At every stage of this distressing experience of tragedy after tragedy it has sought to be governed by the most thoughtful considerations of the extraordinary circumstances of an unprecedented war and to be guided by sentiments of very genuine friendship for the people and the Government of Germany. It has accepted the successive explanations and assurances of the Imperial Government as of course given in entire sincerity and good faith, and has hoped even against hope that it would prove to be possible for the Imperial Government so to order and control the acts of its naval commanders as to square its policy with the recognised principles of humanity as embodied in the law of nations. It has made every allowance for unprecedented conditions and has been willing to wait until the facts became unmistakable and were susceptible of only one interpretation. It now owes it to a just regard, for its own rights to say to the Imperial Government that that time has come. It has become painfully evident to it that the position which it took at the very outset is inevitable, namely that the use of submarines for the destruction of enemy commerce is of necessity, because of the very character of the vessels employed and the very methods, of attack which their employment of course involves, utterly incompatible with the principles of humanity, the long established and incontrovertible rights of neutrals and the sacred immunities of non-combatants.
“If it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prosecute relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by the use of submarines without regard to what the Government of the United States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of international law and the universally recognised dictates of humanity, the Government of the United States is at last forced to the conclusion that there is but one course it can pursue. Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight carrying vessels, the Government of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Government altogether. This action the Government of the United States contemplates with the greatest reluctance but feels constrained to take in behalf of humanity and the rights of neutral nations.”
After von Jagow read the note the Foreign Office Telegraph Bureau sent it to Great Headquarters, which at this time was still located in Charleville, France, for the information of the Kaiser and General von Falkenhayn. It was evident to every one in Berlin that again, not only the submarine issue was to be debated at Great Headquarters, but that the Kaiser was to be forced again to decide between the Chancellor and his democratic supporters and von Falkenhayn and the military party. Before the Conference convened
The latter part of April the Kaiser summoned all of his ministers and his leading generals to the French chateau which he used as his headquarters in Charleville. This city is one of the most picturesque cities in the occupied districts of northern France. It is located on the banks of the Meuse and contains many historic, old ruins. At one end of the town is a large stone castle, surrounded by a moat. This was made the headquarters of the General Staff after the Germans invaded this section of France. Near the railroad station there was a public park. Facing it was a French chateau, a beautiful, comfortable home. This was the Kaiser’s residence. All streets leading in this direction were barricaded and guarded by sentries. No one could pass without a special written permit from the Chief of the General Staff. Von Falkenhayn had his home nearby in another of the beautiful chateaux there. The chief of every department of the General Staff lived in princely fashion in houses which in peace time were homes for distinguished Frenchmen. There were left in Charleville scarcely a hundred French citizens, because obviously French people, who were enemies of Germany, could not he permitted to go back and forth in the city which was the centre of German militarism.
When the ministers arrived at the Kaiser’s headquarters, His Majesty asked each one to make a complete report on the submarine war as it affected his department. Dr. Helfferich was asked to go into the question of German finance and the relation of America to it. Dr. Solf, the Colonial Minister, who had been a very good friend of Ambassador Gerard, discussed the question of the submarine warfare from the stand-point of its relation to Germany’s position as a world power. Admiral von Capelle placed before the Kaiser the figures of the number of ships sunk, their tonnage, the number of submarines operating, the number under construction and the number lost. General von Falkenhayn reported on the military situation and discussed the hypothetical question as to what effect American intervention would have upon the European war theatres.
While the conferences were going on, Dr. Heckscher and Under Secretary Zimmermann, who at that time were anxious to avoid a break with the United States, sounded Ambassador Gerard as to whether he would be willing to go to Great Headquarters to confer with the Kaiser. The Foreign Office at the same time suggested the matter to the General Staff and within a few hours Mr. Gerard was invited to go to Charleville. Before the ambassador arrived the Kaiser called all of his ministers together for a joint session and asked them to make a brief summary of their arguments. This was not a peace meeting. Not only opponents of submarine warfare but its advocates mobilised all their forces in a final attempt to win the Kaiser’s approval. His Majesty, at this time, was inclined towards peace with America and was very much impressed by the arguments which the Chancellor and Dr. Helfferich presented. But, at this meeting, while Helfferich was talking and pointing to the moral effect which the ruthless torpedoing of ships was having upon neutral countries, von Falkenhayn interrupted with the succinct statement:
“Neutrals? Damn the neutrals! Win the war! Our task is to win. If we win we will have the neutrals with us; if we lose we lose.”
“Falkenhayn, when you are versed in foreign affairs I’ll ask you to speak,” interrupted the Kaiser. “Proceed, Dr. Helfferich.”
Gentleman that he is, von Falkenhayn accepted the Imperial rebuke, but not long afterward his resignation was submitted.
As a result of these conferences and the arguments advanced by Ambassador Gerard, Secretary von Jagow on May 4th handed the Ambassador the German note in reply to President Wilson’s Sussex ultimatum. In this communication Germany said:
“Fully conscious of its strength, the German Government has twice in the course of the past few months expressed itself before all the world as prepared to conclude a peace safeguarding the vital interests of Germany. In doing so, it gave expression to the fact that it was not its fault if peace was further withheld from the peoples of Europe. With a correspondingly greater claim of justification, the German Government may proclaim its unwillingness before mankind and history to undertake the responsibility, after twenty-one months of war, to allow the controversy that has arisen over the submarine question to take a turn which might seriously affect the maintenance of peace between these two nations.
“The German Government guided by this idea notifies the Government of the United States that instructions have been issued to German naval commanders that the precepts of the general international fundamental principles be observed as regards stopping, searching and destruction of merchant vessels within the war zone and that such vessels shall not be sunk without warning and without saving human life unless the ship attempts to escape or offers resistance.”
At the beginning of the war it was a group of military leaders consisting of General von Moltke, General von Falkenhayn, General von Mackensen, General von Herringen, Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, and a few of the Prussian military clique, which prevailed upon the Kaiser to go to war after the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife. The Allies proclaimed in their publications, in the press and in Parliaments that they were fighting to destroy and overthrow the military party in Germany which could make war without public consent. Millions of Allied soldiers were mobilised and fighting in almost a complete ring surrounding Germany, Austria Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. They had been fighting since August, 1914, for twenty-one months, and still their fighting had not shattered or weakened the hold which the military party had upon the people and the Kaiser. Von Tirpitz and von Falkenhayn, who, shortly after the war began, became the ringleaders of Germany’s organised Might, had fallen not before the armed foes on the battlefield but before an unarmed nation with a president whose only weapon was public opinion. First, von Tirpitz fell because he was ready to defy the United States. Then came the downfall of von Falkenhayn, because he was prepared to damn the United States and all neutrals. Surely a nation and a government after thirteen months of patience and hope had a right to believe that after all public opinion was a weapon which was sometimes more effective than any other. Mr. Wilson and the State Department were justified in feeling that their policy toward Germany was after all successful not alone because it had solved the vexing submarine issue, but because it had aided the forces of democracy in Germany. Because, with the downfall of von Falkenhayn and von Tirpitz, there was only one recognised authority in Germany. That was the Chancellor and the Foreign Office, supported almost unanimously by the Socialists and by the Liberal forces which were at work to reform the German Government.
But this was in May, 1916, scarcely eight months before the Kaiser changed his mind and again decided to support the people who were clamouring for a ruthless, murderous, defiant war against the whole world, if the world was “foolish” enough to join in.
THE PERIOD OF NEW ORIENTATION
Dr. Karl Liebknecht, after he had challenged the Chancellor on the 4th of April, became the object of attack by the military authorities. The Chancellor, although he is the real Minister of Foreign Affairs, is, also, a Major General in the Army and for a private like Liebknecht to talk to a Major General as he did in the Reichstag was contrary to all rules and precedents in the Prussian Army. The army was ready to send Liebknecht to the firing squad and it was only a short time until they had an opportunity to arrest him.
Liebknecht’s imprisonment was a lesson to other Socialist agitators. The day after his sentencing was announced there were strikes in nearly every ammunition factory in and around Berlin. Even at Spandau, next to Essen the largest ammunition manufacturing city in Germany, several thousand workmen left their benches as a protest, but the German people have such terrible fear of the police and of their own military organisation that they strike only a day and return the next to forget about previous events.
If there were no other instances in Germany to indicate that there was the nucleus for a democracy this would seem to be one. One might say, too, that if such leaders as Liebknecht could be assisted, the movement for more freedom might have more success.
It was very difficult for the German public to accept the German reply to President Wilson’s Sussex note. The people were bitter against the United States. They hated Wilson. They feared him. And the idea of the German Government bending its knee to a man they hated was enough cause for loud protests. This feeling among the people found plenty of outlets. The submarine advocates, who always had their ears to the ground, saw that they could take advantage of this public feeling at the expense of the Chancellor and the Foreign Office. Prince von Buelow, the former Chancellor, who had been spending most of his time in Switzerland after his failure to keep Italy out of the war, had written a book entitled “Deutsche Politik,” which was intended to be an indictment of von Bethmann-Hollweg’s international policies. Von Buelow returned to Berlin at the psychological moment and began to mobilise the forces against the Chancellor.
[Illustration: Gott strafe England.]
After the Sussex dispute was ended the Socialist organ Vorwaerts, supported by Philip Scheidemann, leader of the majority of the Socialists, demanded that the Government take some steps toward peace. But the General Staff was so busy preparing for the expected Allied offensive that it had no time to think about peace or about internal questions. When von Falkenhayn resigned and von Hindenburg arrived at Great Headquarters to succeed him the two generals met for the first time in many months. (There was bitter feeling between the two.) Von Falkenhayn, as he turned the office over to his successor, said:
“Has Your Excellency the courage to take over this position now?”
“I have always had the courage, Your Excellency,” replied von Hindenburg, “but not the soldiers.”
In the Reichstag there has been only one real democratic party. That is the Socialist. The National Liberal Party, which has posed as a reform organisation, is in reality nothing more than the party controlled by the ammunition and war industries. When these interests heard that submarine warfare was to be so restricted as to be practically negligible, they began to sow seeds of discontent among the ammunition makers. These interests began to plan for the time when the submarine warfare would again be discussed. Their first scheme was to try to overthrow the Chancellor. If they were not successful then they intended to take advantage of the democratic movement which was spreading in Germany to compel the Government to consent to the creation of a Reichstag Committee on Foreign Affairs to consult with the Foreign Office when all questions of international policy, including submarine warfare, was up for discussion. Their first policy was tried early in July. Seizing that clause in the German note which said that Germany would hold herself free to change her promises in the Sussex case if the United States was not successful against England, the Navy began to threaten the United States with renewed submarine warfare unless President Wilson acted against Great Britain.
Reporting some of these events on June 12th, the Evening Ledger of Philadelphia printed the following despatch which I sent:
“BERLIN, July 12.—The overthrow of Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, champion of a conciliatory policy toward the United States, and the unloosing of German submarines within three months, was predicted by von Tirpitz supporters here to-day unless President Wilson acts against the British blockade.
“Members of the Conservative party and those favouring annexation of territory conquered by Germany joined in the forecast. They said the opinion of America will be disregarded.
“A private source, close to the Foreign Office, made this statement regarding the attempt to unseat Bethmann-Hollweg at a time when the war is approaching a crisis:
“’Unless America does something against England within the next three months there will be a bitter fight against the Chancellor. One cannot tell whether he will be able to hold his own against such opposition. The future of German-American relations depends upon America.’
“Despite this political drive against the man who stood out against a break with the United States in the Lusitania crisis, Americans here believe Bethmann-Hollweg will again emerge triumphant. They feel certain that if the Chancellor appealed to the public for a decision he would be supported.
“The fight to oust the Chancellor has now grown to such proportions that it overshadows in interest the Allied offensive. The attacks on the Chancellor have gradually grown bolder since the appearance of Prince Buelow’s book ‘Deutsche Politik,’ because this book is believed to be the opening of Buelow’s campaign to oust the Chancellor and step back into the position he occupied until succeeded by Bethmann-Hollweg in 1909.
“The movement has grown more forceful since the German answer to President Wilson’s ultimatum was sent. The Conservatives accepted the German note as containing a conditional clause, and they have been waiting to see what steps the United States would take against England.
“Within the past few days I have discussed the situation with leaders of several parties in the Reichstag. A National Liberal member of the Reichstag, who was formerly a supporter of von Tirpitz, and the von Tirpitz submarine policies, said he thought Buelow’s success showed that opposition to America was not dead.
“‘Who is going to be your next President—Wilson or Hughes?’ he asked, and then, without waiting for an answer, continued:
“’If it is Hughes he can be no worse than Wilson. The worst he can do is to declare war on Germany and certainly that would be preferable to the present American neutrality.
“’If this should happen every one in our navy would shout and throw up his hat, for it would mean unlimited sea war against England. Our present navy is held in a net of notes.
“’What do you think the United States could do? You could not raise an army to help the Allies. You could confiscate our ships in American ports, but if you tried to use them to carry supplies and munitions to the Allies we would sink them.
“’Carrying on an unlimited submarine war, we could sink 600,000 tons of shipping monthly, destroy the entire merchant fleets of the leading powers, paralyse England and win the war. Then we would start all over, build merchantmen faster than any nation, and regain our position as a leading commercial power.’
“Friends of the Chancellor still hope that President Wilson will take a strong stand against England, thereby greatly strengthening Bethmann-Hollweg’s position. At present the campaign against the Chancellor is closely connected with internal policies of the Conservatives and the big land owners. The latter are fighting Bethmann-Hollweg because he promised the people, on behalf of the Kaiser, the enactment of franchise reforms after the war.”
Commenting on this despatch, the New York World said:
“Not long ago it was the fashion among the opponents of the Administration to jeer loudly at the impotent writing of notes. And even among the supporters of the Administration there grew an uneasy feeling that we had had notes ad nauseam.
“Yet these plodding and undramatic notes arouse in Germany a feeling very different from one of ridicule. The resentful respect for our notes is there admirably summed up by a member of the Reichstag who to the correspondent of the United Press exclaimed bitterly: ’Our present navy is held in a net of notes.’
“Nets may not be so spectacular as knuckle-dusters, but they are slightly more civilised and generally more efficient.”
The National Liberal Reichstag member who was quoted was Dr. Gustav Stressemann. Stressemann is one of the worst reactionaries in Germany but he likes to pose as a progressive. He was one of the first men to suggest that the Reichstag form a committee on foreign relations to consult with and have equal power of decision with the Foreign Office.
For a great many months the Socialist deputies of the Prussian Diet have been demanding election reforms. Their demands were so insistent that over a year ago the Chancellor, when he read the Kaiser’s address from the throne room in the residence palace in Berlin to the deputies, promised election reforms in Prussia—after the war. But during last summer the Socialists began to demand immediate election reforms. To further embarrass the Chancellor and the Government, the National Liberals made the same demands, knowing all the time that if the Government ever attempted it, they could swing the Reichstag majority against the proposal by technicalities.
Throughout the summer months the Government could not hush up the incessant discussion of war aims. More than one newspaper was suppressed for demanding peace or for demanding a statement of the Government’s position in regard to Belgium and Northern France. The peace movement within Germany grew by leaps and bounds. The Socialists demanded immediate action by the Government. The Conservatives, the National Liberals and the Catholic party wanted peace but only the kind of a peace which Germany could force upon the Entente. The Chancellor and other German leaders tried again throughout the summer and fall to get the outside world interested in peace but at this time the English and French attacks on the Somme were engaging the attention and the resources of the whole world.
Before these conflicting movements within Germany can be understood one must know something of the organisation of Germany in war time.
When the military leaders of Germany saw that the possibility of capturing Paris or of destroying London was small and that a German victory, which would fasten Teutonic peace terms on the rest of the world, was almost impossible, they turned their eyes to Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, the Balkans and Turkey. Friederich Naumann, member of the Progressive Party of the Reichstag, wrote a book on “Central Europe,” describing a great nation stretching from the North Sea to Bagdad, including Germany, all of Austria-Hungary, parts of Serbia and Roumania and Turkey, with Berlin as the Capital. It was toward this goal which the Kaiser turned the forces of Germany at his command. If Germany could not rule the world, if Germany could not conquer the nine nations which the Director of the Post and Telegraph had lined up on the 2nd of August, 1914, then Germany could at least conquer the Dual Monarchy, the Balkans and, Turkey, and even under these circumstances come out of the war a greater nation than she entered it. But to accomplish this purpose one thing had to be assured. That was the control of the armies and navies and the foreign policies of these governments. The old Kaiser Franz Josef was a man who guarded everything he had as jealously as a baby guards his toys. At one time when it was suggested to the aged monarch that Germany and Austria-Hungary could establish a great kingdom of Poland as a buffer nation, if he would only give up Galicia as one of the states of this kingdom, he replied in his childish fashion:
“What, those Prussians want to take another pearl out of my crown?”
In June the Austro-Hungarian General Staff conducted an offensive against Italy in the Trentino with more success than the Germans had anticipated. But the Austrians had not calculated upon Russia. In July General Brusiloff attacked the Austrian forces in the neighbourhood of Lusk, succeeded in persuading or bribing a Bohemian army corps to desert and started through the Austrian positions like a flood over sloping land. Brusiloff not only took several hundred thousand prisoners. He not only broke clear through the Austrian lines but he thoroughly demoralised and destroyed the Austrian army as a unit in the world war. Von Hindenburg, who had been made Chief of the German General Staff, was compelled to send thousands of troops to the Wohlynian battlefields to stop the Russian invasion. But von Hindenburg did not look with any degree of satisfaction upon the possibility of such a thing happening again and informed the Kaiser that he would continue as Chief of the General Staff only upon condition that he be made chief of all armies allied to Germany. At a Conference at Great Headquarters at Pless, in Silicia, where offices were moved from France as soon as the Field Marshal took charge, Hindenburg was made the leader of all the armed forces in Central Europe. Thus by one stroke, really by the aid of Russia, Germany succeeded in conquering Austria-Hungary and in taking away from her command all of the forces, naval and military, which she had. At the same time the Bulgarian and Turkish armies were placed at the disposal of von Hindenburg. So far so good for the Prussians.
But there were still some independent forces left within the Central Powers. Hungary was not content to do the bidding of Prussia. Hungarians were not ready to live under orders from Berlin. Even as late as a few months ago when the German Minister of the Interior called a conference in Berlin to mobilise all the food within the Central Powers, the Hungarians refused to join a scheme which would rob them of food they had jealously guarded and saved since the beginning of the war.
In the Dual Monarchy there are many freedom loving people who are longing for a deliverer. Hungary at one time feared Russia but only because of the Czar. The real and most powerful democratic force among the Teutonic allies is located there in Budapest. I know of no city outside of the United States where the people have such love of freedom and where public opinion plays such a big role. Budapest, even in war times, is one of the most delightful cities in Europe and Hungary, even as late as last December, was not contaminated by Prussian ideas. I saw Russian prisoners of war walking through the streets and mingling with the Hungarian soldiers and people. American Consul General Coffin informed me that there were seven thousand Allied subjects in Budapest who were undisturbed. English and French are much more popular than Germans. One day on my first visit in Budapest I asked a policeman in front of the Hotel Ritz in German, “Where is the Reichstag?” He shook his head and went on about his business regulating the traffic at the street corner. Then I asked him half in English and half in French where the Parliament was.
With a broad smile he said: “Ah, Monsieur, voila, this street your right, vis a vis.” Not a word of German would he speak.
After the Allied offensive began on the Somme the old friends of von Tirpitz, assisted by Prince von Buelow, started an offensive against the Chancellor, with renewed vigour. This time they were determined to oust him at all costs. They sent emissaries to the Rhine Valley, which is dominated by the Krupp ammunition factories. These emissaries began by attacking the Chancellor’s attitude towards the United States. They pointed out that Germany could not possibly win the war unless she defeated England, and it was easy for any German to see that the only way England could be attacked was from the seas; that as long as England had her fleet or her merchant ships she could continue the war and continue to supply the Allies. It was pointed out to the ammunition makers, also, that they were already fighting the United States; that the United States was sending such enormous supplies to the Entente, that unless the submarines were used to stop these supplies Germany would most certainly be defeated on land. And, it was explained that a defeat on land meant not only the defeat of the German army but the defeat of the ammunition interests.
From April to December, 1916, was also the period of pamphleteering. Every one who could write a pamphlet, or could publish one, did so. The censorship had prohibited so many people and so many organisations from expressing their views publicly that they chose this method of circulating their ideas privately. The pamphlets could be printed secretly and distributed through the mails so as to avoid both the censors and the Government. So every one in Germany began to receive documents and pamphlets about all the ails and complaints within Germany. About the only people who did not do this were the Socialists. The “Alt-Deutsch Verband,” which was an organisation of the great industrial leaders of Germany, had been bitterly attacked by the Berlin Tageblatt but when the directors wanted to publish their reply the censors prohibited it. So, the Alt-Deutsch Verband issued a pamphlet and sent it broadcast throughout Germany. In the meantime the Chancellor and the Government realised that unless something was done to combat these secret forces which were undermining the Government’s influence, that there would be an eruption in Germany which might produce serious results.
Throughout this time the Socialist party was having troubles of its own. Liebknecht was in prison but there was a little group of radicals who had not forgotten it. They wanted the Socialist party as a whole to do something to free Liebknecht. The party had been split before the advance of last summer so efforts were made to unite the two factions. At a well attended conference in the Reichstag building they agreed to forget old differences and join forces in support of the Government until winter, when it was hoped peace could be made.
The Socialist party at various times during the war has had a difficult time in agreeing on government measures. While the Socialists voted unanimously for war credits at the beginning, a year afterward many of them had changed their minds and had begun to wonder whether, after all, they had not made a mistake. This was the issue which brought about the first split in the Socialists’ ranks. When it came time in 1916 to vote further credits to the Government the Socialists held a caucus. After three days of bitter wrangling the ranks split. One group headed by Scheidemann decided to support the Government and another group with Herr Wolfgang Heine as the leader, decided to vote against the war loans.
Scheidemann, who is the most capable and most powerful Socialist in Germany, carried with him the majority of the delegates and was supported by the greater part of public opinion. Heine, however, had the support of men like Dr. Haase and Eduard Bernstein who had considerable influence with the public but who were not organisers or men capable of aggressive action, like Scheidemann. As far as affecting the Government’s plans were concerned the Socialist split did not amount to much. In Germany there
One night at the invitation of an editor of one of Berlin’s leading newspapers, who is a Socialist radical, I attended a secret session of the Socialist Labour Party. At this meeting there were present three members of the Reichstag, the President of one of Germany’s leading business organisations, two newspaper editors, one labour agitator who had been travelling to industrial centres to mobilise the forces which were opposed to a continuation of the war, and a rather well known Socialist writer who had been inspiring some anti-Government pamphlets which were printed in Switzerland and sent by mail to Germany. One of the business men present had had an audience of the Kaiser and he reported what the monarch told him about the possibilities of peace. The report was rather encouraging to the Socialists because the Kaiser said he would make peace as soon as there was an opportunity. But these Socialists did not have much faith in the Kaiser’s promises and jokingly asked the business man if the Kaiser did not decorate him as a result of the audience!
The real object of this meeting was to discuss means of acquainting the German people with the American organisation entitled the League to Enforce Peace. An American business man, who was a charter member of the American organisation, was there to explain the purposes of the League. The meeting decided upon the publication in as many German newspapers as possible of explanatory articles. The newspaper editor present promised to prepare them and urged their publication in various journals. The first article appeared in Die Welt Am Montag, one of the weekly newspapers of Berlin. It was copied by a number of progressive newspapers throughout the Empire but when the attention of the military and naval authorities was called to this propaganda an order was issued prohibiting any newspaper from making any reference to the League to Enforce Peace. The anti-American editorial writers were inspired to write brief notices to the effect that the League was in reality to be a League against Germany supported by England and the United States.
Throughout the summer and fall there appeared in various newspapers, including the influential Frankfurter Zeitung, inspired articles about the possibilities of annexing the industrial centres and important harbours of Belgium. In Munich and Leipsic a book by Dr. Schumacher, of Bonn University, was published, entitled, “Antwerp, Its World Position and Importance for Germany’s Economic Life.” Another writer named Ulrich Bauschey wrote a number of newspaper and magazine articles for the purpose of showing that Germany would need Antwerp after this war in order to successfully compete with Holland, England and France in world commerce. He figured that the difference between the cost of transportation from the Rhine Valley industrial cities to Antwerp and the cost of transportation from the Rhine Valley to Hamburg and Bremen would be great enough as to enable German products to be sold in America for less money than products of Germany’s enemies.
These articles brought up the old question of the “freedom of the seas.” Obviously, if the Allies were to control the seas after the war, as they had during the war, Germany could make no plans for the re-establishment of her world commerce unless there were some assurances that her merchant fleet would be as free on the high seas as that of any other nation. During the war Germany had talked a great deal about the freedom of the seas. When the Lusitania was torpedoed von Jagow said in an interview that Germany was fighting for the free seas and that by attacking England’s control, Germany was acting in the interests of the whole world. But Germany was really not sincere in what she said about having the seas free. What Germany really desired was not freedom of the seas in peace time because the seas had been free before the war. What Germany wanted was free seas in war time,—freedom for her own merchant ships to go from Germany to any part of the world and return with everything except absolute contraband. Germany’s object was to keep from building a navy great enough to protect her merchant fleet in order that she might devote all her energies to army organisation. But the freedom of the seas was a popular phrase. Furthermore it explained to the German people why their submarine warfare was not inhuman because it was really fighting for the freedom of all nations on the high seas!
[Illustration: This is the photograph of von Hindenburg which very German has in his home.]
While these public discussions were going on, the fight on the Chancellor began to grow. It was evident that when the Reichstag met again in September that there would be bitter and perhaps a decisive fight on von Bethmann-Hollweg. The division in Germany became so pronounced that people forgot for a time the old party lines and the newspapers and party leaders spoke of the “Bethmann parties” and the “von Tirpitz party.” Whether the submarine should be used ruthlessly against all
On September 20th a convention of Socialists was held in Berlin for the purpose of uniting the Socialist party in support of the Chancellor. The whole country was watching the Socialist discussions because every one felt that the Socialist party represented the real opinion of the people. After several days of discussion all factional differences were patched up and the Socialists were ready to present a solid front when the fight came in the Reichstag on September 28th. On the 27th, Berlin hotels began to buzz with excitement over the possibilities of overthrowing the Chancellor. The fight was led by the National Liberals and Centre Party groups. It was proposed by Dr. Coerting, an industrial leader from Hannover, to move a vote of lack of confidence in the Chancellor. Coerting was supported by the big ammunition interests and by the von Tirpitz crowd. Before the Reichstag convened the Chancellor went to Great Headquarters for a final conference with the Kaiser and Field Marshal von Hindenburg. Before he left it looked as if the Chancellor would be overthrown. But when he returned he summoned the Reichstag leaders who were supporting him and several editors of Liberal newspapers. The Chancellor told them that von Hindenburg would support him. The next day editorials appeared in a number of newspapers, saying that von Hindenburg and the Chancellor were united in their ideas. This was the most successful strategic move the Chancellor had made, for the public had such great confidence in von Hindenburg that when it was learned that he was opposed to von Tirpitz the backbone of opposition to the Chancellor was broken.
A few days afterward I saw Major Bassermann at his office in the Reichstag and asked him whether the campaign for an unlimited submarine warfare would be resumed after the action of the Reichstag in expressing confidence in the Chancellor. He said:
“That must be decided by the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Marine and the General Staff. England is our chief enemy and we must recognise this and defeat her.”
With his hands in his pocket, his face looking down, he paced his office and began a bitter denunciation of the neutrality of the United States. I asked him whether he favoured the submarine warfare even if it brought about a break with the United States.
“We wish to live in peace and friendship with America,” he began, “but undoubtedly there is bitter feeling here because American supplies and ammunition enable our enemies to continue the war. If America should succeed in forcing England to obey international law, restore freedom of the seas and proceed with American energy against England’s brutalisation of neutrals, it would have a decisive influence on the political situation between the two countries. If America does not do this then we must do it with our submarines.”
In October I was invited by the Foreign Office to go with a group of correspondents to Essen, Cologne and the Rhine Valley Industrial centres. In Essen I met Baron von Bodenhausen and other directors of Krupps. In Dusseldorf at the Industrie Klub I dined with the steel magnates of Germany and at Homburg-on-the-Rhine I saw August Thyssen, one of the richest men in Germany and the man who owns one-tenth of Germany’s coal and iron fields. The most impressive thing about this journey was what these men said about the necessity for unlimited warfare. Every man I met was opposed to the Chancellor. They hated him because he delayed mobilisation at the beginning of the war. They stated that they had urged the invasion of Belgium because if Belgium had not been invaded immediately France could have seized the Rhine Valley and made it impossible for Germany to manufacture war munitions and thereby to fight a war. They said they were in favour of an unlimited, ruthless submarine warfare against England and all ships going to the British Isles. Their opinions were best represented in an inspired editorial appearing in the Rhieinische Westfaelische Zeitung, in which it was stated:
“The war must be fought to a finish. Either Germany or England must win and the interests here on the Rhine are ready to fight until Germany wins.”
“Do you think Germany wants war with America?” I asked Thyssen.
“Never!” was his emphatic response. “First, because we have enemies enough, and, secondly, because in peace times, our relations with America are always most friendly. We want them to continue so after the war.”
Thyssen’s remarks could be taken on their face value were it not for the fact that the week before we arrived in these cities General Ludendorf, von Hindenhurg’s chief assistant and co-worker, was there to get the industrial leaders to manufacture more ammunition. Von Falkenhayn had made many enemies in this section because he cut down the ammunition manufacturing until these men were losing money. So the first thing von Hindenburg did was to double all orders for ammunition and war supplies and to send Ludendorf to the industrial centres to make peace with the men who were opposed to the Government.
Thus from May to November German politics went through a period of transformation. No one knew exactly what would happen,—there were so many conflicting opinions. Political parties, industrial leaders and the press were so divided it was evident that something would have to be done or the German political organisation would strike a rock and go to pieces. The Socialists were still demanding election reforms during the war. The National Liberals were intriguing for a Reichstag Committee to have equal authority with the Foreign Office in dealing with all matters of international affairs. The landowners, who were losing money because the Government was confiscating so much food, were not only criticising von Bethmann-Hollweg but holding back as much food as they could for higher prices. The industrial leaders, who had been losing money because von Falkenhayn had decreased ammunition orders, were only partially satisfied by von Hindenburg’s step because they realised that unless the war was intensified the Government would not need such supplies indefinitely. They saw, too, that the attitude of President Wilson had so injured what little standing they still had in the neutral world that unless Germany won the war in a decisive way, their world connections would disappear forever and they would be forced to begin all over after the war. Faced by this predicament, they demanded a ruthless submarine warfare against all shipping in order that not only England but every other power should suffer, because the more ships and property of the enemies destroyed the more their chances with the rest of the world would be equalised when the war was over. Food conditions were becoming worse, the people were becoming more dissatisfied; losses on the battlefields were touching nearly every family. Depression was growing. Every one felt that something had to be done and done immediately.
The press referred to these months of turmoil as a period of “new orientation.” It was a time of readjustment which did not reach a climax until December twelfth when the Chancellor proposed peace conferences to the Allies.
* * * * * * * *
WHAT YOU CANNOT EAT OR DRINK
FOODSTUFFS WHICH ARE COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED IN GERMANY
1. Rice. 12. Nuts. 2. Coffee. 13. Candy (a very limited 3. Tea. number of persons can buy 4. Cocoa. one-quarter of a pound 5. Chocolate. about once a week). 6. Olive oil. 14. Malted milk. 7. Cream. 15. Beer made of either 8. Fruit flavorings. malt or hops. 9. Canned soups or 16. Caviar. soup cubes. 17. Ice cream. 10. Syrups. 18. Macaroni. 11. Dried vegetables, beans, peas, etc.
WHAT YOU MAY EAT
FOOD OBTAINABLE ONLY BY CARDS
1. Bread, 1,900 grams per week per
2. Meat, 250 grams (1/2 pound) per week per head.
3. Eggs, 1 per person every two weeks.
4. Butter, 90 grams per week per person.
5. Milk, 1 quart daily only for children under ten
6. Potatoes, formerly 9 pounds per week; lately
in many parts of Germany no potatoes were available.
7. Sugar, formerly 2 pounds per month, now 4 pounds,
but this will not continue long.
8. Marmalade, or jam, 1/4 of a pound every month.
9. Noodles, 1/2 pound per person a month.
10. Sardines, or canned fish, small box per month.
11. Saccharine (a coal tar product substitute for sugar),
about 25 small tablets a month.
12. Oatmeal, 1/2 of a pound per month for adults or 1 pound
per month for children under twelve years.
WHAT YOU CAN EAT
FOODS WHICH EVERY ONE WITH MONEY CAN BUY
1. Geese, costing 8 to 10 marks per
pound ($1.60 to
$2 per pound).
2. Wild game, rabbits, ducks, deer, etc.
3. Smuggled meat, such as ham and bacon, for $2.50 per pound.
4. Vegetables, carrots, spinach, onions, cabbage, beets.
5. Apples, lemons, oranges.
6. Bottled oil made from seeds and roots for cooking
purposes, costing $5 per pound.
8. Fresh fish.
9. Fish sausage.
11. Duck, chicken and geese heads, feet and wings.
12. Black crows.
* * * * * * * *
THE BUBBLING ECONOMIC VOLCANO
When I entered Germany in 1915 there was plenty of food everywhere and prices were normal. But a year later the situation had changed so that the number of food cards—Germany’s economic barometer—had increased eight times. March and April of 1916 were the worst months in the year and a great many people had difficulty in getting enough food to eat. There was growing dissatisfaction with the way the Government was handling the food problem but the people’s hope was centred upon the next harvest. In April and May the submarine issue and the American crisis turned public attention from food to politics. From July to October the Somme battles kept the people’s minds centred upon military operations. While the scarcity of food became greater the Government, through inspired articles in the press, informed the people that the harvest was so big that there would be no more food difficulties.
Germany began to pay serious attention to the food situation, when early in the year, Adolph von Batocki, the president of East Prussia and a big land owner, was made food dictator. At the same time there were organised various government food departments. There was an Imperial Bureau for collecting fats; another to take charge of the meat supply; another to control the milk and another in charge of the vegetables and fruit. Germany became practically a socialistic state and in this way the Government kept abreast of the growth of Socialism among the people. The most important step the Government took was to organise the Zentral Einkaufgesellschaft, popularly known as the “Z. E. G.” The first object of this organisation was to purchase food in neutral countries. Previously German merchants had been going to Holland, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries to buy supplies. These merchants had been bidding against each other in order to get products for their concerns. In this way food was made much more expensive than it would have been had one purchaser gone outside of Germany. So the Government prohibited all firms from buying food abroad. Travelling agents of the “Z. E. G.” went to these countries and bought all of the supplies available at a fixed price. Then these resold to German dealers at cost.
Such drastic measures were necessitated by the public demand that every one share alike. The Government found it extremely difficult to control the food. Farmers and rich landowners insisted upon slaughtering their own pigs for their own use. They insisted upon eating the eggs their chickens laid, or, upon sending them through the mail to friends at high prices, thereby evading the egg card regulations. But the Government stepped in and farmers were prohibited from killing their own cattle and from sending foods to friends and special customers. Farmers had to sell everything to the “Z. E. G.” That was another result of State Socialism.
The optimistic statements of Herr von Batocki about the food outlook led the people to believe that by fall conditions would be greatly improved but instead of becoming more plentiful food supplies became more and more organised until all food was upon an absolute ration basis.
“Although the crops were good this year, there will be so much organisation that food will spoil,” said practically every German. Batocki’s method of confiscating food did cause a great deal to spoil and the public blamed him any time anything disappeared from the market. One day a carload of plums was shipped from Werder, the big fruit district near Berlin, to the capital. The “Z. E. G.” confiscated it but did not sell the goods immediately to the merchants and the plums spoiled. Before this was found out, a crowd of women surrounded the train one day, which was standing on a side track, broke into a car and found most of the plums in such rotten condition they could not be used. So they painted on the sides of the car: “This is the kind of plum jam the ‘Z. E. G.’ makes.”
There was a growing scarcity of all other supplies, too. The armies demanded every possible labouring man and woman so even the canning factories had to close and food which formerly was canned had to be eaten while fresh or it spoiled. Even the private German family, which was accustomed to canning food, had to forego this practice because of a lack of tin cans, jars and rubber bands.
The food depots are by far the most successful undertaking of the Government. In Cologne and Berlin alone close to 500,000 poor are being fed daily by municipal kitchens. Last October I went through the Cologne food department with the director. The city has rented a number of large vacant factory buildings and made them into kitchens. Municipal buyers go through the country to buy meat and vegetables. This is shipped to Cologne, and in these kitchens it is prepared by women workers, under the direction of volunteers.
A stew is cooked each day and sold for 42 pfennigs (about eight cents) a quart. The people must give up their potato, fat and meat cards to obtain it. In Berlin and all other large cities, the same system is used. In one kitchen in Berlin, at the main market hall, 80,000 quarts a day are prepared.
In Cologne this food is distributed through the city streets by municipal wagons, and the people get it almost boiling hot, ready to eat. Were it not for these food depots there would be many thousands of people who would starve because they could not buy and cook such nourishing food for the price the city asks. These food kitchens have been in use now almost a year, and, while the poor are obtaining food here, they are becoming very tired of the supply, because they must eat stews every day. They can have nothing fried or roasted.
In addition to these kitchens the Government has opened throughout Germany “mittlestand kueche,” a restaurant for the middle classes. Here government employees, with small wages, the poor who do not keep house and others with little means can obtain a meal for 10 cents, consisting of a stew and a dessert. But it is very difficult for people to live on this food. Most every one who is compelled by circumstances to eat here is losing weight and feels under-nourished all the time.
A few months ago, after one of my secretaries had been called to the army; I employed another. He had been earning only $7 a week and had to support his wife. On this money they ate at the middle class cafes. In six months he had lost twenty pounds.
Because the food is so scarce and because it lacks real nourishment people eat all the time. It used to be said before the war that the Germans were the biggest eaters in Europe—that they ate seven meals a day. The blockade has not made them less eaters, for they eat every few hours all day long now, but because the food lacks fats and sugars, they need more food.
Restaurants are doing big business because after one has eaten a “meal” at any leading Berlin hotel at 1 o’clock in the afternoon one is hungry by 3 o’clock and ready for another “meal.”
Last winter the Socialists of Munich, who saw that the rich were having plenty of food and that the poor were existing as best they could in food kitchens, wrote Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg and demanded the immediate confiscation of all food in Germany, even that in private residences.
The Socialists’ demand was, as are most others, thrown into the waste basket because men like the Chancellor, President Batocki, of the Food Department, wealthy bankers, statesmen and army generals have country estates where they have stored food for an indefinite period. They know that no matter how hard the blockade pinches the people it won’t starve them.
When the Chancellor invites people to his palace he has real coffee, white bread, plenty of potatoes, cake and meat. Being a government official he can get what he wants from the food department. So can other officials. Therefore, they were willing to disregard the demand of the Bavarian Socialists.
But the Socialists, although they don’t get publicity when they start something, don’t give up until they accomplish what they set out to do. First, they enlisted the Berlin Socialists, and the report went around to people that the rich were going to Copenhagen and bringing back food while the poor starved. So the Government had to prohibit all food from coming into Germany by way of Denmark unless it was imported by the Government.
That was the first success of the Bavarian Socialists. Now they have had another. Batocki is reported as having announced that all food supplies will be confiscated. The Socialists are responsible.
Excepting the very wealthy and those who have stored quantities of food for the “siege,” every German is undernourished. A great many people are starving. The head physician of the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria Hospital, in Berlin, stated that 80,000 children died in Berlin in 1916 from lack of food. The Lokal-Anzeiger printed the item and the Foreign Office censor prohibited me from sending it to New York.
But starvation under the blockade is a slow process, and it has not yet reached the army. When I was on the Somme battlefields last November and in Rumania in December the soldiers were not only well fed, but they had luxuries which their families at home did not have. Two years ago there was so much food at home the women sent food boxes to the front. To-day the soldiers not only send but carry quantities of food from the front to their homes. The army has more than the people.
It is almost impossible to say whether Germany, as a nation, can be starved into submission. Everything depends upon the next harvest, the length of the war and future military operations. The German Government, I think, can make the people hold out until the coming harvest, unless there is a big military defeat. In their present undernourished condition the public could not face a defeat. If the war ends this year Germany will not be so starved that she will accept any peace terms. But if the war continues another year or two Germany will have to give up.
I entered Germany at the beginning of the Allied blockade when one could purchase any kind and any quantity of food in Germany. Two years later, when I left, there were at least eighteen foodstuffs which could not be purchased anywhere, and there were twelve kinds of food which could be obtained only by government cards. That is what the Allied blockade did to the food supplies. It made Germany look like a grocery store after a closing out sale.
Suppose in the United States you wanted the simplest breakfast—coffee and bread and butter. Suppose you wanted a light luncheon of eggs or a sandwich, tea and fruit. Suppose for dinner you wanted a plain menu of soup, meat, vegetables and dessert. At any grocery or lunch counter you could get not only these plain foods, but anything else you wanted.
Not so in Germany! For breakfast you cannot have pure coffee, and you can have only a very small quantity of butter with your butter card. Hotels serve a coffee substitute, but most people prefer nothing. For luncheon you may have an egg, but only one day during two weeks. Hotels still serve a weak, highly colored tea and apples or oranges. For dinner you may have soup without any meat or fat in it. Soups are just a mixture of water and vegetables. Two days a week you can get a small piece of meat with a meat card. Other days you can eat boiled fish.
People who keep house, of course, have more food, because as a rule they have been storing supplies. Take the Christian Scientists as an instance. Members of this Church have organised a semi-official club. Members buy all the extra food possible. Then they divide and store away what they want for the “siege”—the time when food will be scarcer than it is to-day.
Two women practitioners in Berlin, who live together, bought thirty pounds of butter from an American who had brought it in from Copenhagen. They canned it and planned to make this butter last one year. Until a few weeks ago people with money could go to Switzerland, Holland and Denmark and bring back food with them, either with or without permission. Some wealthy citizens who import machinery and other things from outside neutral countries have their agents smuggle food at the same time.
While the Dutch, Danish and Swiss governments try to stop smuggling; there is always some going through. The rich have the money to bribe border officers and inspectors. When I was in Duesseldorf, last October, I met the owner of a number of canal boats, who shipped coal and iron products from the Rhine Valley to Denmark. He told me his canal barges brought back food from Copenhagen every trip and that the border authorities were not very careful in making an investigation of his boats.
In Duesseldorf, too, as well as in Cologne, business men spoke about the food they got from Belgium. They did not get great quantities, of course, but the leakage was enough to enable them to live better than those who had to depend upon the food in Germany.
When the food supplies began to decrease the Government instituted the card system of distribution. Bread cards had been very successful, so the authorities figured that meat, butter, potato and other cards would be equally so. But their calculations were wrong.
When potato cards were issued each person was given nine pounds a week. But the potato harvest was a big failure. The supply was so much less than the estimates that seed potatoes had to be used to keep the people satisfied. Even then the supply was short; and the quantity to be sold on potato cards was cut to three pounds a week. Then transportation difficulties arose, and potatoes spoiled before they reached Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dresden, Leipsic and other large cities.
The same thing happened when the Government confiscated the fruit crop last year.
One day I was asked on the telephone whether I wanted to buy an 11-pound ham. I asked to have it sent to my office immediately. When it came the price was $2.50 a pound. I sent the meat back and told the man I would not pay such a price.
“That’s all right,” he replied. “Dr. Stein and a dozen other people will pay me that price. I sent it to you because I wanted to help you out.”
Dr. Ludwig Stein, one of the editors of the Vossiche Zeitung, paid the price and ordered all he could get for the same money.
When I left Berlin the Government had issued an order prohibiting the sale of all canned vegetables and fruit. It was explained that this food would be sold when the present supplies of other foods were exhausted. There were in Berlin many thousand cans, but no one can say how long such food will last.
When Americans ask, “How long can Germany hold out?” I reply, “As long as the German Government can satisfy the vanity and stimulate the nerves of the people, and as long as the people permit the Government to do the nation’s thinking.”
How long a time that will be no one can say. It was formerly believed that whenever a nation reached the limit which Germany has reached it would crumple up. But Germany fails to crumple. Instead of breaking up, she fights harder and more desperately. Why can she do this? The answer is simple: Because the German people believe in their Government and the Government knows that as long as it can convince the people that it is winning the war the people will fight.
Germany is to-day in the position of a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown; in the position of a man who is under-nourished, who is depressed, who is weighed down by colossal burdens, who is brooding over the loss of friends and relatives, but of a man who feels that his future health and happiness depend upon his ability to hold out until the crisis passes.
If a physician were called in to prescribe for such a patient his first act would in all probability be to stimulate this man’s hope, to make him believe that if he would only “hold out” he would pass the crisis successfully. But no physician could say that his patient could stand it for one week, a month or a year more. The doctor would have to gamble upon that man’s nerves. He would have to stimulate him daily, perhaps hourly.
So it is with the German nation. The country is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Men and women, business men and generals, long ago lost their patience. They are under-nourished. They are depressed, distressed, suffering and anxious for peace. It is as true of the Hamburg-American Line directors as it is true of the officers at the front.
There have been more cases of nervous breakdowns among the people during the last year than at any time in Germany’s history. There have been so many suicides that the newspapers are forbidden to publish them. There have been so many losses on the battlefields that every family has been affected not once, but two, three and four times. Dance halls have been closed. Cafes and hotels must stop serving meals by 11 o’clock. Theatres are presenting the most sullen plays. Rumours spread like prairie fires. One day Hindenburg is dead. Two days later he is alive again.
But the Kaiser has studied this war psychology. He and his ministers know that one thing keeps the German people fighting—their hope of ultimate victory; their belief that they have won already. The Kaiser knows, too, that if the public mind is stimulated from day to day by new victories, by reports of many prisoners, of new territory gained, of enemy ships torpedoed, or by promises of reforms after the war, the public will continue fighting.
So the Kaiser gambles from day to day with his people’s nerves. For two years he has done this, and for two years he has been supported by a 12,000,000-man-power army and a larger army of workers and women at home. The Kaiser believes he can gamble for a long time yet with his people.
Just as it is impossible for a physician to say how long his patient can be stimulated without breaking down, so is it impossible for an observer in Germany to say how long it will be before the break-up comes in Germany.
Many times during the war Germany has been on the verge of a collapse. President Wilson’s ultimatum after the sinking of the Sussex in the English Channel brought about one crisis. Von Falkenhayn’s defeat at Verdun caused another. The Somme battle brought on a third. General Brusiloff’s offensive against the Austrians upset conditions throughout the Central Powers. Rumania’s declaration of war made another crisis. But Germany passed all of these successfully.
The ability of the German Government to convince the people that Wilson was unneutral and wanted war caused them to accept Germany’s note in the Sussex case. The defeat at Verdun was explained as a tactical success. The Somme battles, with their terrible losses, failed to bring a break-up because the Allies stopped attacking at the critical moment.
Von Hindenburg as chief of the General Staff of Central Europe remedied the mistakes of the Austrians during Brusiloff’s attacks by reorganising the Dual Monarchy’s army. The crisis which Rumania’s entrance on the Allies’ side brought in Germany and Hungary was forgotten after von Mackensen took Bucharest.
In each of these instances it will be noticed that the crisis was successfully passed by “stimulation.” The German mind was made to believe what the Kaiser willed.
But what about the future? Is there a bottomless well of stimulation in Germany?
Before these questions can be answered others must be asked: Why don’t the German people think for themselves? Will they ever think for themselves?
An incident which occurred in Berlin last December illustrates the fact that the people are beginning to think. After the Allies replied to President Wilson’s peace note the Kaiser issued an appeal to the German people. One morning it was printed on the first pages of all newspapers in boldface type. When I arrived at my office the janitor handed me the morning papers and, pointing to the Kaiser’s letter, said:
“I see the Kaiser has written US another letter. You know he never wrote to US in peace time.”
There are evidences, too, that others are beginning to think. The Russian revolution is going to cause many Socialists to discuss the future of Germany. They have discussed it before, but always behind closed doors and with lowered voices. I attended one night a secret meeting of three Socialist leaders of the Reichstag, an editor of a Berlin paper and several business men. What they said of the Kaiser that night would, if it were published, send every man to the military firing squad. But these men didn’t dare speak that way in public at that time. Perhaps the Russian revolt will give them more courage.
But the Government is not asleep to these changes. The Kaiser believes he can continue juggling public opinion, but he knows that from now on it will be more difficult. But he will not stop. He will always hold forth the vision of victory as the reward for German faithfulness. Today, for instance, in the United States we hear very little about the German submarine warfare. It is the policy of the Allies not to publish all losses immediately; first because the enemy must not be given any important information if possible, and, secondly, because, losses have a bad effect upon any people.
But the German people do not read what we do. Their newspapers are printing daily the ship losses of the Entente. Submarines are returning and making reports. These reports are published and in a way to give the people the impression that the submarine war is a success. We get the opposite impression here, but we are not in a position better to judge than the Germans, because we don’t hear everything.
The important question, however, is: What are the German people being told about submarine warfare?
Judging from past events, the Kaiser and his Navy are undoubtedly magnifying every sinking for the purpose of stimulating the people into believing that the victory they seek is getting nearer. The Government knows that the public favours ruthless torpedoing of all ships bound for the enemy, so the Government is safe in concluding that the public can be stimulated for some months more by reports of submarine victory.
Military operations in the West are probably not arousing the discussion in Berlin that the plans against Russia are. The Government will see to it that the press points regularly to the possibilities of a separate peace with Russia, or to the possibility of a Hindenburg advance against England and France.
The people have childlike faith in von Hindenburg. If Paul von Hindenburg says a retreat is a victory the people will take his judgment. But all German leaders know that the time is coming when they will have to show the German people a victory or take the consequences themselves.
Hence it would not be surprising if, after present military operations are concluded, either by an offensive against Russia or by an attack on the Western line, the Chancellor again made peace proposals. The Socialists will force the Chancellor to do it sooner or later. They are the real power behind the throne, although they have not enough spunk to try to oust the Kaiser and tell the people to do their own thinking.
A big Allied military victory would, of course, change everything. Defeat of the German army would mean defeat of von Hindenburg, the German god. It would put an end to the Kaiser’s juggling with his people’s nerves. But few people in Germany expect an Entente victory this year, and they believe that if the Allies don’t win this year they never will win.
Germany is stronger militarily now than she has been and Germany will be able for many months to keep many Entente armies occupied. Before the year is passed the Entente may need American troops as badly as France needed English assistance last year. General von Falkenhayn, former chief of the German General Staff, told me about the same thing last December, in Rumania.
“In war,” he remarked, “nothing is certain except that everything is uncertain, but one thing I know is certain: We will win the war.”
America’s entrance, however, will have the decisive effect. The Allies, especially the French, appreciate this. As a high French official remarked one day when Ambassador Gerard’s party was in Paris:
“There have been two great moments in the war for France. The first was when England declared war to support us. The second was the breaking of diplomatic relations between the United States and Germany.”
The Germans don’t believe this. As General von Stein, Prussian Minister of War, said, Germany doesn’t fear the United States. He said that, of course, for its effect upon the German people. The people must be made to believe this or they will not be able to hate America in true German fashion.
America’s participation, however, will upset Hindenburg’s war plans. American intervention can put a stop to the Kaiser’s juggling with his people’s minds by helping the Allies defeat Germany. Only a big military defeat will shake the confidence of the Germans in the Kaiser, Hindenburg and their organised might. The people are beginning to think now, but they will do a great deal more thinking if they are beaten.
So the answer to the question: “How long can Germany hold out?” is really answered by saying that Germany can keep on until she is decisively defeated militarily.
THE PEACE DRIVE OF DECEMBER 12TH
Disturbed by internal political dissension and tormented by lack of food the German ship of state was sailing troubled waters by November, 1916. Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg’s speech to the Reichstag on September 28th satisfied no one. After he had spoken the only thing people could recall were his words:
“The mighty tasks which await us in all the domains of public, social, economic, and political life need all the strength of the people for their fulfilment. It is a necessity of state which will triumph over all obstacles to utilise to the utmost those forces which have been forged in the fire and which clamour for work and creation. A free path for all who are capable—that must be our watch-word. If we carry it out freely, without prejudice, then our empire goes to a healthy future.”
The press interpreted this as meaning that the Chancellor might some day change his mind about the advisability of a ruthless submarine warfare. Early in November when it appeared that the Allies would not succeed in breaking through at the Somme peace forces were again mobilised. But when various neutral countries sounded Germany as to possible terms they discovered that Germany was the self-appointed “victor” and would consider only a peace which recognised Germany as the dominant power in Europe. The confidence of the army in the victory was so great that the following article was printed in all the German newspapers:
“FAITH IN VICTORY”
“Great Headquarters sends us the following:
“Since the beginning of the war, when enemies arose on all sides and millions of troops proceeded from all directions—since then more than two long years have brought no more eventful days than those of the present. The unity of the front—our enemies have prepared it for a long time past with great care and proclaimed it in loud tones. Again and again our unexpected attacks have disturbed this boldly thought out plan in its development, destroying its force, but now at last something has been accomplished that realises at least part of the intentions of our enemies and all their strength is being concentrated for a simultaneous attack. The victory which was withheld from them on all the theatres of war is to be accomplished by an elaborate attack against the defensive walls of our best blood. The masses of iron supplied them by half the world are poured on our gallant troops day and night with the object of weakening their will and then the mass attacks of white, yellow, brown and black come on.
“The world never experienced anything so monstrous and never have armies kept up a resistance such as ours.
“Our enemies combine the hunger and lie campaign with that of arms, both aimed at the head and heart of our home. The hunger campaign they will lose as the troublesome work of just an equal administration and distribution of the necessities of life is almost complete. And a promising harvest has ripened on our broad fields. From the first day of the war, we alone of all the belligerent nations published the army reports of all of our enemies in full, as our confidence in the constancy of those at home is unlimited. But our enemies have taken advantage of this confidence and several times a day they send out war reports to the world; the English since the beginning of their offensive send a despatch every two hours. Each of these publications is two or three times as long as our daily report and all written in a style which has nothing in common with military brevity and simplicity. This is no longer the language of the soldier. They are mere fantastic hymns of victory and their parade of names and of conquered villages and woods and stormed positions, and the number of captured guns, and tens of thousands of prisoners is a mockery of the truth.
“Why is all this done? Is it only intended to restore the wearying confidence of their own armies and people and the tottering faith of their allies? Is it only intended to blind the eagerly observing eye of the neutrals? No, this flood of telegrams is intended to pass through the channels which we ourselves have opened to our enemy, and to dash against the heart of the German people, undermining and washing away our steadfastness.
“But this despicable game will not succeed. In the same manner as our gallant troops in the field defy superior numbers, so the German people at home will defy the enemies’ legions of lies, and remember that the German army reports cannot tell them and the world at large everything at present, but they never publish a word the truth of which could not be minutely sifted. With proud confidence in the concise, but absolutely reliable publications of our own army administration, Germany will accept these legions of enemy reports at their own value, as wicked concoctions, attempting to rob them of calm and confidence which the soldier must feel supporting him, if he joyfully risks his all for the protection of those at home. Thus our enemies’ legions of lies will break against the wall of our iron faith. Our warriors defy the iron and fire—those at home will also defy the floods of printed paper and remain unruffled. The nation and army alike are one in their will and faith in victory.”
[Illustration: THE POPE TO PRESIDENT WILSON——“HOW CAN MY PEACE ANGEL FLY, MR. PRESIDENT, WHEN YOU ALWAYS PUT SHELLS IN HER POCKETS?”]
This is a typical example of the kind of inspired stories which are printed in the German newspapers from time to time to keep up the confidence of the people. This was particularly needed last fall because the people were depressed and melancholy over the losses at the Somme, and because there was so much criticism and dissatisfaction over the Chancellor’s attitude towards the submarine warfare and peace. People, too, were suffering agonies in their homes because of the inferior quality of the food,—the lack of necessary fats and sugar which normal people need for regular nourishment. The Socialists, who are in closer touch with the people than any others, increased their demands for peace while the National Liberals and the Conservatives, who wanted a war of exhaustion against Great Britain, increased their agitation for the submarine warfare. The Chancellor was between two tormentors. Either he had to attempt to make peace to satisfy the Socialists and the people, or he had to give in to the demands for submarine warfare as outlined by the National Liberals. One day Scheidemann went to the Chancellor’s palace, after he had visited all the big centres of Germany, and said to von Bethmann-Hollweg:
“Unless you try to make peace at once the people will revolt and I shall lead the revolution!”
At the same time the industrial leaders of the Rhine Valley and the Army and Navy were serving notice on the Government that there could not possibly be a German victory unless every weapon in Germany’s possession, which included of course the submarine, was used against Germany’s so-called chief foe—England.
Confronted by graver troubles within Germany than those from the outside, the Chancellor went to Great Headquarters to report to the Kaiser and to discuss with von Hindenburg and Ludendorf what should be done to unite the German nation.
While the Army had been successful in Roumania and had given the people renewed confidence, this was not great enough to carry the people through another hard winter.
While Germany had made promises to the United States in May that no ships would be sunk without warning, the submarines were not adhering very closely to the written instructions. The whole world was aroused over Germany’s repeated disregard of the rules and practice of sea warfare. President Wilson through Ambassador Gerard had sent nine inquiries to the Foreign Office asking for a report from Germany on the sinking of various ships not only contrary to international law but contrary to Germany’s pledges. In an attempt to ward off many of the neutral indictments of Germany’s sea warfare the official North German Gazette published an explanation containing the following:
“The activity of our submarines in the Atlantic Ocean and White Sea has led the press of the entire world to producing articles as to the waging of cruiser warfare by means of submarines. In both cases it can be accurately stated that there is no question of submarine warfare here, but of cruiser warfare waged with the support of submarines and the details reported hitherto as to the activities of our submarines do not admit of any other explanation, in spite of the endeavours of the British press to twist and misrepresent facts. It is also strictly correct to state that the cruiser warfare which is being waged by means of submarines is in strict compliance with the German prize regulations which correspond to the International Rules laid down and agreed to in the Declaration of London which are not being any more complied with by England. The accusations and charges brought forward by the British press and propaganda campaign in connection with ships sunk, can be shown as futile, as our position is both militarily and from the standpoint of international law irreproachable. We do not sink neutral ships per se, as was recently declared in a proclamation, but the ammunition transports and other contraband wares conducive to the prolongation of the war, and the rights of defensive measures as regards this cannot be denied Germany any more than any other country.
“Based on this idea, it is clearly obvious that the real loss of the destruction of tonnage must be attributed to the supplies sent to England and not to the attitude displayed by Germany which has but recourse to purely defensive measures. If the attitude displayed by England towards neutrals during the course of this war be considered, the manner in which it forced compulsory supplies of contraband goods, etc., it can be further recognised that England is responsible for the losses in ships; as it is owing to England’s attitude that the cause is to be found. . . .
“Although England has hit and crippled legitimate trade to such an extent, Germany does not wish to act in the same manner, but simply to stop the shipments of contraband goods calculated to lengthen the war. England evidently is being hard hit by our defensive submarine measures and is therefore doing all in her power to incite public opinion against the German methods of warfare and confuse opinion in neutral countries. . . .
“Therefore it must again be recalled that it is:
“England, which has crippled neutral trade!
“England, which has rendered the freedom of the seas impossible!
“England, which has extended the risk of contraband wares in excess of international agreements, and now raises a cry when the same weapons are used against herself.
“England, which has compelled the neutrals to supply these shipments of contraband goods calculated to lengthen the war!
“As the neutrals quietly acquiesced when there was a question of abandoning trade with the Central Powers they have remedies in hand for the losses of ships which affect them so deeply. They need only consider the fact that the German submarines on the high seas are able to prevent war services to the enemy in the shipments of contraband goods, in a manner that is both militarily and from the standpoint of international law, irreproachable. If they agree to desist from the shipment of contraband goods and cease yielding to British pressure then they will not have to complain of losses in ships and can retain the same for peaceful aims.”
This was aimed especially at America. Naval critics did not permit the opportunity to pass to call to the attention of the Government that Germany’s promises in the Sussex case were only conditional and that, therefore, they could be broken at any time. The Chancellor was in a most difficult situation; so was von Hindenburg and the Kaiser. On December 10th it was announced that the Reichstag would be called to a special session on the twelfth and that the Chancellor would discuss the international situation as it was affected by the Roumanian campaign.
The meeting of December 12th was the best attended and most impressive one of the Reichstag since August 4th, 1914. Before the Chancellor left his palace he called the representatives of the neutral nations and handed them Germany’s peace proposal. The same day Germany sent to every part of the globe through her wireless stations, Germany’s note to the Allies and the Chancellor’s address.
The world was astonished and surprised at the German move but no one knew whether it was to be taken seriously. Great Britain instructed her embassies and legations in neutral countries to attempt to find out whether the Chancellor really desired to make peace or whether his statements were to be interpreted as something to quiet internal troubles.
During the days of discussion which followed I was in close touch with the Foreign Office, the American Embassy and the General Staff. The first intimation I received that Germany did not expect the peace plan to succeed was on December 14th at a meeting of the neutral correspondents with Lieut. Col. von Haeften. When von Hindenburg became Chief of the General Staff he reorganised the press department in Berlin and sent von Haeften from his personal staff to Berlin to direct the press propaganda. As a student of public opinion abroad von Haeften was a genius and was extremely frank and honest with the correspondents.
“We have proposed peace to our enemies,” he said to the correspondents, “because we feel that we have been victorious and because we believe that no matter how long the war continues the Allies will not be able to defeat us. It will be interesting to see what effect our proposal has upon Russia. Reports which we have received, coming from unquestionable sources, state that internal conditions in Russia are desperate; that food is scarce; that the transportation system is so demoralised and that it will be at least eight months before Russia can do anything in a military way. Russia wants peace and needs peace and we shall see now whether she has enough influence upon England to compel England to make peace. We are prepared to go on with the war if the Allies refuse our proposals. If we do we shall not give an inch without making the Allies pay such a dear cost that they will not be able to continue.”
The Foreign Office was not optimistic over the possibilities of success; officials realised that the new Lloyd-George Cabinet meant a stronger war policy by Great Britain, but they thought the peace proposals might shake the British confidence in the new government and cause the overthrow of Lloyd-George and the return of Asquith and Viscount Edward Grey.
From all appearances in Berlin it was evident to every neutral diplomat with whom I talked that while Germany was proclaiming to the whole world her desire for peace she had in mind only the most drastic peace terms as far as Belgium, certain sections of northern France, Poland and the Balkans were concerned. Neutrals observed that Germany was so exalted over the Roumanian victory and the possibilities of that campaign solving the food problem that she was not only ready to defy the Allies but the neutral world unless the world was ready to bow to a German victory. There were some people in Germany who realised that the sooner she made peace the better peace terms she could get but the Government was not of this opinion. The Allies, as was expected, defiantly refused the Prussian olive branch which had been extended like everything else from Germany with a string tied to it. For the purposes of the Kaiser and his Government the Allies’ reply was exactly what they wanted.
The German Government was in this position: If the Allies accepted Germany’s proposal it would enable the Government to unite all factions in Germany by making a peace which would satisfy the political parties as well as the people. If the Allies refused, the German Government calculated that the refusal would be so bitter that it would unite the German people political organisations and enable the Government to continue the war in any way it saw fit.
Nothing which had happened during the year so solidified the German nation as the Allies’ replies to Berlin and to President Wilson. It proved to the German people that their Government was waging a defensive war because the Allies demanded annexation, compensation and guarantees, all of which meant a change in the map of Europe from what it was at the beginning of the war. The interests which had been demanding a submarine warfare saw their opportunity had come. They knew that as a result of the Allies’ notes the public would sanction an unrestricted sea warfare against the whole world if that was necessary.
From December 12th until after Christmas, discussions of peace filled the German newspapers. By January 1st all possibilities of peace had disappeared. The Government and the public realised that the war would go on and that preparations would have to be made at once for the biggest campaign in the history of the world in 1917.
Throughout the peace discussions one thing was evident to all Americans. Opposition to American intervention in any peace discussion was so great that the United States would not be able to take any leading part without being faced by the animosity of a great section of Germany. When it was stated in the press that Joseph O. Grew, the American Charge d’Affaires, had received the German note and transmitted it to his Government, public indignation was so great that the Government had to inform all of the German newspapers to explain that Germany had not asked the United States to make peace; that Germany had in fact not asked any neutrals to make peace but had only handed these neutrals the German note in order to get it officially before the Allies. At this time the defiant attitude of the whole nation was well expressed in an editorial in the Morgen Post saying: “If Germany’s hand is refused her fist will soon be felt with increased force.”
The Conferences at Pless
As early as September, 1916, Ambassador Gerard reported to the State Department that the forces demanding an unrestricted submarine campaign were gaining such strength in Germany that the Government would not be able to maintain its position very long. Gerard saw that not only the political difficulties but the scarcity of food and the anti-American campaign of hate were making such headway that unless peace were made there would be nothing to prevent a rupture with the United States. The latter part of December when Gerard returned from the United States after conferences with President Wilson he began to study the submarine situation.
He saw that only the most desperate resistance on the part of the Chancellor would be able to stem the tide of hate and keep America out of the war. On January 7th the American Chamber of Commerce and Trade in Berlin gave a dinner to Ambassador Gerard and invited the Chancellor, Dr. Helfferich, Dr. Solf, Minister of Foreign Affairs Zimmermann, prominent German bankers and business men, leading editors and all others who a few months before during the Sussex crisis had combined in maintaining friendly relations. At this banquet Gerard made the statement, “As long as such men as Generals von Hindenburg and Ludendorf, as long as Admirals von Capelle, von Holtzendorff and von Mueller headed the Navy Department, and the Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg directed the political affairs there would be no trouble with the United States.” Gerard was severely criticised abroad not only for this statement but for a further remark “That
The German Government, however, had planned its moves months in advance. Just as every great offensive on the battlefields is planned, even to the finest details, six months before operations begin, so are the big moves on the political chessboard of Europe.
There are very few men in public life in Germany who have the courage of their convictions to resign if their policies are overruled. Von Jagow, who was Secretary of State from the beginning of the war until December, 1916, was one of these “few.” Because von Jagow had to sign all of the foolish, explanatory and excusing notes which the German Government sent to the United States he was considered abroad as being weak and incapable. But when he realised early in November that the Government was determined to renew the submarine warfare unless peace was made von Jagow was the only man in German public life who would not remain an official of the Government and bring about a break with America. Zimmermann, however, was a different type of official. Zimmermann, like the Chancellor, is ambitious, bigoted, cold-blooded and an intriguer of the first calibre. As long as he was Under Secretary of State he fought von Jagow and tried repeatedly to oust him. So it was not surprising to Americans when they heard that Zimmermann had succeeded von Jagow.
The Gerard banquet, however, came too late. The die was cast. But the world was not to learn of it for some weeks.
On the 27th of January, the Kaiser’s birthday, the Chancellor, Field Marshal von Hindenburg, First Quartermaster General Ludendorf, Admirals von Capelle, von Holtzendorff and von Mueller and Secretary of State Zimmermann were invited to Great Headquarters to attend the Kaiser’s birthday dinner.
Ever since von Hindenburg has been Chief of the General Staff the Grand Chief Headquarters of the German Army have been located at Pless, on the estate of the Prince of Pless in Silicia. Previously, the Kaiser had had his headquarters here, because it was said and popularly believed that His Majesty was in love with the beautiful Princess of Pless, an Englishwoman by birth. When von Hindenburg took his headquarters to the big castle there, the Princess was exiled and sent to Parkenkirchen, one of the winter resorts of Bavaria.
On previous birthdays of the Emperor and when questions of great moment were debated the civilian ministers of the Kaiser were always invited. But on the Kaiser’s birthday in 1917 only the military leaders were asked. Dr. Helfferich, Minister of Colonies Solf, German bankers and business men as well as German shippers were not consulted. Germany was becoming so desperate that she was willing to defy not only her enemies and neutral countries but her own financiers and business men. Previously, when the submarine issue was debated the Kaiser wanted to know what effect such a warfare would have upon German economic and industrial life. But this time he did not care. He wanted to know the naval and military arguments.
In August, 1914, when the Chancellor and a very small group of people were appealing to His Majesty not to go to war, the Kaiser sided with General von Moltke and Admiral von Tirpitz. During the various submarine crises with the United States it appeared that the Kaiser was changing—that he was willing and ready to side with the forces of democracy in his own country. President Wilson and Ambassador Gerard thought that after the downfall of von Tirpitz and von Falkenhayn the Kaiser would join hands with the reform forces. But in 1917 when the final decision came the Kaiser cast his lot with his generals against the United States and against democracy in Germany. The Chancellor, who had impressed neutral observers as being a real leader of democracy in Germany, sided with the Kaiser. Thus by one stroke the democratic movement which was under way in Germany received a rude slap. The man the people had looked upon as a friend became an enemy.
The Break in Diplomatic Relations
On January 30th the German Government announced its blockade of all Allied coasts and stated that all shipping within these waters, except on special lanes, would be sunk without notice. Germany challenged the whole world to stay off of the ocean. President Wilson broke diplomatic relations immediately and ordered Ambassador Gerard to return home. Gerard called at the Foreign Office for his passports and said that he desired to leave at once. Zimmermann informed him that as soon as the arrangements for a train could be made he could leave. Zimmermann asked the Ambassador to submit a list of persons he desired to accompany him. The Ambassador’s list was submitted the next day. The Foreign Office sent it to the General Staff, but nearly a week passed before Gerard was told he could depart and then he was instructed that the American consuls could not accompany him, but would have to take a special train leaving Munich a week or two later. American correspondents, who expressed a desire to accompany the Ambassador, were refused permission. In the meantime reports arrived that the United States had confiscated the German ships and Count Montgelas,
The train which left Berlin on the night of February 10th carried the happiest group of Americans which had been in Europe since the war began. Practically no one slept. When the Swiss border was reached the Stars and Stripes were hung from the car windows and Americans breathed again in a free land. They felt like prisoners escaping from a penitentiary. Most of them had been under surveillance or suspicion for months. Nearly every one had had personal experiences which proved to them that the German people were like the Government—there was no respect for public sentiment or moral obligation. Some of the women had upon previous occasions, when they crossed the German frontier, submitted to the most inhuman indignities, but they remained in Germany because their husbands were connected in some way with United States government or semi-public service work. They were delighted to escape the land where everything is “verboten” except hatred and militarism. The second day after Gerard’s arrival in Berne, American Minister Stoval gave a reception to the Ambassador and invited the Allied diplomats. From that evening on until he sailed from Coruna, Spain, the Ambassador felt that he was among friends. When the Americans accompanying the Ambassador asked the French authorities in Switzerland for permission to enter France the French replied:
“Of course you can go through France. You are exiles and France welcomes you.”
After the Americans arrived in Paris they said they were not considered exiles but guests.
* * * * * * * *
On the Kaiser’s birthday services were held in all Protestant churches in Germany. The clergy was mobilised to encourage the people. On January 29th I sent the following despatch, after attending the impressive services in the Berlin Cathedral:
“Where one year ago Dr. Dryander, the quiet white-haired man who is court preacher, pleaded for an hour for peace in the services marking the Kaiser’s birthday, this year his sermon was a fiery defence of Germany’s cause and a militant plea for Germany to steel herself for the decisive battle every one believes is coming.
“In this changed spirit he reflected the sentiment of the German people. His sermon of Saturday has evoked the deepest approval everywhere.
“‘We know,’ be said, ’that before us is the decisive battle which can be fought through only with the greatest sacrifices. But in all cases of the past God has helped us, and God will fight for us to-day, through our leaders and our soldiers. We neither willed nor wanted this war—neither the Kaiser nor the people. We hoped for peace as the Kaiser extended his peace proposal, but with unheard of frivolity and insults our enemies slapped the back of the Kaiser’s extended hand of peace.
“’To such enemies there is only one voice—that of the cannon. We continue the war with a clear conscience and with trust in God that he will bring us victory. God cannot—he will not—permit the German people to go down.’”
“GOD WILL NOT PERMIT THE GERMAN PEOPLE TO GO DOWN”
* * * * * * * *
THE BERNHARDI OF THE SEAS
After the break in diplomatic relations the slogan of German Militarism became:
“Win or lose, we must end the war.”
To many observers it seemed to be insanity coupled with desperation which caused the Kaiser to defy the United States. There was no doubt that Germany was desperate, economically, morally and militarily. While war had led German armies far into enemy territory, it had destroyed German influence throughout the world; it had lost Germany’s colonies and Pacific possessions and it had turned the opinion of the world against Germany. But during the time Germany was trying to impress the United States with its sincerity after the Sussex incident the German Navy was building submarines. It was not building these ships to be used in cruiser warfare. It was building them for the future, when submarine war would be launched on a big scale, perhaps on a bigger scale than it had ever before been conducted.
After the new blockade of the Allied Coast was proclaimed, effective Feb. 1, 1917, some explanation had to be made to convince the public that the submarine war would be successful and would bring the victory which the people had been promised. The public was never informed directly what the arguments were which convinced the Kaiser that he could win the war by using submarines. But on the 9th of February there appeared a small book written by Rear Admiral Hollweg entitled: “Unser Recht auf den Ubootkrieg.” (Our Right in Submarine Warfare.) The manuscript of this book was concluded on the 15th of January, which shows that the data which it contained and the information and arguments presented were those which the Admiralty placed before the Kaiser on his birthday. The points which Rear Admiral Hollweg makes in his book are:
1. America’s unfriendly neutrality justifies a disregard of the United States;
2. The loss of merchant ships is bringing about a crisis in the military and economic conditions of the Allies;
3. England, as the heart of the Entente, must be harmed before peace can be made;
4. Submarines can and must end the war.
This book is for the German people a naval text book as General von Bernhardi’s book, “Germany and the Next War,” was a military text book. Bernhardi’s task was to school Germany into the belief in the unbeatableness of the German army. Hollweg’s book is to teach the German people what their submarines will accomplish and to steal the people for the plans her military leaders will propose and carry through on this basis.
The keynote of Hollweg’s arguments is taken from the words of the German song: “Der Gott der Eisen wachsen Liesz,” written by Ernst Moritz Arndt. Hollweg quotes this sentence on page 23:
“Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken, als ein Schrecken ohne Ende.”
("Rather an end with Terror than Terror without End.”)
In the chapter on “The Submarine War and Victory” the writer presents the following table:
Status of merchant ships in 1914:
England (Exclusive of colonies) .......... 19,256,766 2,977,820 15.5 France .............. 2,319,438 376,360 16.2 Russia .............. 1,053,818 146,168 13.8 Italy ............... 1,668,296 314,290 18.8 Belgium ............. 352,124 32,971 9.3 Japan ............... 1,708,386 37,391 0.22
(Figures for Dec. 1916 estimated)
The World Tonnage at beginning of war was.... 49,089,553
Added 1914-16 by new construction............ 2,000,000
Of this not useable are:
Tonnage Germany ... 5,459,296
Austria ... 1,055,719
Turkey ... 133,158
In Germany and Turkey
shipping .......... 200,000
Ships in U. S. A... 2,352,764
Locked in Baltic and Black Sea ......... 700,000
Destroyed enemy tonnage ........... 3,885,000 ---------- Total 13,785,937
tonnage (estimated) 900,000
Requisitioned by enemy countries for war purposes, transports, etc.
England ....... 9,000,000 France ........ 1,400,000 Italy ......... 1,100,000 Russia ........ 400,000 Belgium ....... 250,000 ---------- 12,150,000 ---------- 26,835,937 ---------- Remaining for world freight transmission still useable at the beginning of 1917............ 24,253,615 tons
To the Entente argument that Germany has not considered the speedy construction of merchant ships during war time the author replies by citing Lloyd’s List of December 29, 1916, which gave the following tonnage as having been completed in British wharves:
1913 .......... 1,977,000 tons 1914 .......... 1,722,000 tons 1915 .......... 649,000 tons 1916 .......... 582,000 tons
“These figures demonstrate that England, which is the leader of the world as a freight carrier is being harmed the most.” Admiral Hollweg cites these figures to show that ship construction has decreased in England and that England cannot make good ship losses by new construction.
On page 17 Rear Admiral Hollweg says:
“We are conducting to-day a war against enemy merchant vessels different from the methods of former wars only in part by ordinary warships. The chief method is by submarines based upon the fundamentals of international law as dictated by German prize court regulations. The German prize regulations were at the beginning of the war based upon the fundamental principles of the London Declaration and respected the modern endeavours of all civilised states to decrease the terrors of war. These regulations of sea laws were written to decrease the effects of the unavoidable consequences of sea warfare upon non-combatants and neutrals. As far as there have been changes in the regulations of the London Declaration during the war, especially as far as changes in the contraband list have been extended, we Germans have religiously followed the principle set by the English of, ’an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’”
On page 19 he states:
“Americans would under no circumstances, not even to-day, if they were faced by a superior sea power in war, refuse to follow this method of warfare by the ruthless use of pirate ships. May our submarine campaign be an example for them! The clever cruiser journey of U-53 off the Atlantic Coast gave them clearly to understand what this method was. Legally they cannot complain of this warfare. The other neutrals cannot complain either against such sea warfare because they have ever since the Middle Ages recognised the English method of sea warfare.”
[Illustration: The New Weather Cape]
In the chapter entitled “The Opponent,” on page 27 the author says:
“Before there is a discussion of our legal right to the submarine warfare a brief review of the general policies of our opponents during the war will be given. This account shall serve the purpose of fortifying the living feeling within us of our natural right and of our duty to use all weapons ruthlessly.
“If we did not know before the publication of the Entente Note [The Allies’ peace reply to Germany] what we were up against, now we know. The mask fell. Now we have confirmation of the intentions to rob and conquer us which, caused the individual entente nations to league together and conduct the war. The neutrals will now see the situation more clearly. For us it is war, literally to be or not to be a German nation. Never did such an appeal [The Entente Note] find such a fruitful echo in German hearts. . . .”
* * * * *
“I begin with England, our worst enemy.”
On page 31 Admiral Hollweg speaks of the fact that at the beginning of the war many Germans, especially those in banking and business circles, felt that Germany was so indispensable to England in peace time that England would not conduct a war to “knock out” Germany. But Hollweg says the situation has now changed.
On pages 122 to 126 he justifies the ruthless submarine warfare in the following way:
“It is known that England and her allies declared at the beginning of the war that they would adhere to the Declaration of London. It is just as well known that England and the Allies changed this declaration through the Orders in Council and other lawless statements of authority until the declaration was unrecognisable and worthless—especially the spirit and purpose of the agreement were flatly pushed aside until practically nothing more remains of the marine laws as codified in 1909. The following collection of flagrant breaches of international law will show who first broke marine laws during the war.”
“Ten gross violations of marine law in war time by England.
“1. Violation of Article IV of the Maritime Declaration of April 16th, 1855. Blockading of neutral harbours in violation of international law.
“2. Violation of Article II of the same declarations by the confiscation of enemy property aboard neutral ships. See Order in Council, March 11th, 1915.
“3. Declaration of the North Sea as a war zone. British Admiralty Declaration, November 3, 1914.
“4. England regarded food as contraband since the beginning of the war. The starvation war. England confiscated neutral food en route to neutral states whenever there was a possibility that it would reach the enemy. This violated the recognised fundamental principles of the freedom of the seas.
“5. Attempt to prevent all communications between Germany and neutral countries through the violation of international law and the seizing of mail.
“6. Imprisonment of German reservists aboard neutral ships.
“7. a. Violation of Article I of The Hague Convention by the confiscation of the German hospital ship Ophelia. b. Murdering of submarine crew upon command of British auxiliary cruiser Baralong. c. Violation of Article XXIX, No. 1, of London Declaration by preventing American Red Cross from sending supplies to the German Red Cross.
“8. a. Destruction of German cruisers Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse in Spanish territorial waters by English cruiser Highflyer. b. Destruction of German cruiser Dresden in Chinese waters by British cruiser Glasgow. c. Attack of British warships on German ship Paklas in Norwegian waters.
“9. England armed her merchant ships for attack.
“10. Use of neutral flags and signs by British merchantmen in violation of Articles II and III of the Paris Declaration.”
On page 134, after discussing the question of whether the English blockade has been effective and arguing that England by seizing neutral ships with food on the supposition that the food was going to Germany, he says:
“We may conclude from these facts that we Germans can now consider ourselves freed from the uncomfortable conditions of the London Declaration and may conduct the war as our own interests prescribe. We have already partially done this in as much as we followed the English example of extending the lists of war contraband. This has been inconvenient for the neutrals affected and they have protested against it. We may, however, consider that they will henceforth respect our proposals just as they have in the past accepted English interests. England demanded from them that they assist her because England was fighting for the future of neutrals and of justice. We will take this principle also as basis for what we do and even await thereby that we will compel England to grant us the kind of peace which can lay new foundations for sea warfare and that for the future the military acts of belligerents against neutrals will not be carried to the extremes they have been for centuries because of England’s superior sea power. This new era of civilised warfare we bring under the term ’freedom of the seas.’”
Hollweg’s next justification of the unlimited submarine warfare is that Secretary of State Lansing in a note to Count von Bernstorff at first said merchant ships could not be armed and then changed his mind.
On page 160 Hollweg says: “And now in discussing the question of the legal position of the submarine as a warship I cite here the statements of the German authority on international law, Professor Dr. Niemeyer, who said: ’There can be absolutely no question but that the submarine is permitted. It is a means of war similar to every other one. The frightfulness of the weapon was never a ground of condemnation. This is a war in which everything is permitted, which is not forbidden.’”
On page 175 in the chapter entitled “The Submarine War and Victory” the author says:
“Every great deed carries with it a certain amount of risk. After the refusal of our peace proposal we have only the choice of victory with the use of all of our strength and power, or, the submission to the destructive conditions of our opponents.”
He adds that his statements shall prove to the reader that Germany can continue the hard relentless battle with the greatest possibility and confidence of a final victory which will break the destructive tendencies of the Entente and guarantee a peace which Germany needs for her future existence.
On page 193 he declares: “All food prices in England have increased on the average 80% in price, they are for example considerably higher in England than in Germany. A world wide crop failure in Canada and Argentine made the importation of food for England more difficult.
“England earns in this war as opposed to other wars, nothing. Part of her industrial workers are under arms, the others are working in making war munitions for her own use, not, however, for the export of valuable wares.”
Admiral Hollweg has a clever theory that the German fleet has played a prominent role in the war, although most of the time it has been hugging the coasts of the Fatherland. He declares that the fleet has had a “distance effect” upon the Allies’ control of the high seas. On page 197 he says:
“What I mean in extreme by ‘fernwirkung’ [distance effect] I will show here by an example. The English and French attack on Constantinople failed. It can at least be doubted whether at that time when the connection between Germany and Turkey was not established a strong English naval unit would have brought the attack success. The necessity of not withdrawing the English battleships from the North Sea prevented England from using a more powerful unit at Constantinople. To this extent the German battle fleet was not without influence in the victory for the defender of Constantinople. That is ‘distance effect.’”
On page 187 Hollweg declares: “England not only does not make money to-day by war but she is losing. The universal military service which she was forced to introduce in order to hold the other Allies by the tongue draws from her industry and thereby her commerce, 3,500,000 workmen. Coal exportation has decreased. During the eleven months from January to November, 1916, 4,500,000 tons less coal was exported than in 1915. In order to produce enough coal for England herself the nation was compelled by the munitions obligation law to put miners to work.”
On page 223 the author declares:
“That is, therefore, the great and important role which the submarines in this war are playing. They are serving also to pave the way in the future for the ‘freedom of the seas.’”
He adds that the submarines will cut the thread which holds the English Damocles’ sword over weak sea powers and that for eternity the “gruesome hands” of English despotism will be driven from the seas.
[Illustration: CHART SHOWING TONNAGE OF SHIPS SUNK BY GERMAN SUBMARINES FROM REAR ADMIRAL HOLLWEG’S BOOK]
Germany’s submarine warfare which was introduced in February, 1915, began by sinking less than 50,000 tons of ships per month. By November, 1915, the amount of tonnage destroyed per month was close to 200,000 tons. By January, 1916, the tonnage of ships destroyed by submarines had fallen to under 100,000 tons. In April, 1916, as Grand Admiral von Tirpitz’ followers made one more effort to make the submarine warfare successful, nearly 275,000 tons were being destroyed a month. But after the sinking of the Sussex and the growing possibilities of war with the United States the submarine warfare was again held back and in July less than 125,000 tons of shipping were destroyed.
At this time, however, the submarine campaign itself underwent a change. Previously most of the ships destroyed were sunk off the coast of England, France or in the Mediterranean. During the year and a half of the submarine campaign the Allies’ method of catching and destroying submarines became so effective it was too costly to maintain submarine warfare in belligerent waters. The German Navy had tried all kinds of schemes but none was very successful. After the sinking of the Ancona the Admiralty planned for two submarines to work together, but this was not as successful as it might have been. During May, June and July the submarine warfare was practically given up as the losses of ships during those months will show. There was a steep decline from a quarter of a million tons in April to less than 140,000 tons in May, about 125,000 tons in June and not much more than 100,000 tons in July.
During these three months the Navy was being bitterly criticised for its inactivity. But as the events six months later will show the German navy simply used these months to prepare for a much stronger submarine campaign which was to begin in August. By this time it was decided, however, not to risk a submarine campaign off the Allied coasts but to operate in the Atlantic, off the coasts of Spain and Norway. This method of submarine warfare proved very successful and by November, 1916, Germany was sinking over 425,000 tons of ships per month.
During this swell in the success of the submarine campaign the U-53 was despatched across the Atlantic to operate off the United States coasts.
U-53 was sent here for two purposes: First, it was to demonstrate to the American people that, in event of war, submarines could work terror off the Atlantic coast. Second, it was to show the naval authorities whether their plans for an attack on American shipping would be practical. U-53 failed to terrorise the United States, but it proved to the Admiralty that excursions to American waters were feasible.
On February 1, when the Kaiser defied the United States by threatening all neutral shipping in European waters, Germany had four hundred undersea boats completed or in course of construction. This included big U-boats, like the U-53, with a cruising radius of five thousand miles, and the smaller craft, with fifteen-day radius, for use against England, as well as supply ships and mine layers. But not all these were ready for use against the Allies and the United States at that time. About one hundred were waiting for trained crews or were being completed in German shipyards.
It was often said in Berlin that the greatest loss when a submarine failed to return was the crew. It required more time to train the men than to build the submarine. According to Germany’s new method of construction, a submarine can be built in fifteen days. Parts are stamped out in the factories and assembled at the wharves. But it takes from sixty to ninety days to educate the men and get them accustomed to the seasick motion of the U-boats. Besides, it requires experienced officers to train the new men.
To meet this demand Germany began months ago to train men who could man the newest submarines. So a school was established—a School of Submarine Murder—and for many months the man who torpedoed the Lusitania was made chief of the staff of educators. It was a new task for German kultur.
For the German people the lessons of the Lusitania have been exactly opposite those normal people would learn. The horror of non-combatants going down on a passenger liner, sunk without warning, was nothing to be compared to the heroism of aiming the torpedo and running away. Sixty-eight million Germans think their submarine officers and crews are the greatest of the great.
When the Berlin Foreign Office announced, after the sinking of the Sussex, that the ruthless torpedoing of ships would be stopped the German statesmen meant this method would be discontinued until there were sufficient submarines to defy the United States. At once the German navy, which has always been anti-American, began building submarines night and day. Every one in the Government knew the time would come when Germany would have to break its Sussex pledge.
The German navy early realised the need for trained men, so it recalled, temporarily, for educational work the man who sank the Lusitania.
“But, who sank the Lusitania?” you ask.
“The torpedo which sank the Lusitania and killed over one hundred Americans and hundreds of other noncombatants was fired by Oberleutnant zur See (First Naval Lieutenant) Otto Steinbrink, commander of one of the largest German submarines.”
“Was he punished?” you ask.
“Kaiser Wilhelm decorated him with the highest military order, the Pour le Merite!”
“Where is Steinbrink now?”
“On December 8, 1916, the German Admiralty announced that he had just returned from a special trip, having torpedoed and mined twenty-two ships on one voyage.”
“What had he been doing?”
“For several months last summer he trained officers and crews in this branch of warfare, which gained him international notoriety.”
It is said that Steinbrink has trained more naval men than any other submarine commander. If this be true, is there any wonder that Germany should be prepared to conduct a ruthless submarine warfare throughout the world? Is it surprising that American ships should be sunk, American citizens murdered and the United States Government defied when the German navy has been employing the man who murdered the passengers of the Lusitania as the chief instructor of submarine murderers?
The Krupp interests have played a leading role in the war, not only by manufacturing billions of shells and cannon, and by financing propaganda in the United States, but by building submarines. At the Krupp wharves at Kiel some of the best undersea craft are launched. Other shipyards at Bremen, Hamburg and Danzig have been mobilised for this work, too. Just a few weeks before diplomatic relations were broken a group of American doctors, who were investigating prison camp conditions, went to Danzig. Here they learned that the twelve wharves there were building between 45 and 50 submarines annually. These were the smaller type for use in the English Channel. At Hamburg the Hamburg-American Line wharves were mobilised for submarine construction also. At the time diplomatic relations were severed observers in Germany estimated that 250 submarines were being launched annually and that preparations were being made greatly to increase this number.
Submarine warfare is a very exact and difficult science. Besides the skilled captain, competent first officers, wireless operators and artillerymen, engineers are needed. Each man, too, must be a “seadog.” Some of the smaller submarines toss like tubs when they reach the ocean and only toughened seamen can stand the “wear and tear.” Hence the weeks and months which are necessary to put the men in order before they leave home for their first excursion in sea murder.
But Germany has learned a great deal during two years of hit-and-miss submarine campaigns. When von Tirpitz began, in 1915, he ordered his men to work off the coasts of England. Then so many submarines were lost it became a dangerous and expensive military operation. The Allies began to use great steel nets, both as traps and as protection to warships. The German navy learned this within a very short time, and the military engineers were ordered to perfect a torpedo which would go through a steel net. The first invention was a torpedo with knives on the nose. When the nose hit the net there was a minor explosion. The knives were sent through the net, permitting the torpedo to continue on its way. Then the Allies doubled the nets, and two sets of knives were attached to the German torpedoes. But gradually the Allies employed nets as traps. These were anchored or dragged by fishing boats. Some submarines have gotten inside, been juggled around, but have escaped. More, perhaps, have been lost this way.
Then, when merchant ships began to carry armament, the periscopes were shot away, so the navy invented a so-called “finger-periscope,” a thin rod pipe with a mirror at one end. This rod could he shoved out from the top of the submarine and used for observation purposes in case the big periscope was destroyed. From time to time there were other inventions. As the submarine fleet grew the means of communicating with each other while submerged at sea were perfected. Copper plates were fastened fore and aft on the outside of submarines, and it was made possible for wireless messages to be sent through the water at a distance of fifty miles.
A submarine cannot aim at a ship without some object as a sight. So one submarine often acted as a “sight” for the submarine firing the torpedo. Submarines, which at first were unarmed, were later fitted with armour plate and cannon were mounted on deck. The biggest submarines now carry 6-inch guns.
Like all methods of ruthless warfare the submarine campaign can be and will be for a time successful. Germany’s submarine warfare today is much more successful than the average person realises. By December, 1916, for instance, the submarines were sinking a half million tons of ships a month. In January, 1917, over 600,000 tons were destroyed. On February nearly 800,000 tons were lost. The destruction of ships means a corresponding destruction of cargoes, of many hundreds of thousands of tons. When Germany decided the latter part of January to begin a ruthless campaign German authorities calculated they could sink an average of 600,000 tons per month and that in nine months nearly 6,000,000 tons of shipping could be sent to the bottom of the ocean,—then the Allies would be robbed of the millions of tons of goods which these ships could carry.
In any military campaign one of the biggest problems is the transportation of troops and supplies. Germany during this war has had to depend upon her railroads; the Allies have depended upon ships. Germany looked at her own military situation and saw that if the Allies could destroy as many railroad cars as Germany expected to sink ships, Germany would be broken up and unable to continue the war. Germany believed ships were to the Allies what railroad carriages are to Germany.
The General Staff looked at the situation from other angles. During the winter there was a tremendous coal shortage in France and Italy. There had been coal riots in Paris and Rome. The Italian Government was so in need of coal that it had to confiscate even private supplies. The Grand Hotel in Rome, for instance, had to give up 300 tons which it had in its coal bins. In 1915 France had been importing 2,000,000 tons of coal a month across the Channel from England. Because of the ordinary loss of tonnage the French coal imports dropped 400,000 tons per month. Germany calculated that if she could decrease England’s coal exports 400,000 tons a month by an ordinary submarine campaign that she could double it by a ruthless campaign.
Germany was looking forward to the Allied offensive which was expected this Spring. Germany knew that the Allies would need troops and ammunition. She knew that to manufacture ammunition and war supplies coal was needed. Germany calculated that if the coal importations to France could be cut down a million tons a month France would not be able to manufacture the necessary ammunition for an offensive lasting several months.
Germany knew that England and France were importing thousands of tons of war supplies and food from the United States. Judging from the German newspapers which I read at this time every one in Germany had the impression that the food situation in England and France was almost as bad as in Germany. Even Ambassador Gerard had somewhat the same impression. When he left Germany for Switzerland on his way to Spain, he took two cases of eggs which he had purchased in Denmark. One night at a reception in Berne, one of the American women in the Gerard party asked the French Ambassador whether France really had enough food! If the Americans coming from Germany had the impression that the Allies were sorely in need of supplies one can see how general the impression must have been throughout Germany.
When I was in Paris I was surprised to see so much food and to see such a variety. Paris appeared to be as normal in this respect as Copenhagen or Rotterdam. But I was told by American women who were keeping house there that it was becoming more and more difficult to get food.
After Congress declared war it became evident for the first time that the Allies really did need war supplies and food from the United States more than they needed anything else. London and Paris officials publicly stated that this was the kind of aid the Allies really needed. It became evident, too, that the Allies not only needed the food but that they needed ships to carry supplies across the Atlantic. One of the first things President Wilson did was to approve plans for the construction of a fleet of 3,000 wooden ships practically to bridge the Atlantic.
During the first three months of 1917 submarine warfare was a success in that it so decreased the ship tonnage and the importations of the Allies that they needed American co-operation and assistance. So the United States really enters the war at the critical and decisive stage. Germany believes she can continue to sink ships faster than they can be built, but Germany did not calculate upon a fleet of wooden bottom vessels being built in the United States to make up for the losses. Germany did not expect the United States to enter the war with all the vigour and energy of the American people. Germany calculated upon internal troubles, upon opposition to the war and upon the pacifists to have America make as many mistakes as England did during the first two years of the war. But the United States has learned and profited by careful observation in Europe. Just as England’s declaration of war on Germany in support of Belgium and France was a surprise to Germany; just as the shipment of war supplies by American firms to the Allies astonished Germany, so will the construction of 3,000 wooden vessels upset the calculations of the German General Staff.
While American financial assistance will be a great help to the Allies that will not affect the German calculations because when the Kaiser and his Generals decided on the 27th of January to damn all neutrals, German financiers were not consulted.
Neither did the German General Staff count upon the Russian Revolution going against them. Germany had expected a revolution there, but Germany bet upon the Czar and the Czar’s German wife. As Lieutenant Colonel von Haeften, Chief Military Censor in Berlin, told the correspondents, Germany calculated upon the internal troubles in Russia aiding her. But the Allies and the people won the Russian Revolution. Germany’s hopes that the Czar might again return to power or that the people might overthrow their present democratic leaders will come to naught now that America has declared war and thrown her tremendous and unlimited moral influence behind the Allies and with the Russian people.
Rear Admiral Hollweg’s calculations that 24,253,615 tons of shipping remained for the world freight transmission at the beginning of 1917, did not take into consideration confiscation by the United States of nearly 2,500,000 tons of German and Austrian shipping in American ports. He did not expect the United States to build 3,000 new ships in 1917. He did not expect the United States to purchase the ships under construction in American wharves for neutral European countries.
The German submarine campaign, like all other German “successes,” will be temporary. Every time the General Staff has counted upon “ultimate victory” it has failed to take into consideration the determination of the enemy. Germany believed that the world could be “knocked out” by big blows. Germany thought when she destroyed and invaded Belgium and northern France that these two countries would not be able to “come back.” Germany thought when she took Warsaw and a great part of western Russia that Russia would not he able to continue the war. Germany figured that after the invasion of Roumania and Servia that these two countries would not need to be considered seriously in the future. Germany believed that her submarine campaign would be successful before the United States could come to the aid of the Allies. German hope of “ultimate victory” has been postponed ever since September, 1914, when von Kluck failed to take Paris. And Germany’s hopes for an “ultimate victory” this summer before the United States can get into the war will be postponed so long that Germany will make peace not on her own terms but upon the terms which the United States of Democracy of the Whole World will dictate.
One day in Paris I met Admiral LeCaze, the Minister of Marine, in his office in the Admiralty. He discussed the submarine warfare from every angle. He said the Germans, when they figured upon so many tons of shipping and of supplies destroyed by submarines, failed to take into consideration the fact that over 100 ships were arriving daily at French ports and that over 5,000,000 tons of goods were being brought into France monthly.
When I explained to him what it appeared to me would be the object of the German ruthless campaign he said:
“Germany cannot win the war by her submarine campaign or by any other weapon. That side will win which holds out one week, one day or one hour longer than the other.”
And this Admiral, who, dressed in civilian clothes, looked more like a New York financier than a naval officer, leaned forward in his chair, looked straight at me and concluded the interview by saying:
“The Allies will win.”
THE OUTLAWED NATION
During the Somme battles several of the American correspondents in Berlin were invited to go to the front near Peronne and were asked to luncheon by the Bavarian General von Kirchhoff, who was in command against the French. When the correspondents reached his headquarters in a little war-worn French village they were informed that the Kaiser had just summoned the general to decorate him with the high German military order, the Pour le Merite. Luncheon was postponed until the general returned. The correspondents watched him motor to the chateau where they were and were surprised to see tears in his eyes as he stepped out of the automobile and received the cordial greetings and congratulations of his staff. Von Kirchhoff, in a brief impromptu speech, paid a high tribute to the German troops which were holding the French and said the decoration was not his but his troops’. And in a broken voice he remarked that these soldiers were sacrificing their lives for the Fatherland, but were called “Huns and Barbarians” for doing it. There was another long pause and the general broke down, cried and had to leave his staff and guests.
These indictments of the Allies were more terrible to him than the war itself.
General von Kirchhoff in this respect is typical of Germany. Most Germans, practically every German I knew, could not understand why the Allies did not respect their enemies as the Germans said they respected the Allies.
A few weeks later, in November, when I was on the Somme with another group of correspondents, I was asked by nearly every officer I met why it was that Germany was so hated throughout the world. It was a question I could not easily answer without, perhaps, hurting the feelings of the men who wanted to know, or insulting them, which as a guest I did not desire to do.
A few days later on the train from Cambrai to Berlin I was asked by a group of officers to explain why the people in the United States, especially, were so bitter. To get the discussion under way the Captain from the General Staff who had acted as our escort presented his indictment of American neutrality and asked me to reply.
This feeling, this desire to know why Germany was regarded as an outlawed nation, was not present in Germany early in 1915 when I arrived. In February, 1915, people were confident. They were satisfied with the progress of the war. They knew the Allies hated them and they returned the hate and did not care. But between February, 1915, and November, 1916, a great change took place. On my first trip to the front in April, 1915, I heard of no officers or men shedding tears because the Allies hated them.
When I sailed from New York two years ago it seemed to me that sentiment in the United States was about equally divided; that most people favoured neutrality, even a majority of those who supported the Entente. The feeling of sympathy which so many thousands of Americans had for Germany I could, at that time, readily understand, because I myself was sympathetic. I felt that Germany had not had a fighting chance with public opinion in the United States.
[Illustration: AN ADVERTISEMENT IN THE BERLIN “DEUTSCHE TAGES-ZEITUNG” FOR THE BOOK—“PRESIDENT BLUFF” MEANING PRESIDENT WILSON]
I could not believe that all the charges against Germany applied to the German people. Although it was difficult to understand what Germany had done in Belgium, although it was evident and admitted by the Chancellor that Germany violated the neutrality of that country, I could not believe that a nation, which before the war had such a high standing in science and commerce, could have plotted or desired such a tremendous war as swept Europe in 1914.
When I arrived in Berlin on March 17, 1915, and met German officials and people for the first time, I was impressed by their sincerity, their honesty and their belief that the Government did not cause the war and was fighting to defend the nation. At the theatre I saw performances of Shakespeare, which were among the best I had ever seen. I marvelled at the wonderful modern hospitals and at the efficiency and organisation of the Government. I marvelled at the expert ways in which prison camps were administered. I was surprised to find railroad trains clean and punctual. It seemed to me as if Germany was a nation which had reached the height of perfection and that it was honestly and conscientiously defending itself against the group of powers which desired its destruction.
For over a year I entered enthusiastically into the work of interpreting and presenting this Germany to the American people. At this time there was practically no food problem. German banks and business men were preparing for and expecting peace. The Government was already making plans for after the war when soldiers would return from the front. A Reichstag Committee had been appointed to study Germany’s possible peace time labour needs and to make arrangements for solving them.
But in the fall of 1915 the changes began. The Lusitania had been destroyed in May and almost immediately the hate campaign against America was started. I saw the tendency to attack and belittle the United States grow not only in the army, in the navy and in the press, but among the people. I saw that Germany was growing to deeply resent anything the United States Government said against what the German Government did. When this anti-American campaign was launched I observed a tendency on the part of the Foreign Office to censor more strictly the telegrams which the correspondents desired to
Previous to the fall of 1915 not only the German Government but the German people were charitable to the opinions of neutrals, especially those who happened to be in Germany for business or professional reasons, but, as the anti-American campaign and the cry that America was not neutral by permitting supplies to be shipped to the Allies became more extensive, the public became less charitable. Previously a neutral in Germany could be either pro-German, pro-Ally or neutral. Now, however, it was impossible to be neutral, especially if one were an American, because the very statement that one was an American carried with it the implication that one was anti-German. The American colony itself became divided. There was the pro-American group and the pro-German government group. The former was centred at the American Embassy. The latter was inspired by the German-Americans who had lived in Germany most of their lives and by other sympathetic Americans who came from the United States. Meanwhile there were printed in German newspapers many leading articles and interviews from the American press attacking President Wilson, and any one sympathising with the President, even Ambassador Gerard, became automatically “Deutschfeidlich.”
As the submarine warfare became more and more a critical issue German feeling towards the United States changed. I found that men who were openly professing their friendship for the United States were secretly doing everything within their power to intimidate America. The Government began to feel as if the American factories which were supplying the Allies were as much subject to attack as similar factories in Allied countries.
Carrying out the German idea that it was right to harm or destroy American property which was directly or indirectly aiding the Allies, both Germany and Austria-Hungary published notices that their citizens in the United States were not permitted to work in such factories. And plots which Captains Boy-Ed and von Papen instigated here were done with the approval and encouragement of the German Government. If any proof is needed for this statement, in addition to that already published, it is that both of these men upon their return to Germany were regarded as heroes and given the most trusted positions. Captain Boy-Ed was placed at the head of the Intelligence Department of the Navy and Captain von Papen was assigned to the Headquarters of the General Commanding the operations on the Somme.
As the food situation in Germany became worse the disposition of the people changed still more. The Government had already pointed out in numerous public statements that the United States was not neutral because it overlooked the English blockade and thought only about the German submarine war. So as food difficulties developed the people blamed the United States and held President Wilson personally responsible for the growing shortages within Germany. The people believed Mr. Wilson was their greatest enemy and that he was the man most to be feared. How strong this feeling was not only among the people but in Government circles was to be shown later when Germany announced her submarine campaign.
As was pointed out in a previous chapter while Germany was arguing against shipments of war munitions from the United States she was herself responsible for the preparations which Russia and Roumania had made against her, but this proof of deception on the part of the Government was never explained to the German people. Furthermore the people were never told why the United States asked for the recall of Germany’s two attaches who were implicated in spy plots. Nothing was ever published in the German newspapers about Herr von Igel. The newspapers always published despatches which told of the destruction of ammunition
The effectiveness of Mr. Wilson’s diplomacy against Germany was decreased by some German-Americans, and the fact that the United States is to-day at war with Germany is due to this blundering on the behalf of some of those over-zealous citizens who, being so anxious to aid Germany, became anti-Wilson and in the long run defeated what they set out to accomplish. Had the German Government not been assured by some German-Americans that they would never permit President Wilson to break diplomatic relations or go to war, had these self-appointed envoys stayed away from Berlin, the relations between the United States and Germany might to-day be different than they are. Because if Germany at the outset of the submarine negotiations had been given the impression by a united America that the President spoke for the country, Germany would undoubtedly have given up all hope of a ruthless submarine warfare.
I think President Wilson and Mr. Gerard realised that the activities of the German-Americans here were not only interfering with the diplomatic negotiations but that the German-Americans were acting against their own best interests if they really desired peace with Germany.
When some of the President’s friends saw that the German people were receiving such biased news from the United States and that Germany had no opportunity of learning the real sentiment here, nor of sounding the depth of American indignation over the Lusitania they endeavoured to get despatches from the United States to Germany to enlighten the people. Mr. Roy W. Howard, President of the United Press, endeavoured several times while I was in Berlin to get unadulterated American news in the German newspapers, but the German Government was not overly anxious to have such information published. It was too busy encouraging the anti-American sentiment for the purpose of frightening the United States. It was difficult, too, for the United Press to get the necessary co-operation in the United States for this news service. After the settlement of the Sussex dispute the Democratic newspapers of Germany, those which were supporting the Chancellor, were anxious to receive reports from here, but the German Foreign Office would not encourage the matter to the extent of using the wireless towers at Sayville and Tuckerton as means of transmitting the news.
How zealously the Foreign Office censor guards what appears in the German newspapers was shown about two weeks before diplomatic relations were broken. When the announcement was wirelessed to the United States that Germany had adopted the von Tirpitz blockade policy the United Press sent me a number of daily bulletins telling what the American Press, Congressmen and the Government were thinking and saying about the new order. The first day these despatches reached me I sent them to several of the leading newspapers only to be notified in less than an hour afterward by the Foreign Office that I was to send no information to the German newspapers without first sending it to the Foreign Office. Two days after the blockade order was published I received a telegram from Mr. Howard saying that diplomatic relations would be broken, and giving me a summary of the press comment. I took this despatch to the Foreign Office and asked permission to send it to the newspapers. It was refused. Throughout this crisis which lasted until the 10th of February the Foreign Office would not permit a single despatch coming direct from America to be printed in the German newspapers. The Foreign Office preferred to have the newspapers publish what came by way of England and France so that the Government could always explain that only English and French news could reach Germany because the United States was not interested in seeing that Germany obtained first hand information.
While Germany was arguing that the United States was responsible for her desperate situation, economically, and while President Wilson was being blamed for not breaking the Allied blockade, the German Foreign Office was doing everything within its power to prevent German goods from being shipped to the United States. When, through the efforts of Ambassador Gerard, numerous attempts were made to get German goods, including medicines and dye-stuffs, to the United States, the German Government replied that these could not leave the country unless an equal amount of goods were sent to Germany. Then, when the State Department arranged for an equal amount of American goods to be shipped in exchange the German Foreign Office said all these goods would have to be shipped to and from German ports. When the State Department listened to this demand and American steamers were started on their way to Hamburg and Bremen the German Navy was so busy sewing mines off these harbours to keep the English fleet away that they failed to notify the American skippers where the open channels were. As a result so many American ships were sunk trying to bring goods into German harbours that it became unprofitable for American shippers to try to accommodate Germany.
About this time, also, the German Government began its policy of discouraging American business in Germany. Ambassador Gerard had had a long wrangle with the Chancellor over a bill which was introduced in the Reichstag shortly after the beginning of the war to purchase all foreign oil properties “within the German Customs Union.” The bill was examined by Mr. Gerard, who, for a number of years, was a Supreme Court Judge of New York. He discovered that the object of the bill was to put the Standard Oil Company out of business by purchasing all of this company’s property except that located in Hamburg. This was the joker. Hamburg was not in the German Customs Union and the bill provided for the confiscation of all property not in this Union.
Mr. Gerard called upon the Chancellor and told him that the United States Government could not permit such a bill to be passed without a vigorous protest. The Chancellor asked Mr. Gerard whether President Wilson and Secretary of State Bryan would ever protect such a corporation as the Standard Oil Company was supposed to be. Mr. Gerard replied that the very fact that these two officials were known in the public mind as having no connection with this corporation would give them an opportunity of defending its interests the same as the Government would defend the interests of any other American. The Chancellor seemed surprised at this statement and Mr. Gerard continued about as follows:
“You know that Germany has already been discriminating against the Standard Oil Company. You know that the Prussian State Railways charge this American corporation twice as much to ship oil from Hamburg to Bremen as they charge the German oil interests to ship Roumanian oil from the Austrian border to Berlin. Now don’t you think that’s enough?”
The interview ended here. And the bill was never brought up in the Reichstag.
But this policy of the Government of intimidating and intriguing against American interests was continued until diplomatic relations were broken. In December, 1916, Adolph Barthmann, an American citizen, who owned the largest shoe store in Berlin, desired to close his place of business and go to the United States. It was impossible for him to get American shoes because of the Allied blockade and he had decided to discontinue business until peace was made.
Throughout the war it has been necessary for all Americans, as well as all other neutrals, to obtain permission from the police before they could leave. Barthmann went to Police Headquarters, and asked for authority to go to the United States. He was informed that his passport would have to be examined by the General Staff and that he could call for it within eight days. At the appointed day Barthmann appeared at Police Headquarters where he was informed by the Police Captain that upon orders of the General Staff he would have to sign a paper and swear to the statement that neither he nor the American firms he represented had sold, or would sell, shoes to the Allies. Barthmann was told that this statement would have to be sworn to by another American resident of Berlin and that unless this was done he would not be permitted to return to Germany after the war. Mr. Barthmann had to sign the document under protest before his American passport was returned.
The facts in this as in the other instances which I have narrated, are in the possession of the State Department at Washington.
When the German Government began to fear that the United States might some day join the Allies if the submarine campaign was renewed, it campaigned by threatening the United States with a Russian-Japanese-German alliance after the war against England and the United States. These threats were not disguised. Ambassador Gerard was informed, indirectly and unofficially of course, by German financiers and members of the Reichstag that Germany “would be forced” to make such an alliance if the United States ever joined the Allies. As was shown later by the instructions of Secretary of State Zimmermann to the German Minister in Mexico City, Germany has not only not given up that idea, but Germany now looks forward to Mexico as the fourth member of the league.
As Germany became more and more suspicious of Americans in Germany, who were not openly pro-German, she made them suffer when they crossed the German frontier to go to neutral countries. The German military authorities, at border towns such as Warnemuende and Bentheim, took a dislike to American women who were going to Holland or Denmark, and especially to the wives of U. S. consular officials. One time when I was going from Berlin to Copenhagen I learned from the husband of one of the women examined at the border what the authorities had done to her. I saw her before and after the ordeal and when I heard of what an atrocious examination they had made I understood why she was in bed ten days afterward and under the constant care of physicians. Knowing what German military officers and German women detectives had done in some of the invaded countries, one does not need to know the details of these insults. It is sufficient to state that after the wives of several American officials and other prominent American residents of Berlin had been treated in this manner that the State Department wrote a vigorous and defiant note to Germany stating that unless the practice was immediately discontinued the United States would give up the oversight of all German interests in Allied countries. The ultimatum had the desired effect. The German Government replied that while the order of the General Staff could not be changed it would be waived in practice.
No matter who the American is, who admired Germany, or, who respected Germany, or, who sympathised with Germany as she was before, or, at the beginning of the war, no American can support this Germany which I have just described, against his own country. The Germany of 1913, which was admired and respected by the scientific, educational and business world; the Germany of 1913 which had no poor, which took better care of its workmen than any nation in the world; the nation, which was considered in the advance of all countries in dealing with economic and industrial problems, no longer exists. The Germany which
The Germany of 1914 and 1915 which arose like one man to defend the nation is not the Germany which to-day is down on the whole world and which believes that its organised might can defend it against every and all nations. The Germany I saw in 1915, composed of sympathetic, calm, charitable, patient people is to-day a Germany made up of nervous, impatient, deceptive and suspicious people.
From the sinking of the Lusitania to February, 1917, President Wilson maintained diplomatic relations with Germany in order to aid the democratic forces which were working in that country to throw out the poison which forty years of army preparation had diffused throughout the nation. President Wilson believed that he could rely upon the Chancellor as a leader of democracy against von Tirpitz and von Falkenhayn, as leaders of German autocracy. The Chancellor knew the President looked upon him as the man to reform Germany. But when the crisis came the Chancellor was as weak as the Kaiser and both of them sanctioned and defended what von Hindenburg and Ludendorf, the ammunition interests and the navy, proposed.
If the United States were to disregard absolutely every argument which the Allies have for fighting Germany there would still be so many American indictments against the German Government that no American could have a different opinion from that of President Wilson.
Germany sank the Lusitania and killed over 100 Americans and never apologised for it.
Germany sank the Ancona, killed more Americans and blamed Austria.
Germany sank the Arabic and torpedoed the Sussex.
Germany promised after the sinking of the Sussex to warn all merchant ships before torpedoing them and then in practice threw the pledges to the winds and ended by breaking all promises.
Germany started anti-American propaganda in Germany.
The German Government made the German people suspect
and hate President
Germany supplied Russia and Roumania with arms and ammunition and criticised America for permitting American business men to aid the Allies.
Germany plotted against American factories.
Germany tried to stir up a revolt in Mexico.
Germany tried to destroy American ammunition factories.
Germany blamed the United States for her food situation without explaining to the people that one of the reasons the pork supply was exhausted and there was no sugar was because Minister of the Interior Delbrueck ordered the farmers to feed sugar to the pigs and then to slaughter them in order to save the fodder.
Germany encouraged and financed German-Americans in their campaigns in the United States.
Germany paid American writers for anti-American contributions to German newspapers and for pro-German articles in the American press.
Germany prohibited American news associations from printing unbiased American news in Germany.
Germany discriminated against and blacklisted American firms doing business in Germany.
Germany prevented American correspondents from sending true despatches from Berlin during every submarine crisis.
Germany insulted American women, even the wives of American consular officials, when they crossed the German border.
Germany threatened the United States with a Russian-Japanese-German-Mexican alliance against England and the United States.
German generals insulted American military observers at the front and the U. S. War Department had to recall them.
These are Uncle Sam’s indictments of the Kaiser.
Germany has outlawed herself among all nations.
THE UNITED STATES AT WAR
When the German Emperor in his New Year’s message said that victory would remain with Germany in 1917 he must have known that the submarine war would be inaugurated to help bring this victory to Germany. In May, 1916, Admiral von Capelle explained to the Reichstag that the reason the German blockade of England could not be maintained was because Germany did not have sufficient submarines. But by December the Kaiser, who receives all the figures of the Navy, undoubtedly knew that submarines were being built faster than any other type of ship and that the Navy was making ready for the grand sea offensive in 1917. Knowing this, as well as knowing that President Wilson would break diplomatic relations if the submarine war was conducted ruthlessly again, the Kaiser was a very confident ruler to write such a New Year’s order to the Army and Navy. He must have felt sure that he could defeat the United States.
* * * * * * * *
To My Army and My Navy!
Once more a war year lies behind us, replete with hard fighting and sacrifices, rich in successes and victories.
Our enemies’ hopes for the year 1916 have been blasted. All their assaults in the East and West were broken to pieces through your bravery and devotion!
The latest triumphal march through Roumania has, by God’s decree, again pinned imperishable laurels to your standards.
The greatest naval battle of this war, the Skager Rak victory, and the bold exploits of the U-boats have assured to My Navy glory and admiration for all time.
You are victorious on all theatres of war, ashore as well as afloat!
With unshaken trust and proud confidence the grateful Fatherland regards you. The incomparable warlike spirit dwelling in your ranks, your tenacious, untiring will to victory, your love for the Fatherland are guaranties to Me that victory will remain with our colours in the new year also.
God will be with us further!
Main Headquarters, Dec. 31, 1916.
* * * * * * * *
Ambassador Gerard warned the State Department in September that Germany would start her submarine war before the Spring of 1917 so the United States must have known several months before the official announcement came. But Washington probably was under the impression that the Chancellor would not break his word. Uncle Sam at that time trusted von Bethmann-Hollweg.
[Illustration: SCHWAB TO MR. WILSON—“FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, GREAT LITTLE LEADER, THE WHOLE PLACE WILL BLOW UP IF YOU SMOKE HERE!”]
Diplomatic relations were broken on February 1st. Ambassador Gerard departed February 10th. Upon his arrival in Switzerland several German citizens, living in that country because they could not endure conditions at home, asked the Ambassador upon his arrival in Washington to urge President Wilson if he asked Congress to declare war to say that the United States did not desire to go to war with the German people but with the German Government. One of these citizens was a Prussian nobleman by birth but he had been one of the leaders of the democratic forces in Germany and exiled himself in order to help the Liberal movement among the people by working in Switzerland. This suggestion was followed by the President. When he spoke to the joint session of Congress on February 1st he declared the United States would wage war against the Government and not against the people. In this historic address the President said:
“I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.
“On the 3rd of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government, that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe, or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.
“That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its under-sea craft, in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk, and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.
“The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the prescribed areas by the German Government itself, and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle.
“I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilised nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law, which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up, with meagre enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view at least of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded.
“This minimum of right the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity, and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these, which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world.
“I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of non-combatants, men, women and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be.
“The present German warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.
“When I addressed the Congress on the twenty-sixth of February last I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable.
“Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used, against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks, as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea. It is common prudence in such circumstances—grim necessity, indeed—to endeavour to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all.
“The German Government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defence of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be.
“Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual; it is likely to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents.
“There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making: We will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are not common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.
“With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it, and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defence, but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.
“What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable co-operation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with Germany, and, as incident to that, the extension to those governments of the most liberal financial credits in order that our resources may, so far as possible, be added to theirs.
“It will involve the organisation and mobilisation of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant and yet the most economical and efficient way possible.
“It will involve the immediate full equipment of the navy in all respects, but particularly in supplying it with the best means of dealing with the enemy’s submarines. It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States, already provided for by law in case of war, at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service; and also the authorisation of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training.
“It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the Government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained by the present generation, by well conceived taxation. I say sustained so far as may be by equitable taxation because it seems to me that it would be most unwise to base the credits which will now be necessary entirely on money borrowed. It is our duty, I most respectfully urge, to protect our people so far as we may against the very serious hardships and evils which would be likely to arise out of the inflation which would be produced by vast loans.
“In carrying out the measures by which these things are to be accomplished we should keep constantly in mind the wisdom of interfering as little as possible in our own preparation and in the equipment of our own military forces with the duty—for it will be a very practical duty—of supplying the nations already at war with Germany with the materials which they can obtain only from us or by our assistance. They are in the field, and we should help them in every way to be effective there.
“I shall take the liberty of suggesting, through the several executive departments of the Government, for the consideration of your committees measures for the accomplishment of the several objects I have mentioned. I hope that it will be your pleasure to deal with them as having been framed after very careful thought by the branch of the Government upon which the responsibility of conducting the war and safeguarding the nation will most directly fall.
“While we do these things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear, and make very clear to all the world what our motives and our objects are. My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and normal course by the unhappy events of the last two months, and I do not believe that the thought of the nation has been altered or clouded by them.
“I have exactly the same thing in mind now that I had in mind when I addressed the Senate on the 22d of January last; the same that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the 3d of February and on the 26th of February. Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and the justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up among the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth insure the observance of those principles.
“Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organised force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances.
“We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilised states.
“We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval.
“It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellowmen as pawns and tools.
“Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbour states with spies or set the course of intrigue to bring about some critical posture of affairs which will give them an opportunity to strike and make conquest. Such designs can be successfully worked only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions.
“Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class. They are happily impossible where public opinion commands and insists upon full information concerning all the nation’s affairs.
“A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants.
“It must be a league of honour, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plottings of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart.
“Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honour steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.
“Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia?
“Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke for their natural instinct, their habitual attitude toward life.
“Autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, in character or purpose, and now it has been shaken, and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their native majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a league of honour.
“One of the things that have served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies, and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of council, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce.
“Indeed, it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began; and it is unhappily not a matter of conjecture, but a fact proved in our courts of justice, that the intrigues, which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country, have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction, of official agents of the imperial Government accredited to the Government of the United States.
“Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them, because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people toward us (who were, no doubt, as ignorant of them as we ourselves were), but only in the selfish designs of a government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing. But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that Government entertains no real friendship for us, and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience.
“That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted note to the German Minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence.
“We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend, and that in the presence of its organised power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world.
“We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included, for the rights of nations great and small, and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience.
“The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the trusted foundations of political liberty.
“We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been as secure as the faith and the freedom of the nation can make them.
“Just because we fight without rancour and without selfish objects, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.
“I have said nothing of the governments allied with the imperial Government of Germany, because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honour. The Austro-Hungarian Government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified indorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the imperial Government, and it has therefore not been possible for this Government to receive Count Tarnowski, the ambassador recently accredited to this Government by the imperial and royal Government of Austria-Hungary, but that Government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.
“It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck.
“We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early re-establishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us—however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present Government through all these bitter months because of that friendship—exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible.
“We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions toward the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live amongst us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it toward all who are in fact loyal to their neighbours and to the Government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose.
“If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression; but if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there, and without countenance, except from a lawless and malignant few.
“It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilisation itself seeming to be in the balance.
“But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.
“To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.”
After this speech was printed in Germany, first in excerpts and then as a whole in a few papers, there were three distinct reactions:
1. The Government press and the circles controlled by the Army published violent articles against President Wilson and the United States.
2. The democratic press led by the Vorwaerts took advantage of Wilson’s statements to again demand election reforms.
3. Public feeling generally was so aroused that the official North German Gazette said at the end of a long editorial that the Kaiser favoured a “people’s kingdom of Hohenzollern.”
The ammunition interests were among the first to express their satisfaction with America as an enemy. The Rheinische Westfaelische Zeitung, their official graphophone, said:
“The real policy of America is now fully disclosed by the outbreak of the war. Now a flood of lies and insults, clothed in pious phraseology, will descend on us. This is a surprise only to those who have been reluctant to admit that America was our enemy from the beginning. The voice of America does not sound differently from that of any other enemy. They are all tarred with the same brush—those humanitarians and democrats who hurl the world into war and refuse peace.”
The Lokal Anzeiger, which is practically edited by the Foreign Office, said President Wilson’s attempt to inveigle the German people into a revolt against the dynasty beats anything for sheer hypocrisy in the records of the world.
“We must assume that President Wilson deliberately tells an untruth. Not the German Government but the German race, hates this Anglo-Saxon fanatic, who has stirred into flame the consuming hatred in America while prating friendship and sympathy for the German people.”
The Lokal Anzeiger was right when it said the German people hated America. The Lokal Anzeiger was one of the means the Government used to make the German people hate the United States.
The North German Gazette, which prints only editorials dictated, or authorised by, the Secretary of State, said:
“A certain phrase in President Wilson’s speech must be especially pointed out. The President represents himself as the bearer of true freedom to our people who are engaged in a severe struggle for their existence and liberty. What slave soul does he believe exists in the German people when it thinks that it will allow its freedom to be meted out to them from without? The freedom which our enemies have in store for us we know sufficiently.
“The German people, become clearsighted in war, and see in President Wilson’s word nothing but an attempt to loosen the bonds between the people and princes of Germany so that we may become an easier prey for our enemies. We ourselves know that an important task remains to us to consolidate our external power and our freedom at home.”
But the mask fell from the face of Germany which she shows the outside world, when the Kaiser issued his Easter proclamation promising election reforms after the war. Why did the Kaiser issue this proclamation again at this time? As early as January, 1916, he said the same thing to the German people in his address from the throne to the Prussian Diet. Why did the Kaiser feel that it was necessary to again call the attention of the people to the fact that he would be a democrat when the war was over? The Kaiser and the German army are clever in dealing with the German people. If the Kaiser makes a mistake or does something that his army does not approve it can always be remedied before the mistake becomes public.
Last Fall a young German soldier who had been in the United States as a moving picture operator was called to the General Staff to take moving pictures at the front for propaganda purposes. One week he was ordered to Belgium, to follow and photograph His Majesty. At Ostend, the famous Belgian summer resort, the Kaiser was walking along the beach one day with Admiral von Schroeder, who is in command of the German defences there. The movie operator followed him. The soldier had been following the Kaiser several days so His Majesty recognised him, ordered him to put up his camera and prepare to make a special film. When the camera was ready His Majesty danced a jig, waved his sceptre and then his helmet, smiled and shouted greetings to the camera man—then went on along the beach.
When the photographer reached Berlin and showed the film to the censors of the General Staff they were shocked by the section of the Kaiser at Ostend. They ordered it cut out of the film because they did not think it advisable to show the German people how much their Emperor was enjoying the war!
The Kaiser throughout his reign has posed as a peace man although he has been first a soldier and then an executive. So when the Big War broke out the Kaiser had a chance to make real what had been play for him for forty years. Is it surprising then that he should urge the people to go on with the war and promise them to reform the government when the fighting was over?
The Kaiser’s proclamation itself shows that the Kaiser is not through fighting.
“Never before have the German people proved to be so firm as in this war. The knowledge that the Fatherland is fighting in bitter self defence has exercised a wonderful reconciling power, and, despite all sacrifices on the battlefield and severe privations at home, their determination has remained imperturbable to stake their last for the victorious issue.”
Could any one except a soldier who was pleased with the progress of the war have written such words?
“The national and social spirit have understood each other and become united, and have given us steadfast strength. Both of them realise what was built up in long years of peace and amid many internal struggles. This was certainly worth fighting for,” the Emperor’s order continued. “Brightly before my eyes stand the achievements of the entire nation in battle and distress. The events of this struggle for the existence of the empire introduce with high solemnity a new time.
“It falls to you as the responsible Chancellor of the German Empire and First Minister of my Government in Prussia to assist in obtaining the fulfilment of the demands of this hour by right means and at the right time, and in this spirit shape our political life in order to make room for the free and joyful co-operation of all the members of our people.
“The principles which you have developed in this respect have, as you know, my approval.
“I feel conscious of remaining thereby on the road which my grandfather, the founder of the empire, as King of Prussia with military organisation and as German Emperor with social reform, typically fulfilled as his monarchial obligations, thereby creating conditions by which the German people, in united and wrathful perseverance, will overcome this sanguinary time. The maintenance of the fighting force as a real people’s army and the promotion of the social uplift of the people in all its classes was, from the beginning of my reign, my aim.
“In this endeavour, while holding a just balance between the people and the monarchy to serve the welfare of the whole, I am resolved to begin building up our internal political, economic, and social life as soon as the war situation permits.
“While millions of our fellow-countrymen are in the field, the conflict of opinions behind the front, which is unavoidable in such a far-reaching change of constitution, must be postponed in the highest interests of the Fatherland until the time of the homecoming of our warriors and when they themselves are able to join in the counsel and the voting on the progress of the new order.”
It was but natural that the Socialists should hail this declaration of the Kaiser’s at first with enthusiasm.
“Internal freedom in Prussia—that is a goal for which for more than one hundred years the best heads and best forces in the nation have worked. Resurrection day of the third war year—will go down in history as the day of the resurrection of old Prussia to a new development,” said the Vorwaerts.
“It has brought us a promise, to be sure; not the resurrection itself, but a promise which is more hopeful and certain than all former announcements together. This proclamation can never be annulled and lapse into dusty archives.
“This message promises us a thorough reform of the Prussian three class electoral system in addition to a reform of the Prussian Upper House. In the coming new orientation the Government is only one factor, another is Parliament, the third and decisive factor is the people.”
Other Berlin newspapers spoke in a similar vein but not one of them pointed out to the public the fact that this concession by the Kaiser was not made in such a definite form, until the United States had declared war. As the United States entered the war to aid the democratic movement in Germany this concession by the Kaiser may be considered our first victory.
As days go by it becomes more and more evident that the American declaration of war is having an important influence upon internal conditions in Germany just as the submarine notes had. The German people really did not begin to think during this war until President Wilson challenged them in the notes which followed the torpedoing of the Lusitania. And now with the United States at war not only the people but the Government have decided to do some thinking.
By April 12th when reports began to reach Germany of America’s determination to fight until there was a democracy in Germany the democratic press began to give more serious consideration to Americans alliance with the Allies. Dr. Ludwig Haas, one of the Socialist members of the Reichstag, in an article in the Berlin Tageblatt made the following significant statements.
“One man may be a hypocrite, but never a whole nation. If the American people accept this message [President Wilson’s address before Congress] without a protest, then a tremendous abyss separates the logic of Germans from that of other nations.
“Woodrow Wilson is not so far wrong if he means the planning of war might be prevented if the people asserted the right to know everything about the foreign policies of their countries. But the President seems blind to the fact that a handful of men have made it their secret and uncontrolled business to direct the fate of the European democracies. With the press at one’s command one can easily drive a poor people to a mania of enthusiasm, when they will carry on their shoulders the criminals who have led to the brink of disaster.”
[Illustration: “THE NEW OLD PRESIDENT. LONG LIVE AMERICA! LONG LIVE PEACE! LONG LIVE THE AMMUNITION FACTORIES!”]
Dr. Haas was beginning to understand that the anti-American campaign in Germany which the Navy started and the Foreign Office encouraged, had had some effect.
Everything the United States does from now on will have a decisive influence in the world war. The Allies realise it and Washington knows it. Mr. Lloyd-George, the British Prime Minister, realised what a decisive effect American ships would have, when he said at the banquet of the American Luncheon Club in London:
“The road to victory, the guaranty of victory, the absolute assurance of victory, has to be found in one word, ‘ships,’ and a second word, ‘ships,’ and a third word, ‘ships.’”
But our financial economic and military aid to the Allies will not be our greatest contribution towards victory. The influence of President Wilson’s utterances, of our determination and of our value as a friendly nation after the war will have a tremendous effect as time goes on upon the German people. As days and weeks pass, as the victory which the German Government has promised the people becomes further and further away, the people, who are now doing more thinking than they ever have done since the beginning of the war, will some day realise that in order to obtain peace, which they pray for and hope for, they will have to reform their government during the war—not after the war as the Kaiser plans.
Military pressure from the outside is going to help this democratic movement in Germany succeed in spite of itself. The New York World editorial on April 14th, discussing Mr. Lloyd-George’s statement that “Prussia is not a democracy; Prussia is not a state; Prussia is an army,” said:
“It was the army and the arrogance actuating it which ordered hostilities in the first place. Because there was no democracy in Prussia, the army had its way. The democracies of Great Britain and France, like the democracy of the United States, were reluctant to take arms but were forced to it. Russian democracy found its own deliverance on the fighting-line.
“In the fact that Prussia is not a democracy or a state but an army we may see a reason for many things usually regarded as inexplicable. It is Prussia the army which violates treaties. It is Prussia the army which disregards international law. It is Prussia the army, represented by the General Staff and the Admiralty, which sets at naught the engagements of the Foreign Office. It is Prussia the army which has filled neutral countries with spies and lawbreakers, which has placed frightfulness above humanity, and in a fury of egotism and savagery has challenged the world.
“Under such a terrorism, as infamous at home as it is abroad, civil government has perished. There is no civil government in a Germany dragooned by Prussia. There is no law in Germany but military law. There is no obligation in Germany except to the army. It is not Germany the democracy or Germany the state, it is Germany the army, that is to be crushed for its own good no less than for that of civilisation.”
The United States entered the war at the psychological and critical moment. We enter it at the moment when our economic and financial resources, and our determination will have the decisive influence. We enter at the moment when every one of our future acts will assist and help the democratic movement in Germany succeed.
The United States entered the war at a time when many Americans believed the Allies were about to win it. By May 1st, 1917, the situation so changed in Europe that it was apparent to observers that only by the most stupendous efforts of all the Allies could the German Government be defeated.
At the very beginning of the war, when Teutonic militarism spread over Europe, it was like a forest fire. But two years of fighting have checked it—as woodsmen check forest fires—by digging ditches and preventing the flames from spreading. Unlimited submarine warfare, however, is something new. It is militarism spreading to the high seas and to the shores of neutrals. It is Ruthlessism—the new German menace, which is as real and dangerous for us and for South America as for England and the Allies. If we hold out until Ruthlessism spends its fury, we will win. But we must fight and fight desperately to hold out.
Dr. Kaempf, President of the Reichstag, declared that President Wilson would “bite marble” before the war was over. And the success of submarine warfare during April and the first part of May was such as to arouse the whole world to the almost indefinite possibilities of this means of fighting. The real crisis of the war has not been reached. We are approaching it. The Allies have attempted for two years without much success to curb the U-boat danger. They have attempted to build steel ships, also without success, so that the real burden of winning the war in Europe falls upon American shoulders.
Fortunately for the United States we are not making the blunders at the beginning of our intervention which some of the European nations have been making since August, 1914. America is awakened to the needs of modern war as no other nation was, thanks to the splendid work which the American newspapers and magazines have done during the war to present clearly, fairly and accurately not only the great issues but the problems of organisation and military tactics. The people of the United States are better informed about the war as a whole than are the people in any European country. American newspapers have not made the mistakes which English and French journals made—of hating the enemy so furiously as to think that nothing more than criticism and hate were necessary to defeat him. Not until this year could one of Great Britain’s statesmen declare: “You can damn the Germans until you are blue in the face, but that will not beat them.”
* * * * * * * *
Professor Charles Gray Shaw, of New York University, stated before one of his classes in philosophy that there was a new “will” typified in certain of our citizens, notably in President Wilson.
“The new psychology,” said Professor Shaw, “has discovered the new will—the will that turns inward upon the brain instead of passing out through hand or tongue. Wilson has this new will; the White House corroborates the results of the laboratory. To Roosevelt, Wilson seems weak and vacillating; but that is because T. R. knows nothing about the new will. T. R. has a primitive mind, but one of the most advanced type. In the T. R. brain, so to speak, will means set teeth, clenched fist, hunting, and rough riding.
“Wilson may be regarded as either creating the new volition or as having discovered it. At any rate, Wilson possesses and uses the new volition, and it remains to be seen whether the political world, at home and abroad, is ready for it. Here it is significant to observe that the Germans, who are psychologists, recognize the fact that a new and important function of the mind has been focused upon them.
“The Germans fear and respect the Wilson will of note writing more than they would have dreaded the T. R. will with its teeth and fists.”
As a psychologist Professor Shaw observed what we saw to be the effect in Germany, of Mr. Wilson’s will.
* * * * * * * *
The United States enters the greatest war in history at the psychological moment with a capable and determined president, a united nation and almost unlimited resources in men, money and munitions.
There is a tremendous difference between the situation in the United States and that in any other European country. During the two years I was in Europe I visited every nation at war except Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey. I saw conditions in the neutral countries of Holland, Denmark, Switzerland and Spain. The one big thing which impressed me upon my arrival in New York was that the United States, in contrast to all these countries, has, as yet, not been touched by the war. Americans are not living under the strain and worry which hang like dreadful dull clouds over every European power. In Switzerland the economic worries and the sufferings of the neighbouring belligerents have made the Swiss people feel that they are in the centre of the war itself. In France, although Paris is gay, although people smile (they have almost forgotten how to smile in Germany), although streets are crowded, and stores busy, the atmosphere is earnest and serious. Spain is torn by internal troubles. There is a great army of unemployed. The submarine war has destroyed many Spanish ships and interrupted Spanish trade with belligerents. Business houses are unable to obtain credit. German propaganda is sowing sedition
Some Americans have lived for many years with the idea that only certain sections of the United States were related to Europe. Many people, especially those in the Middle West, have had the impression that only the big shipping interests and exporters had direct interests in affairs across the ocean. But when Germany began to take American lives on the high seas, when German submarines began to treat American ships like all other belligerent vessels, it began to dawn upon people here that this country was very closely connected to Europe by blood ties as well as by business bonds. It has taken the United States two years to learn that Europe was not, after all, three thousand miles away when it came to the vital moral issues of live international policies. Before Congress declared war I found many Americans criticising President Wilson for not declaring war two years ago. While I do not know what the situation was during my absence still the impression which Americans abroad had, even American officials, was that President Wilson would not have had the support of a united people which he has to-day had he entered the war before all question of doubt regarding the moral issues had disappeared.
[Illustration: THE AUTHOR’S CARD OF ADMISSION TO THE REICHSTAG ON APRIL 5TH, 1916.]
In the issue of April 14th of this year the New Republic, of New York, in an editorial on “Who willed American participation?” cast an interesting light upon the reasons for our intervention in the Great War.
“Pacifist agitators who have been so courageously opposing, against such heavy odds, American participation in the war have been the victims of one natural but considerable mistake,” says The New Republic. “They have insisted that the chief beneficiaries of American participation would be the munition-makers, bankers and in general the capitalist class, that the chief sufferers would be the petty business men and the wage-earners. They have consequently considered the former classes to be conspiring in favour of war, and now that war has come, they condemn it as the work of a small but powerful group of profiteers. Senator Norris had some such meaning in his head when he asserted that a declaration of war would be equivalent to stamping the dollar mark on the American flag.
“This explanation of the great decision is an absurd mistake, but the pacifists have had some excuses for making it. They have seen a great democratic nation gradually forced into war, in spite of the manifest indifference or reluctance of the majority of its population; and they have rightly attributed the successful pressure to the ability of a small but influential minority to impose its will on the rest of the country. But the numerically insignificant class whose influence has been successfully exerted in favour of American participation does not consist of the bankers and the capitalists. Neither will they be the chief beneficiaries of American participation. The bankers and the capitalists have favoured war, but they have favoured it without realising the extent to which it would injure their own interests, and their support has been one of the most formidable political obstacles to American participation. The effective and decisive work on behalf of war has been accomplished by an entirely different class—a class which must be comprehensively but loosely described as the ‘intellectuals.’
“The American nation is entering this war under the influence of a moral verdict reached, after the utmost deliberation by the more thoughtful members of the community. They gradually came to a decision that the attack made by Germany on the international order was sufficiently flagrant and dangerous to justify this country in abandoning its cherished isolation and in using its resources to bring about German defeat. But these thoughtful people were always a small minority. They were able to impose their will upon a reluctant or indifferent majority partly because the increasingly offensive nature of German military and diplomatic policy made plausible opposition to American participation very difficult, but still more because of the overwhelming preponderance of pro-Ally conviction in the intellectual life of the country. If the several important professional and social groups could have voted separately on the question of war and peace, the list of college professors would probably have yielded the largest majority in favour of war, except perhaps that contained in the Social Register. A fighting anti-German spirit was more general among physicians, lawyers and clergymen than it was among business men—except those with Wall Street and banking connections. Finally, it was not less general among writers on magazines and in the newspapers. They popularised what the college professors had been thinking. Owing to this consensus of influences opposition to pro-Ally orthodoxy became intellectually somewhat disreputable, and when a final decision had to be made this factor counted with unprecedented and overwhelming force. College professors headed by a President who had himself been a college professor contributed more effectively to the decision in favour of war than did the farmers, the business men or the politicians.
“When one considers the obstacles to American entrance into the war, the more remarkable and unprecedented does the final decision become. Every other belligerent had something immediate and tangible to gain by participating and to lose by not participating. Either they were invaded or were threatened with invasion. Either they dreaded the loss of prestige or territory or coveted some kind or degree of national aggrandisement. Even Australia and Canada, who had little or nothing to gain from fighting, could not have refused to fight without severing their connection with the British Empire, and behaving in a manner which would have been considered treacherous by their fellow Britons. But the American people were not forced into the war either by fears or hopes or previously recognised obligations. On the contrary, the ponderable and tangible realities of the immediate situation counselled neutrality. They were revolted by the hideous brutality of the war and its colossal waste. Participation must be purchased with a similarly colossal diversion of American energy from constructive to destructive work, the imposition of a similarly heavy burden upon the future production of American labour. It implied the voluntary surrender of many of those advantages which had tempted our ancestors to cross the Atlantic and settle in the New World. As against these certain costs there were no equally tangible compensations. The legal rights of American citizens were, it is true, being violated, and the structure of international law with which American security was traditionally associated was being shivered, but the nation had weathered a similar storm during the Napoleonic Wars and at that time participation in the conflict had been wholly unprofitable. By spending a small portion of the money which will have to be spent in helping the Allies to beat Germany, upon preparations exclusively for defence, the American nation could have protected for the time being the inviolability of its own territory and its necessary communications with the Panama Canal. Many considerations of national egotism counselled such a policy. But although the Hearst newspapers argued most persuasively on behalf of this course it did not prevail. The American nation allowed itself to be captured by those upon whom the more remote and less tangible reasons for participation acted with compelling authority. For the first time in history a wholly independent nation has entered a great and costly war under the influence of ideas rather than immediate interests and without any expectation of gains, except those which can be shared with all liberal and inoffensive nations.
“The United States might have blundered into the war at any time during the past two years, but to have entered, as it is now doing, at the right time and in the clear interest of a purely international programme required the exercise of an intellectualised and imaginative leadership. And in supplying the country with this leadership Mr. Wilson was interpreting the ideas of thoughtful Americans who wished their country to be fighting on the side of international right, but not until the righteousness of the Allied cause was unequivocally established. It has taken some time to reach this assurance. The war originated in conflicting national ambitions among European Powers for privileged economic and political positions in Africa and Asia, and if it had continued to be a war of this kind there never could have been a question of American intervention. Germany, however, had been dreaming of a more glorious goal than Bagdad and a mightier heritage than that of Turkey. She betrayed her dream by attacking France through Belgium and by threatening the foundations of European order. The crucifying of Belgium established a strong presumption against Germany, but the case was not complete. There still remained the dubious origin of the war. There still remained a doubt whether the defeat of German militarism might not mean a dangerous triumph of Russian autocracy. Above all there remained a more serious doubt whether the United States in aiding the Allies to beat Germany might not be contributing merely to the establishment of a new and equally unstable and demoralising Balance of Power in Europe. It was well, consequently, to wait and see whether the development of the war would not do away with some of the ambiguities and misgivings, while at the same time to avoid doing anything to embarrass the Allies. The waiting policy has served. Germany was driven by the logic of her original aggression to threaten the security of all neutrals connected with the rest of the world by maritime communications. The Russian autocracy was overthrown, because it betrayed its furtive kinship with the German autocracy. Finally, President Wilson used the waiting period for the education of American public opinion. His campaign speeches prophesied the abandonment of American isolation in the interest of a League of Peace. His note of last December to the belligerents brought out the sinister secrecy of German peace terms and the comparative frankness of that of the Allies. His address to the Senate clearly enunciated the only programme on behalf of which America could intervene in European affairs. Never was there a purer and more successful example of Fabian political strategy, for Fabianism consists not merely in waiting but in preparing during the meantime for the successful application of a plan to a confused and dangerous situation.
“What Mr. Wilson did was to apply patience and brains to a complicated and difficult but developing political situation. He was distinguished from his morally indignant pro-Allies fellow countrymen, who a few months ago were abusing him for seeking to make a specifically American contribution to the issues of the war, just as Lincoln was distinguished from the abolitionists, not so much by difference in purposes as by greater political wisdom and intelligence. It is because of his Fabianism, because he insisted upon waiting until he had established a clear connection between American intervention and an attempt to create a community of nations, that he can command and secure for American intervention the full allegiance of the American national conscience. His achievement is a great personal triumph, but it is more than that. It is an illustration and a prophecy of the part which intelligence and in general the ‘intellectual’ class have an opportunity of playing in shaping American policy and in moulding American life. The intimate association between action and ideas, characteristic of American political practice at its best, has been vindicated once more. The association was started at the foundation of the Republic and was embodied in the work of the Fathers, but particularly in that of Hamilton. It was carried on during the period of the Civil War and was embodied chiefly in the patient and penetrating intelligence which Abraham Lincoln brought to his task. It has just been established in the region of foreign policy by Mr. Wilson’s discriminating effort to keep the United States out of the war until it could go in as the instrument of an exclusively international programme and with a fair prospect of getting its programme accepted. In holding to this policy Mr. Wilson was interpreting with fidelity and imagination the ideas and the aspirations of the more thoughtful Americans. His success should give them increasing confidence in the contribution which they as men of intelligence are capable of making to the fulfilment of the better American national purposes.”
During 1915 and 1916 our diplomatic relations with Germany have been expressed in one series of notes after another, and the burden of affairs has been as much on the shoulders of Ambassador Gerard as on those of any other one American, for he has been the official who has had to transmit, interpret and fight for our policies in Berlin. Mr. Gerard had a difficult task because he, like President Wilson, was constantly heckled and ridiculed by those pro-German Americans who were more interested in discrediting the Administration than in maintaining peace. Of all the problems with which the Ambassador had to contend, the German-American issue was the greatest, and those who believed that it was centred in the United States are mistaken, for the capital of German-America was Berlin.
“I have had a great deal of trouble in Germany from the American correspondents when they went there,” said Ambassador Gerard in an address to the American Newspapers Publishers Association in New York on April 26th.
“Most of them became super-Ambassadors and proceeded to inform the German Government that they must not believe me—that they must not believe the President—they must not believe the American people—but believe these people, and to a great extent this war is due to the fact that these pro-German Americans, a certain number of them, misinformed the German Government as to the sentiments of this country.”
James W. Gerard’s diplomatic career in Germany was based upon bluntness, frankness and a kind of “news instinct” which caused him to regard his position as that of a reporter for the United States Government.
Berlin thought him the most unusual Ambassador it had ever known. It never knew how to take him. He did not behave as other diplomats did. When he went to the Foreign Office it was always on business. He did not flatter and praise, bow and chat or speak to Excellencies in the third person as European representatives usually do. Gerard began at the beginning of the war a policy of keeping the United States fully informed regarding Germany. He used to report daily the political developments and the press comment, and the keen understanding which he had of German methods was proved by his many forecasts of important developments. Last September he predicted, in a message to the State Department, ruthless submarine warfare before Spring unless peace was made. He notified Washington last October to watch for German intrigue in Mexico and said that unless we solved the problem there we might have trouble throughout the war from Germans south of the Rio Grande.
[Illustration: AMBASSADOR GERARD ARRIVING IN PARIS]
During the submarine controversies, when reports reached Berlin that the United States was divided and would not support President Wilson in his submarine policy, Ambassador Gerard did everything he could to give the opposite impression. He tried his best to keep Germany from driving the United States into the war. That he did not succeed was not the fault of his efforts. Germany was desperate and willing to disregard all nations and all international obligations in an attempt to win the war with U-boats.
Last Summer, during one of the crises over the sinking of a passenger liner without warning, Mr. Gerard asked the Chancellor for an audience with the Kaiser. Von Bethmann-Hollweg said he would see if it could be arranged. The Ambassador waited two weeks. Nothing was done. From his friends in Berlin he learned that the Navy was opposed to such a conference and would not give its consent. Mr. Gerard went to Herr von Jagow who was then Secretary of State and again asked for an audience. He waited another week. Nothing happened and Mr. Gerard wrote the following note to the Chancellor:
“Three weeks ago I asked for an audience with His Majesty the Kaiser.
“A week ago I repeated the request.
“Please do not trouble yourself further.
“JAMES W. GERARD.”
The Ambassador called the Embassy messenger and sent the note to the Chancellor’s palace. Three hours later he was told that von Bethmann-Hollweg had gone to Great Headquarters to arrange for the meeting.
Sometimes in dealing with the Foreign Office the Ambassador used the same rough-shod methods which made the Big Stick effective during the Roosevelt Administration. At one time, Alexander Cochran, of New York, acted as special courier from the Embassy in London to Berlin. At the frontier he was arrested and imprisoned. The Ambassador heard of it, went to the Foreign Office and demanded Cochran’s immediate release. The Ambassador had obtained Mr. Cochran’s passports, and showed them to the Secretary of State. When Herr von Jagow asked permission to retain one of the passports so the matter could be investigated, the Ambassador said:
“All right, but first let me tear Lansing’s signature off the bottom, or some one may use the passport for other purposes.”
The Ambassador was not willing to take chances after it was learned and proved by the State Department that Germany was using American passports for spy purposes.
In one day alone, last fall, the American Embassy sent 92 notes to the Foreign Office, some authorised by Washington and some unauthorised, protesting against unlawful treatment of Americans, asking for reforms in prison camps, transmitting money and letters about German affairs in Entente countries, and other matters which were under discussion between Berlin and Washington. At one time an American woman instructor in Roberts’ College was arrested at Warnemuende and kept for weeks from communicating with the Ambassador. When he heard of it he went to the Foreign Office daily, demanding her release, which he finally secured.
Mr. Gerard’s work in bettering conditions in prison camps, especially at Ruhleben, will be long remembered. When conditions were at their worst he went out daily to keep himself informed, and then daily went to the Foreign Office or wrote to the Ministry of War in an effort to get better accommodations for the men. One day he discovered eleven prominent English civilians, former respected residents in Berlin, living in a box stall similar to one which his riding horse had occupied in peace times. This so aroused the Ambassador that he volunteered to furnish funds for the construction of a new barracks in case the Government was not willing to do it. But the Foreign Office and the War Ministry and other officials shifted authority so often that it was impossible to get changes made. The Ambassador decided to have his reports published in a drastic effort to gain relief for the prisoners. The State Department granted the necessary authority and his descriptions of Ruhleben were published in the United States and England, arousing such a world-wide storm of indignation that the German Government changed the prison conditions and made Ruhleben fit for men for the first time since the beginning of the war.
This activity of the Ambassador aroused a great deal of bitterness and the Government decided to try to have him recalled. The press censorship instigated various newspapers to attack the Ambassador so that Germany might be justified in asking for his recall, but the attack failed for the simple reason that there was no evidence against the Ambassador except that he had been too vigorous in insisting upon livable prison camp conditions.
* * * * * * * *
I have pointed out in previous chapters some of the things which President Wilson’s notes accomplished in Germany during the war. Suppose the Kaiser were to grant certain reforms, would this destroy the possibilities of a free Germany, a democratic nation—a German Republic!
The German people were given an opportunity to debate and think about international issues while we maintained relations with Berlin, but as I pointed out, the Kaiser and his associates are masters of German psychology and during the next few months they may temporarily undo what we accomplished during two years. Americans must remember that at the present time all the leading men of Germany are preaching to the people the gospel of submarine success, and the anti-American campaign there is being conducted unhindered and unchallenged. The United States and the Allies have pledged their national honour and existence to defeat and discredit the Imperial German Government and nothing but unfaltering determination, no matter what the Kaiser does, will bring success. Unless he is defeated, the Kaiser will not follow the Czar’s example.
In May of this year the German Government believed it was winning the war. Berlin believed it would decisively defeat our Allies before Fall. But even if the people of Germany again compel their Government to propose peace and the Kaiser announces that he is in favour of such drastic reforms as making his Ministry responsible to the Reichstag, this (though it might please the German people) cannot, must not, satisfy us. Only a firm refusal of the Allies will accomplish what we have set out to do—overthrow the present rulers and dictators of Germany. This must include not only the Kaiser but Field Marshal von Hindenburg and the generals in control of the army, the Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, who did not keep his promises to the United States and the naval leaders who have been intriguing and fighting for war with America for over two years. Only a decisive defeat of Germany will make Germany a republic, and the task is stupendous enough to challenge the best combined efforts of the United States and all the Allies.
Prophecy is a dangerous pastime but it would not be fair to conclude this book without pointing out some of the possibilities which can develop from the policy which President Wilson pursued in dealing with Germany before diplomatic relations were broken.
The chief effect of Mr. Wilson’s policy is not going to be felt during this war, but in the future. At the beginning of his administration he emphasised the fact that in a democracy public opinion was a bigger factor than armies and navies. If all Europe emerges from this war as democratic as seems possible now one can see that Mr. Wilson has already laid the foundation for future international relations between free people and republican forms of governments. This war has defeated itself. It is doubtful whether there ever will be another world war because the opinion of all civilised people is mobilised against war. After one has seen what war is like, one is against not only war itself but the things which bring about war. This great war was made possible because Europe has been expecting and preparing for it ever since 1870 and because the governments of Europe did not take either the people or their neighbours into their confidence. President Wilson tried to show while he was president that the people should be fully informed regarding all steps taken by the Government. In England where the press has had such a tussle to keep from being curbed by an autocratic censorship the world has learned new lessons in publicity. The old policy of keeping from the public unpleasant information has been thrown overboard in Great Britain because it was found that it harmed the very foundations of democracy.
[Illustration: A POST-CARD FROM GENERAL VON KLUCK.]
International relations in the future will, to a great extent, be moulded along the lines of Mr. Wilson’s policies during this war. Diplomacy will be based upon a full discussion of all international issues. The object of diplomacy will be to reach an understanding to prevent wars, not to avoid them at the eleventh hour. Just as enlightened society tries to prevent murder so will civilised nations in the future try to prevent wars.
Mr. Wilson expressed his faith in this new development in international affairs by saying that “the opinion of the world is the mistress of the world.”
The important concern to-day is: How can this world opinion be moulded into a world power?
Opinion cannot be codified like law because it is often the vanguard of legislation. Public opinion is the reaction of a thousand and one incidents upon the public consciousness. In the world to-day the most important influence in the development of opinion is the daily press. By a judicious interpretation of affairs the President of the United States frequently may direct public opinion in certain channels while his representatives to foreign governments, especially when there is opportunity, as there is to-day, may help spread our ideas abroad.
World political leaders, if one may judge from events so far, foresee a new era in international affairs. Instead of a nation’s foreign policies being secret, instead of unpublished alliances and iron-bound treaties, there may be the proclaiming of a nation’s international intentions, exactly as a political party in the United States pledges its intentions in a political campaign. Parties in Europe may demand a statement of the foreign intentions of their governments. If there was this candidness between the governments and their citizens there would he more frankness between the nations and their neighbours. Public opinion would then be the decisive force. International steps of all nations would then be decided upon only after the public was thoroughly acquainted with their every phase. A fully informed nation would be considered safer and more peace-secure than a nation whose opinion was based upon coloured official reports, “Ems” telegrams of 1870 and 1914 variety, and eleventh-hour appeals to passion, fear and God.
The opinion of the world may then be a stronger international force than large individual armies and navies. The opinion of the world may be such a force that every nation will respect and fear it. The opinion of the world may be the mistress of the world and publicity will be the new driving force in diplomacy to give opinion world power.
Germany’s defeat will be the greatest event in history because it will establish world democracy upon a firm foundation and because Germany itself will emerge democratic. The Chancellor has frequently stated that the Germany which would come out of this war would be nothing like the Germany which went into the war and the Kaiser has already promised a “people’s kingdom of Hohenzollern.” The Kaiser’s government will be reformed because world opinion insists upon it. If the German people do not yet see this, they will be outlawed until they are free. They will see it eventually, and when that day comes, peace will dawn in Europe.
Ithaca, N. Y.
Returning to Ithaca, I find your letter with its question relating to the temporary arrest of a vessel carrying munitions of war to Spain shortly after the beginning of our war with that country. The simple facts are as follows: Receiving a message by wire from our American Consul at Hamburg early during the war, to the effect that a Spanish vessel supposed to carry munitions for Spain was just leaving Germany, I asked the Foreign Office that the vessel be searched before leaving, my purpose being not only to get such incidental information as possible regarding the contraband concerned, but particulars as to the nature of the vessel, whether it was so fitted that it could be used with advantage by our adversaries against our merchant navy, as had happened during our Civil War, when Great Britain let out of her ports vessels fitted to prey upon our merchant ships.
The German Government was very courteous to us in the matter and it was found that the Spanish ship concerned was not so fitted up and that the contraband was of a very ordinary sort, such as could be obtained from various nations. The result was that the vessel, after a brief visit, proceeded on her way, and our agents at Hamburg informed me later that during the entire war vessels freely carried ammunition from German ports both to Spain and to the United States, and that neither of the belligerents made any remonstrance. Of course, I was aware that under the usages of nations I had, strictly speaking, no right to demand seizure of the contraband concerned, but it seemed my duty at least to secure the above information regarding it and the ship which carried it.
I remain, dear sir,
Very respectfully yours,
(Signed) ANDREW D. WHITE.