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.