“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.