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