I make these remarks with due respect to Prof. Eliot and his views, and with great reluctance for being compelled to enter the field against a personality whose undoubted superiority I wish to be the first to acknowledge.
New York, Oct. 4, 1914.
Daniel Jordan is Assistant
Professor of Roman Languages and
Literature at Columbia University.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
President Eliot is as fair a judge of the present European situation as can be found anywhere, and is well qualified to explain the almost unanimous attitude of thoughtful Americans in regard to Germany. Dr. Dernburg, on the other hand, has been officially sent from Germany to expound the German official version; both his point of view and his treatment of facts are essentially un-American.
He says: “Americans object to the extension of territory by force. Germany has never done that.” Apparently he believes that the Poles asked Prussia to become her subjects. The facts are that they have fought and begged for autonomy for nearly 150 years, and that at the present time high German officials are members of the Anti-Polish League.
Dr. Dernburg, when he comes to Schleswig-Holstein, states that 30,000 Danes south of the Eider River (this is in Holstein) have been absorbed against their will, “a thing that can never be avoided, and that has sometimes given Prussia a little trouble.” But what about the Danes north of the Eider River? Schleswig and Holstein are really two provinces. Holstein is German, but the northern part of Schleswig, north of Fiensburg, is inhabited by Danes who are longing to join Denmark and who number about 200,000. Article 5 of the Treaty of Prague, signed on Aug. 23, 1866, after Sadowa, between Prussia and Austria, states that the inhabitants of Northern Schleswig shall be given a chance to join Denmark, “if they should so express the desire by a free vote.” Prussia has not respected this solemn promise any more than former promises concerning Schleswig. The frequently renewed protests of the annexed Danes have remained unanswered. The best proof that Prussia’s title to Danish Schleswig was not considered as very substantial is that in October, 1878, Prussia finally obtained from Austria the annulment of Article 5 of the Treaty of Prague, which dealt with the taking of a plebiscite in Danish Schleswig.
To decide the fate of a province without consulting the inhabitants seems perfectly natural to German Kultur, but to Americans it is not; the days of slavery have gone, and wherever slavery still exists it is time to make a change.