Passing on to consider Alsace-Lorraine, Dr. Dernburg declares that “it had belonged to Germany until it was taken, against the will of the people, under Louis XIV.”
In this statement, as in the treatment of the previous question, facts are mutilated and wrong impressions are given. Alsace, it is well known, was included within the confines of ancient Gaul, its original population was Celtic, and it passed, late in the fifth Christian century, under the rule of the Franks, one of whose chieftains, Clovis, became the founder of the first French monarchy. In dealing with its later history Dr. Dernburg confuses the Holy Roman (Germanic) Empire with Germany, considered in its modern sense. He appears to forget that the reign of Louis XIV. was an age of absolutism and not of plebiscites.
He also ignores that the most strenuous efforts on the part of Germany to strangle the French nationality and language in the imperial territory (Alsace-Lorraine) have proved useless, although they have been exerted constantly for almost a half century.
Professor of the History of Fine Arts.
Syracuse University, Nov. 3, 1914.
Germany and World Empire
To the Editor of The New York Times:
Each one of the principal combatants in Europe seems to be anxious to prove that it is not responsible for this cruelest, most extensive, and most destructive of all wars. Each Government involved has published the correspondence between its Chief Executive and other Chief Executives, and between its Chancellery or Foreign Office and the equivalent bodies in the other nations that have gone to war, and has been at pains to give a wide circulation to these documents. To be sure, none of these Government publications seems to be absolutely complete. There seems to be in all of them suppressions or omissions which only the future historian will be able to report—perhaps after many years. They reveal, however, the dilapidated state of the Concert of Europe in July, 1914, and the flurry in the European Chancelleries which the ultimatum sent by Austria-Hungary to Servia produced. They also testify to the existence of a new and influential public opinion, about war and peace, to which nations that go to war think it desirable to appeal for justification or moral support.
These publications have been read with intense interest by impartial observers in all parts of the world, and have in many cases determined the direction of the readers’ sympathy and good will; and yet none of them discloses or deals with the real sources of the unprecedented calamity. They relate chiefly to the question who struck the match, and not to the questions who provided the magazine that exploded, and why did he provide it. Grave responsibility, of course, attaches to the person who gives the order to mobilize a national army or to invade a neighbor’s territory; but the real source of the resulting horrors is not in such an order, but in the Governmental institutions, political philosophy, and long-nurtured passions and purposes of the nation or nations concerned.