Not a War for Civilization.
More idiotic rot—excuse the expression—I have never read in my life. What has civilization to do with Servia’s murderous plotting against us? What with Russia’s desire to shield her from the consequences of her aggressions and to demonstrate to the world that we are of no account in the Balkans and to establish her own—more or less veiled—protectorate there? And if the case of civilization is advanced by Japan’s ousting Germany from Kiao-Chau, why should it not be equally furthered if Japan did the same to England in Hongkong, Singapore, or, if the opportunity offered, in India itself? And a person must be indeed at his wits’ end for arguments to proclaim Russia as a standard bearer of freedom in her war against us. Compare her treatment of Poles, Finns, Ukrainanians (small Russians) and Hebrews with the freedom which the different nationalities enjoy in our empire! And England herself. Is it for freedom’s sake that she holds Gibraltar and that she subjugated the Boers?
No! Civilization and freedom have nothing to do with the issues at stake now, least of all in the sense that our enemies have drawn the sword for their cause. It is a war for conquest and supremacy stirred up by all the hateful passions in human nature, fully as much as any war that has ever been waged before. But we did not stir it up. We are fighting for our existence, right and justice are on our side, and so we trust will victory be.
The causes of the war are clear. To make its issues still clearer, imagine for a moment and merely for argument’s sake the consequences of our adversaries being successful. Russia, England, and Japan would remain masters of the field. Is this a consummation any thinking American can wish for?
These are the considerations I wished to lay before you, and I ask your assistance to bring them before the American people. I ask for no reply, no manifestation of feelings or opinion from you. What I ask you is to publish this letter as an open letter addressed by me to you, signed with my full name. How to do this I leave entirely to you. It goes without saying that your private reply, if you favor me with one, will be treated as such.
Hoping to meet you in better times, and sending our kindest regards to Mrs. Roosevelt, believe me, yours most sincerely,
BARON L. HENGELMULLER.
Abbazia, Sept. 25, 1914.
By George Haven Putnam.
of the Knickerbocker Press, Secretary
American Copyright League; decorated with the Cross of the
Legion of Honor, France.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
It is possible that the letter presented herewith from a German neighbor (who is a stranger to me) may be of interest to your readers as an example of a curious confusion of thought into which have fallen Germans on both sides of the Atlantic in regard to the issues of the present struggle and the conduct and the actions of the German Army. I am inclosing a copy of my reply to Mr. Thienes.