But at the special request of the German Government that Mr. Jackson, former American Minister at Bucharest, now attached to the American Embassy at Berlin, make an investigation of the prison camps in England, in addition to the investigations already made, the department has consented to dispatch Mr. Jackson on this special mission.
(16) Failure to prevent transshipment or British troops and war materials across the territory of the United States.
The department has had no specific case of the passage of convoys or troops across American territory brought to its notice. There have been rumors to this effect, but no actual facts have been presented. The transshipment of reservists of all belligerents who have requested the privilege has been permitted on condition that they travel as individuals and not as an organized, uniformed, or armed bodies. The German Embassy has advised the department that it would not be likely to avail itself of the privilege, but Germany's ally, Austria-Hungary, did so.
Only one case raising the question of the transit of war material owned by a belligerent across United States territory has come to the department's notice. This was a request on the part of the Canadian Government for permission to ship equipment across Alaska to the sea. The request was refused.
(17) Treatment and final internment of German S.S. Geier and the collier Locksun at Honolulu.
The Geier entered Honolulu on Oct. 15 in an unseaworthy condition. The commanding officer reported the necessity of extensive repairs which would require an indefinite period for completion. The vessel was allowed the generous period of three weeks, to Nov. 7, to make repairs and leave the port, or, failing to do so, to be interned. A longer period would have been contrary to international practice, which does not permit a vessel to remain for a long time in a neutral port for the purpose of repairing a generally run-down condition due to long sea service. Soon after the German cruiser arrived at Honolulu a Japanese cruiser appeared off the port, and the commander of the Geier chose to intern the vessel rather than to depart from the harbor.
Shortly after the Geier entered the Port of Honolulu the steamer Locksun arrived. It was found that this vessel had delivered coal to the Geier en route and had accompanied her toward Hawaii. As she had thus constituted herself a tender or collier to the Geier, she was accorded the same treatment and interned on Nov. 7.
(18) Unfairness to Germany in rules relative to coaling of warships in Panama Canal Zone.
By proclamation of Nov. 13, 1914, certain special restrictions were placed on the coaling of warships or their tenders or colliers in the Canal Zone. These regulations were framed through the collaboration of the State, Navy, and War Departments and without the slightest reference to favoritism to the belligerents. Before these regulations were proclaimed war vessels could procure coal of the Panama Railway in the Zone ports, but no belligerent vessels are known to have done so.
Under the proclamation fuel may be taken on by belligerent warships only with the consent of the canal authorities and in such amounts as will enable them to reach the nearest accessible neutral port; and the amount so taken on shall be deducted from the amount procurable in United States ports within three months thereafter. Now it is charged that the United States has shown partiality, because Great Britain and not Germany happens to have colonies in the near vicinity where British ships may coal, while Germany has no such coaling facilities. Thus it is intimated the United States should balance the inequalities of geographical position by refusal to allow any warships of belligerents to coal in the Canal Zone until the war is over. As no German warship has sought to obtain coal in the Canal Zone the charge of discrimination rests upon a possibility which during several months of warfare has failed to materialize.
(19) Failure to protest against the modifications of the Declaration of London by the British Government.
The German Foreign Office presented to the diplomats in Berlin a memorandum dated Oct. 10 calling attention to violations of and changes in the Declaration of London by the British Government, and inquiring as to the attitude of the United States toward such action on the part of the Allies. The substance of the memorandum was forthwith telegraphed to the department on Oct. 22, and was replied to shortly thereafter to the effect that the United States had withdrawn its suggestion, made early in the war, that for the sake of uniformity the Declaration of London should be adopted as a temporary code of naval warfare during the present war, owing to the unwillingness of the belligerents to accept the declaration without changes and modifications, and that thenceforth the United States would insist that the rights of the United States and its citizens in the war should be governed by the existing rules of international law.
As this Government is not now interested in the adoption of the Declaration of London by the belligerents, the modifications by the belligerents in that code of naval warfare are of no concern to it, except as they adversely affect the rights of the United States and those of its citizens as defined by international law. In so far as those rights have been infringed the department has made every effort to obtain redress for the losses sustained.
(20) Generally unfriendly attitude of Government toward Germany and Austria.
If any American citizens, partisans of Germany and Austria-Hungary, feel that this Administration is acting in a way injurious to the cause of those countries, this feeling results from the fact that on the high seas the German and Austro-Hungarian naval power is thus far inferior to the British. It is the business of a belligerent operating on the high seas, not the duty of a neutral, to prevent contraband from reaching an enemy.
Those in this country who sympathize with Germany and Austria-Hungary appear to assume that some obligation rests upon this Government, in the performance of its neutral duty, to prevent all trade in contraband, and thus to equalize the difference due to the relative naval strength of the belligerents. No such obligation exists; it would be an unneutral act, an act of partiality on the part of this Government to adopt such a policy if the Executive had the power to do so. If Germany and Austria-Hungary cannot import contraband from this country it is not, because of that fact, the duty of the United States to close its markets to the Allies. The markets of this country are open upon equal terms to all the world, to every nation, belligerent or neutral.
The foregoing categorical replies to specific complaints is sufficient answer to the charge of unfriendliness to Germany and Austria-Hungary. I am, my dear Senator, very sincerely yours,
THE HOUSE WITH SEALED DOORS
By EDITH M. THOMAS.
... "A house with sealed doors, where a family of 7,000,000 sits in silence around a cheerless hearth.... America opened the window ... and slipped a loaf of bread into the larder."—Frederick Palmer, in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Merchant ships many are on the main. This that we send plies not for gain— Ship of the loaves! May her course be straight, When the starving millions her coming wait!
In a "Happy Province" beyond the sea ("Happy" by fiat—a monarch's decree!) They have seized their lands, they have taken their stores, They have shut them up, they have sealed the doors!
The folk within—their table is bare. But why should the lords of the "Province" care?— Myrmidons, myrmidons, first to feed; Afterwards think of the people's need.
Let the arm'd men eat, let the people wait, (Say the lords of the "Province" who parcel out fate,) Let the arm'd men feed—that their strength endure, That their hearts be lusty, their grasp be sure!
In that "Happy Province" beyond the sea They are not bond and they are not free: In silence they sit by their smoldered hearth; But the winds bear their burden around the earth!
The winds and the waters are rolling along The rune of their sorrow (too cruel for song!) ... Bring food for the family robbed of its stores; Open a window where sealed are the doors!
Merchant ships many are on the main. This that we send plies not for gain— Ship of the loaves!... Ye have given them lead, Ye lords of the "Province," but we give bread!
Seizures of American Cargoes
By William J. Bryan, American Secretary of State
By agreement between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain the text of the American note, printed below, setting forth the views of this Government in opposition to British interference with American trade, was made public in Washington on Dec. 31, 1914, and simultaneously in London. At the same time copies of the American communication were for the first time delivered to the Ambassadors and Ministers of all the powers at Washington, and the note was cabled by them to their respective Governments. The American communication—it is not a note, strictly speaking, because all notes are sent by mail in diplomacy and never by telegraph—sets forth clearly the conditions of which the American Government and people complain resulting from the frequent seizures and detentions by the British of American cargoes destined to neutral European ports.
The Secretary of State to the American Ambassador at London.
Department of State, WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 1914.
The present condition of American foreign trade resulting from the frequent seizures and detentions of American cargoes destined to neutral European ports has become so serious as to require a candid statement of the views of this Government in order that the British Government may be fully informed as to the attitude of the United States toward the policy which has been pursued by the British authorities during the present war.
You will therefore communicate the following to his Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but in doing so you will assure him that it is done in the most friendly spirit and in the belief that frankness will better serve the continuance of cordial relations between the two countries than silence, which may be misconstrued into acquiescence in a course of conduct which this Government cannot but consider to be an infringement upon the rights of American citizens.
The Government of the United States has viewed with growing concern the large number of vessels laden with American goods destined to neutral ports in Europe which have been seized on the high seas, taken into British ports, and detained sometimes for weeks by the British authorities. During the early days of the war this Government assumed that the policy adopted by the British Government was due to the unexpected outbreak of hostilities and the necessity of immediate action to prevent contraband from reaching the enemy.
For this reason it was not disposed to judge this policy harshly, or protest it vigorously, although it was manifestly very injurious to American trade with the neutral countries of Europe. This Government, relying confidently upon the high regard which Great Britain has so often exhibited in the past for the rights of other nations, confidently awaited amendment of a course of action which denied to neutral commerce the freedom to which it was entitled by the law of nations.
This expectation seemed to be rendered the more assured by the statement of the Foreign Office early in November that the British Government was satisfied with guarantees offered by the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish Governments as to non-exportation of contraband goods when consigned to named persons in the territories of those Governments, and that orders had been given to the British fleet and customs authorities to restrict interference with neutral vessels carrying such cargoes so consigned to verification of ship's papers and cargoes.
It is therefore a matter of deep regret that, though nearly five months have passed since the war began, the British Government has not materially changed its policy and do not treat less rigorously ships and cargoes passing between neutral ports in the peaceful pursuit of lawful commerce, which belligerents should protect rather than interrupt. The greater freedom from detention and seizure which was confidently expected to result from consigning shipments to definite consignees rather than "to order" is still awaited.
It is needless to point out to his Majesty's Government, usually the champion of the freedom of the seas and the rights of trade, that peace, not war, is the normal relation between nations and that the commerce between countries which are not belligerents should not be interfered with by those at war unless such interference is manifestly an imperative necessity to protect their national safety, and then only to the extent that it is a necessity.
It is with no lack of appreciation of the momentous nature of the present struggle in which Great Britain is engaged and with no selfish desire to gain undue commercial advantage that this Government is reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the present policy of his Majesty's Government toward neutral ships and cargoes exceeds the manifest necessity of a belligerent and constitutes restrictions upon the rights of American citizens on the high seas which are not justified by the rules of international law or required under the principle of self-preservation.
The Government of the United States does not intend at this time to discuss the propriety of including certain articles in the lists of absolute and conditional contraband which have been proclaimed by his Majesty. Open to objection as some of these seem to this Government, the chief ground of present complaint is the treatment of cargoes of both classes of articles when bound to neutral ports.
Articles listed as absolute contraband, shipped from the United States and consigned to neutral countries, have been seized and detained on the ground that the countries to which they were destined have not prohibited the exportation of such articles. Unwarranted as such detentions are, in the opinion of this Government, American exporters are further perplexed by the apparent indecision of the British authorities in applying their own rules to neutral cargoes.
For example, a shipment of copper from this country to a specified consignee in Sweden was detained because, as was stated by Great Britain, Sweden had placed no embargo on copper. On the other hand, Italy not only prohibited the export of copper, but, as this Government is informed, put in force a decree that shipments to Italian consignees or "to order" which arrive in ports of Italy cannot be exported or transshipped. The only exception Italy makes is of copper which passes through that country in transit to another country. In spite of these decrees, however, the British Foreign Office has thus far declined to affirm that copper shipments consigned to Italy will not be molested on the high seas. Seizures are so numerous and delays so prolonged that exporters are afraid to send their copper to Italy, steamship lines decline to accept it, and insurers refuse to issue policies upon it. In a word, a legitimate trade is being greatly impaired through uncertainty as to the treatment which we may expect at the hands of the British authorities.
We feel that we are abundantly justified in asking for information as to the manner in which the British Government propose to carry out the policy which they have adopted in order that we may determine the steps necessary to protect our citizens engaged in foreign trade in their rights and from the serious losses to which they are liable through ignorance of the hazards to which their cargoes are exposed.
In the case of conditional contraband, the policy of Great Britain appears to this Government to be equally unjustified by the established rules of international conduct. As evidence of this, attention is directed to the fact that a number of the American cargoes which have been seized consist of foodstuffs and other articles of common use in all countries which are admittedly relative contraband. In spite of the presumption of innocent use because destined to neutral territory, the British authorities made these seizures and detentions without, so far as we are informed, being in possession of facts which warranted a reasonable belief that the shipments had in realty a belligerent destination, as that term is used in international law.
Mere suspicion is not evidence, and doubts should be resolved in favor of neutral commerce, not against it. The effect upon trade in these articles between neutral nations resulting from interrupted voyages and detained cargoes is not entirely cured by reimbursement of the owners for the damages which they have suffered, after investigation has failed to establish an enemy destination. The injury is to American commerce with neutral countries as a whole through the hazard of the enterprise and the repeated diversion of goods from establishing markets.
It also appears that cargoes of this character have been seized by the British authorities because of a belief that, though not originally so intended by the shippers, they will ultimately reach the territory of the enemies of Great Britain. Yet this belief is frequently reduced to a mere fear in view of the embargoes which have been decreed by the neutral countries to which they are destined on the articles composing the cargoes.
That a consignment "to order" of articles listed as conditional contraband and shipped to a neutral port raises a legal presumption of enemy destination appears to be directly contrary to the doctrines previously held by Great Britain and thus stated by Lord Salisbury during the South African war:
"Foodstuffs, though having a hostile destination, can be considered as contraband of war only if they are for the enemy forces; it is not sufficient that they are capable of being so used, it must be shown that this was in fact their destination at the time of their seizure."
With this statement as to conditional contraband the views of this Government are in entire accord, and upon this historic doctrine, consistently maintained by Great Britain when a belligerent as well as a neutral, American shippers were entitled to rely.
The Government of the United States readily admits the full right of a belligerent to visit and search on the high seas the vessels of American citizens or other neutral vessels carrying American goods and to detain them WHEN THERE IS SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO JUSTIFY A BELIEF THAT CONTRABAND ARTICLES ARE IN THEIR CARGOES; but his Majesty's Government, judging by their own experience in the past, must realize that this Government cannot without protest permit American ships or American cargoes to be taken into British ports and there detained for the purpose of searching generally for evidence of contraband or upon presumptions created by special municipal enactments which are clearly at variance with international law and practice.
This Government believes and earnestly hopes his Majesty's Government will come to the same belief, that a course of conduct more in conformity with the rules of international usage, which Great Britain has strongly sanctioned for many years, will in the end better serve the interests of belligerents as well as those of neutrals.
Not only is the situation a critical one to the commercial interests of the United States, but many of the great industries of this country are suffering because their products are denied long-established markets in European countries, which, though neutral, are contiguous to the nations at war. Producers and exporters, steamship and insurance companies, are pressing, and not without reason, for relief from the menace to transatlantic trade which is gradually but surely destroying their business and threatening them with financial disaster.
The Government of the United States, still relying upon the deep sense of justice of the British Nation, which has been so often manifested in the intercourse between the two countries during so many years of uninterrupted friendship, expresses confidently the hope that his Majesty's Government will realize the obstacles and difficulties which their present policy has placed in the way of commerce between the United States and the neutral countries of Europe and will instruct its officials to refrain from all unnecessary interference with the freedom of trade between nations which are sufferers, though not participants, in the present conflict; and will in their treatment of neutral ships and cargoes conform more closely to those rules governing the maritime relations between belligerents and neutrals which have received the sanction of the civilized world and in which Great Britain has in other wars so strongly and successfully advocated.
In conclusion, it should be impressed upon his Majesty's Government that the present condition of American trade with the neutral European countries is such that, if it does not improve, it may arouse a feeling contrary to that which has so long existed between the American and British people. Already it is becoming more and more the subject of public criticism and complaint. There is an increasing belief, doubtless not entirely unjustified, that the present British policy toward American trade is responsible for the depression in certain industries which depend upon European markets. The attention of the British Government is called to this possible result of their present policy, to show how widespread the effect is upon the industrial life of the United States and to emphasize the importance of removing the cause of complaint.
WILLIAM J. BRYAN, Secretary of State.
GERMAN CROWN PRINCE TO AMERICA
[By The Associated Press.]
Geneva, (via Paris,) Jan. 29.—Crown Prince Frederick William of Germany has sent to the local correspondent of The Associated Press, in response to a request for a statement on the war, the following reply, dated near Verdun, Jan. 22:
"You ask me to send a message to the American people. Being an officer and no diplomat, I have no right to do so, but if you like I will tell you three things:
"First—Every single German and Austrian is quite certain that we will come out on top, and will give his last drop of blood to this end.
"Second—We are convinced that the day will come when the people of Russia and France will find out that they are only doing the dirty work for England.
"Third—We expect from America absolutely fair play in all questions.
"These are my personal ideas, but a good many of my countrymen feel the same. Greetings.
The Official British Explanation
By Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Great Britain
The State Department in Washington and the Foreign Office in London, by agreement, made public simultaneously on Jan. 10, 1915, the British reply to the American protest against the undue detention of American ships and cargoes seized for search for contraband. The answer, signed by Sir Edward Grey, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was addressed to Walter Hines Page, the American Ambassador in London, who cabled it to Washington on Jan. 7. The note is preliminary, and was to be followed by a more detailed reply.
The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to the American Ambassador.
FOREIGN OFFICE, Jan. 7, 1915.
Your Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your note of the 28th of December. It is being carefully examined and the points raised in it are receiving consideration, as the result of which a reply shall be addressed to your Excellency dealing in detail with the issues raised and the points to which the United States Government have drawn attention. This consideration and the preparation of the reply will necessarily require some time, and I therefore desire to send without further delay some preliminary observations which will, I trust, help to clear the ground and remove some misconceptions that seem to exist.
Let me say at once that we entirely recognize the most friendly spirit referred to by your Excellency and that we desire to reply in the same spirit and in the belief that, as your Excellency states, frankness will best serve the continuance of cordial relations between the two countries.
His Majesty's Government cordially concur in the principle enunciated by the Government of the United States that a belligerent, in dealing with trade between neutrals, should not interfere unless such interference is necessary to protect the belligerent's national safety, and then only to the extent to which this is necessary. We shall endeavor to keep our action within the limits of this principle on the understanding that it admits our right to interfere when such interference is not with "bona-fide" trade between the United States and another neutral country, but with trade in contraband destined for the enemy's country; and we are ready, whenever our action may unintentionally exceed this principle, to make redress.
We think that much misconception exists as to the extent to which we have, in practice, interfered with trade. Your Excellency's note seems to hold his Majesty's Government responsible for the present condition of trade with neutral countries, and it is stated that, through the action of his Majesty's Government, the products of the great industries of the United States have been denied long-established markets in European countries which, though neutral, are contiguous to the seat of war. Such a result is far from being the intention of his Majesty's Government, and they would exceedingly regret that it should be due to their action.
I have been unable to obtain complete or conclusive figures showing what the state of trade with these neutral countries has been recently, and I can, therefore, only ask that some further consideration should be given to the question whether United States trade with these neutral countries has been so seriously affected. The only figures as to the total volume of trade that I have seen are those for the exports from New York for the month of November, 1914, and they are as follows, compared with the month of November, 1913:
Exports from New York for November, 1913, and November, 1914, respectively: Denmark, $558,000, $7,101,000; Sweden, $377,000, $2,858,000; Norway, $477,000, $2,318,000; Italy, $2,971,000, $4,781,000; Holland, $4,389,000, $3,960,000.
It is true that there may have been a falling off in cotton exports, as to which New York figures would be no guide, but his Majesty's Government have been most careful not to interfere with cotton, and its place on the free list has been scrupulously maintained.
We do not wish to lay too much stress upon incomplete statistics; the figures above are not put forward as conclusive, and we are prepared to examine any further evidence with regard to the state of trade with these neutral countries, which may point to a different conclusion or show that it is the action of his Majesty's Government in particular and not the existence of a state of war and consequent diminution of purchasing power and shrinkage of trade, which is responsible for adverse effects upon trade with the neutral countries.
That the existence of a state of war on such a scale has had a very adverse effect upon certain great industries, such as cotton, is obvious, but it is submitted that this is due to the general cause of diminished purchasing power of such countries as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom rather than to interference with trade with neutral countries. In the matter of cotton it may be recalled that the British Government gave special assistance through the Liverpool Cotton Exchange to the renewal of transactions in the cotton trade of not only the United Kingdom, but of many neutral countries.
Your Excellency's note refers in particular to the detention of copper. The figures taken from official returns for the export of copper from the United States for Italy for the months during which the war has been in progress up to the end of the first three weeks of December are as follows:
1913—Fifteen million two hundred and two thousand pounds.
1914—Thirty-six million two hundred and eighty-five thousand pounds.
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland are not shown separately for the whole period in the United States returns, but are included in the heading "Other Europe"; that is, Europe other than the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Holland, and Italy. The corresponding figures under this heading are as follows:
1913—Seven million two hundred and seventy-one thousand pounds.
1914—Thirty-five million three hundred and forty-seven thousand pounds.
With such figures the presumption is very strong that the bulk of copper consigned to these countries has recently been intended not for their own use, but for that of a belligerent who cannot import it direct. It is therefore an imperative necessity for the safety of this country while it is at war that his Majesty's Government should do all in its power to stop such part of this import of copper as is not genuinely destined for neutral countries.
Your Excellency does not quote any particular shipment of copper to Sweden which has been detained. There are, however, four consignments to Sweden at the present time of copper and aluminium which, though definitely consigned to Sweden, are, according to positive evidence in the possession of his Majesty's Government, definitely destined for Germany.
I cannot believe that, with such figures before them and in such cases as those just mentioned, the Government of the United States would question the propriety of the action of his Majesty's Government in taking suspected cargoes to a prize court, and we are convinced that it cannot be in accord with the wish either of the Government or of the people of the United States to strain the international code in favor of private interests so as to prevent Great Britain from taking such legitimate means for this purpose as are in her power.
With regard to the seizure of foodstuffs, to which your Excellency refers, his Majesty's Government are prepared to admit that foodstuffs should not be detained and put into a prize court without the presumption that they are intended for the armed forces of the enemy or the enemy Government. We believe that this rule has been adhered to in practice hitherto, but if the United States Government have instances to the contrary we are prepared to examine them, and it is our present intention to adhere to the rule, though we cannot give an unlimited and unconditional undertaking, in view of the departure by those against whom we are fighting from hitherto accepted rules of civilization and humanity and the uncertainty as to the extent to which such rules may be violated by them in future.
From the 4th of August last to the 3d of January the number of steamships proceeding from the United States for Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Italy has been 773. Of these there are 45 which have had consignments of cargoes placed in the prize court, while of the ships themselves only eight have been placed in the prize court, and one of these has since been released.
It is, however, essential under modern conditions that where there is real ground for suspecting the presence of contraband the vessel should be brought into port for examination. In no other way can the right of search be exercised, and but for this practice it would have to be completely abandoned.
Information was received by us that special instructions had been given to ship rubber from the United States under another designation to escape notice, and such cases have occurred in several instances. Only by search in a port can such cases, when suspected, be discovered and proved.
The necessity for examination in a port may also be illustrated by a hypothetical instance connected with cotton, which has not yet occurred. Cotton is not specifically mentioned in your Excellency's note, but I have seen public statements made in the United States that the attitude of his Majesty's Government with regard to cotton has been ambiguous and thereby responsible for depression in the cotton trade.
There has never been any foundation for this allegation. His Majesty's Government have never put cotton on the list of contraband; they have throughout the war kept it on the free list, and on every occasion when questioned on the point they have stated their intention of adhering to this practice. But information has reached us that, precisely because we have declared our intention of not interfering with cotton, ships carrying cotton will be specially selected to carry concealed contraband, and we have been warned that copper will be concealed in bales of cotton.
Whatever suspicions we have entertained we have not so far made these a ground for detaining any ship carrying cotton, but should we have information giving us real reason to believe in the case of a particular ship that the bales of cotton concealed copper or other contraband the only way to prove our case would be to examine and weigh the bales, a process that could be carried out only by bringing the vessel into a port. In such a case, if examination justifies the action of his Majesty's Government, the case shall be brought before a prize court and dealt with in the ordinary way.
That the decisions of British prize courts hitherto have not been unfavorable to neutrals is evidenced by the decision in the Miramichi case. This case, which was decided against the Crown, laid down that the American shipper was to be paid even when he had sold a cargo, cost, insurance, and freight, and when the risk of loss after the cargo had been shipped did not apply to him at all.
It has further been represented to his Majesty's Government, though this subject is not dealt with in your Excellency's note, that our embargoes on the export of some articles, more especially rubber, have interfered with commercial interests in the United States. It is, of course, difficult for his Majesty's Government to permit the export of rubber from British dominions to the United States at a time when rubber is essential to belligerent countries for carrying on the war, and when a new trade in exporting rubber from the United States in suspiciously large quantities to neutral countries has actually sprung up since the war.
It would be impossible to permit the export of rubber from Great Britain unless the right of his Majesty's Government were admitted to submit to a prize court cargoes of rubber exported from the United States which they believed to be destined for an enemy country and reasonable latitude of action for this purpose were conceded. But his Majesty's Government have now provisionally come to an arrangement with the rubber exporters in Great Britain which will permit of licenses being given under proper guarantees for the export of rubber to the United States.
We are confronted with the growing danger that neutral countries contiguous to the enemy will become, on a scale hitherto unprecedented, a base of supplies for the armed soldiers of our enemies and for materials for manufacturing armament. The trade figures of imports show how strong this tendency is, but we have no complaint to make of the attitude of the Governments of those countries, which, so far as we are aware, have not departed from proper rules of neutrality. We endeavor in the interest of our own national safety to prevent this danger by intercepting goods really destined for the enemy without interfering with those which are "bona fide" neutral.
Since the outbreak of the war the Government of the United States have changed their previous practice and have prohibited the publication of manifests till thirty days after the departure of vessels from the United States ports. We had no "locus standi" for complaining of this change and did not complain. But the effect of it must be to increase the difficulty of ascertaining the presence of contraband and to render necessary in the interests of our national safety the examination and detention of more ships than would have been the case if the former practice had continued.
Pending a more detailed reply I would conclude by saying that his Majesty's Government do not desire to contest the general principles of law on which they understand the note of the United States to be based, and desire to restrict their action solely to interferences with contraband destined for the enemy.
His Majesty's Government are prepared, whenever a cargo coming from the United States is detained, to explain the case on which such detention has taken place, and would gladly enter into any arrangement by which mistakes can be avoided and reparation secured promptly, when any injury to the neutral owners of a ship or cargo has been improperly caused, for they are most desirous, in the interest both of the United States and of other neutral countries, that British action should not interfere with the normal importation and use by the neutral countries of goods from the United States.
I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,
Italy and the War
By William Roscoe Thayer
[From THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jan. 17, 1915.]
William Roscoe Thayer, author of the article printed below, is one of the leading authorities on Italy in this country. His works on Italian history include "The Dawn of Italian Independence," "Italica," "A Short History of Venice," and "The Life and Times of Cavour." The last named, published three years ago, made a marked impression and won for its author an enviable place as a historian. Mr. Thayer is a graduate of Harvard and has edited the Harvard Graduates' Magazine since 1892. Since 1913 he has been a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College.
Too little has been said about Italy's refusal to join Germany and Austria in their war for world power. During the past five months we have heard German apologists offer the most contradictory arguments to prove, first, that Russia, next, that France and Belgium, and, finally, that England began the struggle. The Kaiser himself, with that disdain of fact which is the privilege of autocrats, declared that the sword was forced into his hands. And all the while the mere abstention of Italy from supporting Germany and Austria gave the lie to the Germanic protestations and excuses.
By the terms of the Triple Alliance every member of it is bound to communicate at once to the other members all international diplomatic transactions which concern the alliance. Germany and Austria failed to do this during the earlier stages in July, when they were preparing for the war. Only after they had laid their train so surely that an explosion was almost inevitable did they communicate the documents to Italy and call upon her to take her place in the field with them. But Italy refused; because, after examining the evidence, she concluded that Germany and Austria were the aggressors. Now, the terms of the Triple Alliance bind its members to stand by each other only in case of attack.
Italy's verdict, therefore, threw the guilt of the war on Germany and Austria. She had testimony before her which does not appear even in the "White Papers" and other official diplomatic correspondence; and all the efforts of German zealots and casuists have not subtracted one iota from the meaning of her abstention. Germany and Austria were the aggressors—that is the Italian verdict which history will confirm.
On this side of the water the German apologists made as little as possible of Italy's withdrawal—they were too busy trying to persuade the American public that trivialities like the passage of a French aeroplane or of a French automobile with two French officers in it, across a corner of Belgium, thirty minutes before the German Army invaded Belgium, proved that the French and Belgians began the war. They sneered a little at Italian honor; they implied that scuttling off was all that could be expected of a decadent Latin people; and they hinted that, after the Kaiser had disposed of France, Belgium, England, and Russia, he would punish Italy for her "flight."
At Berlin, however, the importance—military, political, and naval—of Italy's withdrawal from the Triple Alliance was appraised at its true value. The German Foreign Office employed alternately threats and blandishments upon her. They warned her that, if she refused to back up her allies, she would be treated without mercy at the end of hostilities. When the policy of terrorizing failed, seductive promises were held out—suggestions of an addition to Italian territory and of a subsidy for military expenses. These also failed. Italy could not be induced to send her million soldiers against the Allies. Then Germany labored to prevent her from actively joining the Allies—and this effort Germany is keeping up at the present moment, under the direction of the sleek Prince von Buelow.
The Italians, who have in large measure a sense of humor, that clarifying quality which Prussianization has destroyed in the Germans, must have smiled when they heard the German envoys expatiate on the beauties of neutrality, and, although they are a polite people, they must have found it hard to keep from laughing when the agents of Dr. Bethmann-Hollweg, who had just declared that a treaty is only a scrap of paper, to be torn up at pleasure, tried to impress upon Italy the sacredness of the treaty which bound her to the Triple Alliance.
Not content with these official, or officious, manoeuvres, the German Government sent Socialist leaders into Italy to urge the Italian Socialists not to consent to a war in behalf of the Allies; but they, too, seem to have met with a chilly reception. The Italian Socialists, like the rest of the world, wondered why it was that 5,000,000 Socialists in Germany should allow themselves to be commandeered, apparently without a murmur, to uphold a war waged to preserve and extend military despotism.
In addition to these direct efforts to win Italy to their side, or at least to keep her from going over to the enemy, the Germans have been busy since early in August with their Press Bureau, which has pursued methods there similar to those they have made us familiar with here. But in Italy they have been more guarded and less truculent, and they have not, like the preposterous Bernstorff and his associates, assumed that the public they were addressing was not only ignorant of the simplest facts of recent European history, but were also morally imbecile.
Although the Italians are not less susceptible than are other peoples to be swayed by sudden political gusts, they were not at the end of July, 1914, taken by surprise. For a long time past their King and statesmen had deliberated as to what ought to be Italy's course in case Germany should carry out her well-understood purpose of humbling England. The Italians were not deceived by the increase from year to year of the German Army. They knew perfectly well what the tremendous efforts of the Germans to create a great navy meant. They had no illusions as to the purpose of the strategic railways to the Belgian frontier on the west or to the Russian border on the east. They knew how narrowly a European war was averted during the Balkan cataclysm two years ago. They did not wrong the Kaiser by supposing that the immense fund which he had recently raised from "voluntary" 5 per cent. contributions on incomes was to be given to The Hague Tribunal to promote the cause of universal peace. They logically and honorably decided that, if Germany provoked war, Italy would not support her. The bond of the Triple Alliance called for no other action on her part. Germany and Austria provoked the war; Italy stood by her agreement.
But a still further consideration influenced her. It was understood that, if the war in which Germany and Austria engaged should involve England as an enemy, Italy's obligation to support the Triple Alliance would cease. Since it would be suicidal for Italy to accept the liability of a casus foederis which should expose her to attack by the English and French Navies, her participation in the Triple Alliance always carried the proviso that it did not bind her to fight England.
Such is the substance of the statement made by the dean of Italian statesmen, in a letter I received from him two months ago. No Italian could speak from a more thorough knowledge of the facts than he possessed, and that it has long been surmised that the Triplice could not drive Italy against England appears in various publications. Gen. Bernhardi, for instance, who knew so accurately the intentions of the German General Staff and the secrets of the German Foreign Office, intimates more than once that Germany and Austria, in their war for world power, need not hope for Italy's support. Referring to Col. Boucher's book, "L'Offensive contre L'Allemagne," he says: "Modern French writers are already reckoning so confidently on the withdrawal of Italy from the Triple Alliance that they no longer think it necessary to put an army in the field against Italy, but consider that the entire forces of France are available against Germany."
[Footnote 4: Bernhardi: "Germany and the Next War." English popular edition, Page 138.]
Why Italy made the reservation in the case of England will appear when we glance at the origin of the Triple Alliance.
In 1871 Bismarck thought that the Franco-Prussian war, by the military losses and by the immense indemnity which it inflicted on the French people, had rendered France powerless for a generation. But within four years she paid the indemnity and had so far recovered in her armament, commerce, and prosperity, that the Iron Chancellor prepared to attack her again, and this time, to quote his butcher's phrase, "to bleed her white." Only the certainty that the other powers would interfere stayed his hand then.
So he set about circumventing France by other means. A league of the three Emperors of Germany, Austria, and Russia was the combination he preferred; but Russia proved an uncertain partner, as she feared Germanization, on the one hand, and, on the other, she was the encourager of pro-Slavic aspirations which ran counter to the Germans' ambition. Bismarck, therefore, looked about him for an alternative plan.
He would keep the friendship of Russia—even though Russia declined a formal league—and he would lure Italy into the Germanic alliance. England, he knew, could not be persuaded to enter a Continental combination. Her commercial interests pointed elsewhere, and she still clung to her policy of splendid isolation. But Italy was unattached; and while she was the least formidable of the six great powers, Bismarck saw that he could make good use of her for his own purposes. The adroitness by which he drew her into his net is in direct contrast to the bovine diplomacy by which Kaiser William II. and his subservient Chancellors have succeeded, during the past twenty years, in smashing all their alliances and in alienating the sympathy of the civilized world.
After the completion of Italian unity in 1870, the new Italian Kingdom found itself harassed not only by the many details of solidifying the civil Government, but also by the perplexities of international relations. The abolition of the Pope's temporal power made her, in theory at least, an object of odium to zealous Roman Catholics throughout the world. Her nearest neighbors—France and Austria—having long been the most loyal supporters of the head of the Roman Church, Italy could not be sure that either or both of them might not intrigue against her in behalf of the restoration of the Papacy. There was also in Italy a group of patriotic Jingoes—the Irredentists—bent on "redeeming" from Austria territory whose inhabitants they claimed were Italian in language, ideals, and situation. The Irredentist propaganda naturally increased the rancor which Austria felt toward the Italians over whom she had recently despotized.
When Crispi, who was passing from his earlier character of conspirator and Radical to that of constitutional statesman, made the tour of the European Chancelleries, in 1877, he found Bismarck profuse in his expression of good-will toward Italy. If we are to believe Crispi, the Chancellor was ready then to draw up a treaty with her, and went so far as to hint that he approved of Italy's aspirations. Among these were the possession of Tunis and a foothold on the east coast of the Adriatic. The next year, at the Berlin Congress, however, Italy's interests were ignored, and, instead, Austria was encouraged to extend her dominion south of the Balkans, and the French were at least not discouraged from coveting a stronger position in the Mediterranean.
Finally, in 1882, France seized Tunis, to the immense indignation of the Italians, who had come to regard that as their predestined province. For it lay only a few hours by steamer from the southern coast of Sicily; it commanded the passage between the western and eastern Mediterranean; and, above all, it was the symbol of Italy's colonial ambition. To have a colony, if not several, was then regarded as the sign of being a first-class power; and that Italy should be tricked out of Tunis seemed to advertise to the world that she was not a first-class power. For her protests availed nothing.
The Italians did not know then, nor for a long time afterward, that the French seizure of Tunis was directly due to Bismarck's instigation. Lord Salisbury, also, who seems to have been in the plot, approved it for his own reasons. Bismarck's motives were plain—he wished to entangle France further in African colonial ventures. It had taken forty years, many thousand soldiers' lives, and great expenditures for France to make Algiers reasonably safe. As Tunis would increase the French burdens, it followed that every regiment needed there would diminish the strength of the armies with which France guarded herself from a German attack on her eastern frontier.
Having roused the Italians to wrath by this ruse, Bismarck had no difficulty in persuading them to join the Triple Alliance. He hardly needed to suggest that, if they had felt anxious at the possibility of French hostile pressure before, they had an even greater reason for such anxiety now that the French controlled the Mediterranean south of them. We may suspect also that Bismarck pointed out, as a special inducement, that, if Italy joined the alliance, she would be free from the likelihood of an attack by Austria.
Accordingly, in 1882, Italy entered into partnership with Germany and Austria for mutual defense. The only powers likely to assail them at that time were France and Russia; for England was still isolated, and Bismarck, although he felt a strong antipathy toward the English, was too shrewd a statesman either to scorn or to provoke them. As late as 1889, he approved of Italy's seeking an entente with England.
At the time Italy joined the Triplice she felt, no doubt, an unwonted sense of security. Were not two powerful empires standing by, ready to defend her? Her wounded pride, also, was solaced by her admission on equal terms into such a league. Neither France nor any other could henceforth taunt her with being a second-rate power.
The immediate result of the alliance was the spread of German commercial and financial enterprises throughout the peninsula, and the steady growth of Italian bad feeling toward France. A large group of Italians made Gallophobia their guiding principle. They remembered that, in the sixties, Napoleon III. had maintained at Rome that French garrison which prevented them from emancipating the States of the Church from Papal control, and from completing the unification of Italy. They remembered that Napoleon annexed Nice—Garibaldi's birthplace—to France, and that the French chassepots at Mentana dispersed Garibaldi and his red shirts bent on capturing the Eternal City. In the eighties, the Italians had good reason to suspect that the French Clericals were busy devising some imbroglio through which the Pope might be restored to the temporal power.
A convinced Gallophobe and crafty intriguer like Crispi, therefore, easily inflamed Italian indignation, so recently excited by the seizure of Tunis and by Clerical intrigues, and he counted it a gay feather in his cap when, in 1889, he declared a tariff war on France. Hard times for Italy followed; the commerce of the country was dislocated, and although Crispi tried to get compensation by negotiating special terms for trade with Germany and Austria, the new customers did not make up for the old. Germany could not furnish capital as France had done. Paris was, and is, the financial capital of the European Continent.
On this side Italy lost and Bismarck gained by the Triple Alliance—for he had attained his purpose of splitting France and Italy apart. What advantage did the Italians derive from the agreement? The reply commonly given is, protection. But, we ask, protection from whom? Not from France, because it is clear enough that, whether the Triplice existed or not, Germany would have attacked the French, if they had attacked the Italians; so that Italy had in Germany a logical protector, to whom she need not have sacrificed her initiative.
Her only other possible assailant was Austria, and it may fairly be argued that the alliance restrained Austria from attack; but Austria permitted herself every other unfriendly act toward Italy except open war; and Germany looked placidly on.
The fact that Germany, the chief Protestant nation in Europe, was the ally of Italy, might also be regarded as a support to the Italians in their long conflict with Papal pretensions; but how little Germany cared for Italy's welfare in this struggle appeared in 1903, when Kaiser Wilhelm prevented the election of Cardinal Rampolla as Pope. Rampolla, if not a Liberal, was a devoted Italian; Sarti, who defeated him, was a Reactionary, controlled by the Jesuits, hostile to Italy.
When we look at Germany's action in other affairs we find pleasant words but no tangible profit. From her geographical position Italy claimed an interest in the status of the Balkan Peninsula, and particularly in the eastern shore of the Adriatic. Germany pretended to favor her interests—according to Crispi, Bismarck even went so far as to ask, "Why don't you take Albania?"—but it was Austria that Germany steadily pushed on into the Balkans; and in 1908, when Austria, with Germany's connivance, appropriated Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Italians realized that they had been tricked again, as they were in the case of Tunis.
Since 1908 the Teutonic partners, growing more and more arrogant, have shown indifference to the concerns of their Italian ally, who, seeing no future for her in Europe, swooped down on Tripoli, the only stretch of North African littoral not already possessed by the French and by the English. Persons on the inside at Rome whispered that, if Italy had not occupied Tripoli when she did, Germany would have forestalled her; for the Kaiser, furious at being thwarted in Morocco and at having failed to bully France into submission, as he had done in 1905, had determined to seize Tripoli, come what might. More than one Foreign Office has ample proof to settle this assertion. Its plausibility is patent—Germany was already in close league with Turkey, and, looking forward to a war on England, she saw the advantage of owning territory and a naval base within easy reach of the Suez Canal.
Certain it is that both Germany and Austria frowned on Italy's Libyan enterprise, and that, in their intrigues in the Balkan Peninsula, in 1912 and 1913, they ignored their Italian partner.
And yet as long ago as 1895 Germany admitted that Italy was hardly getting a fair return from her bargain with her Teutonic allies. On March 5, 1895, Senator Lanza reported an interview he had just had with Emperor William, who said; "He had found Count Kalnoky (the Austrian Premier) ... still uneasy lest we (Italy) may come to consider the Triple Alliance insufficiently advantageous, merely because it cannot supply us, at once and in times of peace, with the necessary means of satisfying our desires with regard to the territories of Northern Africa and others as well. His Majesty ... added: 'Wait patiently. Let the occasion but present itself and you shall have whatever you wish.'"
[Footnote 5: Crispi's "Memoirs," iii., 326-7.]
In spite of the Kaiser's assurance, Italy has got less and less return from the Triple Alliance every year since 1895.
It appears, therefore, that Italy long ago opened her eyes as to the real profit the alliance brought her. When England loomed up as the objective which Germany resolved to destroy, Italy quite logically let it be understood that she would not engage in a fight against England. Over thirty years of political alliance had created no sympathy among the Italians for the Germans. Like all other Europeans, they resented the arrogance of the Teutons who strode over their country.
But deeper, far deeper than personal dislike of bad manners was the fundamental antagonism between the Italian and the Prussian ideal. The Italians were pledged to Liberty, the Germans to Autocracy, bulwarked by militarism. In their long struggle for independence the Italians had had the sympathy of the best Englishmen, and in Palmerston, and especially in Lord John Russell, they found very powerful political helpers. But never since Bismarck took the helm of Prussia had one word in behalf of Democracy and Freedom been lisped by Monarch or Minister. For Italy to abandon her democratic ideal and to revert to the feudal-despotic ideal of the Pan-Germanists is unthinkable.
If she goes into the war, as now seems probable, it will be to uphold the Allies, who are fighting against Teutonic ambition inspired by despotic aims. Self-preservation demands that choice—because, should Germany win, she will not spare Italy. A stronger reason than self-interest, or than fear, however, will guide the Italians. In their past civilization and in their modern ideals they belong with the Western powers. They know the origin of their national independence. And if any Ministry should attempt to send them to replenish the wasting armies of Germany and of Austria, they would invoke the memory of Victor Emmanuel and of Garibaldi, of Mazzini and of Cavour, and refuse to be partners in schemes to aggrandize the Hapsburgs and the Hohenzollerns.
"I am the son of Liberty," said Cavour; "to her I owe all that I am." That, too, is Italy's motto, which she will not deny.
HE HEARD THE BUGLES CALLING
BY CAREY C.D. BRIGGS
There's an old red mill at the foot of the hill; Hear the mill-wheel turning, turning To the drip of tears through the long, long years Of my heart's relentless yearning— Oh, the tender note of the catch in his throat, Oh, the tear that he dried with laughter; "I'll be back some day— Mind the mill while I'm away," And he waved one last kiss floating after. Gone is the miller boy, Gone from the mill; Gone up the winding road, Gone o'er the hill; Gone with the drum-beat up over the hill, Where he heard the bugles calling.
There's no grist for the mill or siller for the till, But I've kept the mill-wheel turning To the rumble and the beat of a million marching feet, And my sad heart's muffled yearning. Oh, the road his brave feet trod, lit with glory up to God, Oh, the courage of his call shames my sorrow; "I'll be back some day— Mind the mill while I'm away," And I caught one last kiss for tomorrow. Gone is the miller boy, Gone from the mill; Gone up the winding road, Gone o'er the hill; Gone with the drum-beat up over the hill, Where he heard the bugles calling.
German Soldiers Write Home
Letter of Prince Joachim
The following letter was written by Prince Joachim of Prussia, son of the Kaiser, to Sergt. Karl Kummer of a Prussian Regiment of Guards, who had been sent, badly wounded, to his sister at Teplitz, and whom the Prince had known for years.
My Dear Kummer: How sincerely I rejoiced to receive your very solicitous letter. I was sure of Kummer for that—that no one could hold him back when the time came to do some thrashing! God grant that you may speedily recover, so that you can enter Potsdam, crowned with glory, admired and envied. Who is nursing you?
The old proud First Guard Regiment has proved that it was ready to conquer and to die. Kummer, if I can in any way help you I shall gladly do so by providing anything that will make you comfortable. You know how happy I have always been for your devotion to the service, and how we two always were for action (Schwung.) I, too, am proud to have been wounded for our beloved Fatherland, and I regret only that I am not permitted to be with the regiment. Well, may God take care of you. Your devoted,
JOACHIM OF PRUSSIA.
Letter of Rudolf Herzog
The following letter, written from the field by Rudolf Herzog, one of the leading German novelists and poets, was published in rhymed verse in No. 41 of Die Woche.
It had been a wild week. The storm wind swept with its broom of rain; it lashed us and splashed us, thrashed noses and ears, whistled through our clothing, penetrated the pores of our skin. And in the deluge—sights that made us shudder—gaunt skeleton churches, cracked walls, smoking ruins, piled hillock high; cities and villages—judged, annihilated.
Over there a stone pit; faces grown like the faces of beasts, a picked-up rabble of assassins. A short command. A howling of death. Squarely across the road we surge. A bloody grappling coil; batteries broken and shattered; iron and wood and bits of clothing and bones.
And upon the just and the unjust alike, the lashing rain for days and nights.
We rushed through the gray Ardennes woods, the Chief Lieutenant and I, racing along day after day, wrapped up tightly, our rifles ready, through wood and marsh. No time to lose! No time to lose! Down into the valley of the Meuse!
Of twenty bridges, there remained but beams rolled up by the waters—and yawning gaps.
Now comes the order: In three days new bridges must be finished!
Haste, men! Haste! Rain or no rain, it must be done!
Pioneers and railway builders working together, hunt up material, drag and hammer and ram it together; take the rain for the sweat of their brows; look like fat toiling devils; hang along the banks, lie in the water—after all, in this weather, no one can get any wetter! They speak very little, and never laugh. Three days are short. Nothing, nothing but duty!
Not a thought remained for the distant homeland and dear ones far away; the only thought, by day and by night—on to the enemy, come what may! No mind intent on any other goal. No time to lose! No time to lose! Haste! Haste!
And forward and backward and criss-cross through the gray Ardennes, the Chief Lieutenant and I, racing day after day. Laughter, when we tried it, died sickly on our lips. The bridges! the bridges! and nothing but the bridges! Empty belly, and limbs like lead. Once more, now; all together for a last great heave!
There lies Fumay on the smooth-flowing river; and next to the old bridge, a newly built one stretches from shore to shore—a German roadway, a roadway to good fortune!
Captain of the Guard! You? From the Staff Headquarters?
He shouts my name as he approaches.
And he waves a paper above a hundred heads.
"Telegram from home! Make way there, you rascal! At the home of our poet—I've just learned it—a little war girl has arrived!"
I hold the paper in my outstretched hand. Has the sun broken suddenly into the enemy's land? Light and life on all the ruins?...
I see a new bridge reaching on—
Springtime scatters the shuddering Autumn dreariness.
My little girl! I have a little girl in my home!...
You bring back my smile to me in a heavy time....
I gaze up at the sky and am silent. And far and near the busy, noisy swarm of workers is silent. Every one looks up, seeking some point in the far sky. Officers and men for a single heart-throb listen as to a distant song from the lips of children and from a mother's mouth—stand there and smile around me, in blissful pensiveness, as if there were no longer an enemy. Every one seems to feel the sun, the sun of olden happiness.
And yet, it had merely chanced that on the German Rhine, in an old castle lost amid trees, a dear little German girl was born.
(Written Sept. 17, 1914, in the field.)
Letter of the Duke of Altenburg
From a letter written from the front by the Duke of Altenburg on Sept. 5, and published in the Altenburger Zeitung.
We have lived through a great deal and done a great deal, marching, marching continually, without rest or respite. On Aug. 10 we reached Willdorf, near Juelich, by train, and from the 12th of August we marched without a single day of rest except Aug. 16, which we spent in a Belgian village near Liege, until today, when we reached ——. Those have been army marches such as history has never known.
The weather was fine, except that a broiling heat blazed down upon us. The regiment can point back to several days' marches of fifty kilometers ——. Everywhere our arrival created great amazement, in Louvain as well as in Brussels, into which the entire —— marched at one time. At first we were taken for Englishmen in almost every village, and we still are, because the inhabitants cannot realize that we have arrived so early. The Belgians, moreover, in the last few days almost invariably set fire to their own villages.
On Aug. 24 we first entered battle; I led a combined brigade consisting of ——. The regiment fought splendidly, and in spite of the gigantic strain put upon it, it is in the best of spirits and full of the joy of battle. On that day I was for a long time in the sharpest rifle and artillery fire. Since that time there have been almost daily skirmishes and continual long marches; the enemy stalks ahead of us in seven-league boots. On Aug. 26 we put behind us a march of exactly twenty-three hours, from 6:30 o'clock in the morning till 5:30 the next morning. With all that, I was supposed to lead my regiment across a bridge to take a position guarding a new bridge in course of construction; but the bridge, as we discovered in the nick of time, was mined; twenty minutes later it flew into the air.
After resting for three hours in a field of stubble, and after we had all eaten in common with the men in a field kitchen—as we usually do—we continued marching till dark.
The spirit among our men is excellent. Tonight I am to have a real bed—the fourth, I believe, since the war began. Today I undressed for the first time in eight days.
Letter of Paul Oskar Hoecker
The German novelist, Paul Oskar Hoecker is a Captain of the Landwehr.
I wanted to write to you from the village of D., which we captured by storm. Hundreds of Frenchmen, upon the retreat of their troops, preferred to flee to the cellars, where they promptly transformed themselves into civilians. Our battalion had orders to conduct investigations, arrest those apparently liable to military service, and to take possession of all arms. Unexpectedly large stores of ammunition thus fell into our hands. Among these seizures were many chests containing dumdum bullets and bearing the stamp of the ammunition factory where they were made. The cartridges were intended for use in carabines. Accordingly, it would seem to be chiefly a question of the unlawful use of these missiles, repulsive to the laws of nations, by bicycle and scout corps.
These bullets lay also in a factory package in a writing desk next to a draft of the last will and testament which Monsieur le Capitaine wrote out on the first day of mobilization: He bequeathed his cash fortune of 110,000 francs, as well as his household furniture and his two hunting dogs, to Mme. Isabelle H. The forsaken Mme. Isabelle, who sought distant and clearer skies two days before our entry into the village, does not, however, seem to have been very fond of animals; for out of the forsaken house there rose piteously the whimpering and whining of the half-starved setters.
But what are the thousand bright recollections of the captured town, what are all the experiences of this campaign, compared to the heavy, heavy days of fighting which our battalion had to battle through near L.!
On Sunday, Oct. 4 the detachment marched from D. in the direction of L. It had been known for some time that the enemy was attempting a movement around our extreme right flank. Continual detrainments of French troops were taking place at L. A further advance was to be permitted to them under no conditions. The march toward L. took place on various roads. A cavalry division cleared the territory north of the city, and dispatched, simultaneously with our own advance, a company of Jaegers and a company of bicycle men against L.
At 1 o'clock we received fire. The point of our column returns it. As ever in small towns and suburbs the skill of the French is great in street fighting, turning to best advantage every protruding corner and extension of a building, and utilizing every alley of trees for firing attacks. Then the Frenchman clears these spaces quickly and hurries for protection to the next block of houses, till he has lured the foe far enough forward to surprise him with a carefully prepared fire from the side.
By leaps and bounds we advance along the broad road to the heights of the two suburbs F. and R. Here for the first time there is a matching of fighting forces. Undoubtedly the foe is far superior to us numerically; and he seems firmly determined not to allow himself to be crowded out of his excellent sheltered positions.
Our battery rolls up, and lets her brazen tongue speak. The infantry fight ceases, until the foremost buildings are set aflame on all three sides. Troop at a time, the French now take to flight, most of them abandoning their cartridges, as is evidenced by the rattle of exploding ammunition on every floor of the buildings.
But R. holds out, while F., at the right of the roadway, and the houses afire on the road toward Lille itself are quickly cleared of the enemy. The bicycle patrol, which has undertaken a determined advance to F., meets no further foe.
But upon the two companies engaged on my right there is poured a murderous fire that presently exacts heavy toll; and in the rough country hereabout it is impossible to discover the masked positions of the sharpshooters and machine guns. The Frenchman is an expert in the location of excellent hiding places, wire entanglements, and the like. He even puts forth infinite efforts to make his fortified positions extremely comfortable nests from which he can enjoy a view of all the points at which, in the irregular lay of the land, the enemy must necessarily halt; and thereupon the Frenchman meets the hesitating column of attack with his concentrated fire.
Four guns are nibbling at the edge of the village with their shells. Perhaps the machine guns, whose monotonous rattle lashes our nerves to the snapping point, may be hidden there in the church tower. But the battery commander hesitates to damage the house of God. So he leaves a gap there, and sweeps the smaller houses. Suddenly one of the machine guns ceases—it must have been concealed in the hedge close to the church; the gun squad serving it must have been found by the fire of our gunners; for presently there is noticeable in that quarter a foot race of red-trousered infantrymen. In the moaning of the shells there mingles the rattling of shrapnel. A whole group tumbles pell-mell; yonder one of them dashes madly this way and that, until a new load strikes him—they move like dolls in a miniature theatre; it is hard to realize at this distance that human lives are being crushed out here.
But an hour later we entered R. Night has fallen. Through the mighty gaps in the gabled roofs of the houses of the narrow street on which we enter shines the moon. Four men of the bicycle corps stand silent at the entrance to the village; the prisoners in their midst, infantrymen in uniform or in rapidly donned civil garb—the tell-tale red of the trousers shows under the short vest of one of them. In the streets lie curious bundles, the corpses of those who have fallen here. A wounded soldier drags wearily up to the subaltern officer's post, with hands raised above his head; it is a Frenchman who has thrown away his blue coat, but still wears his cap. The steps of the incoming battalion ring out on the village pavement. Otherwise an icy silence, night, and the smell of blood and burning.
And now horror creeps over us. We greet Death. He greets us.
In R. scarcely a single house is still inhabited. All have fled to L. In the street that has been assigned to my company, I must have almost every house opened by force, in order that the men, worn out with marching and fighting, may rest. Here and there, in answer to prolonged knocking, one of the inhabitants comes to the door. When the shell fire began they took refuge in their cellars.
In the brightly tiled hall of a pretty house that has escaped damage I sit with the gentlemen for several hours over glasses of mulled wine. We are waiting for orders for the next day. The orders reach us at 1 o'clock that night; the detachment is to take its stand at 7 o'clock beside the church at R., in order to continue the advance toward L.
But during the hours of the night many changes have taken place. The troops driven out of R. have sent their patrols, the black scouts, to the very edge of the suburb again, under cover of darkness; and reports of our cavalry and bicycle men tell that during the night heavy detachments of troops sent from the north have reached L. They talk of 40,000 to 50,000 men, chiefly newly enlisted forces and territorials; but Englishmen, too, are said to be among them. Our assigned task does not include fighting a destructive battle. We are simply to compel the enemy to unfold his forces, for certain strategic reasons the nature of which, of course, we do not know. Accordingly, our small detachment must risk everything in order to lure upon itself as many as possible of the enemy's troops. That, too, is just what happened.
We take our former positions. The cavalry division has departed, with its artillery, its bicycle corps, its Jaegers, and its machine guns. New problems are in store on the right wing for the brave division which has already distinguished itself throughout the entire campaign. We remain alone with our battery—the third battalion of the active regiment and our provincial Landwehr battalion.
It is going to be a heavy, heavy, heavy day of fighting.
Patrols establish the fact that F. is free of the enemy's forces. But as we enter the road toward L. the French machine guns at once announce themselves. They sing and whistle and whirr above our heads. After yesterday's losses (half a column of the Fifth Company is still busy burying our dead, laying our wounded in automobiles and wagons to be sent to the hospitals) our artillery will first shoot breaches in the enemy's lines before we advance.
But at midday the field artillery of the Frenchmen already replies to ours. They must have transshipped, at night, from their positions on the canal to L., in the belief that mighty forces were being assembled here for a further tremendous blow. The object of our assignment would in that case already have been for the most part accomplished. But all of us subordinate officers—who neither possess nor should possess an insight into the strategic movement—we have but a single desire: Forward!
For a few minutes, after the first thundering crash of the French artillery, there is deep silence. It seems as if nature itself were holding its breath. The crash had fallen in the alley of poplars along the road. The roadway is strewn with branches and twigs. Just beside the northern column of our battery the monstrous shell has buried itself in the clay soil. A hail of earth-crumbs has rained upon us. We cannot note any other damage. But all the companies that are still in closed formation spread out in order to offer no compact target.
For hours, now, there continues this terrible cannonading backward and forward, this dreadful argument of batteries. Horrible as is the devastation which such an instrument of murder can wreak, you gradually grow accustomed to the roaring storm. And you almost smile because you still lower your head each time. Until you remember: We greet Death, and he greets us.
"Near the church tower southeast of L. where the railway bridge can be seen, are hostile riflemen, strength several companies."
Our cavalry patrol disappears again—a French machine gun fires at it without hitting—and the battalion commander calls to me:
"Company left across the road, right and left of the farmhouse, developing a column on each side, with wide intervals between!"
Quickly the right wing column darts across. My Turkish professor, the Chief Lieutenant, manages it beautifully. One sharpshooter always darts ahead, throws himself on his belly, creeps on; a second follows. At one, two kilometers, scarcely a headpiece is visible. The left column is less successful. Over the heads of the sharpshooters there at once whistle shells. They feel the air pressure; the tremendous noise grips them.
"Dodge! Lie down! Forward only one at a time, with long pauses! You'll betray our positions, fellows!"
And at this moment there is a clattering sound in the air above. A French airman!
"An airman, Captain!"
"Yes, yes, I've heard him."
The only thing that can help us is to keep from looking up. Only the rows of flesh-colored oval faces, that immediately turn up to greet each flight of an airman, permit the strength of forces to be estimated at such great distances.
Beyond any doubt the foe has overestimated our strength tenfold. Otherwise he would not have put forth these tremendous efforts. His strength, in such fortified positions, would have sufficed to hold an entire army corps in check. And our poor weak brigade?
I lie on my belly, creeping forward. To remain standing would be suicide.
It's a bad music. We are being rained upon with iron. We hear it whistle past our ears, we feel it whizz over our helmets. Our artillery covers us in front, so that we cannot fire at the single bodies of advance riflemen. They are drawing to the left toward the entrance to F. Soon the infantry bullets are striking close among us.
Nothing to be seen! Nothing to be seen!
"We must advance further!" I shout into the line of sharpshooters. The battalion commander shouts it at the same time. He wouldn't let any one rob him of the honor of advancing in the foremost row of riflemen. We crawl forward on all fours. After thirty meters, halt. Still nothing to be seen. The land rises in front of us. Fifty meters further; eighty; a hundred. At last we have a clear view ahead. Rifles are advanced.
"Half way to the left, at the entrance to F., sharpshooters, stand!"
A few shots from our ranks. The blue figures falter, fall. But at the same time we have betrayed our position. And now the hail begins anew.
"They all shoot too high! Aim well, men! Every shot a bullseye!"
My voice reaches only the rows of riflemen nearest to me. The clatter and crashing is tremendous, but even more horrible is this singing and whizzing past of shells, especially when the enemy's machine guns sweep us.
"Are those some of our men?" my bugler beside me asks. "They're already standing half way down the road back of us!"
A shiver of horror creeps over us. Yes, they have enticed and held us fast in the midst of their artillery—and on the left their infantry, well protected, has advanced under cover to our flank. And now the French machine gun patters on our right, in monotonous rhythm, in this concert of hell.
Behind us there is no longer a sign of life. Our battery is gone; it must have shot away its ammunition.
"Order of the Brigade Commander: Company retire slowly!" A man at the end of our serried line near the roadside has called the order to me. The order travels by word of mouth along our line. It is a long time before it reaches the riflemen furthest left. And as soon as the slightest movement is noticeable in the beet fields, the deadly hail rattles down upon us again.
My eyeglass is covered with sweat and dirt. I tear it away. Now, as the shells strike, clouds of dirt fly into my eyes. I close them. At my left, a rifleman crawling along, nudges me:
"The dogs!" he mutters: "Now they've got us in a hell of a pinch!"
I can speak no more. We go crawling along another 500 meters. My revolver bangs along on the ground at my left; my fieldglass at my right. For a moment I think of the droll problem given to the officer at the military examination: "What would you do if you saw artillery unfold before you, infantry on your left, and artillery against your flank on the right?" Answer: "I'd order: Take off helmets and pray!"
Take off helmets and pray! Yes, there is now no help for it. Now it's a case of dying decently like gentlemen.
"No running away, men! We're no Frenchmen!"
A minute's stop to take breath, at yon hay-rick on the left. So, there they're advancing, in a gay company, the blue-frocks!
"Left, riflemen, along the church yard wall, stand! Rifle fire!"
And two groups are daring enough to stand upright and fire, although the machine gun fire is sweeping us again. The man next to me is loading his gun; suddenly he throws up an arm:
"Hell! That's pretty warm!" A bullet has passed midway through the cover of his rifle barrel.
"Go on! Slowly! One at a time! Don't crowd!"
On the road we find a man of the second column, pressed against a tree.
"Where is the battalion?"
He points in the direction of R.
"There they are, still fighting, Captain."
Yes, there still stand some riflemen in a rifle fight. An officer with them.
"Forward!" and I point in their direction.
But over there the witches' caldron is boiling more fiercely. The machine guns are nearer there. After a short consultation with the leader of the division I order: "Retire. Singly."
The narrow road through which we retire is swept continually with fire. I climb up to the ridge. Now nothing further matters. Only not to fall alive in the hands of those over there! To die! I stumble over a ridge in the field. A few moments of unconsciousness. Then again the tacktack-tacktack of the machine guns. God, our Lord, Thou art our refuge forever and aye! I pray Thee, I pray Thee, let me die an honest soldier's death. And not suffer long. Now, dear Lord, please; now! If only my fellows don't begin to run!
"Slowly, men; slowly. Halt at the brown stretch of field."
Panting, we lie there. "Rifles in position! Take aim! Fire!"
As soon as a few shots have been fired, there ensues a pause in the firing over there. We make good use of it. Then, "Down on your bellies again!"
I cannot go further.
"Go ahead without me, boys. Greet my people for me. God with you. You've fought well. Damn you, fellow, run, I tell you! Down on your faces! Take breath. Fire!"
When, long ago, I went to my confirmation lesson, the Superintendent once said—ah, what a remarkable man that was!—"I would like only to take a single look at my little garden. I'm a city child, and have grown so fond of the flowers, this little bit of earth!"—Hui! hui! there it whistles over our heads again. I greet Death. And my lips touch the ridge of the field furrow.
Of dust thou art; to dust thou shalt return.
"Boys, you're not afraid? Eh?" And I try to laugh.
"The apes over there! They don't know how to shoot. Such clowns! They'll hit the sky!"
Hui! hui! tack-a-tack-tacktack! Run on! The patent-leathered lackeys can't hit us!
But there lies one of the other company. Dead.
"Don't run! Keep halting! Fire!"
From the village a hail of shrapnel. From the opposite side, the same. But now nobody runs with lowered head. We are now used to the benediction of bullets. Further on, further on!
Of the brigade there's not a trace. When the artillery had shot away its ammunition, the order was given: "Retire, all!" It reached me, in front there with the rifle lines, fully an hour later than the rest.
Scattered stragglers join me.
"Where is our Chief Lieutenant?"
"Wounded in the neck; only a glancing bullet. Has returned slowly on an artillery horse. Midway among the shrapnels. Great fellow."
Nobody knows where the point of reunion is. I lead the rest of the battalion after the other companies. Night is falling. Somewhere a cavalry patrol tells us: They're to bivouac over there at the fort.
We march toward that. Bicycle men come to meet us. We hear from them—no one believed that a single man of us could escape that devil's caldron alive. My orderly (Bursche) comes riding to meet me. His eyes are wet.
"My Captain! My Captain!"
I must press many hands. I warm myself at the bivouac fire. The Quartermaster has brought me a half flask of champagne. There's red wine for the men in the baggage division. It has already been mulled. A plate of rice soup. The earth-crumb is still sticking to my lips. I swallow it down with the first draught of foaming wine: "I greet thee, Life! I greet thee, Earth!" And comrades come up and are glad to see me, old monster, again.
Thank God, my company has suffered only few losses! When I order the Sergeant Major to read the list, only a few are missing. But this one or that one has been seen by some one of his comrades after the fight. Well, then they are only scattered, and will find their way back by and by. The battalion in these two days of fighting lost thirty-eight dead and sixty-six wounded. That includes some light wounds from glancing bullets.
It all lies behind me like a confused dream. We are bivouacking in the casemates of the fort. I awake several times in terror. Deep, deep silence. Only the pacing to and fro of the sentinel on guard. To and fro, to and fro. He is cold.
I creep deeper into the straw. Poor fellow, the sentinel. How soft I've got it! So warm here! I have hot eyes and hot cheeks, but ice-cold hands.
I pity all those who know life and death only from books. War is a great teacher. We learn to love the earth. And thus our homeland becomes so sacred to us.
Damp Humor of the Night Watch
From a field postcard written by a German soldier in the Franco-Prussian war and sent home by one who recalled it under similar circumstances in the present one.
I guard this shed, But who guards me? Around my head But night I see. This only comfort sweet is mine, To soothe my graveyard cough: "This town will pay a lovely fine If some one picks me off."
The Place of Tombs
By Perceval Gibbon.
[Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.]
Zyrddow, Poland, Received in London Jan. 19.—There is a spot above the river which must not be indicated too explicitly, but whose name signifies in Russian the place of tombs. It is thus christened by the troops who camp in a great forest which shadows the whole position. It is a point at which the new German plan of thrusting toward the railway instead of as hitherto toward the road has produced fighting of more than Homeric quality.
The Russians, who never misjudge the value of ground, were established here in well-made trenches, with the shelter of the forest at their backs for reserves and supports. Upon this iron front the Germans spent themselves in fruitless attacks, incurring crippling losses. It was only after repeated and disastrous failure of these tactics that they began a different method of approach.
Here, as everywhere else, they have a large amount of artillery, and under incessant shell fire they proceeded to sap their way toward the Russian trenches. Incidentally they expended shells enough to last an army through the whole of a small war, and where formerly six acres of trees projected from the main forest there are now no trees at all.
The parapet of their trench is only thirty-five paces from the Russian parapet, and the men crouching behind their shelter can hear the voices of their enemies. None dare lift head or hand to even the loopholes on the breastworks, since the worst shot in the world can send bullet after bullet through any loophole at that distance. The Russians are able to throw hand grenades, with which their trenches are supplied, clear into the German trenches, while the German shelling has had to cease since their own men are in equal danger from any shell aimed at the Russian trenches.
I rode down through the forest in an effort to reach one of the trenches two nights ago, passing from the pale shine of the snow upon the bare fields to sheer darkness. I found the staff established in a spacious dugout some 400 yards behind the actual first line. Here, as always, was a straw-padded, candle-lit interior, with an orderly waiting, with telephone to ear, and all those rough-and-ready contrivances by which men live who have death forever at their elbow. Here, too, their faces disguised by weeks of beard and grimed with the smirch of war, were burly Russian officers, those adequate and quietly confident men who are the strength and inspiration of the Russian Army.
In all the gloom, where all life was balanced on a hair, one thing was steadfast and cordial, and that was the unshaken assurance of these cheerful, expert fighting men in their power to hold the Germans and presently to resume the offensive, to which each one of them looks forward, and advance at last toward the frontier of Germany. None underestimates the enemy. They criticise him in a spirit of absolute professional impartiality, admiring quite frankly the organization and courage of the German infantry, but condemning the artillery and pooh-poohing the cavalry.
Yesterday morning the Germans renewed their bombardment of the positions at Radziwillow, where the fine Russian trench is practically impregnable, and has already cost them huge losses in their attempts to assault it.
I had an illustration of their lack of system in artillery fire while returning along the rear of this position. Their shells sailed up across the woods to the south of the railway, bursting on an empty stretch of fields about a thousand yards away, and turned seven or eight hundred acres of virgin snow into an inferno of smoke and torn earth, but no single shell fell nearer than a thousand yards to any living soul.
During the last day or two I have seen a change in the nature of the fighting on this front. The German procedure has no longer its old character of desperate decision but has become more desultory and their pressure flickers up and down the line as though in a panic of effort to find some point at which the defense is weak.
I learned here from prisoners that the Germans lately have been celebrating victories. Berlin and other cities are said to be gay with flags, and Gen. von Hindenburg has been acclaimed as a national hero. I can only keep my eyes on the small portion of the long front limited by Socahczew on the north and Msczonow on the south, but in regard to this region I can offer my personal testimony that at no point have the Germans gained anything in the nature of a success nor made any attack which has not been immensely more costly in lives to them than to the Russians.
Shelled Tsing-tao With Wireless Aid
By Jefferson Jones,
Staff Correspondent of The Minneapolis Journal and Japan Advertiser.
[From THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jan. 24, 1915.]
Tokio, Dec. 15.—Far out in the Yellow Sea busy gunners on a Japanese battleship aimed a 12-inch gun at one of the German forts in Tsing-tao. Opening the breech, they removed the smoking cartridge case, put in another loaded one, and waited to learn whether the projectile had scattered death among the enemy or exploded harmlessly in soft earth. They were five or six miles from their target.
The gunners gazed toward the battleship's wireless masts. Presently came a sputter and crackle of electric sparks. An officer appeared in the turret and said, perhaps, "Very good. Put some more in the same place," or, "That one was fifty feet to the right or sixty feet too high." He had received a wireless message from the shore telling exactly where the shell had struck, probably for the first time since naval warfare began.
At the rear of the Japanese lines, where a naval lookout had been erected, I saw several marines focusing horned telescopes on the besieged forts. As soon as a shell landed one of the men would telephone the exact location to the naval wireless station at Sesheco, which relayed the message to the warships.
The fourth day of the siege was the most severe of the whole siege of Tsing-tao. Gen. Johoji on the extreme left, with Gen. Barnardiston of the British expeditionary force, was pressing the intrenched Germans near Moltke Fort. Early in the morning Gen. Johoji had sent a detachment against the triangular pumping station fort, as it was deemed wise not to turn the siege guns on the place, because the fort might be destroyed and the supply of water be cut off in the city when the troops entered. The detachment approached the fort without any resistance from the Germans, and, surrounding it, discovered that there was a small garrison, which had barred itself inside. The Japanese commanded the men to surrender, threatening to dynamite the place. The steel door was opened and twenty-three Germans walked out.
The capture of this fort was the key for the final attack of the Japanese, as it left the central fort and redoubts exposed to fire.
Late in the afternoon the fire became extremely heavy. The Germans seemed to be making sharp resistance to the Japanese, lest they advance within the quarter-mile zone of the redoubt walls. The Japanese infantry, however, were sapping away, and as dusk settled over the field we saw the bright flash of bursting shrapnel from the German forts. It was the first shrapnel sent out by the Germans during the siege.
Ten, twelve, fifteen, and sometimes even twenty shrapnel shells could be counted bursting at one time, all in a straight line, over the Japanese front line, and then the big German searchlights would flash about the field. They would fall on fifteen or twenty Japanese sappers on the top of their trenches placing sandbags, and then the flash would disappear.
Thursday, Nov. 5, seemed only a repetition of what we had seen the day before. All night long the firing kept up, and it was evident that the German garrison at Tsing-tao was making stubborn and gallant resistance.
That night the Japanese forces advanced 200 yards under a heavy shrapnel fire from the Germans. A snowstorm, followed by rain, had filled the trenches with water a foot deep, and it was in these that the Japanese and British forces found themselves during the closing days of the siege.