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England and Germany
by Emile Joseph Dillon
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It is by such devices that the German Government is wont to launch into war. The mentality whence they spring cannot be discarded in a year or a generation, nor will any Peace Treaty, however ingeniously worded, prevent recourse being had to them in the future. For this, among other reasons, more trustworthy guarantees than scraps of paper must be sought and found.



CHAPTER IX

GERMAN PROPAGANDA IN SCANDINAVIA

The same breadth of vision and efficacy of treatment were similarly rewarded in the Scandinavian countries, where German propaganda, ever resourceful and many-sided, was facilitated by kinship of race, language, folklore and literature. Of the three kingdoms Sweden, the strongest, was also the most impressible owing to the further bond of fellowship supplied by a common object of distrust—the Russian empire. Suspicion and dislike of the Tsardom had been long and successfully inculcated by the German Press, from which Sweden received her supply of daily news, and also, as is usual in such cases, by prominent natives who, in obedience to motives to which history is indifferent, employed their influence to spread suspicion. Sven Hedin rendered invaluable services in this way to the Kaiser and the Fatherland, throwing the glamour of his name over a movement of which the ultimate tendency was national suicide. Under the auspices of a prussophile minority of Swedish politicians, a few of whom were supposed to favour the establishment of an absolute monarchy like that of Prussia, a clever campaign against the Tsardom was inaugurated. Falsehoods were concocted, imaginary dangers conjured up and described as real, and sinister Russian designs against the independence of Sweden and Norway were invoked as motives for energetic action. In vain the Tsar's Government protested its friendship for Sweden and disproved the poisonous calumnies circulated by the Germans.

In the discovery and arrest of a number of Russian military spies, who were as active in Sweden as in other lands, and whose relations with the Tsar's Military Attache in Stockholm were said to be proven, these agitators found the few solid facts that served them as the groundwork of their fabric of suspicion and calumny.

The results of this propaganda answered the expectations of its German and Swedish organizers. Despite the quieting assurances given by the ex-Premier, the late Karl Staaff and M. Branting, Sweden's two foremost statesmen, the present population was thoroughly alarmed. They spontaneously taxed themselves for new warships, insisted that a non-recurring war-tax identical with that of Germany should be imposed by the State, and many called for the immediate adhesion of Sweden to the Triple Alliance.

One of the fixed points of Russia's policy, the Swedish agitators told their fellow-countrymen, is the acquisition of an ice-free port which can be utilized in winter. The Baltic ports do not answer this requirement, not only because they freeze in the cold season, but also, and especially, because the narrow Sound can be easily blocked by a hostile Power and Russia's ships bottled up in the Baltic. Hence the persevering efforts she made at first to get possession of the Dardanelles and obtain free access to the Mediterranean in war-time. More than once she was on the very point of achieving success there, but lack of enterprise on the part of her statesmen or a sudden adverse change in the political conjuncture foiled this scheme, the realization of which was put off indefinitely. The Persian Gulf was the next object of her designs, but there, too, she encountered a diplomatic defeat. The third goal lay in the Far East, where a new Russian empire governed by a Viceroy and possessed of a promising capital, was founded with every prospect of good fortune. But here, again, defective statesmanship was followed by failure, and the campaign against Japan closed the Far Eastern chapter for a long while. Whither, it was asked, can Russia turn now? Recent events, M. Sven Hedin assured his countrymen, have already answered the query. Northwards. The great Slav Empire covets an ice-free harbour in Norway, and until this war broke out was busily engaged in compassing its end. At any future moment it may again start off on this enterprise. It is the duty of patriotic Swedes to thwart this nefarious project.

A Norwegian port, it is freely admitted, would not fulfil all Russia's requirements. It would, for instance, leave much to be desired from an economic point of view. The resources of the hinterland would be too scanty. The cost of transport would be too heavy. But strategically it would answer the purpose admirably. Now this conquest would not be achieved without invading and annexing a portion of North Sweden as well. For it would be impossible to keep and utilize such an acquisition without a hinterland containing factories, workshops, wharves, docks, stores and a fairly numerous population which, in turn, would require corn, cattle, timber, etc. Is it credible, asked M. Sven Hedin, that the southern boundary of this back-land could be drawn further northwards than to the north of Angermanland, Jaemtland and Drontheim? At bottom, then, it is the annexation of a vast slice of Sweden proper that Russia has in view. Perhaps the first route of the Russian army would lie on the eastern bank of the rivers Torne-aelf and Muonio-aelf and lead to the Lyngen Fjord. How long would it stop there? Step by step it would move along the coast southwards to Drontheim. Then Norrland would be surrounded on three sides by Russians. "Later on they would tighten the noose and strangle our country. Are we to remain inactive during the course of events?... The Swede in general is aware of the existence of this danger and knows that it may come upon him at any moment as a reality."

In verity, no normal individual, acquainted with the political condition of Europe, can be said to know that the peril of a Russian invasion of Sweden exists or existed of late years. As a matter of fact, he knows that the contradictory proposition is true.

The symptoms of Russia's alleged designs on Norway and Sweden are as fantastic as the sweeping statements by which they are heralded. One of them was the order issued by the Russian Government to build a railway bridge over the Neva in Petrograd in order to link the Finnish railway with all the other stations which are situated on the opposite bank of that river, as though the Russian capital should be the only one in Europe without a girdle railway and Finland the sole section of the empire cut off from all the rest! Another of these "infallible tokens" of Russia's machinations were the measures adopted to render the Finnish railways, and, in particular, the Oesterbotten line, capable of transporting Russian military trains, by enlarging the stations, strengthening the bridges and rails, and other kindred expedients. Further, a number of new lines were considered necessary from a strategic point of view, one connecting Petersburg with Wasa via Hiitola, Nyslott and Iyvaeskylae. Barracks were built or ordered in Fredrikshamn, Kouvala, Lahtis and other Finnish towns, or railway centres. All these precautions, however, are not only explicable without the theory that Sweden and Norway are to be invaded, but they ought to have been adopted long ago, say unprejudiced military authorities, in the interests of Russia's home defence. Yet M. Sven Hedin concluded his argument with the words: "When it has been further established that the transport of Russian troops to Finland has greatly increased—and it is affirmed that there are already about 85,000 soldiers there—and when we also bear in mind that for many years past Sweden and likewise Norway have been visited by so-called knife-grinders[53] from Russia, no doubt can remain. Russia is making ready for an onslaught on the Northern kingdoms."

[53] Several Russian "knife-grinders" are alleged to have been discovered in various parts of Sweden, moving from place to place, with maps of various districts and a good deal of money in their pockets. The Swedes declare that they are Russian spies.

But long before Sven Hedin and his friends had begun their campaign, the ground had been prepared from Berlin, the work of interpenetration had made great headway, and Germany was regarded by Sweden as an elder sister. For the economic invasion preceded the political. Statistics of foreign trade reveal the Teuton as the exporter to that country of over forty per cent. of the entire quantity of merchandise entering from abroad.[54]

[54] The value of wares she sold to Sweden in 1911 is computed at 275,423,000 krons as against 170,999,000 krons' worth purchased from Great Britain.

Switzerland, whose position as a neutral oasis encircled by belligerents is fraught with difficulty, has long been treated as hardly more than an adjunct of the German empire, and many of the best Swiss writers, far from resenting this affront, welcome it as a compliment. Just as Americans occasionally write about "the King" when alluding to the British Sovereign, so the Swiss often fall into the way of describing the operations of "our army," "our cause," when alluding to the Kaiser's troops and German designs.

Several times during the progress of the war the conduct of Swiss organizations and individuals towards the two groups of belligerents aroused grounded misgivings in the minds of the French, British and Italians who asked only for the observance of strict neutrality. One remarkable instance of the pro-German leanings complained of was the absolute and persistent refusal of the Swiss to submit to reasonable restrictions respecting the sale to Germany and Austria of goods exported to Switzerland by the allied countries. This refusal was all the more significant that it came after the secret acquiescence in the more stringent limitations which had been imposed on them by the Germans. Thus two wholly different sets of weights and measures would appear to have been employed by the spokesmen of the little Republic in their dealings with the two groups of warring Powers. And it was always Germany who obtained preferential treatment.

This bias springs from causes which are stable and deep-rooted. The bulk of the Swiss people are frankly pro-German in their sympathies and their military chiefs side with the Teuton on most of those questions of principle which form the line of cleavage between him and the allied peoples. That the end justifies the means, is one of those axioms which the authorities of the Swiss Republic appear to have endorsed without hesitation. In the month of March 1916 two Swiss Colonels, Egli and de Wattenwyl, were tried on two charges which, if proved, would, it was somewhat hastily assumed, bring down severe retribution on their heads. It was alleged that they had communicated to the German military authorities important telegraphic messages intercepted on their way from the Allies. But the evidence adduced was deemed insufficient to bear out this indictment. The other charge was that they had regularly handed on the confidential bulletin of the Swiss General Staff to the military attaches of the Central Empires in Berne and only to them. And the count was proven to the satisfaction of the tribunal. Now this act admittedly constituted a breach of neutrality. Yet the Chief of the Swiss General Staff, Colonel Sprecher, defended the accused men on the singular ground that their action—that is to say, a grave breach of neutrality to the detriment of the allied nations—was excusable because of the end in view, which was to gain in exchange useful information for the Intelligence Department of the War Office. This plea is based on the German military principle that the means are hallowed by the end.

It is some satisfaction, however, to note that in the Romande cantons of the Republic a series of protests have been made against the spirit of Prussian military amorality which, as the pleadings and the acquittal of the two officers showed, permeates the military circles of that little State whose very existence depends on its neutrality.

Kultur is widely diffused throughout the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. The German Universities of the Republic are regarded and treated as Universities of the Fatherland and their professors interchanged. And when we further reflect that Germany exports to Switzerland goods to the value of 680,870,000 francs as against 347,985,000 exported by France, who stands second on the list, that German Universities and those of German Switzerland elect their professors indiscriminately from among candidates of both countries, and that German is spoken in Switzerland by more than 2,500,000 inhabitants as against 796,244 who use French—one cannot affect surprise at much that called for comment before the war and provoked mild deprecation throughout its first phase.



CHAPTER X

GERMANY AND THE BALKANS

For two decades the Balkan States and Turkey had been objects of Germany's especial solicitude. And with reason. For the part allotted to them in the plan for teutonizing Europe was of the utmost moment. The high road from Berlin to the Near East passed through Budapest and the Balkans. And Austria, as the pioneer of German Kultur there, kept her gaze fixed and her efforts concentrated on Salonica. Bulgaria's goodwill had been acquired through Ferdinand of Coburg, himself an Austro-Hungarian officer, and was maintained by Austria's energetic championship of Bulgaria's claims against Serbia. Counts Aehrenthal and Berchtold destined Bulgaria and Roumania to coalesce and form the nucleus of a permanent Balkan confederation to be patronized and protected by the Habsburgs.

But circumstance thwarted the design. And after the Balkan League had done its work and Turkey's grasp on Europe had relaxed, Bulgaria, in the person of Ferdinand, was brought to undo what without her lead could not then have been achieved, to fall foul of her allies and smash the coalition.

This incitement was unwelcome to many of Bulgaria's trusty leaders, who, much though they might grudge Serbia's successes and rapid growth, were of opinion that Bulgaria would be ill-advised to break her connection with the Slav cause. But the leaders unexpectedly found that they were being led, and led away from the natural friends of Bulgaria by the German prince who had caused the death of Bulgaria's greatest statesman and made no secret of his contempt for the Bulgarian people generally. Ferdinand, assuming autocratic power, rendered this inestimable service to the Teutons and fastened the Bulgarian State to the Central Empires.

At some time before the outbreak of the war Ferdinand had struck up a compact with the Central Empires which bound Bulgaria to follow their lead. This he did at his own risk and on his own responsibility. I had grounds for believing in the existence of some such covenant a considerable time before the storm burst, but I had no tangible proof of it. In July 1914, however, I knew it for certain, but without having ascertained the particulars. When and by whom it had been signed, and what were the main stipulations agreed upon, still remained in the domain of speculation. I discovered, however, that Bulgaria's hands were tied; that her mourning for lost Macedonia would not last long; that the aims she pursued were the policy of the outlet on four seas, and the territorial separation of Greece and Serbia; that her role in the Peninsula was to be predominant; that she had been chosen to supplant Serbia as the leading Balkan State, and would pay tribute to the Central Empires in the shape of docility to and ready co-operation with them; and that Roumania would, if she continued to find favour in the eyes of the statesmen of Vienna and Berlin, be associated with Bulgaria, but without attaining her rank or acquiring her power.

It has since been positively asserted by M. Filipescu, an ex-Cabinet Minister of Roumania, that "towards the mid-August 1914, when the treaty was concluded which bound Bulgaria to Germany, the Roumanian Minister in Berlin, M. Beldiman, had cognizance of this treaty and apprised the Roumanian Government of the fact."[55] M. Take Jonescu, the illustrious Roumanian statesman, has assigned a different date to the conclusion of the agreement, but confirmed the fact of its existence in the course of a conversation which has also been made public.[2] He stated that the King of Bulgaria, "who is swayed more by personal rancour than by the interests of his people, imposed his policy on them. He allied himself with the Germans as long ago as Spring 1914. The treaty was taken from Sofia to Berlin by an official of the Deutsche Bank."[56]

[55] See Le Temps, October 31, 1915.

[56] Mr. M. Civinini of the Corriere della Sera. See Corriere della Sera, October 11, 1915.

Whatever doubts may prevail respecting the exact date, the main fact is established—Ferdinand bound Bulgaria to the Central Empires.

Personal interest as well as State reasons determined him to place himself under Austro-German protection. It was at Austria's instigation that he had spurned the advice of his official advisers, treacherously attacked his allies and brought down defeat upon his armies and discredit upon himself. But the Habsburg Government had undertaken to see him through the ordeal to which he was then subjected by his own people. The Treaty of Bucharest, which deprived Bulgaria of Kavalla and Salonica, left the wound to fester and Austro-Bulgarian friendship to harden into a definite alliance. None the less Bulgaria's friendship with the Central Empires was not openly manifested until the financial transaction was concluded between them which made Bulgaria the creditor of Austria-Hungary shortly before the outbreak of the war.

Economically, Bulgaria, like her neighbours, had long been a tributary of the Central Empires. German and Austrian interests were cunningly intertwined with Bulgarian in almost every branch of national life. The banks, financial houses, export firms, are all under Austrian or German control. In the army, too, despite its Russian training and traditions, there was a party of officers whose admiration for the war-lord ran away with their discretion. And the celebrated loan of half a milliard francs, which Austrian financiers undertook to advance to Bulgaria—on outrageously oppressive conditions—set the crown to the work of many years. This transaction was not intended by either party to be purely financial. Its political bearings were evidenced by the circumstances in which it was negotiated and the terms on which it was concluded. But the economic concessions insisted upon by Austria and conceded by Bulgaria constituted of themselves a convincing proof of the design to reduce the latter country to the position of one of the dependents of the Central Empires.

Of all the recognized agencies for penetrating international opinion, swaying international sentiment, and influencing international action, one of the most abiding and decisive is that of royal courts. Yet its value was not merely underrated by Britain, France and Russia, but was completely ignored. And Germany, whose diplomacy, in spite of its clumsiness and brutality, was far-sighted and assiduous in watching for and utilizing every opportunity of smoothing the way for the execution of the grandiose plan, purveyed almost every court and throne in Europe with kings, queens and princesses of its own. And those who were neither Germans by birth nor connected with Germans by marriage were influenced by education, by military training, or at least by a system of atmosphering which, with certain striking examples before one, could be reduced to a few clear rules.

Roumania at the opening of the war was governed by a Hohenzollern prince who had linked the destinies of his country with those of Austria-Hungary as far back as the year 1880, and, having renewed the secret convention in 1913, which for him was no mere scrap of paper, convoked a crown council in August 1914 and proposed that Roumania should redeem his pledge and take the field against the enemies of the Central Empires. But King Carol's military ardour was not merely damped but choked by a recalcitrant cabinet.

That monarch's influence as a pioneer of Teuton Kultur in Roumania can hardly be exaggerated. An upright ruler, who discharged his duties conscientiously, the King reckoned among these the dissipation of native gloom by means of German light. And during his long reign he succeeded in spreading a network of German economic interests throughout his realm which, while raising the material level of the nation, has reduced it to the position of a German tributary. It would be unjust to make this a subject of reproach to the monarch who acted up to his lights, but it would be a mistake to belittle the vast services thus rendered by a single individual to the Teuton race, or to overlook the degree of responsibility that attaches to the nations now banded together, and in especial to Russia, for the sequence of untoward phenomena which, now that they are not only seen, but felt, and felt painfully, we naively deplore.

King Carol's successor is also a Hohenzollern prince whose attachment to his Prussian fatherland is noted, whose relations with his kinsman, the Kaiser, are cordial, but whose devotion to his subjects is paramount. More than once since the opening of the campaign Roumania was believed to be on the point of exchanging neutrality for belligerency, but, on grounds which it would be unfruitful to discuss, she abandoned the intention, if she ever harboured it. As matters now are, the Allies are congratulating themselves on the circumstance that she is still neutral.

The Queen of Sweden is a daughter of the most imperialistic of German princes, the late Grand Duke of Baden and a cousin of the Kaiser, to whom she is attached by bonds of sympathy and admiration. And her consort the King, fascinated by the methods, the strivings, the achievements of the Hohenzollerns, has made more than one attempt to imitate them, but, owing partly to the opposition of the late Herr Staaff, and largely to his own mental and moral equipment, which point in a different direction, he felt obliged to desist.

The accomplished Queen of the Belgians and the Tsaritsa of Russia are also both German princesses, but they form exceptions to the rule that whichever of any two spouses is German exercises an overmastering influence on the other. The Prince Consort of Holland, the Duke of Mecklenburg, is a German of the Germans, but through constitutional channels he can wield no political influence, and the attitude of the Dutch Government towards the Allies has been clear enough to need no elaborate exegesis.

The King of Bulgaria is an ex-officer of the Austro-Hungarian army, whose pro-German work and its far-resonant results will probably never be wholly forgotten by his own German people. For, as we saw, it has rendered them services that cannot be repaid. Not, indeed, that he had any coherent plan in his mind's eye, or was guided by any deep-seated moral principles. Politics were for him the art of the possible enlarged by the negation of the ethical. Ferdinand may, therefore, be described as an opportunist, who in current politics contented himself with following his nose. Of treaties and conventions he had signed a goodly number and broken some. Thus with Russia he had a secret agreement of a military nature, and also with Russia's rival, Austria-Hungary. With Serbia he had one set of stipulations, with Turkey another, but, shifty customer that he is, he had set himself above them all and was ever ready to follow the lead of personal interest. What the historian will accentuate is the deftness with which German diplomacy, for all its alleged clumsiness, contrived to use his defects and his qualities alike for the furtherance of its own designs.

Love of country, like religious faith, is a respectable mainspring of action. But Ferdinand has been credited with neither. Whithersoever he moves one looks in vain for the guiding light of large ideas. Deeper than conscious volition lies the stored-up instinct of barren pettifogging egotism to which a fine moral atmosphere is deadly. Insincerity is second nature to him. He once boasted in my presence that he was a born actor, and it is fair to say that he played his roles—repellent for the most part—as behoves a mummer. The astonishing thing is that he should have got influential politicians to take him seriously. While assuring the French deputy, M. Joseph Reinach, of his attachment to France and signing himself the European, he was writing to Professor Walter of Budapest offering "all the sympathies of the Bulgarian nation" to Hungary.[57] I have read ecstatic communications of his penned in hours of exaltation, when visions of Constantine's city, the mosque of Aya Sofia towering aloft, warmed his fancy and the sheen of Byzantine brocades and the quaint paraphernalia of bygone days inspired his apocalyptic words. His language in those telegrams and letters was highfaluting and bombastic. And I read other communications of his—mostly abject appeals for help—devoid of dignity and manliness, when the gloom of dissipated illusions was made unbearable by fear of dethronement and death. And the figure cut by the Tsarlet, who addressed those humble prayers—mostly to influential ladies—was despicable.

[57] In September 1914. See Morning Post, September 4, 1914.

Ferdinand was swayed by ingrained hatred of Russia which was almost as potent as his contempt for the Bulgars. And he never made a secret of either. For the Turkish pasha who was responsible for the Bulgarian atrocities, which aroused Gladstone's indignation, Ferdinand's professed admiration took the form of a subscription.[58] But high above all motives that turned upon his feelings towards others were those that centred entirely in himself.

[58] The Batak massacre of Bulgarians by order of Abdul Kerim Pasha had called forth Gladstone's pamphlet: Bulgarian Atrocities, and aroused the horror of civilized men. But the Hungarian aristocracy sympathized with the mass murderer, and presented him with a golden hilted sabre. The list of subscribers for this mark of aversion to the Bulgarian people can still be viewed in the Museum at Budapest. The third name on that list—Princess Clementine—is followed immediately by that of her son Prince Ferdinand of Coburg, who gave one hundred florins as a token of his admiration for the exterminator of his future subjects! It need hardly be added that he was not yet Prince of Bulgaria.

And he had cogent personal motives for cultivating cordial relations with the country of his birth. From the Austrian Government he expected to be saved from the necessity of abdicating and expiating his unwisdom. It was his inordinate ambition and vanity which had brought the Bulgarian nation to the very brink of ruin. He it was who had insisted on breaking off negotiations with Turkey during the London Conference and recommencing hostilities. In vain the Chief of the General Staff, Fitcheff,[59] besought him to conclude peace. The importunate military adviser was suddenly relieved of his duties and the second phase of the Balkan war begun. It was Ferdinand, too, who thwarted Russia's peace-making efforts, refused to send delegates to the tribunal of arbitration in Petrograd, and ordered the treacherous attack on the Serbs and the Greeks which culminated in Bulgaria's forfeiting some of the principal fruits of her heroic military exertions.

[59] General Fitcheff has since become Minister of War.

For this series of baleful blunders—to the Bulgars they were nothing more—Ferdinand was known to be alone responsible. He had assumed the sole responsibility, and he had hoped to gather in the lion's share of the spoils. And as soon as responsibility seemed likely to involve punishment, his Ministers withdrew and exposed his person to the nation. When, after the end of the second Balkan war, General Savoff repaired to Constantinople to better the relations between Bulgaria and Turkey, he invited a number of French and British journalists who happened to be just then in the capital, and he addressed them as follows: "It has come to my ears that in Sofia I am accused of being the person who issued the order to our army to attack our Allies and that I am to be tried for it. They will never dare to prosecute me. For I have here—" and he thumped his side pocket as he spoke—"the order issued by the real author of the war and in his own handwriting. He commanded me orally to do this, but I replied that I must have a written order from the Government. Thereupon he shouted: 'I am the supreme chief of the army and am about to give you the order in writing,' indited the behest and handed it to me. That is why he cannot prosecute me. I will show him up. Already now I tell you, so that all may hear, C'est un coquin, un miserable!"[60]

[60] This narrative was published by M. Wesselitsky in the Novoye Vremya, November 6, 1915.

That was General Savoff's summing-up of his august sovereign. And his forecast proved correct. Ferdinand did not attempt to lay the blame on him, still less to have an indictment filed against him. On the contrary, he kissed Savoff on his return to Sofia and later on made him his adjutant-general. Ferdinand's responsibility being established, his abdication was clamoured for by public opinion. His own estimate of his plight was impregnated with despair. He despatched the abject telegrams mentioned above to his influential friends. It was then that he received a letter signed by the three chiefs of the Liberal groups of the old Stambulovist Party—Radoslavoff, Ghennadieff and Tontcheff—and written, it has been alleged, after consultation between all four parties, exhorting him to reverse the national policy and link Bulgaria's fate with that of Austria. The Coburg prince publicly welcomed them, dismissed the Daneff Cabinet, handed the reins of power to the three self-constituted saviours of the dynasty and country, and the Treaty of Bucharest was signed in an offhand manner. The keynote of the policy of the new Cabinet was hatred of Russia, who was held up to public opprobrium by the press of Sofia as the mischief-maker who had betrayed Bulgaria; and as the nation thirsted for a culprit on whom to vent its rage, the legend obtained a certain vogue. At the same time emphatic assurances were given by Count Berchtold that Austria would upset the Treaty of Bucharest, break down the Serbian and Greek barriers that stood between Bulgaria and her natural boundaries, and establish Ferdinand and his dynasty more firmly on the throne. This prospect heartened the King and stimulated his fellow-workers.

But perhaps the most decisive factor in Bulgaria's attitude towards the Central Powers has been that of Russia towards Bulgaria. The Tsardom cherishes tender feelings towards the political entity which it called into being. Bulgaria is the creature of the great Slav people which shed its blood and spent its treasure in giving it life and viability, and has ever since felt bound to watch over its destinies, forgive its foolish freaks, and contribute to its political and material well-being. Congruously with this frame of mind, Russia has not the heart to deal with Bulgaria as she would deal under similar provocation with Roumania or Greece. Like the baby cripple, or the profligate son, this wayward little nation ever remains the spoiled child. Hence, do what harm she may to Russia, she is not merely immune from the natural consequences of her unfriendly acts, but certain to reap fruits ripened by the sacrifices of those whose policy she strove to baulk. Conscious of this immense privilege, she takes the fullest advantage of it. Under such conditions no stable coalition of the Balkan States was possible.

The remarkable ascendancy thus won by Germany over Bulgaria is but one of the salient results of her foresight, organization and single-mindedness which the Allies are now beginning to appreciate. Their ideal policy in the Balkans was to have none. Great Britain in particular was proud of her complete disinterestedness.

Between the Teutons and the Greeks there were no such close ties as those that linked Bulgaria to the Central Empires. The Hellenic kingdom is a democracy marked by a constant tendency to anarchy. Down to the beginning of the reign of the present monarch its ruler was never more than the merest figure-head, nor its people anything but an amalgam of individuals deficient in the social sense and devoid of political cohesiveness. The late King George, for instance, remained, to the end of his life, an amused spectator of the childish game of politics carried on by his Ministers; and so insecure did he consider his tenure of the kingship, that his frequent threat to "take his hat" and quit the country for good had become one of the commonplaces of Greek politics. Only a few years ago his reign appeared to be drawing to an ignominious end. His functions were usurped by a military league and his sons removed from the army. Anarchy was spreading, at that time I expressed the opinion that the only person capable of saving Greece—if Greece could yet be saved—was the Cretan insurgent, M. Venizelos. This suggestion appealed to the Chief of the Military League and was adopted. Venizelos was invited to Athens with the results known to all the world. At first reluctantly tolerated, he was subsequently highly appreciated by King George and was afterwards handicapped by King Constantine, whose impolitic instructions during the Bucharest Conference resulted in sowing seeds of discord between Greece and Bulgaria.

To small countries and petty personal ambitions, a war among the Great Powers brings halcyon days of flattery, bribery and seductive prospects in an imaginary future. In Greece all these and other attractions were dangled before the eyes of men of power and influence. The Sovereign, whose admiration for the Kaiser verges on idolatry, soon extended this platonic sentiment to the Kaiser's army. And when fortune seemed definitively to espouse the cause of the Central Empires, his admiration was reinforced by fear and the pro-German leanings, which were at first merely platonic, bade fair to harden into active co-operation. It was not until then that the Entente Powers, discerning the fateful character of their errors and the trend of events, resolved after much hesitation and discussion to put forth an effort to retrieve the situation. Of his philo-German tendencies King Constantine gave several public proofs long before the war, and on the psychological soil from which they sprang, German diplomacy raised its typical structure of intrigue and adulation. As the irresistible captain who had shattered the armies of Turkey and Bulgaria, winning undying fame for himself and his country, the King was encouraged to believe that on him devolved the mission of uniting all Hellenes under his sceptre, building up a larger Greece, consolidating the monarchy within, and ruling as well as reigning. And so well laid was this plan that when the European armies took the field and the Entente Powers counted Greece, then apparently governed by Venizelos, among its cordial friends, the Teutons, sure of their ground, but still working assiduously for their object, put their trust in the Kaiser's royal henchman and their own permanent display of force, and were not disappointed.

Long before the war-cloud burst, the history makers of Berlin recognized the fact that the key to the Dardanelles lay in Sofia, and not only to the Dardanelles, but also the key to the Near East. The statesmen of Austria and Germany discerned that the Bulgars under their guidance could be got to do for Turkey what Japan hoped, and still hopes, to effect for China. It is a work of complete transformation, a sort of political transubstantiation whereby the Bulgars would infuse ichor into the limp veins of the Ottoman organism and recreate a strong political entity which would be an instrument in the hands of the Central Empires. The Bulgar knows the Turk, to whom he is more akin by race habits and temperament than to any of the Slav peoples, understands his psychic state, his mode of feeling and thinking, and is therefore qualified to serve as link between the Oriental and the Western. It was in view of this eventuality that the slow, plodding work of grafting Kultur on the Bulgar people was undertaken. Two German schools, one in Sofia and the other in Philippopolis, were the centres whence it was radiated to the ends of the land. In Bulgaria there are many preparatory grammar schools in which tuition for both sexes is free. All scholars who have passed through one of the German schools are admitted without any examination into the Grammar School, or Gymnasium, a privilege which works as a powerful attraction. Since Turkey retroceded Karagatch[61] to Bulgaria there are three such centres of Teutonic propaganda in Bulgaria, and I am informed that a fourth will shortly be established in Rustschuk.

[61] One of the suburbs of Adrianople ceded in July 1915.

The record of the economic invasion of Roumania by the Teuton,[62] supplemented as it was by various complex auxiliary movements of a political character, supplies us with a fresh variation of the trite text that Germany conceived her plan on a vast scale and executed it by co-operation between the State and the individuals, leaving nothing to chance which could be settled by forethought. The ruler of the country was a Hohenzollern, and as he wielded absolute power in matters connected with foreign policy, he had a free hand and kept it efficaciously employed. For over thirty years King Carol transacted the international business of the realm—economic as well as political—with assiduity, conscientiousness and a fair meed of success. He encouraged industry and commerce, and welcomed German and Austrian capital and enterprise. The upshot of his exertions was that in the fullness of time his kingdom, like those of Italy, Bulgaria and Turkey, became to most intents a nascent Teutonic colony. In Roumania, as in Bulgaria, the commercial methods and business ways are German. The heads of banking establishments and great industries are either Teutons or friends of Teutons. Nearly every big enterprise, commercial and industrial, was launched and kept afloat by capital from the Fatherland. The Discount Bank in Berlin has a vast cellar filled with Roumanian bonds, shares and other securities. So close are the ties that connect the little state with the great empire that even the Roumanian railways have a special convention with those of Prussia. Here, then, as everywhere else, we are in presence of intelligence wedded to politico-economic enterprise. Individual German firms and the Government worked hand in hand; diplomacy, trade and commerce moved steadily towards the same goal, and attained it.

[62] Roumania's annual imports from Austria-Hungary, according to the latest available statistics, were valued at 136,906,000 francs; from Germany at 183,713,000; and from Great Britain at only 85,470,000 francs. France exported thither goods valued at no more than 35,273,000 francs.

Owing to Roumania's grievances against Russia—whose seizure of Bessarabia nearly forty years ago left a wound which festered for years and has only recently been cicatrized—King Carol concluded a military convention with the Austro-Hungarian empire, the stipulations of which have never been authoritatively disclosed. There is reason to believe that one clause obliged the Roumanian Government to come to the support of the Habsburg Monarchy with all its military resources in case that empire should be wantonly attacked by another Power. Whether this instrument, which was never laid before the Roumanian legislature for ratification, is deemed to have been vitiated by the lack of this indispensable sanction, or is assumed to have terminated with the decease of the king who concluded it, is a matter of no real moment. The relevant circumstance is the unwillingness of Austria-Hungary to invoke the terms of the convention and the resolve of the Bucharest Cabinet to ignore them.

Thus Roumania, like all other neutral states, was well within the sphere of attraction of the Central Empires long before the present conflict was unchained. And the clever tactics by which siege was laid to the sympathies of a nation which at bottom has hardly any traits in common with the besieger, would have entailed a complete revision and remodelling of the polity of Russia, France and Britain, had these Powers had any coherent programme or distant aims. But their motto was: Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

True, none of those States ever designed a political revolution of the Old Continent, such as Napoleon had imagined or Germany is now striving to realize. But neither did they read aright nor even give serious thought to the symptoms of the great conspiracy which was being hatched by others for that purpose. Busied with their party squabbles and social reforms, they took it for granted that international tranquillity which was a condition of the stability of all internal affairs was assured. Such occasional misunderstandings as might crop up among the Powers could, they imagined, always be smoothed over by manifestations of goodwill and timely concessions. Fitfulness and hesitancy marked every attempt made by Germany's rivals to push their trade or extend their political relations beyond their own borders.

This lack of enterprise was especially accentuated in their dealings with Turkey. No Powers had done so much to uphold Ottoman sway in Europe as France and Britain, and for a long while their exertions found their natural outcome in a degree of influence at the Sublime Porte which was unparalleled in Turkish history. But once Germany inaugurated her economico-political campaign in the Near East, the principle of neighbourliness was invoked in favour of allowing her to possess herself of a share of the good things going, whereupon Great Britain, and in a lesser degree France, curbed their natural impulse and left most of the field to the pushing new-comer. For years the writer of these lines pointed out the danger of this self-abnegation, but his insistent appeals for a more active line of conduct were met by the statement that Near Eastern affairs had long ceased to tempt the enterprise or affect the international policy of Great Britain. As though Great Britain were not a member of the European community or her geographical insularity implied political isolation; or as if her policy of equilibrium were capable of being achieved without the employment of adequate means! When I raised my voice against our participation in the Baghdad railway scheme and bared to the light the political designs underlying it, Cabinet Ministers assured the country that its scope was exclusively economic and cultural and had no connection with politics! This naive belief and the laissez-faire attitude which it engendered enabled the Teutons to reduce Turkey to economic and political thraldom and to earmark Asia Minor, thenceforward hedged in with the Baghdad and Anatolian railways, as a future German colony.

The closeness and constancy of the relations between economics and politics which easily took root in German consciousness, had for another of its corollaries the dispatch of General Liman von Sanders and his band of officers to reorganize the Ottoman army. This measure struck some observers as the beginning of the end of European peace. It was thus that the Russian Premier, Kokofftseff, and his colleague, Sazonoff, construed it, and that was the interpretation which I also put upon it. But none of the other interested Governments expressed similar misgivings, nor, so far as one can judge, entertained any. Yet when war was finally declared, Germany's plan of campaign allotted an important role to Turkey not in a possible emergency, but at a date to be determined by the completion of her military and naval equipment.

In this ingenious and comprehensive way, operating at a multitude of points, but never dissociating economics from politics, never abandoning the work of commercial expansion to the unaided resources of individuals, the Teutonic empires contrived to spread a huge net in whose meshes almost every civilized nation was to some extent entangled. And the subsequent political conduct of many of these was determined in advance by the plight to which they had been thus reduced. Russia was reasonably believed to be incapable of taking the field; Italy was accounted wholly unfitted to bear the weight of the financial burden which a conflict with Germany would lay upon her shoulders; Roumania, it was calculated, would decline to exchange material gains for political returns purchased at a heavy cost; Bulgaria could not afford to estrange Austria's sympathies and need never fear that she might forfeit those of Russia; Sweden, saturated with German Kultur, was one of the foreposts of Teutonism in the north of Europe and might in time be induced to imitate Bulgaria and play for the hegemony of the Scandinavian States with the Kaiser's help; Switzerland was virtually German in everything but political organization; Holland would believe in Prussianism and tremble; Belgium was economically a pawn in German hands and Antwerp a German port; and in the United States millions of hyphenated Germans would plead the Teuton cause and do the rough work of advancing it by means of their political organization and influence.



CHAPTER XI

THE RIVAL POLICIES

In face of this Teutonic control of the world's trade, politics and news supply, the Great Powers whose outlook, political and economic, was most nearly affected, exhibited a degree of supineness which can only be adequately explained by such assumptions as one would gladly eliminate. Anyhow the lessons conveyed by eloquent facts fell upon deaf ears. Yet it was manifest, in view of Germany's ingenious combination of economics and politics, and the irresistible co-operation of the State and individuals in applying it, that the slipshod methods of Britain and France could no longer be persisted in without grave danger to these states. To deal with trade and industry as though they were matters that concerned only the particular business firms engaged in them was no longer an economical error, it was also a political blunder. To Government meddling in trade and industry the British people have ever been averse. And their dislike is intelligible although no longer warranted. A glance at Germany's economic campaign and its results ought to have borne out the thesis that individual self-reliance and push are unavailing to cope with a potent organism equipped scientifically, provided with large capital and backed by the resources of diplomacy. New epochs call for fresh methods, and the era of commercial and industrial individualism was closed years ago by the German people. Co-ordination of effort, the combination of politics with economics, and unity of direction were among Germany's methods in the contest, and she adopted them in the grounded belief that commerce and industry lie at the nethermost roots of the vast political movements of the new era.

This is a century of co-operation, of joint efforts for common interests, of union in trade, industry, labour, politics and war. To stand aloof is to be isolated, and isolation means helplessness against danger. Germany was the first Power to grasp these facts, to understand the new phase of life and to adapt herself to it. For this work of readjustment her people were specially endowed by Nature, and in their equipment for the task they saw a mark of election set upon them by their "old God." For the correlate of co-operation is talent for organization, and with this the Teutons are plentifully gifted. They feel impelled as it were by instinct to push forward much further on the road already traversed by all nations from isolation to individualism through gregariousness. They opened the new era of amalgamation by co-ordinating, on a vast scale, individual achievements, resources and labour, and directing them to a common end. The allied peoples were meanwhile content to muddle through in the old way. This difference explains much that seems puzzling in the outcome of the struggle.

It has been affirmed somewhat off-handedly that the Latin and British peoples, incapable of united and organized effort, have halted at the individualist stage. They are supposed to lack the bump of organization. According to this theory among the Germans, who had passed through all the intermediate phases and carried individualism to sinister extremes in the past, a reaction set in which called forth the latent powers of organization which they possess. And these have been wielded with brilliant results ever since the unity of the German Empire was first established. Applying the new principle to politics, the statesmen of Berlin grasped the fact that all future conflicts in Europe would be waged by coalitions. Neither Austria-Hungary alone nor the German Empire alone could undertake a world war. That was the genesis of the scheme of welding the two central empires in one politico-military entity and then attracting as many other States as possible into their orbit. And the enterprise was conducted so ingeniously that when war was declared, Roumania, Bulgaria and Turkey were tied to the Triple Alliance. And henceforward, whatever the outcome of the war may be, the permanent fusion of Germany and Austria is a foregone conclusion.

By the means described a state of things, actual and potential, was established which rendered Germany's military attack on Europe much less hazardous and doubtful a venture than was at first supposed. For there was not a country on the globe which she or her ally had not subjected to the process of interpenetration, nor was there one which had remained wholly irresponsive. Even Brazil, Chili, Peru, China, Morocco, Persia, Abyssinia, had all experienced its effects. And when at last the harvest-time was come and its fruits were to be ingathered Germany felt that she could count to varying extents on the active sympathy and support of governments, parliaments and nations; on the Turks, the Swiss, the Swedes, the Bulgarians, the Roumanians; on the autocratic ruler of the Greeks and on millions of American-Germans. Every independent religious centre was permeated with an atmosphere composed in Germany. The Caliph and the Sheikh-ul-Islam of the Moslems, the evangelical preachers of the Russian Baltic provinces, Brahmins in India, subjects of the Negus of Abyssinia, the Jews of western Russia and Poland, as well as those of the Netherlands, the Catholics of Switzerland, Holland and Italy, nay, the Vatican itself, raised their voices in the chorus of the millions who sang hosannah to the Highest.[63]

[63] The Highest of All is the official designation of the Kaiser: der Allerhoechste.

Dismay was the feeling aroused among the Allies by the quick dramatic moves which precipitated the war. The trump of doom seemed to have sounded at a moment when mankind was on the point of discovering the secret of immortality. The utter unpreparedness of the Allies was the dominant note of the new situation, and its manifestations were countless and disastrous. There was no adequate British expeditionary army to send on foreign service, and there existed no machinery by which such a force could quickly be got together and trained. Voluntary enlistment was a slowly moving mechanism, and even if it could be made to work more rapidly, there was no way of employing the new soldiers, for whom there were neither barracks nor uniforms nor rifles in sufficiency. And if all these requirements could have been improvised, there were no generals accustomed to handle armies of millions. And even if all those wants had been supplied to hand there was no Government enterprising enough to put them to the best advantage of the nation. Moreover, colonial expeditions were the most extensive military operations which the country had carried on within the memory of the present generation, and it was beyond the power of the authorities not only to organize the imperial defences on an adequate scale but even to realize the necessity of attempting the feat. In a word, the prospect could hardly have been more dismal.

In France it was a degree less cheerless, but still decidedly bleak. Mobilization there went forward, it is claimed, more smoothly than had been anticipated, but not rapidly enough to enable adequate forces to be dispatched in time against the German military flood. The organization of the railway system was most inefficient. And had it not been for heroic Belgium, who, confronted with the alternatives of ruin with honour and safety with ignominy, unhesitatingly chose the better part, the inrush of the Teutons would, it is asserted by military experts, have swept away every obstacle that lay between them and the French capital, which was their first objective. Belgium's magnificent resistance thus saved Paris, gave breathing space to the French, and enabled the Allies to swing their sword before smiting.

Russia, too, did better than had been augured of her, but not nearly as well as if her resources had been organized by competent experts, alive to the dangers that threatened the empire. On the eve of the war a process of fermentation among the working men of her two capitals was coming to a head, and a revolt, if not a revolution, was being industriously organized. The movement had certainly been fostered, and probably originated, by wealthy German employers in Petrograd, Moscow and other industrial centres. They had hoped to frustrate the mobilization order, retard Russia's entry into the field, and possibly bring about civil strife. And they were within an ace of succeeding. On the very eve of hostilities reports reached Berlin and Vienna that the revolution was already beginning. But the declaration of war against Germany purified the air, absorbed the redundant energies of the people, and fused all classes and parties into a whole-hearted, single-minded nation, giving Russia a degree of union which she had not enjoyed since Napoleon's invasion. But, separated from her allies, she went her own way without much reference to theirs. Her plans had been drafted by her military leaders, and might be modified by local conditions or subsequent vicissitudes, but were neither co-ordinated nor even synchronized with those of France and Britain. Thus the first and most important lesson had still to be mastered.

Liege and Namur having fallen, the danger to Paris struck terror to the hearts of the French, and the public mind was being gradually prepared by the Press to receive the depressing tidings of its capture with dignified calm. The occupation of the capital, it was argued, would not essentially weaken the military strength of the Republic. For the army would still be intact, and that was the essential point. Here, for the first time, one notes the almost invincible force of the antiquated opinions to which the Allies still tenaciously clung about warfare as modified by Germany. No misgivings were harboured that the enemy might threaten to burn the capital city if the army refused to capitulate, or that he was capable of carrying out such a threat. War in its old guise, hedged round with traditions of chivalry, with humanitarian restrictions, with international laws, was how the French and their allies conceived it. And it was in that spirit that they made their forecasts and regulated their own behaviour towards the enemy.

The rise of Generals Joffre, Castelnau and Foch and the retreat of the German invaders raised the Allies from the depths of despair to a degree of confidence bordering on presumption. After the departure of the Belgian Government to Antwerp,[64] the occupation of Brussels,[65] the defeat of the Austrian army by the Serbs and the rout of three German army corps by the Russians,[66] the Western Allies conceived high hopes of the military prowess of the Slavs, and looked to them for the decisive action which would speedily bring the Teutons to their knees. And for a time Russia's continued progress seemed to justify these hopes. Her troops entered Insterburg[67] and pushed on to Koenigsberg, which they invested and threatened,[68] and in the south they scored a series of remarkable successes in Galicia. But in the west of Europe the Allies could at most but retard without arresting the advance of the Germans, whose aim was to defeat the French and then concentrate all their efforts on the invasion of the Tsardom. Despite assurances of an optimistic tenor there appeared to be no serious hope of defending Paris, nor were effective local measures adopted for the purpose; and on September 3 the French Government, against the insistent advice of three experienced Cabinet Ministers, suddenly moved to Bordeaux, and earned for itself the nickname of tournedos a la bordelaise. On the same historic day the Tsar's troops triumphantly entered Lemberg, restored to that city its ancient name of Lvoff, and proceeded to introduce the Russian system of administration there with all its traditional characteristics. But in lieu of conferring full powers on the Governor of the conquered province, a man of broad views and conciliatory methods, the Government dispatched a narrow-minded official, devoid of natural ability, of administrative training, and of the sobering consciousness of his own defects, and listened to his recommendations. For Russia, like France and Britain, still contemplated the situation and its potentialities through the distorting medium of the old order of things. Their orientation had undergone no change.

[64] August 17, 1914.

[65] August 20, 1914.

[66] August 22, 1914.

[67] August 23, 1914.

[68] August 29, 1914.

One of the immediate consequences of Russian rule in Galicia was to confirm the Vatican in its belief that Austria offered Catholicism far more trustworthy guarantees for its unhindered growth than could ever be expected from the Tsardom.

The famous battle of the Marne[69] infused new energies into the Allies, whose Press organs forthwith took to discussing the terms on which peace might be vouchsafed to the Teutons, and in these stipulations a spirit of magnanimity was displayed towards the enemy which at any rate served to show how little his temper was understood and how enormously his resources were underrated. Soon, however, the mist of ignorance began to lift, and saner notions of the stern interplay of the tidal forces at work were borne in upon the leaders of the allied peoples. One of the first discoveries to be made was the enormous consumption of ammunition required by latter-day warfare and the ease with which the Germans were able to meet this increased demand. That this enormous advantage was the result of scientific organization was patent to all. Nor could it be ignored that an essential element of that organization was the militarization of all workmen whose services were needed by the State. But from the lesson thus inculcated to its application in practice there was an abyss. And as yet that abyss has not been bridged. The most formidable obstacle in the way is offered by the shackles of party politics, which still hamper the leaders of the Entente Powers, and in particular of Great Britain. Industrial compulsion has not yet been moved into the field of practical politics.

[69] September 12, 1914.

One of Germany's calculations was that, however superior to her own resources those of her adversaries might be, they were not likely to be mobilized, concentrated and brought to bear upon the front. Consequently they would not tell upon the result. Military discipline had not impregnated any of the allied nations, whose ideas of personal liberty and dignity would oppose an insurmountable obstacle to that severe discipline which was essential to military success. Great Britain, they believed, would cling to her ingrained notions of the indefeasible right of the British workman to strike and of the British citizen to hold back from military service. And the telegrams announcing that in the United Kingdom the cries of "business as usual," "sport as usual," "strikes as usual," "voluntary enlistment as usual," indicated the survival of the antiquated spirit of individualism into a new order of things which peremptorily called for co-operation and iron discipline, were received in Berlin and Vienna with undisguised joy. The persistence of this spirit has been the curse of the Allies ever since.



CHAPTER XII

PROBLEMS OF LEADERSHIP

It is worth noting in this connection how heavily the lack of genial leaders at this critical conjuncture in European history told upon the allied peoples and affected their chances of success. The statesmen in power were mostly straightforward, conscientious servants of their respective Governments, whose ideal had been the prevention of hostilities, and whose exertions in war time were directed to the restoration of peace on a stable basis. By none of them was the stir, the spirit, the governing instincts of the new era or the actual crisis perceived. They all failed of audacity. Hence they were solicitous to leave as far as possible intact all the rights, privileges and institutions of the past which would be serviceable in the re-established peace regime of the future. In Great Britain the voluntary system of recruiting the army and navy was to be respected, the right of workmen to strike was recognized, and the maintenance of party government was looked upon as a matter of course. The writer of these pages made several ineffectual attempts to propagate the view that a War Cabinet presided over by a real chief was a corollary of the situation, military and industrial compulsion for all was indispensable, that a discriminating tariff on our imports and a restriction of certain exports would materially contribute to our progress, and that a special department for the manufacture of munitions ought to be organized without delay.[70] One measure indicative, people said, of undisputed wisdom which was resorted to was the appointment of Lord Kitchener as Secretary for War.[71] If this step deserved the fervent approval it met with, its efficacy was considerably impaired by imposing on the new Secretary the task of purveying munitions and other supplies, in addition to the multifarious duties of his office. And with this solitary exception everything was allowed to go on "as usual," with consequences which every one has since had an opportunity of meditating. Internal whole-hearted co-operation between the Government and all the social layers of the population was neither known nor systematically attempted, and still less were the respective forces of the Allies co-ordinated and hurled against the enemy. The struggle was confined to the army and the navy, and these instruments of national defence were inadequately provided with the first necessaries for action.

[70] Cf. Contemporary Review, November 1914. I was requested to suppress an article on the subject of "Coalition Government" and another on the subject of "Tariff Reform during and after the War."

[71] August 5, 1914.

Each of the Allies was isolated, cooped within its own narrow circle of ideas, buoyed up by its own hopes, bent on the attainment of its own special aims. The first step towards amalgamation was negative in character, but superlatively politic. It took the form of a covenant by which it was stipulated that none of the Allies should conclude a separate peace with the enemy. But beyond that nothing was done, nor was anything more considered necessary.

In Britain the consciousness that the country was at war spread very slowly, while the conviction that this was a life-and-death struggle which would seriously affect the lives and rights and habits of every individual made no headway. Only a few grasped the fact that a tremendous upheaval was going forward which marked the rise of a new era and a complete break with the old. By the bulk of the population it was treated as a game calling for no extraordinary efforts, no special methods, no new departures. It was construed as a hateful parenthesis in a cheerful history of human progress, and the object of the nation was to have it swiftly and decently closed. Hence the machinery of the old system was not discarded. Voluntary enlistment was belauded and agitation against joining the army magnanimously tolerated. Attacks on the Government were permitted. The manufacture of munitions was confided to private firms and to the whims of dissatisfied workmen, and co-operation among the various sections of the population was left to private initiative.

Most of us are prone to consider this war as a fortuitous event, which might, indeed, have been staved off, but which, having disturbed for a time the easy movement of our insular life, will die away and leave us free to continue our progress on the same lines as before. But this faith is hardly more than the confluence of hopes and strivings, habits, traditions, and aspirations untempered by accurate knowledge of the facts. And the facts, were we cognizant of them, would show us that the agencies which brought about this tremendous shock of peoples without blasting our hopes or exploding our pet theories, will not spend their force in this generation or the next, and that already the entire fabric—social, political, and economical—of our national life is undergoing disruption.

The shifting of landmarks, political and social, is going steadily if stealthily forward; and the nation waking up one day will note with amazement the vast distance it has imperceptibly traversed. If only we could realize at present how rapidly and irrevocably we are drifting away from our old-world moorings, we should feel in a more congenial mood for adjusting ourselves to the new and unpopular requirements of the era now dawning. Already we are becoming a militarist and a protective State, but we do not yet know it. We have broken with the traditions of our own peculiar and insular form of civilization, of which poets like Tennyson were the high priests, yet we hesitate to bid them farewell. We still base our forecasts of the future political life on the past and calculate the outcome of the next elections, the fate of Disestablishment and Home Rule, the relative positions of the chief Parliamentary parties on the old bases, and draw up our plans accordingly. In short, we still bear about with us the fragrant atmosphere of our previous existence which will never be renewed. And it is owing to the effects of that disturbing medium that our observations have been so defective and our mistakes so sinister. We still fail to perceive that decay has overtaken the organs of our Party Government and the groundwork of our State fabric is rotten. Yet everything about and around us is in flux. We are in the midst of a new environment.

When this war is over we shall search in vain for what was peculiarly British in our cherished civilization. Of that civilization which reached its acme during the reign of the late King Edward, we have seen the last, little though most of us realize its passing. It was an age of sturdy good sense, healthy animalism, and dignity withal, and not devoid of a strong flavour of humanity and home-reared virtue. But in every branch of politics and some departments of science it was an age of amateurism. Respect for right, for liberty, for law and tradition, for relative truth and gradual progress, was widely diffused. Well-controlled energy, responsiveness to calls on one's fellow-feeling, and the everyday honesty that tapers into policy were among its familiar features. But if one were asked to sum it all up in a single word it would be hard to utter one more comprehensive or characteristic than the essentially English term, comfort. Comfort was the apex of the pyramid which is now crumbling away. And it is that Laodicean civilization, and not the fierce spirit of the new time, which is incarnate in the present official leaders of the British nation.

The French, too, approached the general problem from their own particular standpoint. Provided with a serviceable military organization, the same unconsciousness of the need of mobilizing all the other national resources pierced through their policy. Parties and factions subsisted as before, and half-way men who would have been satisfied with driving the enemy out of France and Belgium lifted up their voices against those who insisted on prosecuting the war until Prussianism was worsted. The French Socialists met in London[72] and passed resolutions in which the usual claptrap of the war of classes, the boons of pacifism and the wickedness of the Tsardom occupied a prominent place. And the Congress was honoured by the presence of two Cabinet Ministers, MM. Guesde and Sembat.

[72] February 1915.

Russia, true to her old self, carried the narrow spirit of the bureaucracy into the fiercest struggle recorded by history, seemingly satisfied that the clash of armies and navies would leave antiquated theories and moulding traditions intact. When the revolutionist Burtzeff published his patriotic letter to the French papers approving Russia's energetic defence of civilization, he was applauded by all Europe. "Even we," he wrote, "adherents of the parties of the Extreme Left and hitherto ardent anti-militarists and pacifists, even we believe in the necessity of this war. The German peril, the curse which has hung over the world for so many decades, will be crushed." Yet when he returned to his country resolved to support the Tsar's Government and lend a hand in the good work, he was sent to Siberia, in commemoration of the old order of things.

Germany alone took her stand on the new plane and accommodated herself to the new conditions. Thoroughness was her watchword because victory was her aim, its alternative being coma or death. With her gaze fixed on the end, she rejected nothing that could serve as means.

In congruity with these divergent views and sentiments was the reading of the war's vicissitudes in the various belligerent countries. The allied Press was over-hopeful, right being certain to triumph over might wedded to wrong. Publicists pitied the Teutons in anticipation of the fate that was fast overtaking them. Paeans of victory resounded, allaying the apprehensions and numbing the energies of the leagued nations. The German, it was asseverated, had shot his bolt and was at bay. Russia had laid siege to Cracow, and would shortly occupy that city as she had occupied Lemberg. The Tsar's troops might then be expected to push on to Berlin, and to reach it in a few months. And, painfully aware of the certainty of this consummation, Austria was dejected and Hungary secretly making ready to secede from the Habsburg Monarchy. To this soothing gossip even serious statesmen lent a willing ear. The writer of these remarks was several times asked by leading personages of the allied Governments whether internal upheavals were not impending in Germany and Austria, and his assurance that no such diversion could be looked for then or in the near future was traversed on the ground that all trustworthy accounts from Berlin, Vienna and Budapest pointed to a process of fermentation which would shortly interpose an impassable barrier to the further military advance of the Central empires. But he continued to express himself in the same strain of warning, which subsequent events have unhappily justified.

In October 1914, for instance, he wrote—

"Germany has already shot her bolt, people tell us. Already? The people who for forty years have been preparing to establish their rule from Ostend to the Persian Gulf have expended their energies after three months of warfare? And the concrete foundations built at such pains and expense in the German factory that dominates Edinburgh? Was the Teuton simple-minded enough to fancy that he would be in a position to utilize this and the other emplacements for his giant guns within three months after the outbreak of hostilities? Let us be fair to our enemy and just to ourselves. The German has not shot his bolt. If time is on our side, it will also remain on his up to a point which we have not yet reached. Those who urge that the German must make haste imply that his resources are gradually drying up, and that neither his food supplies, nor his chemicals, nor his metals can be imported so long as we hold command of the seas. His armies will therefore die of inanition, or their operations will be thwarted for lack of munitions. This would indeed be joyful tidings were it true. If false, it is a mischievous delusion.

"We are told that the German time-table has been upset. Unquestionably it has. But is the time-table identical with the programme for which it was drawn up? If it is, then the march on Paris has been definitely abandoned. Now is this conclusion borne out by what we behold? What, then, is the meaning of the plan to capture Belfort and Calais? What is the object of the vast reinforcements now on their way from the east to Von Kluck's army? Personally, I have not a doubt that Paris is the objective, or that the Germans are still striving to carry out their programme in its entirety, which is the extension of their empire over Europe and Asia Minor. The immediate object of the Allies is to foil this design, and only after we have accomplished that can we think of assuming the offensive and crushing Prussian militarism. We have not compassed that end; the battlefields are still in the Allies' countries, and the initiative rests with the enemy. Now to whatever causes we may attribute this undesirable state of things—and it certainly cannot be ascribed to lack of energy on the part of the British Government or our military authorities—it is right that those who are acting for the nation should ask themselves whether those causes are still operative. If they are—and on this score there is hardly room for doubt—it behoves the Allies, and the British people in particular, to rise to a just sense of the unparalleled sacrifices they must be prepared to make during the ordeal which they are about to undergo."

The German way of looking at the relative strength and positions of the belligerents as modified by the vicissitudes of the campaign was realistic and statesmanlike. Starting from the principle that a people of about a hundred millions, animated by a lively faith in its own vitality and mental equipment, can neither be destroyed nor permanently crippled, they argued that the worst that Fate could have in store for them would be a draw. But before that end could be achieved the Teutonic armies must have been pulverized and Germany and Austria occupied by the allied troops. And of this there were no signs. "We never fancied," they said, "that what happened in 1870 would be repeated in 1914. How could we make such a stupid mistake? Then we had only France against us. To-day we encounter the combined forces of Russia, France, Belgium and England. This difference had to have its counterpart in the campaign. Thus we have not yet captured Paris. But then to-day we are wrestling with the greatest empires in the world, and we hold them in our grip. We are fighting not for a few milliard francs and a disaffected province, but for priceless spoils and European hegemony. Moreover, Belgium, which we possess and mean to keep, is a greater prize than the temporary occupation of Paris. Besides, postponement is not abandonment. Whether we take the French capital one month or another is but a detail.

"And, over and above all this, we have reached the sea and are within a few miles of England's shores. Furthermore, Russia's army, which we lured into East Prussia until it fancied it was about to invest Koenigsberg, has been driven back beyond Wirballen far into Tsardom, with appalling losses of men and material. Her other forces, which several weeks ago boasted that they were about to capture Cracow, will soon be driven out of Przemysl and Lemberg. Libau will fall into our hands. Riga is sure to be ours, and Warsaw itself will finally admit our victorious troops. Does this look like defeat at the hands of our enemies? And German soil is still as immune from invasion as though it were girded by the sea."

In all our forecasts one important element of calculation was invariably left out of account: the consequences of our blunders, past, present and future. And these have added enormously to our difficulties and dangers. Not the least made was the mistake in allowing the two German warships Goeben and Breslau to enter the Dardanelles. To have pursued them into Ottoman waters would, it was pleaded in justification, have constituted a violation of Turkish neutrality. Undoubtedly it would, but the infringement would not have been more serious than many flagrant breaches of neutrality which the Sublime Porte had committed a short time before and was known to be about to perpetrate again.[73] But a scrupulous regard for the rights of neutrals has been, and still is, the groundstone of the Allies' policy, irrespective of its effects on the outcome of the war. The rules of the game, it is contended, must be observed by us, however much they may be disregarded by the enemy. This considerateness and scrupulosity may be chivalrous, but they form an irksome drag on a nation at war with Teutons. The two ships were at once transferred by Germany to the Turks.[74] Some two months later, deeming their war preparations completed, the latter suddenly bombarded the open Russian town of Theodosia in the Black Sea, and sank several small craft, thus realizing Germany's hopes and justifying her politico-economic policy. It was now too late to lament the chivalrous attitude which had permitted the Goeben and the Breslau to steam into the Dardanelles, or to regret the indifference we had persistently displayed to Near Eastern affairs for well-nigh twenty years. The best that could be done at that late hour was to face the consequences of those errors with dignity and to strive to repair them with alacrity. But all the efforts made were partial and successive. There was no attempt at co-ordination.

[73] Turkey had already violated her neutrality to our detriment many times. For instance, on September 25 she had erected military works against us on the Sinai frontier; as far back as August 25 Turkish officers had seized Egyptian camels laden with foodstuffs. Moslem fidahis in Ottoman service endeavoured to incite the Egyptian Mohammedans against the British Government during the first half of October.

[74] August 13, 1914.

Turkey's defection was a serious blow to the allied cause, not only in view of the positive, but also of the negative, advantages it was calculated to confer upon Germany. The Ottoman army, consisting of first-class raw materials, had had its latent qualities unfolded and matured by German organization, discipline and training. Its supplies were replenished. Ammunition factories were established. Barracks were built and fortifications equipped in congruity with latter-day needs. Three million pounds of German bar gold reached Constantinople, and were deposited in the branch offices of the Deutsche Bank there for the requirements of the army. In all this the Kaiser's Government ran no risks. The return was guaranteed by the politico-economic measures which had been continuously applied during the years of our "disinterestedness."

Enver had meanwhile risen to the zenith of his career. He was now War Minister and had surrounded himself with officers who would follow him whithersoever he might lead them. A low-sized, wiry man, seemingly of no account, Enver is pale of complexion, shuffling in gait. His eyes are piercing, and his gaze furtive. A soul-monger who should buy him at his specific value and sell him at his own estimate would earn untold millions. For, to use a picturesque Russian phrase, the ocean is only up to his knees. He is physically dauntless and buoyant. In the war against Italy he had fought well and organized the Arab and other native troops under conditions of great difficulty, winning laurels which have not yet withered. A Pole by extraction, Enver Pasha is a Prussian by training and sympathies, and a Turk by language and religion and by his marriage with a daughter of the Sultan. Political sense he has none. His one ideal was to earn the appreciation of the Prussian military authorities, to whom he looks up as a fervid disciple to peerless masters. German military praise melts his manhood and turns his brain. He possesses a dictatorial temper with none of the essential qualities of a dictator, and in the field he is distinguished, I am told, by splendid valour without an inkling of scientific strategy.

It was that Polish Turk and his German masters who formally made war upon Russia, France and Britain.[75] And the Turkish nation had no opportunity to sanction or veto their resolve. Nay, even the majority of the Cabinet, including the Grand Vizier, had had no say on the issue, were not even informed of what was being done until overt acts of hostility had actually clinched the matter. Indeed, there was a majority of Cabinet Ministers in favour of neutrality, but it was ignored. In this way Turkey threw in her lot with the Teutons,[76] to the astonishment of the Allies, who had hoped that a policy of forbearance and meekness would elicit a friendly response and frustrate the effect of the master strokes by which Germany, during a long series of years, had consolidated her ascendancy over Turkey and obtained the command of the Ottoman army. The childish notion that a sudden exhibition of pacific intentions and goodwill is enough to foil the carefully laid schemes of a clever enemy which have been maturing for decades, is the refrain that runs through the history of our foreign policy for the last thirty or forty years. And not only through the history of our foreign policy. Faith in the sacramental efficacy of an improvisation is a trait common to all the Allies, but in the British nation it is the faith that is expected to move mountains.

[75] November 3, 1914.

[76] On October 25, 1908, after having studied the origins of the Turkish Revolution and the antecedents of its authors, and while all Europe was still warmly congratulating the Young Turks on their bloodless victory and moderation, I dispatched the following telegraphic message to the Daily Telegraph

"Most unwillingly do I give utterance to facts and impressions calculated to introduce a jarring note into the harmonious optimism of Western peoples, who confidently augur great things of the young Ottoman nation, and discern no difficulties likely to become formidable dangers to the new-born State. But a knowledge of all the essential data is indispensable to correct the diagnosis without which the malady cannot be successfully treated. Emancipation, then, has produced a beneficent enthusiasm for the political ideals of Europe in minds hitherto impermeable to Western notions, but has neither transformed the national character nor supplied the revolutionary movement with the requisite constructive forces. Neither can it break the fateful continuity of Turkish history nor avert the defects of the destructive causes that have been operative here for generations."

The negative aspect of Turkey's belligerency proved to be quite as irksome as the positive. For it involved the closing of the Dardanelles to Russia's corn export and the disappearance of the principal route for communications between the Tsardom and its Western allies. Archangel is blocked in winter and inadequately connected by rail with the two capitals in summer. This additional embarrassment and its financial sequel compelled the attention of the Allies to the need of some kind of co-operation—just to satisfy actual needs. For neither then nor at any subsequent period was there any pretence of laying open the whole ground and building a complete structure upon that. A temporary expedient is all that was contemplated, and nothing more lasting was evoked. None the less, the Conference of the three Finance Ministers in Paris[77] marked a step in advance, and was subsequently followed up by a closer and more continuous contact.

[77] February 6, 1915, and the following three days.



CHAPTER XIII

PROBLEMS OF FINANCE

Finances are the nerve of warfare, and in a contest which can be decided only by the exhaustion of one of the belligerents they are, so to say, the central nerve system. The Germans being astute financiers, and aware that the war to which their policy was leading would soon break out, had made due preparations, with a surprising grasp of detail. Nothing was forgotten and nothing neglected. And success rewarded their efforts. The result was that they mobilized their finances long before they had begun to mobilize their troops.

France, on the contrary, persuaded that peace would not be disturbed, took no thought of the morrow. Yet her budgetary estimates showed an ugly deficit. This gap, however, would have been filled up in the ordinary course of things by a big loan which was about to be floated. But M. Caillaux, probably the most clever financier in France, who, if he applied his knowledge and resourcefulness to the furtherance of his country's interests, could achieve great things, used them—and together with them his parliamentary influence—to upset the Cabinet and thwart the loan scheme. Then, taking over the portfolio of the Finance Minister in the new Cabinet, he arranged for borrowing a small instead of a large amount, thereby exposing his country to risks more serious than the public realized. For it was a heavy disadvantage on the eve of the most exhausting struggle ever entered upon by the French people, whose strongest position was weakened as no enemy could have weakened it.

Russia was in a different, but nowise better, position when suddenly called upon to meet the onerous demands of the world-contest. She, too, having pinned her faith to the maintenance of peace, had made no preparations for war, financial or military. Moreover, a considerable sum of her money was at the time deposited in various foreign countries, and especially in France, for the service of her loans and the payment of State orders placed with various firms. This money, on the outbreak of hostilities, was automatically immobilized by the moratorium, although the delicate question whether a moratorium can be legally applied to sums thus deposited by a foreign Government has not yet been decided with finality. As a matter of fact, Russia's deposits remained where they were, and could not be utilized. The consequences of this embargo were irksome, and for a time threatened to become dangerous. Little by little, however, these restrictions were removed, partly by the French Government and partly by the spontaneous efforts of the banks.

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