The mysterious play of Peer Gynt was given in two theatres during each winter of the war. All of Ibsen's dramas played to crowded houses. Reinhardt, during the last winter I was in Berlin, produced Strindberg's "Ghost Sonata," in quite a wonderful way. The play was horrible and grewsome enough, but as produced by him, it gave a strong man nightmare for days afterwards.
The German soul, indeed, seems to turn not towards light and gay and graceful things, but towards bloodshed and grewsomeness, ghosts and mystery—effect doubtless of the long, dark, bitter nights and gray days that overshadow these northern lands.
I think the only time I lost my temper in Germany was when a seemingly reasonable and polite gentleman from the Foreign Office sitting by my desk one day, in 1916, remarked how splendid it was that Germany had nearly two million prisoners of war and that these would go back to their homes imbued with an intense admiration of German Kultur.
I said that I believed that the two million prisoners of war who had been insulted and underfed and beaten and forced to work as slaves in factories and mines and on farms would go back to their homes with such a hatred of all things German that it would not be safe for Germans to travel in countries from which these prisoners came, that other nations had their own Kultur with which they were perfectly satisfied and which they did not wish to change for any made-in-Germany brand!
Certain Germans have prated much of German "Kultur," have boasted of imposing this "Kultur" on the world by force of arms. What is this German "Kultur"? A certain efficiency of government obtained by keeping the majority of the people out of all voice in governmental affairs, a certain low cost of manufactured products or of carrying charges in the shipping trades made possible by enslaving the workmen who toil long hours for small wages—a certain superiority in chemical production because trained chemists, willing to work at one semi-mechanical task, can be hired for less than a Fifth Avenue butler is paid in America, and a certain pre-eminence in military affairs reached by subjecting the mass of the people to the brutal, boorish, non-commissioned officers and the galling yoke of a militaristic system.
Subtract the German Jews and in the lines of real culture there would be little of the real thing left in Germany. Gutmann, Bleichroeder, von Swabach, Friedlander-Fuld, Rathenau, Simon, Warburg in finance; Borchardt and others in surgery, and almost the whole medical profession; the Meyers, the Ehrlichs, Bamberger, Hugo Schiff, Newburger, Bertheim, Paul Jacobson, in chemistry and research; Mendelssohn, and others, in music; Harden, Theodor Wolf, Georg Bernhard and Professor Stein in journalism.
But why continue—about the only men not Jews prominent in the intellectual, artistic, financial, or commercial life of Germany are the pastors of the Lutheran Churches. And the Jews have won their way to the front in almost a generation. Still refused commissions in the standing army (except for about 114 since the war), still compelled to renounce their religion before being eligible for nobility or a court function, still practically excluded from university professorships, considered socially inferior, the Jews of Germany until a few years ago lived under disabilities that had survived from the Middle Ages. They were not allowed to bear Christian names. The marriages of Jews and Christians were forbidden. Jews could not own houses and lands. They were not permitted to engage in agriculture and could not become members of the guilds or unions of handicraftsmen. When a Jew travelled he was compelled to pay a tax in each province through which he passed. Jews attending the fair at Frankfort on the Oder were compelled to pay a head tax, and were admitted to Leipzig and Dresden on condition that they might be expelled at any time. Berlin Jews were compelled to buy annually a certain quantity of porcelain, derisively called "Jew's porcelain" from the Royal manufactory and to sell it abroad. When a Jew married he had to get permission and an annual impost was paid on each member of the family, while only one son could remain at home, and the others were forced to seek their fortune abroad. The Jews could worship in their own way, in some states, provided they used only two small rooms and made no noise.
The reproach that the Jew is not a producer, but is a mere middleman, taking a profit as goods pass from hand to hand, is handed down from the time when Jews were forbidden by law to become producers and, therefore, were compelled to become traders and middlemen, barred from the guilds and from engaging in the cultivation of the soil.
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The German newspaper in size is much smaller than ours. If you take an ordinary American newspaper and fold it in half, the fold appearing horizontally across the middle of the page and then turn it so that the longer sides are upright, you get an idea of the size. There are no editorials in German newspapers, but articles, usually only one a day, on some political or scientific subject, one contributed by a professor or some one else supposedly not connected with the newspaper.
The editor of the German newspaper in his desire to poison and colour the news to suit his own views does not rely upon an editorial, but inserts little paragraphs and sentences in the news columns. For instance, a note of President Wilson's might be printed and after a paragraph of that, a statement something like this will be inserted in parentheses. "This statement comes well from the old hyprocrite whose country has been supplying arms and ammunition to the enemies of Germany. The Editor." A few sentences more or a paragraph of the note and another interlineation of this kind. Small newspapers have a news service furnished free by the government, thus enabling the latter to colour the news to suit itself. It is characteristic of Germany and shows how void of amusement the life of an average citizen is and how the country is divided into castes, that there is no so-called society or personal news in the columns of the daily newspaper.
You never see in a German newspaper accounts common even to our small town newspapers, of how Mrs. Snooks gave a tea or how Mrs. Jones, of Toledo, is visiting Mrs. Judge Bascom for Thanksgiving. If a prince or duke comes to a German town a simple statement is printed that he is staying at such and such a hotel.
German newspapers, as a rule, are very pronounced in their views, either distinctly Conservative or Liberal or Socialist or Roman Catholic. The Berliner Tageblatt is nearest our idea of a great independent, metropolitan, daily newspaper. Other newspapers represent a class and many of them are owned by particular interests such as the Krupps and other manufacturers or munition makers.
There is little that is sensational in the German newspaper. I remember on one occasion that two women murderers were beheaded in accordance with German law. Imagine how such an occurrence would have been "played up" in the American newspapers, with pictures, perhaps, of the executioner and his sword, with articles from poets and women's organisations, with appeals for pardon and talk of brainstorms and the other hysterical concomitants of murder trials in the United States. But in the German newspapers a little paragraph, not exceeding ten lines, simply related the fact that these two women, condemned for murdering such and such a person, had been executed in the strangely medieval manner—their heads cut off on the scaffold by a public executioner.
The German newspapers in reporting police court and other judicial proceedings often omit names and it is possible in Berlin for a man to prosecute a blackmailer without having his own name in print.
When a German victory was announced flags were displayed, but as the war progressed so many victories announced turned out to be nothing wonderful or decisive that little attention was paid to the vain-glorious flaunting of German triumphs. Following an old custom ten or fifteen trumpeters climbed the tower of Rathhaus or City Hall and there quite characteristically blew to the four quarters of Heaven; but again as these official and brazen blowings were not always followed by the confirmation in fact, trumpetings were gradually discontinued.
The Germans cleverly kept back the announcement of certain successes in order to offset reverses. For instance, on a day when it was necessary to tell the people of a German retreat the newspapers would have great headlines across the front of the first page announcing the sinking of a British cruiser (sunk, perhaps, a month before) and then hidden in a corner would be a minimised announcement of a German defeat.
To us in Germany there was at the time no battle of the Marne. So gradually was the news of the retreat of the German forces broken to the people that to-day the masses do not realise that the fate of the world was settled at the Marne!
THE LITTLE KAISERS
As the king idea seems inseparably connected with war there is no country in the world where kings and princes have been held in such great account as in the Central Empires.
I believe there are only two Christian kings in the world—the kings of Italy and of Montenegro—who are not by blood related to some German or Austrian royalty.
For remember that while we think of Germany as ruled by the Kaiser and while it is his will that is certainly imposed upon the whole of that territory which does not exist politically or even geographically but which we call Germany, there are houses of royalty in it almost as numerous as our big corporations. There are the three kings of Bavaria, Wuertemburg and Saxony, grand dukes and dukes, and princes, all of them taking themselves very seriously and all of them residing in their own domains; jealously keeping away from the Emperor's court and jealously guarding every remnant of rule which the constitution of the German Empire has bequeathed to them.
Once I asked one of these princelings what his older brother, the reigning prince, did with his time in the small provincial town which is the capital of the principality. The brother looked at me with real surprise in his eyes and answered, "Why he reigns!"
Before the constitution of the German Empire, many of these poverty-stricken little courts were centres of kindly amusement, even of intellectual life.
The court of the Grand Duke Charles-Augustus, of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach at Weimar where Goethe resided and where he was entrusted with responsible state duties, was renowned in Europe as a literary centre.
Many of these princelings, however ridiculous their courts may have seemed, exercised despotic power. To-day the inhabitants of the two Mecklenburg duchies are protected by neither constitution nor bill of rights. The grand duke's power is absolute and he can behead at will any one of his subjects in the market-place or torture him to death in the dungeons of the castle and is responsible to God alone.
Here is an example from history. George Louis, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg-Celle, married his mistress, a Huguenot girl called Eleanore d'Olbreuze. They had one daughter, Sophia Dorothea, who married the Elector of Hanover, who was also George I of England. Sophia Dorothea was supposed to have been involved in a love affair with a Swedish Count, Philip Konigsmarck. Konigsmarck was murdered by order of George I, and Sophia Dorothea incarcerated in Ahlden where she died in 1726. Konigsmarck's sister went to Saxony to beg the aid of the Saxon King, Augustus the Strong. She failed to get news of her brother, but became one of the mistresses of Augustus the Strong and the mother of the celebrated Marshal Saxe. I say one of the "mistresses" of Augustus the Strong because he boasted that he was the father of 365 illegitimate children!
The daughter of Sophia Dorothea was the mother of Frederick the Great and his brothers, and therefore, an ancestor of the present German Kaiser. Any one writing about her in a disparaging manner is subject to be imprisoned, under the decisions of the Imperial Supreme Court, for "lese-majeste" or injuring the person of the present monarch in daring to slander his ancestors. And, I suppose, any one referring to Augustus the Strong may be shut up in Dresden for insulting a predecessor of the present King.
Every year the nobles of the Central Empires hold a convention at Frankfort, where the means are discussed by which their privileges may be preserved. No newspaper prints an account of this Convention of the highest Caste.
The German peasants, as far as I have seen, are not so much under the dominion of feudal tradition as are the peasants in Austria and Hungary.
I was shooting once with a Hungarian Count who stationed me in one corner of a field to await the partridges, which driven by the beaters were expected to fly over my head and as I stood waiting for the beaters to take up their positions two peasant girls walked past me. One of them, to my surprise, caught hold of my hand, which she kissed with true feudal devotion. As a guest of the Count I was presumably of the noble class and therefore entitled by custom and right to this mark of subjugation. And it became quite a task in walking through the halls of the castle to dodge the servants, all of whom seemed anxious to imprint on me the kiss of homage.
Thackeray in the "Fitzboodle Confessions" gives a most amusing account of life in one of these small, sleepy, German courts and relates how he left Pumpernickel hurriedly, by night, after the court ball where he had discovered not only that his German fiancee had eaten too much, but that she had a taste for bad oysters.
All of these small kings and princes are jealous of the King of Prussia and of his position of German Emperor and show their jealousy by avoiding Berlin.
In October, 1913, when in London on my way to Germany, I met the young Grand Duke of Mecklenburg Strelitz in the Ritz Hotel where he was dining with an English earl and his beautiful wife. As I happened to have a box for the Gaiety Theatre, we all went there together and paid a visit to George Grossmith behind the scenes and talked with Emmy Wehlen, the Austrian actress, who was appearing in the comic opera then running. But in all the time that I was in Germany I never once saw or heard of the young Grand Duke who rules the subjects of his duchy with autocratic rule without even the semblance of a constitution.
Formerly our minister used to be accredited to some of these courts and, on inquiring informally through a friend, I learned that the American Minister is still accredited to Bavaria on the records of the Bavarian Foreign Office, no letters of recall ever having been presented. The fact that the American Ambassador is accredited to none of these courts is a distinct disadvantage because without letters of credence he does not come into contact with any of the twenty-four rulers of Germany who control the Bundesrat in which their representatives sit, voting as they are told by the kings, grand dukes and princes. A number of these kings and princelings, combining in the Bundesrat, can outvote the powerful king of Prussia. But they don't dare!
I had a shooting estate about twenty miles from Berlin, one that I could reach by automobile in forty-five minutes from the door of the Embassy. Because of the strict German game laws I had better shooting there than within two hundred miles of large cities in America.
There seemed to be something to shoot there almost every day of the year. On the sixteenth of May the season opened for male roe—a very small deer. About the first of August the ducks, which breed in northern Germany, can be shot. These were mallards and there were about two thousand or more on a lake on my preserve. We usually shot them by digging blinds in the oat fields, shooting them after sunset as they flew from the lake to feed in the newly harvested grain. The season for Hungarian partridge opened on August 20th. These were shot over dogs in the stubble and in the potato fields. After a few weeks partridges became very wild and we then shot them with a kite. When we had put up a covey out of range and marked where they went down in a potato patch or field, perhaps of lucern or clover, a small boy would fly a kite made in the form of a hawk over the field. This kept the partridges from flying and they would lie while the dogs pointed until we put them up.
By October 1st pheasants could be shot; English pheasants become wild. These roosted in the trees at night and so escaped the plentiful foxes. Later on came shooting at long ranges, after they had collected in bands, of the female roedeer and also the hare shooting. Rabbits were shot at all times, and in November and December and January on foggy days it was not difficult to get a wild goose.
The hares were shot in cold weather, after the snow was on the ground, by walking in line of ten or fifteen beaters with two or three guns at intervals along the line and later, when the hares were very wild and the weather very cold, by what is called by the Germans "kessel-jagd" or kettle-hunt. For this hunt the head keeper would collect a number of beaters, as many as a hundred, from the neighboring towns and villages, mostly small boys and old men. On the great, flat plain the keeper would send out his beaters to the right and the left, walking in a straight line at about twenty-yard intervals. After each side had gone perhaps half a mile they would then turn at right angles, walk a mile, and then turn at right angles until the two lines met, so that perhaps a square mile of territory would be enclosed by the beaters with the ten to fifteen men with guns at intervals in the line. When the square had been formed the head keeper blew a blast on his bugle and all turned and walked slowly towards the centre and the hares were shot as they attempted to break through the line.
On one day just before I left Germany, I and members of the Embassy shot more than two hundred hares on one of these hunts. The German hare is an enormous animal with dark meat, almost impossible to distinguish from venison.
After these hare drives, besides, of course, paying the beaters their regular wages, I used to hold a lottery, giving a number of these hares as prizes or distributing hares to the magnates of the village, such as the pastor, the school teacher, the policeman and the postmaster.
When we were shooting in the summer and autumn the peasants were working in the fields and one had to be very careful in shooting roebuck with a high-powered rifle. It is customary to hunt roebuck on these flat plains from a carriage. In this way a bullet, travelling at a downward angle, if the buck is missed, strikes the ground within a short distance. If one were to shoot lying down, kneeling or standing, the danger to peasants in the fields would be very great. The pheasants were sometimes shot over dogs, but usually as the beaters drove small woods. A pheasant driven and flying high makes a difficult mark. One getting up before the dogs is almost too easy a shot.
We shot the rabbits by using ferrets, little animals like weasels wearing little muzzles and bells upon their necks. In the woods where the rabbits had their holes four or five ferrets would be put in the rabbits' holes and it was quite difficult to shoot rabbits as they came out like lightning, dodging among the trees. In the early spring the "birkhahns" were shot, a variety of black and white grouse. There were some blinds or little huts of twigs erected near places where the ground was beaten hard and on these open, beaten spots early in the morning the "birkhahns" waltz, doing a peculiar backward and forward dance in some way connected with their marriage ceremonies. There were also on this estate numbers, at times, of a curious bird found only in Spain, Roumania, Asia Minor, and these plains of the Mark of Brandenburg, a large bustard called by the Germans "trappe." These birds were very shy and hard to approach. Although I had several shots at them with a rifle at four or five hundred yards I did not succeed in getting one.
In talking with the Chancellor he almost always opened the conversation by asking if I had yet killed a "trappe." As a rule the German uses for shooting deer and roebuck a German Mauser military rifle, but with the barrel cut down and a sporting stock with pistol grip added. On this there is a powerful telescope. Many Germans carry a "ziel-stock," a long walking stick from the bottom of which a tripod can be protruded and near the top a sort of handle piece of metal about as big as a little finger. When the German sportsman has sighted a roebuck he plants his aiming stick in the ground, rests the rifle on the side projection, carefully adjusts his telescope, sets the hair trigger on his rifle and finally touches the trigger.
At the commencement of the war the Duke of Ratibor collected all these sporting rifles with telescopes and sent them to the front. These were of the same calibre as the military rifles and took the military cartridge, so they proved enormously useful for sniping purposes.
Going one day to a proof establishment to try a gun I opened by mistake a door which led to a great room where thousands of German military rifles were being fitted with telescopes. These telescopes have crossed wires, like those in a surveyor's instrument, and it is only necessary in aiming to fix the centre of the crossed wires on the game and pull the trigger. A clever arrangement enables the wires to be elevated for distant shooting.
So great is the discipline of the German people that game on these estates is seldom, if ever, touched by the peasants. There is no free shooting in Germany. The shooting rights of every inch of land are in possession of some one and the tens of thousands of game keepers constantly killing the crows, hawks, foxes and other birds and animals that destroy eggs and game make the game plentiful. The keeper has the right by law to shoot any stray dog or cat found a hundred yards from a village. I paid the head keeper a certain sum per month and in addition he received a premium called "shot money" for each bird or roebuck shot. He also received a premium for each fox or crow or hawk he destroyed, bringing, on the first of the month, the beaks and claws of the hawks, etc., to prove his claim. Foxes are very plentiful in Germany and in one winter on this estate, only twenty miles from Berlin, the keeper trapped or killed twelve foxes.
The Emperor is very fond of fox shooting. Foxes are driven out of the forest past his shooting stand by beaters and one of the reasons why Prince Fuerstenberg was such a favourite of the Emperor was that he provided him with splendid fox shooting, although it is whispered that he bought foxes in boxes in all parts of Germany and had them turned loose for the Emperor's benefit.
In the more thickly forested portions of Germany deer as well as roedeer are shot and in many districts wild boar. In Poland and in a few estates in Germany on the eastern border, moose, called elk (elch in German), are to be had. These, however, have very poor horns.
Talking to the keepers and beaters on this shooting estate gave me a very good idea of the hardships suffered in rural Germany, of the way in which the people in the farming districts are kept down by the lords of the manor and by the government, and it was from this village and the neighbouring town that I got some idea of the number of men called to arms in Germany.
By a custom dating from the devastating wars of the Middle Ages there are practically no farms in Germany, but inhabitants of the agricultural districts are collected in villages and the few farms have, characteristically, a military name. They are called "vorwerk" or outposts. In the village on my estate there are almost exactly six hundred inhabitants, men, women and children, and of these at the time I left Germany one hundred and ten had been called to the Colours. In the neighbouring town of Mittenwalde, of almost three thousand inhabitants, over five hundred had joined the army. At the commencement of the war the population of the German Empire was about 72,000,000, or something over, and applying these same proportions it will be seen what a vast army was created.
In the industrial districts where men are required for munition work perhaps not as great a proportion has been called. The name of the village on my estate was Gross Machnow, the road from Berlin to Dresden ran through it and only a few miles east was the shooting place of Wusterhausen where the favourite shooting box of the father of Frederick the Great was and where he was accustomed to hold his so-called tobacco parliament, when, with his cronies, over beer and long pipes, the affairs of the nation were discussed with great freedom.
The horse races in Germany are excellent. There are several tracks about Berlin. The Hoppegarten, devoted almost exclusively to flat racing; the Grunewald, the large popular track nearest to Berlin where both steeplechases and other races are held; and Karlshorst, devoted exclusively to steeplechasing and hurdle racing.
The jockey club of Berlin is the Union Club, which owns the Hoppegarten track. Its officers are men of the highest honour and in no country in the world are the races run more honestly, more "on the level," than in Germany.
Nothing makes for mutual international understanding more than sport. Even during the most bitter crises between Germany and America I felt that I could go absolutely alone to the crowded race tracks and, while I know the Germans differed emphatically with the American views of the war, the gentlemen in charge of the races and the members of the Union Club treated me with the kindest consideration and the most graceful courtesy.
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I am sorry that I never attended any of the Court hunts which took place in the vicinity of Potsdam. A pack of hounds is kept there and boars hunted. The etiquette is very strict and no one, not presented at court, can appear at these hunts. As I did not have an opportunity to present my letters of credence until a month or more after my arrival in Berlin in the autumn of 1913, the winter rains had set in before I was eligible for the hunts and in addition I had not taken the precaution to order the necessary costumes.
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The first time that a man appears at one of these hunts he must wear a tall silk hat, a double-breasted red coat, with tails like a dress coat, white breeches and top boots. After he has once made his appearance in this costume he may, thereafter, substitute for it a red frock hunting coat, white breeches and top boots and a velvet hunting cap, the same shape as the caps worn by the jockies. There are no jumps on these hunts. When the boar has been brought to bay by the dogs, the right to despatch him with a long hunting knife is reserved for the most distinguished man present. If a royalty is present at one of these hunts he distributes small sprigs of oak leaves to every one at the hunt, cherished ever after as valued souvenirs.
When I first arrived at Berlin, having brought horses with me from America, I used to ride every morning in the Tiergarten. Because so many Germans are in the army, riding is a very favourite sport and in peace times the Tiergarten is crowded with Berliners. Most of the riding was done between seven and ten in the morning. The early rising is compensated for, however, by the siesta after lunch, a universal custom.
Shooting is almost more of a ceremony than a sport. The letters exchanged between Emperor William and Czar Nicholas, lately discovered in the Winter Palace, show what a large part shooting played in their correspondence. One or the other is continually wishing the other "Weidmanns-Heil," which is the German expression for "good luck" as applied to shooting. All royalties must ride and keep in practice, especially because of military service. Indeed, all the sports of the Kaiser and his people converge toward a common object—military efficiency and war.
THE ETERNAL FEMININE
Even the women, many of whom are honorary colonels to regiments, must keep in trim for the great parade days of autumn and spring. Many of these female colonels appear in uniform, riding at the head of their regiments. They sit on side saddles, however, and wear skirts corresponding somewhat in colour with the uniform coat and helmet of the regiment of which they are the honorary proprietors.
German female royalties are rather inclined to set an example of quietness in dress. They seldom wear the latest fashion and never follow the exaggerated modes of Paris. Even their figures are of the old-fashioned variety—pinched at the waist. While in the Tiergarten in the morning I saw many good horses, but only one fashionably cut riding habit. Many of the others must have been at least twenty years old, as the sleeves were of the Leg of Mutton style, fashionable, I believe, about that number of years ago.
Many German noblewomen shoot and are quite as good shots as their husbands. I was quite surprised once on a shooting party to meet an elderly princess whose grey hair was in short curls and who wore a coat and waistcoat like a man's. She shot with great skill and smoked long Havana cigars!
When German women get out of the country they very quickly imitate foreign fashions and extravagances of dress. The Czarina of Russia, for example, a German Princess, is very fond of fashions, and a friend of mine who had three audiences with her during the war tells me that on the occasion of his first audience she was dressed in black and received him in a room where yellow flowers were massed. On the second occasion she was in grey and the flowers were pink. At the third audience her dress was purple and the flowers were of lilac and white.
There is one good thing about the king and aristocratic system. The position of women in the social scale is fixed by the husband's rank. There is, therefore, none of that striving, that vying with each other, which so often exhausts the nerves of the American woman and the purse of the husband. The German women give their time and attention to the "Four K's" that, in a German's eyes, should bound a woman's world, "Kaiser, Kinder, Kirche, Kuche" (Emperor, children, church and kitchen).
The successful business man of New York or Chicago or San Francisco is surprised to find how docile and domestic the German woman is—no foolish extravagance, but a real devotion to husband and home, a real mother to her many children. She matches that short epitaph of the Roman matron—"She spun wool; she kept the house."
When I came to Germany I found, on studying the language, that there was no word in German corresponding to "efficient." I soon learned that this is because everything done in Germany is done efficiently, and there is no need to differentiate one act from another in terms of efficiency. But the German man could not be as efficient as he undoubtedly is, without the whole-hearted devotion of the German woman.
German girls are given a good, strong, sound education. They learn languages, not smatterings of them. They are accomplished musicians. Domestic science they learn from their mothers. They are splendid swimmers, hockey players, riders and skaters.
During our first winter in Berlin we spent many afternoons at the Ice Palace in the Lutherstrasse, an indoor ice rink much larger than the one in the Freidrichstrasse, the Admirals Palast, where the ice ballets are given and the graceful Charlotte used to appear. The skating club of the Lutherstrasse was under the patronage of the Crown Prince and was one of the very few meeting places of Berlin society. The women were taught to waltz by male instructors and the men by several young women—blonde skaters from East Prussia. I tried to improve my skating and spent many hours making painful "Bogens" or circles under the efficient eyes of a little East Prussia instructress. Afternoon tea was served during the interval of skating and one afternoon a week was specially reserved for the Club members.
One of my young secretaries used to go occasionally to Wannsee, near Berlin, to play hockey with a German friend; as the young men were nearly all in the war, girls made up the majority of each team. My secretary reported that those German girls were as strong, as enduring and as skilful as the average young man.
Girls of the working classes, instead of flirting or turkey trotting at night, make a practice of going to the Turnvereins, to exercise in the gymnasiums there. If the members of the German lower classes only had the opportunity to rise in life what would they not accomplish! So many of them are very ambitious, persistent, earnest and thrifty.
Of course, female suffrage in Germany or anything approaching it is very distant. First of all, the men must win a real ballot for themselves in Prussia, a real representation in the Reichstag. In the Germany of to-day, a woman with feminist aspirations is looked on as the men of the official class look on a Social Democrat, something hardly to be endured. And this is in spite of the fact that the nations to the North, in Scandinavia, freed women even before America did.
The most beautiful woman in Berlin society is Countess Oppersdorff—the mother of thirteen children. She is not German, but was born a Polish Princess Radziwill.
The chief lady of the Imperial Court is Countess Brockdorff. She is rather stern in appearance and manner, and rumour has it that she was appointed to keep the good-natured, easy-going Empress to the strict line of German court etiquette, to see that the Empress, rather democratic in inclination, did not stray away from the traditional rigidity of the Prussian royal house.
Countess Brockdorff is a most able woman. I grew to have not only a great respect, but almost an affection for her. At court functions she usually wears a mantilla as a distinguished mark and several orders and decorations. We had three women friends from America with us in Berlin whom we presented at Court. All were married, but only the husband of one of them could leave his work and visit Germany. The two other husbands, in accordance with the good American custom, were at work in America. Countess Brockdorff spoke to the lady whose husband was with her, saying to her, "I am glad to see that your husband is with you," an implied rebuke to the other ladies and an exhibition of that failure to understand other nations so characteristic of highly placed Germans. With us, of course, a good-natured American husband, wedded as much to his business as to his wife, permits his wife to travel abroad without him and neither he nor she is reproved in America because of this.
Among the other ladies attendant on the Empress are Fraeulein von Gersdorff, whose cousin is a lawyer practising in New York, and Countess Keller. There are other ladies and a number of maids of honour and all of them are overworked, acting as secretaries, answering letters and attending various charitable and other functions, either with the Empress or representing her. One of the charming maids of honour, Countess Bassewitz, was married during the war to Prince Oscar, the Kaiser's fifth son. This marriage was morganatic, that is, the lady does not take the name, rank and title of her husband. In this case another title was given her, that of Countess Ruppin, and her sons will be known as Counts Ruppin, but will not be Princes of Prussia.
There is much misunderstanding in America as to these morganatic marriages. By the rules of many royal and princely houses, a member of the house cannot marry a woman not of equal rank and give her his name, titles and rank. But the marriage is in all other respects perfectly legal. The ceremony is performed in accordance with Prussian law, before a civil magistrate and also in a church, and should the husband attempt to marry again he would be guilty of bigamy.
I gave away the bride at one of these morganatic marriages, when Prince Christian of Hesse married Miss Elizabeth Reid-Rogers, a daughter of Richard Reid Rogers, a lawyer of New York. Prince Christian has an extremely remote chance of ever coming to the throne of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, but nevertheless and because of the rules of the House of Hesse-Barchfeld, he cannot give his rank and title to a wife, not of equal birth. The head of the House, therefore, the Grand Duke of Hesse, conferred the title of Baroness Barchfeld in her own right on the bride, and her children will be known as Barons and Baronesses Barchfeld.
When Prince Christian and his wife go out to dinner in Berlin, he is given his rank at the table as a member of a royal house, but his wife is treated on a parity with the wives of all officers holding commissions of equal grade with her husband in the army. As her husband is a Lieutenant, she ranks merely as a Lieutenant's wife. On the same day that Miss Rogers and Prince Christian were wedded, Miss Cecilia May of Baltimore married Lieutenant Vom Rath. I acted as one of Miss May's witnesses at the Standesamt, where the civil marriage was performed, while the religious marriage took place in our Embassy. Lieutenant Vom Rath is the son of one of the proprietors of the great dye works manufactories known as Lucius-Meister-Farbewerke at Hoehst, near Frankfurt a. M., where salvarsan and many other medicines used in America are manufactured, as well as dyestuffs and chemicals.
In my earlier book I described presentations at the Royal Prussian Court in Berlin, especially the great court called the "Schleppencour," because of the long trains or Schleppe worn by the women. All the little kingdoms and principalities of the German Empire have somewhat the same ceremonies. In Dresden, the capital of Saxony, a peculiar custom is followed. The King and Queen sit at a table at one end of the room playing cards and the members of the court and distinguished strangers file into the room, pass by the card table in single file and drop deep courtesies and make bows to the seated royalties, who, as a rule, do not even take the trouble to glance at those engaged in this servile tribute to small royalty. I suppose that the excuse for this is that it is an old custom. But so is serfdom!
There are in Germany many so-called mediatised families, so-called because at one time they possessed royal rank and rights over small bits of territory before Napoleon changed the map of Europe and wiped out so many small principalities.
At the Congress of Vienna these families who lost their right of rule, in part compensation, were given the right to marry either royalties or commoners; so that the marriage of a Prince of Prussia with a daughter of one of these mediatised houses would not be morganatic. The girl would take the full rank of her husband and the children would inherit any rights, including the rights to the throne possessed by him.
Thus the beautiful young Countess Platen, shortly before we left Berlin, was married to von Stumm, the very able Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. While she became on her marriage Baroness von Stumm, nevertheless, if she had married the son of the Kaiser, she would have taken his rank and her children would have inherited all rights and titles possessed by their father. This is because the Platens, although bearing only the title of Counts, are a mediatised family.
It is noteworthy that in Berlin women of that blonde type with regular features, which we believe is the German type, are very rare. This type is to be found perfected in Scandinavia, although a few specimens exist in Germany. Looking over a Berlin theatre I have often noticed the predominance of brown and black hair.
There is always some one higher up to whom German women must curtsy. All women, whatever their husband's rank, must curtsy to a Royal Prince. Unmarried girls curtsy to married women and kiss their hands. Men, on meeting women, always kiss their hands.
Berlin is certainly the gossip headquarters of the world. Some years ago the whole town was invaded by a mania for anonymous letter writing, and when the smoke had cleared away few were left with unriddled reputations.
It is the fashion of the present court, however, to be very puritanical. No such little affairs are going on publicly, as have occurred in the annals of the Hohenzollern family. For even the old Emperor William, grandfather of the present Kaiser, had numerous love affairs. The tree is still pointed out near the Tiergarten where he met Princess Radziwill every day.
And the Chancellor's palace was once the home of another royal "friend."
The Foreign Office was at one time the home of the Italian dancer, La Barberini, the only woman who ever for a time enslaved Frederick the Great. I discussed affairs of state with von Jagow and Zimmermann in the very room where she gave her supper parties.
HOME LIFE AND "BRUTALITY" OF THE PEOPLE
The apartments of Berlin are designed for outward show for which the Berliners have a weakness. They have great reception and dining-rooms called "representation rooms," but very little comfort or space in the sleeping quarters.
It is impossible to think of dropping in suddenly on a Berliner for a meal. The dinners are always for as many people as the rooms will hold and are served by a caterer.
Only two very distinguished guests may be invited. The host and hostess sit opposite each other at the sides of the table, with the guests tapering off in rank to right and left of them, the ends of the tables being filled up with aides and secretaries. When a great man is invited his aide or secretary must be asked also. These come usually without their wives.
After dinner men and women leave the table together and smoke in the other rooms of the house, going from group to group. And, although perhaps ten kinds of wine are served during dinner, as soon as the guests leave the dining-room, servants make their appearance with trays of glasses of light and dark beer and continue to offer beer during the remainder of the evening.
The Germans talk much of food and spend a greater part of their income on food than any other nation. They take much interest in table furnishings, china, etc., and invariably turn over the plates to see the marks on the under side.
Whipped cream is an essential to many German dishes, and in the season a Berliner will commit any crime to obtain some plover's eggs.
The weiss bier of Berlin, served in wide goblets, is rather going out of fashion. It often is drunk mixed with raspberry juice.
The restaurants of Berlin are not gay, like those of Paris. There is, however, a rather rough night life created for foreign consumption. I did not take in any of these night restaurants and dancing cabarets, warned by the case of an Ambassador from —— who was reproved by von Jagow for visiting the "Palais de Danse."
In peace time few automobiles are to be seen on the Berlin streets. There are many millionaires in the city, but the old habits of German thrift persist.
The modern architecture of Germany is repulsive. The man who builds a new house seems to want to get something resembling as nearly as possible a family vault. Ihne, court architect and Imperial favourite, has produced, however, some beautiful buildings, notably the new library in Berlin.
Munich pretends to be more of a centre of art and music than Berlin. Artists have their headquarters there, but the disciples of the awful "art nouveau" and kindred "arts" have produced many horrors in striving for new effects.
The opera in Munich is better than in Berlin. One of the Bavarian Princes plays a fiddle in the orchestra in the Royal Opera House.
The Berlin hospitals are better than ours, except for the caste system which prevails even there, and there are first, second and third class wards.
The underground road is built at about the same depth as the New York subway. There are two classes, second and third; there are no guards on the trains, only the motorman in the first car. The passengers open the side doors themselves and these are shut either by passengers or station guards. Accidents are rare, all showing the innate discipline of the people. The charge is by distance. You buy a ticket for five or eight stations and give up the ticket as you go out of the station. If you have travelled farther than the distance called for by your ticket you must make the additional payment. This requires that each ticket be inspected separately when taken up.
The tramways have different routes. These routes are shown by signs and by numbers displayed on the car. Women motormen in the war period caused many accidents.
For those Germans who cannot afford to ride or shoot, walking is the principal recreation. There are a few golf courses in the German Empire, mostly patronised by foreigners and American dentists.
Military training is always in view and the use of the knapsack on walking tours is universal, even school children carry their books to school in knapsacks and so become accustomed, at an early age, to carry this part of the soldier's burden.
Occasionally, in summer, bands of girls or boys are to be seen on walking tours. In addition to the usual knapsack, they carry guitars or mandolins. These young people are known as "Wander vogel" (wandering birds), and sing as they walk. But they don't sing very loud. They might break some regulation.
Outside of the large cities and even in the cities vacant lots are occupied by "arbour colonies" (lauben colonie)—tiny little houses of wood erected by city workingmen and surrounded by little gardens of vegetables and flowers. Here the city workman spends Sunday and often the twilight hours and the night in summer time. Of course, these are possible only in a country where the workingman is in a distinct social class and where he is compelled to be content with the amusements and occupations of that class alone.
There is no baseball or substitute for it—the clerks get their diversion in a country excursion or at the free bath on the Wann or Muggel Lake.
These "free baths," so-called, are stretches of sandy lake shore where the populace resort in hot weather, undressing with the indifference of animals on the beach, men and women all mixed together, the men wearing only little bathing trunks and the women scanty one-piece bathing suits. There is a bathing tent where two cents is charged for the privilege of undressing, but most prefer the open beach. Few swim or go in the water, but the majority lie about the beach, often sleeping in affectionate embrace, all without exciting any comment or ridicule.
The boy scout movement was taken up enthusiastically in Germany with the cheerful support of the military caste, who look on the activity as a welcome adjunct to military training. The boys certainly are given a dose of real drill. On one occasion I saw a boy company at drill march straight into the Havel river, no command to halt having been given at the river bank!
The workingmen of Germany are more brutal than those of England, France and America, but this is because of the low wages they receive, and because they feel the weight of the caste system.
In a speech in December, 1917, I said that a revolution in Germany would come after the war and that a fellow Ambassador in Berlin had said to me that because of the great brutality of the workingmen in Germany this uprising would make the French Revolution look like a Methodist Sunday School picnic. A newspaper reported me as saying this on my own authority and added that I had said the Germans were the most "bestial" people on earth.
I only want to be responsible for what I actually say. I did not call the Germans "bestial," although unfortunately it is a fact that many officers of the army and others have been guilty of a brutality which has helped turn the face of the world from the whole German people.
Not all the Germans are brutal. I received many letters revealing evidence to the contrary.
Here is the protest of a German soldier, an eye-witness of the slaughter of Russian soldiers in the Masurian lakes and swamps:
"It was frightful, heart-rending, as these masses of human beings were driven to destruction. Above the terrible thunder of the cannon could be heard the heart-rending cries of the Russians: 'Oh, Prussians! Oh, Prussians!' But there was no mercy. Our Captain had ordered: 'The whole lot must die; so rapid fire.'
"As I have heard, five men and one officer on our side went mad from those heart-rending cries. But most of my comrades and the officers joked as the unarmed and helpless Russians shrieked for mercy when they were being suffocated in the swamps and shot down. The order was: 'Close up and at it harder!'
"For days afterward those heart-rending yells followed me, and I dare not think of them or I shall go mad. There is no God, there is no morality and no ethics any more. There are no human beings any more, but only beasts. Down with militarism!"
This was the experience of a Prussian soldier. At present wounded; Berlin, October 22, 1914.
"If you are a truth-loving man, please receive these lines, from a common Prussian soldier."
Here is the testimony of another German soldier on the East front:
"Russian Poland, Dec. 18, 1914.
"In the name of Christianity I send you these words. My conscience forces me as a Christian German soldier to inform you of these lines.
"Wounded Russians are killed with the bayonet according to orders, and Russians who have surrendered are often shot down in masses according to orders in spite of their heart-rending prayers.
"In the hope that you, as the representative of a Christian State, will protest against this, I sign myself, 'A German Soldier and Christian.'
"I would give my name and regiment, but these words could get me court-martialed for divulging military secrets."
The following letter is from a soldier on the Western Front:
"To the American Government, Washington, U. S. A.:
"Englishmen who have surrendered are shot down in small groups. With the French one is more considerate. I ask whether men let themselves be taken prisoner in order to be disarmed and shot down afterward? Is that chivalry in battle?
"It is no longer a secret among the people; one hears everywhere that few prisoners are taken; they are shot down in small groups. They say naively, 'We don't want any unnecessary mouths to feed. Where there is no one to enter complaint, there is no judge.' Is there, then, no power in the world which can put an end to these murders and rescue the victims? Where is Christianity? Where is right? Might is right.
"A Soldier and Man Who Is No Barbarian."
The first two letters refer to the battle of the Masurian Lakes, when the troops of Hindenburg, in checking the invading Russians, indulged in a needless slaughter of prisoners.
I heard in Berlin of many cases of insanity of both German officers and men who were driven insane by the scenes of slaughter at this battle and especially by the great cry of horror and despair uttered by the poor Russians as they were shot down in cold blood or driven to a living death in the lakes and marshes.
An American newspaper said this could not be true, asking why did I not publish the letters in my first book. But my first book did not contain all I have to relate, and the letters in question were sent by me to the State Department early in the war, and were not at hand on the publication of my other series.
But speaking of anonymous letters, shortly before I left Germany I received a package containing a necklace of diamonds and pearls with a letter, which, translated, reads as follows:
"The enclosed jewelry was found in the fully destroyed house of Monsieur Guesnet of 36 Rue de Bassano, Paris. It is requested that this jewelry, which is his property, be returned to him."
The package was addressed to the Embassy of the United States. I took it with me on leaving Germany and restored it to the family of the owner in Paris. The Guesnet country house lay within the German lines and the sending of the jewelry to me shows conscience somewhere in the German army.
AIMS OF THE AUTOCRACY
I have shown how the Kaiser is imbued with a desire of conquest, how, as he himself states, he dreamed a dream of world empire in which his mailed fist should be imposed upon all the countries of the earth.
But the Kaiser alone could not have driven Germany into war. His system could.
The head of one of the great banks of Germany told me in the first few weeks of the war that the Kaiser, when called upon at the last moment to sign the order for mobilisation by the General Staff, hesitated and did so only after the officers of the General Staff had threatened to break their swords over their knees.
If this story is true, what a pity that the Kaiser did not allow the officers to break their swords! What would have happened? Would the military have seized the power and deposed the Kaiser, putting the Crown Prince in his place? I believe it might have happened had he refused to sign the order. The Kaiser, after leaving Kiel, attended a council at Potsdam where war was decided upon, and I really doubt whether at the last moment he did not shrink before the awful responsibility or hesitate to sign the mobilisation order.
The immediate cause of Germany's going to war was the feeling on the part of the autocracy that the people would not much longer bear the yoke of militarism. That this fear had justification was shown by the enormous vote of lack of confidence in the Reichstag after the Zabern affair. At all costs the autocracy must be preserved, and if in addition the world could be conquered, so much the better.
With modern improvements on the outside the heart of the government of Germany is that of the Middle Ages. The nobles as a rule are poor, the returns from their landed estates small, and, in peace times, the army general, the Prussian noble, and the Prussian official is overshadowed in display and expenditure by the rich merchant.
Army officers, nobles and governing class felt this and believed that war would restore what they regarded as the natural equilibrium of the country, the officers, the officials and the nobles at the top and the merchant class back in its place below.
With war, retired generals living on small pensions in dingy towns once more became personages, rushing about the country in automobiles attended by brilliant staffs and holding almost the power of life and death. His lands worked by prisoners at six cents a day, and their products sold at five times the original price with no new taxes on either land or incomes, the Prussian Junker is enjoying the war.
And this autocracy can make no peace which is not a "German peace," which does not mean that the Emperor and the generals can ride through the Brandenburger Thor to celebrate the conclusion of what may be thought a victorious war.
For the plain people of Germany, while they can make no revolution now, on returning to their homes maimed and broken after four years in the trenches, will revolt at last, if a peace has been concluded which does not spell success for Germany. They will say to their government,—to the autocracy,—"We had no political power. We left everything in your hands. We had nothing to say either about the declaration of this war or its conduct. In return for our submission you promised efficiency and you promised us more, the conquest of the world. You have failed and we are going to overthrow you."
It is the knowledge of this that makes the Emperor and the autocracy ready to take any chance, anxious to continue the war in the hope that some lucky stroke, either of arms or of propaganda, will turn the scale in their favour, because they know that any peace that is not a German peace will mean the end of autocracy and probably of the Hohenzollerns.
And all the while the people are told that the war is a defensive war, although the German armies fight far in enemy territory in France, in Russia, in Italy, in Serbia, and in Roumania. They always are told, too, that it is Germany who is desirous of making peace and that the Allies refuse.
Last summer (1917) when an interview I had with the Chancellor in which he named the peace terms of the autocracy was published, the interview was repudiated by the Chancellor, who stated that these terms were not his. I am sure that they are not his and were not his, but I am equally sure that they are the terms and were the terms of the autocracy of Prussia as stated by him. Shortly after this the newspapers confirmed part of these terms, telling of the talk in Germany of the guarantees to be exacted in case Belgium was surrendered by the Germans, which guarantees amounted to the absolute control of that unfortunate country and "rectification of the frontiers" demanded by Germany on the Eastern Front.
Outside of Germany the propagandist and the pacifist and other agents of the Central Empires have proclaimed that this war is not a war of conquest or aggression.
But the evidence is to the contrary.
Kaiser and pastors, Reichstag members and generals, orators and journalists, have all at different times during the war declared themselves in favour of conquest.
And it is extraordinary as showing the masterful manner in which the poor German people are led astray that most of the men making these declarations for annexation are able at the same time to cry that Germany is fighting a defensive war and is prevented from making peace only by the wicked Allies.
The King of Bavaria, speaking early in 1915 at a banquet, said, "I rejoice because we can at last have a reckoning with our enemies and because at last we can obtain a direct outlet from the Rhine to the sea. Ten months have gone by. Much blood has been poured out. But it shall not be poured in vain, for the fruit of the war shall be a strengthening of the German Empire and the extension of its boundaries, so far as this is necessary in order that we may be assured against future attacks."
Duke John Albert of Mecklenburg, who is the gentleman who slapped his chest and cried out to me on one occasion that Germany would never forget the export of arms and ammunition to her enemies by America and that some day Germany would have her revenge, declared also in 1915 that the war would give Germany not only a mighty African Colonial Empire but a sufficiency of strongholds on earth for their navy, commerce, coaling and wireless stations.
The Kaiser, himself, speaking in July, 1915, in his call to the German people issued from the Great General Headquarters, said "that Germany would fight until peace came, a peace which offered the necessary military, political and commercial guarantees for the future."
Vice-President Paasche of the Reichstag, in April at Kreuznach, said, "We are not allowed to speak about conditions of peace. But the wish must be given expression that lives in the heart of every German that we will not give up enemy land conquered with so much German blood."
A sentiment also expressed in April, 1915, by the National Liberal Reichstag member, Wachhorst de Wente, was to this effect: "Our fatherland must be larger. We must not allow it to be taken from us. Otherwise we will have obtained nothing except victory. We desire also to have the reward of victory. We will not give back all."
Von Heydebrand, the Conservative Leader, the uncrowned King of Prussia, as he is called, demanded as a condition of peace "a stronger and larger Germany."
Naturally, the Conservative leaders are for conquest and annexation. Numerous articles in the Centrist Cologne Volkzeitung were published protesting against giving Belgium her independence again. In April, 1916, this newspaper approved the statement of Leader Spahn of the Centrum party that the war must not end without "tangible results," and also the statement of Stresemann, another member of the Reichstag: "We demand and expect a larger Germany." In February, 1916, Germania, the Berlin organ of the Catholic party, demanded also a tangible prize of war as one of the conditions of peace.
Countless examples can be given from speeches in the Reichstag and from leaders and newspapers of virtually all parties in Germany, showing this desire for conquest, showing that Germany will not be content to go back to the situation before the war. Even Maximilian Harden, who is respected all over the world because of his fearlessness and reason, has written since the war in favour of a greater Germany, thus:
"We wage the war from the rock of conviction that Germany after its deeds has a right to demand broader room on the earth and greater possibilities of action and these things we must attain."
Dr. Spahn, to-day the leader of the Centrum party, answering in December, 1915, Scheidemann, who had argued against annexation, and speaking in the name of 254 members of the Reichstag representing the citizens' parties said:
"We wait in complete union, with calm determination, and let me add, with trust in God, the hour which makes possible peace negotiations, in which forever the military, commercial, financial and political interests of Germany must, in all circumstances and by all means, be protected, including the widening of territories necessary to this end."
Ludendorff is now perhaps the man of most weight and influence, barring no one, in all Germany. When only Chief of Staff of the East Army he wrote: "The Power of Middle Europe will be strengthened, that of the Great Russians pushed back towards the East, from whence it came, at a time not very distant."
These quotations simply show that the great majority of Germans—those outside the social democratic party—of the Germans, indeed, who rule the country, conduct its commerce, and officer its army and navy—all have been infected with a dangerous microbe of Pan-Germanism and of world-conquest.
Every one who professes a knowledge of German life and character, every one who writes of the origin of the war, talks of Treitschke, Nietzsche and Bernhardi.
Nothing made the Germans angrier than to find in foreign newspapers that on this triumvirate was placed the burden of the responsibility for the war. And I agree with the complaining Germans. Bernhardi, who, during the war, was given a command behind the fighting front at Posen, was not considered a skilful general by the military or a great or even popular writer by the people.
How many people in our country or in France or in England are influenced by the lectures or writings of one college professor? And yet, according to many out of Germany, Treitschke, the deaf professor of Heidelberg, is the one man who transmuted the soul of Germany and incited the Empire to a cruel war.
In America you can find any brand of professor, from a professor in a Virginia College who recently boasted that he would not subscribe to American Liberty war bonds, but would send the money to the Socialist, pacifist candidate for Mayor of New York, to the Professor in the University of Chicago who based his claim to fame on the fact that he had never been kissed. What professor of history has had any great political influence beyond his own college?
And it is equally absurd to think of a Prussian Junker, sitting by the fire in the evening, deeply absorbed in the philosophy of Nietzsche. All Germans, as a matter of fact, through pride of conquest in 1864, 1866 and 1870 and great industrial success, had come to believe themselves to be supermen delegated by Heaven to win the world. Treitschke and Nietzsche were simply affected in their writings by this universal poison of overweening vanity. They but reflected the fashion of the day in thinking; they did not lead the nation's thought. Nietzsche himself wrote in one of his letters shortly before his death which occurred in 1900, "Although I am in my forty-fifth year and have written fifteen books, I am alone in Germany. There has not been a single moderately respectful review of one of my books."
I never found a German of the ruling class who had read anything written by Treitschke, Nietzsche or Bernhardi.
Tannenberg had more readers and a greater following, although he, of course, expresses only the aspirations of the Pan-Germans. But he presents concrete positions which any one can understand.
For instance, the German merchant looking at Tannenberg's book and seeing the map of South America coloured with almost universal German domination, smiles and approves, for he thinks German trade will swallow that rich continent and clever laws and regulations will exclude the imports of all other nations.
In some aspects Tannenberg foresaw what is happening to-day when he says, "The Finns have been waiting a long time to detach themselves from the Great Russians, their hereditary enemies."
But in the main, in his sketch of the war to which he looked forward, he failed to predict accurately the attitude of the world. His predictions represent many of the dead hopes of the Pan-Germans, those Germans who believe it is the right and duty of Germany to conquer all.
Prophesying war between Germany on one side and France and Russia on the other, Tannenberg believed that more confusion and resistance to war than actually occurred would come in Bohemia and Poland following the order for mobilisation in the Slav parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He mistakenly wrote also that Japan would declare war on Russia, a belief shared by the torchlight paraders of Berlin in August, 1914.
Tannenberg thought Italy would declare war on France. He was wrong in his confidence that France was decadent, wrong in believing that England and the United States would only talk but would not fight, yet right in his belief that revolution would break out in Russia. In fact, I think that for years after the Franco-Russian Alliance, Germany was preparing a Russian revolution to break out on whatever day the Russian troops were ordered to their colours. He says that France will be so thoroughly defeated that the "war ought not to leave her more than eyes to cry with."
I am afraid that while many eyes will cry in France, through the breadth of Germany there will be but few homes where eyes will not weep over the casualties of war, for which cruel, crazy dreamers of world empire, like Tannenberg, are largely responsible.
For Tannenberg's dream, the dream of the autocracy and of the Pan-Germanists, is to give to Germany most of South America, a great part of Africa, of Asia, the great islands north of Australia, including those of the Dutch; with Holland and Belgium part of the German Empire as well as the Baltic provinces, and a share of the French colonies to be divided with England.
The share of the United States for standing by and agreeing to the robbery was to be, according to Tannenberg, a protectorate over Mexico and Central America.
Mexicans who were offered Texas and New Mexico by Zimmermann should read this Pan-Germanistic book in which all of Mexico is generously bestowed on us.
And I wish that Tannenberg's book could be read by every public man in South America—that South America in which the Argentine, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, the southern parts of Brazil and Bolivia are, according to Tannenberg, to come under the protectorate of Germany. Latin-American publicists should inquire from the inhabitants of Bosnia and Herzegovina how long it is before a "protectorate" is transmuted into a conquered country. Tannenberg does speak for a great party in Germany. The children's school books show German "colonies" in Southern Brazil.
As Sainte Beuve said, there is a fashion in intellect. The German to-day is essentially practical, cold, cynical, and calculating. The poetry and the Christmas trees, the sentiment and sentimentality, remain like the architectural monuments of a vanished race, mere reminders of the kindlier Germany that once was, the Germany of our first impressions, the Germany that many once loved. But that Germany has long since disappeared, buried beneath the spiked helmets of Prussianism, and another intellect is in vogue.
That older, kindlier Germany was the nation tempered and softened by the suffering of the Napoleonic wars. After the battle of Jena, where Napoleon rubbed the face of Prussia in the mud of defeat, there came on Germany that period of privation which left its impress so deeply on the German as to make thrift his first characteristic. A spirit of lofty, self-sacrificing patriotism imbued the whole people. Young girls cut off their long golden hair to be sold for the Fatherland. Jewels were given by all who possessed them. "Gold gab ich fuer Eisen" (I gave gold for iron) became a saying based on the readiness with which the rich made sacrifices to the cause of country. And with this patriotism, and with this penury, came into every home a more intimate family life, a greater earnestness, a deeper religious sentiment, a turning towards the idealistic side of life; but all was changed by the successful wars of Prussia that gave Prussia the leadership, the right to rule Germany. Then, with the end of the Franco-Prussian war, came a period of material prosperity, the rush of the population to the cities, and the building of great manufactories, of enormous shipping interests, of powerful banking institutions, of trusts and combinations which marked the Germany of 1914.
The fashion in intellect had changed, and the grasping, successful Prussian of 1914 was far removed from the ruined, chastened Prussian of 1810.
Nations, like individuals, change in character with the stress of life. From 1810, the period of a sorrowing Germany, to 1914 is one hundred and four years. The same number of years subtracted from the year 1796, when our new Republic was firmly established, and when George Washington made his noble farewell address, brings us to 1692, when nineteen persons were legally hanged, charged with witchcraft in Massachusetts, and when in that State Giles Cory perished under the awful torture, judicially applied, known as the "peine forte et dure."
It is quite true that weak voices against annexations have been heard.
Dernburg and Professor Hans Delbrueck (the latter not to be confused with the disgraced, pig-slaughtering, ex-Vice-Chancellor), in their petition against the annexation of Belgium, showed a most reasonable spirit, and signing this petition with them were many of the great men and great minds of Germany. But their movement was a failure in Germany itself. Their campaign of reason could make no headway against the "League of Six"—the six great iron and steel companies of the West, who, with their paid lansquenets of the press and hired accelerators of public opinion, clamour for annexation so that they may rivet the chains of their industrial monopoly on the whole continent of Europe.
The Conservatives and Junkers, on the other hand, favour annexations to the East; especially do they eye greedily the Baltic provinces where great estates are in the hands of landowners of German blood. What a reinforcement to the conservative cause would these Junkers of the Baltic be and, in the Conservative view, if there are to be annexations in the West which would increase the number of industrial subjects and, undoubtedly social democrats, there must be a balancing accession of agricultural interest on the Eastern frontier.
The only cloud in the serene blue sky of Junker hopes is the fact that annexations in Poland would add to the number of Roman Catholics and, therefore, to the power of the Centrum or Roman Catholic party. Hence the desire to make of Poland an independent kingdom, but one controlled by the Central Empires.
The Poles are more at ease, having been given more liberty, under Austrian than under Prussian rule, and hence the tendency is to put Poland under Austrian rule. The Prussians do not object to this because it does not matter whether Prussia controls Poland directly or through Prussia's control of Austria, now, alas, only too apparent.
But the principal aim of the nobles and the landed aristocracy of Germany, followed by their host of office-holders and dependents, is to keep the "graft," to hold the offices, civil and military, filled so long by these old Prussian families.
The von Lachnows, to imagine a typical Junker family, hold one thousand acres of land in Brandenburg. The head of the house, Baron von Lachnow, was Minister to Sweden. After having held as a young man a position of Secretary of Legation, he left the diplomatic service to fight with his old regiment, the Gleiwitz Hussars, through the Franco-Prussian War. He then returned to the diplomatic service in which he finally attained the rank of Minister to Sweden. He now lives on his estate of Lachnow, with a pension as ex-minister. On great occasions he appears at the Royal Palace, resplendent in uniform, wearing the Orders of the Red Eagle and Prussian Crown with the Cross of the Johannis Order. His total income from pensions and estate is about ten thousand dollars a year. The oldest son, Baron Karl Friederich, after serving in his father's regiment, resigned and entered the diplomatic service and is now second secretary of the legation in Buenos Aires. He married there the daughter of a rich cattle owner. The second son, Baron Johann, is now Police President of the city of Schelsau, after having been district attorney in an industrial district where he distinguishes himself by his prosecution of the social democrats. He married the daughter of the rich manufacturing proprietor Schulz, who sells, wholesale, little statuettes on the Ritterstrasse in Berlin. Baron August is in the army, detailed to the General Staff and with a great future before him. Baron Max is now out of a job. While on his vacation the colony, in which he was secretary to the Governor, was captured by the British, and so at the outbreak of the war he assumed his old uniform of First Lieutenant in the Gleiwitz Hussars and was given command of the prison camp at Schluttenberg, where he has won distinction for his severity with British prisoners. Baron Ernst is in the navy. This is considered rather a come-down by the family, as the navy, unlike the army, is not aristocratic. He has great hopes of marrying the only daughter of Von Blitz, who owns a splendid estate in Silesia. One of the daughters, Hilda, is married to Count Wenharp, owner of a beautiful estate in Pomerania, and the other to Hochlst, who is judge of the law court in Holstein and who owns the Rittergut (or manor) of Klein Spassberg, near Kiel.
The estate of Lachnow is perfectly flat ground. The road to Brandenburg runs through the estate and village, the houses of which front directly on the road. This road in the village is paved with rough cobblestones. The house of the von Lachnows almost touches the road, from which it is separated by an old stone wall. One side is on a square, cobblestoned courtyard, formed by the great barns, stables and sheds which surround the other three sides of the square. The house and all the barns are built of rough stone. The house is built on the plan of a piece of Castile soap, walls and roof and nothing more. Inside there are a dining-room, two parlours and an office-den for the master, upstairs bedrooms, opening on a long hall; no bathrooms, no conveniences, even the water is brought in by the maids from the well in the centre of the court. The furniture is old and plain. The family does not keep an automobile, but two horses draw a dog cart to the station and take the family on visits to the neighbouring aristocracy. The driver is the sexton of the village church on these occasions. On the two sides of the house away from the main road and the square of barns there is a park of about ten acres. Here are a few evergreens and gravel paths and a pond where some enormous carp excite the wonder of the village children.
Baroness Lachnow is renowned for her devotion to the four K's. No one has a better stock of household linen, all made by her, her daughters and her maids, in the whole Mark. She superintends every household detail and holds the keys to closets and wine cellar.
Of course, the family does not associate with the schoolmaster and the Lutheran minister of the village, but they speak very kindly to them and the Baron once interested himself in obtaining a long service decoration for the schoolmaster.
The von Lachnows live on their estate the year round, except for two weeks in February when they go to Berlin to a cheap hotel and attend one of the court balls. The Baroness never spends more than three hundred and fifty dollars a year on her clothes, although when in Sweden, as a Minister's wife she spent more. The Baron and Baroness sometimes condescend to dine with the father-in-law of their son, a manufactory proprietor, at his handsome apartment on the Kurfuerstendamm in Berlin, but Schultz, in spite of his four million marks and growing business, is made to feel the wide gulf that separates him from the nobility.
Baron Lachnow farms his own estate. His farm superintendent is von Treslow, once an officer in the Gleiwitz Hussars, who was compelled to resign because of a crippled arm, badly broken in a steeplechase. This taciturn, soured individual, on the outbreak of war, was given a place as commander of a village way station near the West Front, where his cruelties to the French inhabitants will long be remembered.
Food is very simple. The family drink beer except on great occasions, but the Baron drinks Moselle at the midday meal and a red wine in the evening. The recreation is shooting and visits to the neighbours.
Such a visit is a great event, arranged by letter beforehand. The von Lachnows drive to visit the von Seltows eighteen miles away. They arrive in time for lunch, when much wine is drunk. After this the women gossip over their fancy work and the men visit the stable, discuss crop prices and inspect the host's collection of horse flesh. The family photographs are inspected and Count Reventlow's latest article abusing the Americans is discussed and the belief suggested that a democratic people without King or Kaiser or nobility cannot be organised for war. The Social Democrats are condemned and the story gleefully told of how the son of von Seltow cut down a Social Democrat who was slow in getting out of his way.
I can understand the feelings of the von Lachnows, the imaginary, typical Prussian family of the ruling class which I have pictured for you. If Germany should be democratised, what place would be left for them? The offices of the government thrown open to all classes in fair elections, places in the army and navy and diplomacy open to competition in great academies like West Point and Annapolis. Deprived of the aroma of power given now by diplomatic or military place and noble birth in the caste system, the sons and daughters could no longer make rich marriages with the sons and daughters of the rich business men and manufacturers. No more would the civil offices of Prussia be open only to appointments among the noble or Junker class.
I do not blame the von Lachnows because they fight tooth and nail for the retention of their old privileges—because they endeavour to hold the common people in a serfdom almost as complete as that of the Dark Ages. The dawn of constitutional government will be their twilight, the twilight of the Gods of militarism, of privilege, and of caste. Prussian autocracy made the war in a last desperate endeavour to bribe the people into continued submission.
The only excuse for the existence of the Prussian ruling class to-day, as much out of place as chain armour or robber barons, is its supposed honesty and efficiency; but no class which has brought this war on the German people can be described as competent; no sane governing class would have plunged into disastrous war a country that by peaceful penetration, by thrift and manufacture, and financial and commercial ability was in process of acquiring much of the wealth of the world.
The first aim of German autocracy is to keep its own political position at home.
Second—To obtain as much of the territory of other nations, as great an influence in unconquered lands, as possible.
Third—To make peace now, but only if that peace is a German peace, a peace which can be called and advertised and proclaimed as a German victory.
More particularly, Germany now looks to the East. In the so-called Baltic provinces of Russia the lands to a great extent are owned by Russian subjects of German blood. The peasants are poor, servile, without education or property, an ideal field for the advance of autocracy. It is hoped to either annex these provinces boldly or to establish protectorates, which, sooner or later, at an opportune moment, will fall into German hands—just as Austria gained the consent of Europe to a protectorate over Bosnia and Herzegovina and then suddenly added them to the domains of the Hapsburgs.
The German propagandists have long been working on the people of that part of Russia known as the Ukraine. If the Ukraine can be made a separate protectorate or a semi-independent state, some day it will be easily absorbed. The autocracy has the same hope about Lithuania, at one time semi-independent. There, too, the propagandists have worked on Lithuania—all these provinces, of course, differing slightly from the races surrounding and all with a semi-independent history, as, for instance, Courland.
But all these races should think twice before they accept a momentary independence, if that autonomy is to lead them under the Prussian yoke. Whether that yoke is easy to bear or not is best answered by the Danes, Alsatians, Poles and Lorrainers who have been forcibly incorporated in the Kingdom of Prussia.
But greatest prize of all is the commercial control of Russia which the autocracy hopes to win for its merchant class. Time and again I was told in Germany that a separate peace with Russia was near and that the exploitation of Russia by the enterprising German merchants, in a short time, would repay Germany for all the losses of the war.
Would it not seem extraordinary if the language of business and commerce of the United States were French? But to-day in Russia and for years back the language of commercial business intercourse has been German. A great beginning, a great foundation it is for the eventual control, not only of the business, but the political structure of Russia. If the Germans at war with Russia have been able to split, revolutionise and divide it and put their representatives in control, what will they not be able to accomplish when peace shall bring them full liberty to circulate freely in that rich but ignorant country.
In the end, all classes in Russia will demand a strong government, and if no military dictator, no Russian Napoleon has taken in his hands the reins of government, then the German Kaiser will stand by ready to whisper to the torn people of Russia, as Napoleon III did to the French, "My Empire is Peace!"
But even if Germany evacuates France and restores the complete independence of Belgium, even if no territories are gained to the East, or protectorates or independent states carved from the body of Russia to be a later prey of Germany, Germany will have won—if from Bremen to Bagdad German influence or actual German rule is predominant in Middle Europe, the Great Central State, where the cotton of Mesopotamia, and the coal and iron of Westphalia, the copper of Servia, the oil and grain of Roumania all will contribute to the manufacturer of Germany, who, in turn, will sell his goods in that vast territory. And best of all in autocratic view, the man power of the Central Empires will be so increased that at a propitious moment, in a characteristic sudden assault, the armies of the Central Empires will invade and conquer Palestine, Egypt and India, and take what they will in Africa and Asia, while British, Japanese, and American and French navies impotently rage in useless control of the high seas.
AUSTRIA-HUNGARY—THE KAISER'S VASSAL STATE
Few people in America perhaps realise how completely Austria-Hungary is under the domination of Germany and Kaiserism. There are those who think that the hand of the Vienna Government was forced by Berlin when the ultimatum to Serbia was answered so reasonably by the little country to the south, but there can be no doubt that Austria has been ever since under the yoke of the German General Staff.
And because the first break, the first glimpse of reasonable peace will in turn be forced on Germany by sorely tried Austria-Hungary, bent by war and bowed by debt, it is well to study a little the races and assess the influences of that unfortunate land.
My wife's sister married a Hungarian Count, a member of the Hungarian House of Lords, and I have met many of the political leaders and magnates of that country on my trips there.
The Germans of Austria are handsomer, more attractive but far less efficient than their bloody brethren from the cold, wind-swept plains of Prussia. They have acquired a slight touch of the Oriental and something of the manana (to-morrow) of the Spaniards, a heritage, perhaps, of the days when Spain and Austria were so closely connected by Hapsburg rule.
In the presence of an Austrian one feels his charm instead of the aggressive personality which is Prussian. Undoubtedly the Prussians counted on the good nature of the southern Germans, Hungarians, Poles and Slavs in their insidious campaign to make these peoples, practically, if not in name, subject and tributary to Prussian rule. The Prussian propagandist has brought them face to face with a new Kaiserism.
Shortly after the war a great number of Austrian professors of German blood issued a manifesto demanding closer union with Germany—a prelude to the plots being hatched in Berlin against Hapsburg rule.
The Court of Austria is quite different from that of Berlin; no modern ideas during the reign of Francis Joseph disturbed his medieval outlook.
The beautiful Empress of Austria, who was assassinated by an anarchist in Switzerland, was probably insane. At any rate, for many years she lived apart from the Emperor, devoted to hunting and horses, going often as far as Ireland for her favourite sport and seldom appearing in Vienna. Francis Joseph, however, was consoled by an ex-actress, Frau Kathie Schratt, whom he visited daily and who occupied a position in Vienna almost as powerful as that of the mistresses of Louis XIV. Even in this very war when Frau Schratt established a hospital, she was photographed in the centre of a group of women all occupied at this hospital and all holding the highest rank at the Austrian Court. The instant the old Emperor died, however, her power, influence and prestige disappeared and I imagine that her titled and high born helpers were not long in deserting the hospital wards over which she had presided.
That extraordinary Empire known as the Austrian Hungarian Dual Monarchy is less an Empire or a Kingdom or a State than the personal property of the Hapsburgs, whose hereditary talent for the acquisition of land is recorded on the map of Europe to-day.
For centuries this royal family by treaty, by intrigue, by war, purchase and marriage has been adding to its dominions, bringing under its personal rule races who do not understand each other's language and who differ widely in customs, intellectual attainments and religion.
The last acquisition of territory by the house of Hapsburg was in the year 1908, when the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office boldly declared that Bosnia and Herzegovina, placed under the protectorate of Austria-Hungary by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, had been annexed to the Empire. The German Kaiser, standing by like a watching accomplice while the burglary was in progress, threatened a general European war if any nations protested.
At a time when Prussia was a struggling state, Austria was the dominant power in Central Europe, but the one battle of Sadowa in 1866 settled for ever the question of supremacy and the German States like Bavaria, Saxony, Wuertemburg, etc., which stood with Austria in that war, after receiving a sound beating, ranged themselves on the side of the victor and, in 1870, joined in acclaiming the King of Prussia as the First German Emperor.
That event settled the question of leadership in Central Europe and the dream of the Emperor Frederick who died about the time of the discovery of America. It was he who wrote the famous anagram on the vowels A, E, I, O, U.
ustria st mperare rbi niverso A E I O U lles rdreich st esterreich nterthan
"It is the fate of Austria to rule the world."
In upper and lower Austria, so-called, there are about twelve million German Austrians. This territory is comparatively small and in it lies the city of Vienna. To the north and northeast lie Bohemia and Moravia, the country of the Tchechs or Szechs of Slavic blood. These people together number about six million. Prague is the capital of Bohemia, while in Moravia there is no great city. For centuries these peoples have been oppressed by the Austrians and in the Hussite rebellion the lands of Bohemia and Moravia were parcelled out to the Austrian nobles as well as to the warlike adventurers who had joined the Austrian armies.
With extraordinary obstinacy and patriotism these peoples cling to their old language and customs. They have suffered much during this war and many tales are told of the shooting of all of the officers of Tchech regiments and the execution of every tenth man among the privates.
It is a bit of poetic justice that the town of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, where my friend Schwab is making so much war material to be used against the Central Powers, was founded by fugitives, who, rebelling against oppression, left Moravia in search of liberty.
North of the Carpathians lies Galicia, a Polish country, with Lemberg and Krakow as its capitals, and in the eastern part the Ruthenians, a race identical with the Russians. These Ruthenians number upwards of four million.
It is a peculiar fact that in the curious Dual Monarchy each race oppresses some other. The Ruthenians complain that they are oppressed by the Poles. The kingdom of Hungary lies to the east of Austria containing in its twenty million inhabitants about ten million Magyars, who are the dominant race and who in turn rule over a population of one and one-half million Ruthenians, two and one-half million Slovacks or Tchecks, three million Roumanians in the southeastern portion and about three million of the race now known as Jugo-Slavs. Of these Jugo-Slavs about two million are in that part of the Dual Monarchy under Austrian rule. These are the principal divisions of peoples. A Slavish race differing somewhat from the others is in the mountains to the east of Hungary where much fighting has taken place in the last war known as Boukovina. In the southeastern part of Hungary there is a German speaking country, known as Siebenburgen, where live the descendants of a German colony planted about two centuries ago.
In Styria, in the mountainous districts of Austria to the west of Hungary, lives a race differing again from all the others, a mountain race supposed to be eaters of arsenic, a drug which they believe gives them a good complexion and stamina for mountain climbing. It is said that the bodies of these arsenic eaters remain undecomposed for a long time. And from this part of the world comes the curious superstition of the existence of human vampires.
Slovenes, and Jews, Carinthians and inhabitants of Carniola, Serbs living like Moslems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italians in Trieste and the Trient—all make up the strange Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
The union between Austria and Hungary is a personal union. The Emperor of Austria is King of Hungary. Only in four particulars are the Empire and the Kingdom united, namely, a joint administration of the army and navy, of diplomatic affairs and of such finances as are connected with joint expenditures for these purposes.
In 1848 Hungary sought to break away from Austria. Kossuth heroically led the Hungarians against their Austrian masters, only to be beaten in the end because of the advent of the Russians, because one autocrat came to the aid of another.
Since then, by superior political talents and taste for intrigue, the Magyars have not only held the Slovaks, Roumanians, etc., of their own country in political subjection, but have held much of the power in the Dual Monarchy. Their danger lies, however, in the predominance of German influence; and some day the gay, easy-going, pleasant Hungarians may awake to find the Prussian Eitel Fritz seated on their throne and to learn what Prussian efficiency means when applied to those whom Germans consider an inferior people.
The twelve million Austrian Germans differ much in character from the Prussians. They are far more polite, far more agreeable, far more fond of amusement of all kinds. Indeed it is because of their pleasant personal characteristics that so many other nations have been content to remain under their rule. In no city of the world is the mass of the population as fond of pleasure as in Vienna. The best light operas come from that city. Vienna is the original home of the waltz. The "Blue Danube" was composed on the shores of the river which flows through the Austrian capital.
The dominant religion of the German Empire is Protestant, but in the Dual Monarchy it is Roman Catholic among the ruling Germans in Austria and Magyars in Hungary.
In Austria and in Hungary most of the land is held in great estates. The peasants, as in Germany, sometimes own a few strips of land near their miserable villages. Possession of land is necessary to the standing of any noble. In Hungary, for example, no noble sits in the house of Magnates or House of Lords unless he is the owner of a certain amount of land.
Once across the Hungarian border, one sees the people taking a certain delight in refusing to understand German. The names of the railway stations are in Hungarian, and the uniforms of station officials, conductors, etc., differ from those in Austria. Every effort is made by the population to emphasise the fact that Hungary is an independent kingdom, joined to Austria by personal rule alone.
There is no melting pot in this part of the world. In the Lower House of the Hungarian parliament sit forty-three Croatian delegates, Croatia being that part of southwestern Hungary near the Adriatic where the inhabitants are of Slav blood. By the Hungarian constitution those delegates have the right to speak in the Hungarian parliament in their own language and so from time to time a Croatian delegate arises in his place and delivers an ambitious harangue in Croatian, understood by no one except his fellow delegates who already know what he intends to talk about. This is only one example of how these peoples cling tenaciously to their language and national rights.
It is possible to find in Hungary an Hungarian village, a German village, a Slav village and a Roumanian village, all within a short distance of each other. Men from each of these villages after one month in the United States throw aside their national costume and buy their clothes in the same Bowery shop, eat the same food and send their children to the same public school not only without protest, but with eagerness, whereas, in Hungary, not one of the inhabitants of these different villages would think of abandoning his national traits to learn the language of his German neighbours.