Were it not for the fact that at this time President Wilson was trying to impress upon Germany the seriousness of her continued disregard of American and neutral lives on the high seas, the whole thing would have been too absurd to notice. But Germany wanted to create the impression among her people that President Wilson was not speaking for America, and that the Ambassador was too insignificant to notice.
After this incident Gerard called upon von Jagow again and demanded the immediate suppression of the third number of Light and Truth. Before von Jagow consented Mrs. Neumann-Hofer turned upon her former propagandists and confessed. I believe her confession is in the State Department, but this is what she told me:
"Marten is a German and has never been called to the army because the General Staff has delegated him to direct this anti-American propaganda. [We were talking at the Embassy the day before the Ambassador left.] Marten is supported by some very high officials. He has letters of congratulations from the Chancellor, General von Falkenhayn, Count Zeppelin and others for one of his propaganda books entitled 'German Barbarians.' I think the Crown Prince is one of his backers, but I have never been able to prove it."
On July 4th, 1915, the League of Truth issued what it called "A New Declaration of Independence." This was circulated in German and English throughout the country. It was as follows:
* * * * * * * *
A NEW DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Seven score years have elapsed since those great words were forged that welded us into a nation upon many fiery battlefields.
In that day the strong voices of strong men rang across the world, their molten words flamed with light and their arms broke the visible chains of an intolerable bondage.
But now in the red reflex of the glare cast from the battlefields of Europe, the invisible manacles that have been cunningly laid upon our freedom have become shamefully apparent. They rattle in the ears of the world.
Our liberty has vanished once again. Yet our ancient enemy remains enthroned in high places within our land and in insolent ships before our gates. We have not only become Colonials once again, but subjects,—for true subjects are known by the measure of their willing subjection.
We Americans in the heart of this heroic nation now struggling for all that we ourselves hold dear, but against odds such as we were never forced to face, perceive this truth with a disheartening but unclouded vision.
Far from home we would to-day celebrate, as usual, the birthday of our land. But with heavy hearts we see that this would now seem like a hollow mockery of something solemn and immemorial. It were more in keeping with reality that we burnt incense upon the altars of the British Baal.
Independence Day without Independence! The liberty of the seas denied us for the peaceful Commerce of our entire land and granted us only for the murderous trafficking of a few men!
Independence Day has dawned for us in alien yet friendly land. It has brought to us at least the independence of our minds.
Free from the abominations of the most dastardly campaign of falsehood that ever disgraced those who began and those who believe it, we have stripped ourselves of the rags of many perilous illusions. We see America as a whole, and we see it with a fatal and terrible clarity.
We see that once again our liberties of thought, of speech, of intercourse, of trade, are threatened, nay, already seized by the one ancient enemy that can never be our friend.
With humiliation we behold our principles, our sense of justice trodden underfoot. We see the wild straining of the felon arms that would drag our land into the abyss of the giant Conspiracy and Crime.
We see the foul alliance of gold, murderous iron and debauched paper to which we have been sold.
We know that our pretenses and ambitions as heralds of peace are monstrous, so long as we profit through war and human agony.
We see these rivers of blood that have their source in our mills of slaughter.
The Day of Independence has dawned.
It is a solemn and momentous hour for America,
It is a day on which our people must speak with clear and inexorable voice, or sit silent in shame.
It is the great hour in which we dare not celebrate our first Declaration of Independence, because the time has come when we must proclaim a new one over the corpse of that which has perished.
Berlin, July 4th, 1915.
AN ANTI-AMERICAN PROPAGANDA DOCUMENT
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The League of Truth, however, was but one branch of the intricate propaganda system. While it was financed almost entirely by German-Americans living in Germany who retained their American passports to keep themselves, or their children, out of the army, all publications for this bureau were approved by the Foreign Office censors. Germans, connected with the organisation, were under direction of the General Staff or Navy.
In order to have the propaganda really successful some seeds of discontent had to be sown in the United States, in South America and Mexico as well as in Spain and other European neutral countries. For this outside propaganda, money and an organisation were needed. The Krupp ammunition interests supplied the money and the Foreign Office the organisation.
For nearly two years the American press regularly printed despatches from the Overseas News Agency. Some believed they were "official." This was only half true. The Krupps had been financing this news association. The government had given its support and the two wireless towers at Sayville, Long Island, and Tuckerton, N. J., were used as "footholds" on American soil. These stations were just as much a part of the Krupp works as the factories at Essen or the shipyards of Kiel. They were to disseminate the Krupp-fed, Krupp-owned, Krupp-controlled news, of the Overseas News Agency.
When the Overseas despatches first reached the United States the newspapers printed them in a spirit of fairness. They gave the other side, and in the beginning they were more or less accurate. But when international relations between the two countries became critical the news began to be distorted in Berlin. At each crisis, as at the time of the sinking of the Arabic, the Ancona, the Sussex and other ships, the German censorship prevented the American correspondents from sending the news as they gathered it in Germany and substituted "news" which the Krupp interests and the Imperial Foreign Office desired the American people to believe. December, 1916, when the German General Staff began to plan for an unrestricted submarine warfare, especial use was made of the "Overseas News Agency" to work up sentiment here against President Wilson. Desperate efforts were made to keep the United States from breaking diplomatic relations. In December and January last records of the news despatches in the American newspapers from Berlin show that the Overseas agency was more active than all American correspondents in Berlin. Secretary of State Zimmermann, Under-secretaries von dem Busche and von Stumm gave frequent interviews to the so-called "representatives of the Overseas News Agency." It was all part of a specific Krupp plan, supported by the Hamburg-American and the North German Lloyd steamship companies, to divide opinion in the United States so that President Wilson would not be supported if he broke diplomatic relations.
Germany, as I have pointed out, has been conducting a two-faced propaganda. While working in the United States through her agents and reservists to create the impression that Germany was friendly, the Government laboured to prepare the German people for war. The policy was to make the American people believe Germany would never do anything to bring the United States into the war, but to convince the German public that America was not neutral and that President Wilson was scheming against the German race. Germany was Janus-headed. Head No. 1 said:
"America, you are a great nation. We want your friendship and neutrality. We have close business and blood relations, and these should not be broken. Germany is not the barbaric nation her enemies picture her."
Head No. 2, turned toward the German people, said:
"Germans, President Wilson is anti-German. He wants to prevent us from starting an unlimited submarine war. America has never been neutral, because Washington permits the ammunition factories to supply the Allies. These factories are killing your relatives. We have millions of German-Americans who will support us. It will not be long until Mexico will declare war on the United States, and our reservists will fight for Mexico. Don't be afraid if Wilson breaks diplomatic relations."
The German press invasion of America began at the beginning of the war. Dr. Dernburg was the first envoy. He was sent to New York by the same Foreign Office officials and the same Krupp interests which control the Overseas agency. Having failed here, he returned to Berlin. There was only one thing to save German propaganda in America. That was to mobolise the Sayville and Tuckerton wireless stations, and Germany did it immediately.
At the beginning of the war, when the British censors refused the American correspondents in Germany the right of telegraphing to the United States via England, the Berlin Government granted permission to the United Press, The Associated Press and the Chicago Daily News to send wireless news via Sayville. At first this news was edited by the correspondents of these associations and newspapers in Berlin. Later, when the individual correspondents began to demand more space on the wireless, the news sent jointly to these papers was cut down. This unofficial league of American papers was called the "War-Union." The news which this union sent was German, but it was written by trained American writers. When the Government saw the value of this service to the United States it began to send wireless news of its own. Then the Krupp interests appeared, and the Overseas News Agency was organised. At that moment the Krupp invasion of the United States began and contributed 800,000 marks annually to this branch of propaganda alone.
Dr. Hammann, for ten years chief of the Berlin Foreign Office propaganda department, was selected as president of the Overseas News Agency. The Krupp interests, which had been subscribing 400,000 marks annually to this agency, subscribed the same amount to the reorganised company. Then, believing that another agency could be organised, subscribed 400,000 marks more to the Transocean News Agency. Because there was so much bitterness and rivalry between the officials of the two concerns, the Government stepped in and informed the Overseas News Agency that it could send only "political news," while the Trans-ocean was authorised to send "economic and social news" via Sayville and Tuckerton.
This news, however, was not solely for the United States. Krupp's eyes were on Mexico and South America, so agents were appointed in Washington and New York to send the Krupp-bred wireless news from New York by cable to South America and Mexico. Obviously the same news which was sent to the United States could not be telegraphed to Mexico and South America, because Germany had a different policy toward these countries. The United States was on record against an unlimited submarine warfare. Mexico and South America were not. Brazil, which has a big German population, was considered an un-annexed German colony. News to Brazil, therefore, had to be coloured differently than news to New York. Some of the colouring was done in Berlin; some in New York by Krupp's agents here. As a result of Germany's anti-United States propaganda in South America and Mexico, these countries did not follow President Wilson when he broke diplomatic relations with Berlin. While public sentiment might have been against Germany, it was, to a certain degree, antagonistic to the United States.
Obviously, Germany had to have friends in this country to assist her, or what was being done would be traced too directly to the German Government. So Germany financed willing German-Americans in their propaganda schemes. And because no German could cross the ocean except with a falsified neutral passport, Germany had to depend upon German-Americans with American passports to bring information over. These German-Americans, co-operating with some of the Americans in Berlin, kept informing the Foreign Office, the army and navy as well as influential Reichstag members that the real power behind the government over here was not the press and public opinion but the nine million Americans who were directly or indirectly related to Germany. During this time the Government felt so sure that it could rely upon the so-called German-Americans that the Government considered them as a German asset whenever there was a submarine crisis.
When Henry Morgenthau, former American Ambassador to Turkey, passed through Berlin, en route to the United States, he conferred with Zimmermann, who was then Under Secretary of State. During the course of one of their conversations Zimmermann said the United States would never go to war with Germany, "because the German-Americans would revolt." That was one of Zimmermann's hobbies. Zimmermann told other American officials and foreign correspondents that President Wilson would not be able to bring the United States to the brink of war, because the "German-Americans were too powerful."
But Zimmermann was not making these statements upon his own authority. He was being kept minutely advised about conditions here through the German spy system and by German-American envoys, who came to Berlin to report on progress the German-Americans were making here in politics and in Congress.
Zimmermann was so "dead sure" he was right in expecting a large portion of Americans to be disloyal that one time during a conversation with Ambassador Gerard he said that he believed Wilson was only bluffing in his submarine notes. When Zimmermann was Under Secretary of State I used to see him very often. His conversation would contain questions like these:
"Well, how is your English President? Why doesn't your President do something against England?"
Zimmermann was always in close touch with the work of Captains von Papen and Boy-Ed when they were in this country. He was one of the chief supports of the little group of intriguers in Berlin who directed German propaganda here. Zimmermann was the man who kept Baron Mumm von Schwarzenstein, former Ambassador to Tokyo, in the Foreign Office in Berlin as chief of foreign propaganda and intrigue in America and China. Mumm had been here as Minister Extra-ordinary several years ago and knew how Germany's methods could be used to the best purpose, namely, to divide American sentiment. Then, when Zimmermann succeeded Jagow he ousted Mumm because Mumm had become unpopular with higher Government authorities.
One day in Berlin, just before the recall of the former German military and naval attaches in Washington, I asked Zimmermann whether Germany sanctioned what these men had been doing. He replied that Germany approved everything they had done "because they had done nothing more than try to keep America out of the war; to prevent American goods reaching the Allies and to persuade Germans and those of German descent not to work in ammunition factories." The same week I overheard in a Berlin cafe two reserve naval officers discuss plans for destroying Allied ships sailing from American ports. One of these men was an escaped officer of an interned liner at Newport News. He had escaped to Germany by way of Italy. That afternoon when I saw Ambassador Gerard I told him of the conversation of these two men, and also what Zimmermann had said. The Ambassador had just received instructions from Washington about Boy-Ed and von Papen.
Gerard was furious.
"Go tell Zimmermann," he said, "for God's sake to leave America alone. If he keeps this up he'll drag us into the war. The United States won't stand this sort of thing indefinitely."
That evening I went back to the Foreign Office and saw Zimmermann for a few minutes. I asked him why it was that Germany, which was at peace with the United States, was doing everything within her power to make war.
"Why, Germany is not doing anything to make you go to war," he replied. "Your President seems to want war. Germany is not responsible for what the German-Americans are doing. They are your citizens, not ours. Germany must not be held responsible for what those people do."
Had it not been for the fact that the American Government was fully advised about Zimmermann's intrigues in the United States this remark might be accepted on its face. The United States knew that Germany was having direct negotiations with German-Americans in the United States. Men came to Germany with letters of introduction from leading German-Americans here, with the expressed purpose of trying to get Germany to stop its propaganda here. What they did do was to assure Germany that the German-Americans would never permit the United States to be drawn into the war. Because of their high recommendations from Germans here some of them had audiences with the Kaiser.
Germany had been supporting financially some Americans, as the State Department has proof of checks which have been given to American citizens for propaganda and spy work.
I know personally of one instance where General Director Heinicken, of the North German-Lloyd, gave an American in Berlin $1,000 for his reports on American conditions. The name cannot be mentioned because there are no records to prove the transaction, although the man receiving this money came to me and asked me to transmit $250 to his mother through the United Press office. I refused.
When Zimmermann began to realise that Germany's threatening propaganda in the United States and Germany's plots against American property were not succeeding in frightening the United States away from war, he began to look forward to the event of war. He saw, as most Germans did, that it would be a long time before the United States could get forces to Europe in a sufficient number to have a decisive effect upon the war. He began to plan with the General Staff and the Navy to league Mexico against America for two purposes. One, Germany figured that a war with Mexico would keep the United States army and navy busy over here. Further, Zimmermann often said to callers that if the United States went to war with Mexico it would not be possible for American factories to send so much ammunition and so many supplies to the Allies.
German eyes turned to Mexico. As soon as President Wilson recognised Carranza as President, Germany followed with a formal recognition. Zubaran Capmany, who had been Mexican representative in Washington, was sent to Berlin as Carranza's Minister. Immediately upon his arrival Zimmermann began negotiations with him. Reports of the negotiations were sent to Washington. The State Department was warned that unless the United States solved the "Mexican problem" immediately Germany would prepare to attack us through Mexico. German reservists were tipped off to be ready to go to Mexico upon a moment's notice. Count von Bernstorff and the German Consuls in the United States were instructed, and Bernstorff, who was acting as the general director of German interests in North and South America, was told to inform the German officials in the Latin-American countries. At the same time German financial interests began to purchase banks, farms and mines in Mexico.
THE DOWNFALL OF VON TIRPITZ AND VON FALKENHAYN
After the sinking of the Arabic the German Foreign Office intimated to the United States Government and to the American correspondents that methods of submarine warfare would be altered and that ships would be warned before they were torpedoed. But when the Navy heard that the Foreign Office was inclined to listen to Mr. Wilson's protests it made no attempt to conceal its opposition. Gottlieb von Jagow, the Secretary of State, although he was an intimate friend of the Kaiser and an officer in the German Army, was at heart a pacifist. Every time an opportunity presented itself he tried to mobilise the peace forces of the world to make peace. From time to time, the German financiers and propaganda leaders in the United States, as well as influential Germans in the neutral European countries, sent out peace "feelers." Von Jagow realised that the sooner peace was made, the better it would be for Germany and the easier it would be for the Foreign Office to defeat the military party at home. He saw that the more victories the army had and the more victories it could announce to the people the more lustful the General Staff would be for a war of exhaustion. Army leaders have always had more confidence in their ability to defeat the world than the Foreign Office. The army looked at the map of Europe and saw so many hundred thousand square miles of territory under occupation. The Foreign Office saw Germany in its relation to the world. Von Jagow knew that every new square mile of territory gained was being paid for, not only by the cost of German blood, but by the more terrible cost of public opinion and German influence abroad. But Germany was under martial law and the Foreign Office had nothing to say about military plans. The Foreign Office also had little to say about naval warfare. The Navy was building submarines as fast as it could and the number of ships lost encouraged the people to believe that the more intensified the submarine war became, the quicker the war would end in Germany's favour. So the Navy kept sinking ships and relying upon the Foreign Office to make excuses and keep America out of the war.
The repeated violations of the pledges made by the Foreign Office to the United States aroused American public opinion to white heat, and justly so, because the people here did not understand that the real submarine crisis was not between President Wilson and Berlin but between Admiral von Tirpitz and Secretary von Jagow and their followers. President Wilson was at the limit of his patience with Germany and the German people, who were becoming impatient over the long drawn out proceedings, began to accept the inspired thinking of the Navy and to believe that Wilson was working for the defeat of Germany by interfering with submarine activities.
On February 22nd, 1916, in one of my despatches I said: "The patient attitude toward America displayed during the Lusitania negotiations, it is plain to-day, no longer exists because of the popular feeling that America has already hindered so many of Germany's plans." At that time it appeared to observers in Berlin that unless President Wilson could show more patience than the German Government the next submarine accident would bring about a break in relations. Commenting on this despatch the Indianapolis News the next day said:
"In this country the people feel that all the patience has been shown by their government. We believe that history will sustain that view. Almost ten months ago more than 100 American citizens were deliberately done to death by the German Government, for it is understood that the submarine commander acted under instructions, and that Germany refuses to disavow on the ground that the murderous act was the act of the German Government. Yet, after all this time, the Lusitania case is still unsettled. The administration has, with marvellous self-restraint, recognised that public opinion in Germany was not normal, and for that reason it has done everything in its power to smooth the way to a settlement by making it as easy as possible for the Imperial Government to meet our just demands. Indeed, the President has gone so far as to expose himself to severe criticism at home. We believe that he would have been sustained if he had, immediately after the sinking of the Lusitania, broken off diplomatic relations.
"But he has stood out against public opinion in his own country, waited ten months for an answer, and done everything that he could in honour due to soften the feeling here. Yet just on the eve of a settlement that would have been unsatisfactory to many of our people, Germany announced the policy that we had condemned as illegal, and that plainly is illegal. The trouble in Berlin is an utter inability to see anything wrong in the attack on the Lusitania, or to appreciate the sense of horror that was stirred in this country by it. The idea seems to be that the policy of frightfulness could be extended to the high seas without in any way shocking the American people. Nothing has come from Berlin that indicates any feeling of guilt on the part of the German people or their Government.
"In the United States, on the contrary, the act is regarded as one of the blackest crimes of history. And yet, in spite of that feeling, we have waited patiently for ten months in the hope that the German Government would do justice, and clear its name of reproach. Yet now we are told that it is Germany that has shown a 'patient attitude,' the implication or insinuation being that our long suffering administration has been unreasonable and impatient. That will not be the verdict of history, as it is not the verdict of our own people. We have made every allowance for the conditions existing in Germany, and have resolutely refused to take advantage of her distress. We doubt whether there is any other government in the world that would have shown the patience and moderation, under like provocation, that have been shown by the American Government in these Lusitania negotiations."
I sent the editorial to von Jagow, who returned it the next day with the brief comment on one of his calling cards: "With many thanks."
About this time Count Reventlow and the other naval writers began to refer to everything President Wilson did as a "bluff." When Col. E. M. House came to Berlin early in 1916, he tried to impress the officials with the fact that Mr. Wilson was not only not bluffing, but that the American people would support him in whatever he did in dealing with the German Government. Mr. Gerard tried too to impress the Foreign Office but because he could only deal with that branch of the Government, he could not change the Navy's impression, which was that Wilson would never take a definite stand against Germany. On the 8th of February, the London Times printed the following despatch which I had sent to the United States:
"Mr. Gerard has been accused of not being forceful enough in dealing with the Berlin Foreign Office. In Berlin he has been criticised for just the opposite. It has been stated frequently that he was too aggressive. The Ambassador's position was that he must carry out Mr. Wilson's ideas. So he tried for days and weeks to impress officials with the seriousness of the situation. At the critical point in the negotiations various unofficial diplomats began to arrive and they seriously interfered with negotiations. One of these was a politician who through his credentials from Mr. Bryan met many high officials, and informed them that President Wilson was writing his notes for 'home consumption.' Mr. Gerard, however, appealed to Washington to know what was meant by the moves of this American with authority from Mr. Bryan. This was the beginning of the reason for Secretary Bryan's resigning.
"Secretary Bryan had informed also former Ambassador Dumba that the United States would never take any position against Germany even though it was hinted so in the Lusitania note. Dumba telegraphed this to Vienna and Berlin was informed immediately. Because of Mr. Gerard's personal friendship and personal association with Secretary of State von Jagow and Under Secretary of State Zimmermann, he was acquainted with Secretary Bryan's move. He telegraphed to President Wilson and the result was the resignation of Mr. Bryan."
In December, the Ancona was torpedoed and it was officially explained that the act was that of an Austrian submarine commander. Wilson's note to Vienna brought about a near rupture between Austria-Hungary and Germany because Austria and Hungary at that time were much opposed to Germany's submarine methods. Although the submarines operating in the Mediterranean were flying the Austrian flag, they were German submarines, and members of the crews were German. Throughout the life of the Emperor Franz Josef the Dual Monarchy was ruled, not from Vienna, but from Budapest by Count Stefan Tisza, the Hungarian Premier. I was in Budapest at the time and one evening saw Count Tisza at his palace, which stands on the rocky cliff opposite the main part of Budapest, and which overlooks the valley of the Danube for many miles. Tisza, as well as all Hungarians, is pro-American before he is pro-German.
"To think of trouble between Austria-Hungary and the United States is sheer nonsense," he said in his quiet but forceful manner. "I must confess, however, that we were greatly surprised to get the American note. It is far from our intention to get into any quarrel with America. Perhaps I should not say quarrel, because I know it would not be that, but of course matters do not depend upon us entirely. There is no reason for any trouble over the Ancona question. It must be settled satisfactorily," he said emphatically, "not only from the standpoint of the United States, but from our standpoint."
The Ancona crisis brought the Foreign Office new and unexpected support. Hungary was opposed to a dispute with America. In the first place, Hungarians are more of a liberty loving people than the Germans, and public opinion in Hungary rules the country. While there is a strong Government press, which is loyal to the Tisza party, there is an equally powerful opposition press which follows the leadership of Count Albert Apponyi and Count Julius Andrassy, the two most popular men in Hungarian public life. Apponyi told me on one occasion that while the Government was controlled by Tisza a great majority of the people sided with the opposition. He added that the constant antagonism of the Liberals and Democrats kept the Government within bounds.
Hungarians resented the stain upon their honour of the Ancona incident and they were on the verge of compelling Berlin to assume responsibility for the sinking and adjust the matter. But Berlin feared that if the Ancona crime was accredited to the real murderers it would bring about another, and perhaps a fatal crisis with the United States. So Vienna assumed responsibility and promised to punish the submarine commander who torpedoed the ship.
This opposition from Hungary embittered the German Navy but it was helpless. The growing fear of the effects which President Wilson's notes were having upon Americans and upon the outside neutral world caused opposition to von Tirpitz to gain more force. In desperation von Tirpitz and his followers extended the anti-American propaganda and began personal attacks upon von Bethmann-Hollweg.
Bitterness between these two men became so great that neither of them would go to the Great Headquarters to confer with the Kaiser if the other was there. The personal opposition reached the point where the Kaiser could not keep both men in his cabinet. Von Tirpitz, who thought he was the hero of the German people because of the submarine policy, believed he had so much power that he could shake the hold which the Kaiser had upon the people and frighten the Emperor into the belief that unless he supported him against the Chancellor and the United States, the people would overthrow the Hohenzollern dynasty. But von Tirpitz had made a good many personal enemies especially among financiers and business men. So the Kaiser, instead of ousting the Chancellor, asked von Tirpitz to resign and appointed Admiral von Capelle, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and a friend of the Chancellor, as von Tirpitz' successor. Admiral von Mueller, Chief of the Naval Cabinet, who was always at Great Headquarters as the Kaiser's personal adviser on naval affairs, was opposed to von Tirpitz and exposed him at the Great Headquarters conferences by saying that von Tirpitz had falsified the Navy's figures as to the number of submarines available for a blockade of England. Von Capelle supported von Mueller and when the friends of von Tirpitz in the Reichstag demanded an explanation for the ousting of their idol, both the Chancellor and von Capelle explained that Germany could not continue submarine warfare which von Tirpitz had started, because of the lack of the necessary submarines.
This was the first big victory of the Foreign Office. The democratic forces in Germany which had been fighting von Tirpitz for over a year were jubilant. Every one in Germany who realised that not until the hold of the military party upon the Kaiser and the Government was dislodged, would the Government be able to make peace now breathed sighs of relief and began to make plans for the adjustment of all differences with the United States and for a peace without annexation. Von Tirpitz had had the support of all the forces in Germany which looked forward to the annexation of Belgium and the richest portions of Northern France. Von Tirpitz was supported by the men who wanted the eastern border of Germany extended far into Poland and Lithuania.
Even Americans were delighted. Washington for the first time began to see that eleven months of patience was bearing fruit. But this period of exaltation was not destined to last very long. While the Chancellor had cleaned house in the Navy Department at Berlin he had overlooked Kiel. There were admirals and officers in charge there who were making preparations for the Navy. They were the men who talked to the submarine commanders before they started out on their lawless sea voyages.
On March 24th the whole world was shocked by another U-boat crime. The Sussex, a French channel steamer, plying between Folkstone and Dieppe, was torpedoed without warning and Americans were among the passengers killed and wounded. When the news reached Berlin, not only the Chancellor and the Foreign Office were shocked and horrified, but the American Embassy began to doubt whether the Chancellor really meant what he said when he informed Gerard confidentially that now that von Tirpitz was gone there would be no new danger from the submarines. Even the new Admiralty administration was loathe to believe that a German submarine was responsible.
By April 5th it was apparent to every one in Berlin that there would be another submarine crisis with the United States and that the reactionary forces in Germany would attempt again to overthrow the Chancellor. Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, who had been doing everything possible to get some one to propose peace, decided to address the Reichstag again on Germany's peace aims. It was announced in the newspapers only a few days beforehand. The demand for tickets of admission was so great that early in the morning on the day scheduled for the address such dense crowds surrounded the Reichstag building that the police had to make passages so the military automobiles could reach the building to bring the officials there.
The Chamber itself was crowded to the rafters. On the floor of the House practically every member was in his seat. On the rostrum were several hundred army and naval officers, all members of the cabinet, prominent business men and financiers. Every one awaited the entrance of the Chancellor with great expectations. The National Liberals, who had been clamouring for the annexation of Belgium, the conservatives, who wanted a stronger war policy against England, the Socialists, who wanted real guarantees for the German people for the future and a peace without annexation, sat quietly in their seats anxiously awaiting the Chancellor's remarks which were expected to satisfy all wants.
The Chancellor entered the chamber from the rear of the rostrum and proceeded to his desk in the front platform row, facing the House and galleries. After a few preliminary remarks by President Kaempf, the Chancellor arose. To the Chancellor's left, near the rear of the hall among his Socialist colleagues, sat a nervous, determined and defiant radical. He was dressed in the uniform of a common soldier. Although he had been at the front several months and in the firing line, he had not received the iron cross of the second class which practically every soldier who had seen service had been decorated with. His clothes were soiled, trousers stuffed into the top of heavy military boots. His thick, curly hair was rumpled. At this session of the Reichstag the Chancellor was to have his first encounter with Dr. Karl Liebknecht, the Socialist radical, who in his soldier's uniform was ready to challenge anything the Chancellor said.
The Chancellor began his address, as he began all others, by referring to the strong military position of the German army. He led up, gradually, to the subject of peace. When the Chancellor said: "We could have gotten what we wanted by peaceful work. Our enemies chose war." Liebknecht interjected in his sharp, shrill voice, "You chose the war!" There was great excitement and hissing; the President called for order. Members shouted: "Throw him out!" But Liebknecht sat there more determined than ever.
The Chancellor continued for a few minutes until he reached the discussion of the establishment of a Flemish nation in Belgium, when Liebknecht again interrupted, but the Chancellor continued: "Gentlemen, we want neighbours who will not again unite against us in order to strangle us, but such that we can work with them and they with us to our mutual advantage." A storm of applause greeted this remark. Liebknecht was again on his feet and shouted, "Then you will fall upon them!"
"The Europe which will arise from this, the most gigantic of all crises, will in many respects not resemble the old one," continued von Bethmann-Hollweg. "The blood which has been shed will never come back; the wealth which has been wasted will come back but only slowly. In any case, it must become, for all living in it, a Europe of peaceful labour. The peace which shall end this war must be a lasting one and not containing the germ of a fresh war, but establishing a final and peaceful order of things in European affairs."
Before the applause had gotten a good start the fiery private in the Socialists' rank was again on his feet, this time shouting, "Liberate the German people first!"
Throughout the Chancellor's speech there was not one reference to the Sussex. The Chancellor was anxious if he could to turn the world's attention from the Sussex to the larger question of peace, but the world was not so inclined. On the 18th of April I asked Admiral von Holtzendorff, Chief of the Admiralty Staff, for his opinion about the Sussex. Two days later he approved the interview, in which I quoted him as saying:
"We did not sink the Sussex. I am as convinced of that as of anything which has happened in this war. If you read the definite instructions, the exact orders each submarine commander has you would understand that the torpedoing of the Sussex was impossible. Many of our submarines have returned from rounding up British vessels. They sighted scores of passenger ships going between England and America but not one of these was touched.
"We have definitely agreed to warn the crews and passengers of passenger liners. We have lived up to that promise in every way. We are not out to torpedo without warning neutral ships bound for England. Our submarines have respected every one of them so far, and they have met scores in the North Sea, the Channel and the Atlantic."
On the same day that Ambassador Gerard handed von Jagow Secretary Lansing's note, Under Secretary of State Zimmermann approved the von Holtzendorff interview. Zimmermann could not make himself believe that a German submarine was responsible and the Government had decided to disavow all responsibility. But such convincing reports began to arrive from the United States and from neutral European countries which proved beyond a doubt that a German submarine was responsible, that the Government had to again bring up the submarine issue at Great Headquarters. When the von Holtzendorff interview was published in the United States it caused a sensation because if Germany maintained the attitude which the Chief of the Admiralty Staff had taken with the approval of the Foreign Office, a break in diplomatic relations could not be avoided. Secretary Lansing telegraphed Ambassador Gerard to inquire at the Foreign Office whether the statements of von Holtzendorff represented the opinions of the German Government. Gerard called me to the Embassy but before I arrived Dr. Heckscher, of the Reichstag Foreign Relations Committee, came. Gerard called me in in Heckscher's presence to ask if I knew that the von Holtzendorff interview would bring about a break in diplomatic relations unless it was immediately disavowed. He told Dr. Heckscher to inform Zimmermann that if the Chief of the Admiralty Staff was going to direct Germany's foreign policies he would ask his government to accredit him to the naval authorities and not to the Foreign Office. Heckscher would not believe my statement that Zimmermann had approved the interview and assured Gerard that within a very short time the Foreign Office would disavow von Holtzendorff's statements. When he arrived at the Foreign Office, however, Zimmermann not only refused to disavow the Admiral's statement but informed Heckscher that he had the same opinions.
President Wilson was at the end of his patience. Probably he began to doubt whether he could rely upon the reports of Ambassador Gerard that there was a chance of the democratic forces in Germany coming out ahead of the military caste. Wilson showed his attitude plainly in the Sussex note when he said:
"The Government of the United States has been very patient. At every stage of this distressing experience of tragedy after tragedy it has sought to be governed by the most thoughtful considerations of the extraordinary circumstances of an unprecedented war and to be guided by sentiments of very genuine friendship for the people and the Government of Germany. It has accepted the successive explanations and assurances of the Imperial Government as of course given in entire sincerity and good faith, and has hoped even against hope that it would prove to be possible for the Imperial Government so to order and control the acts of its naval commanders as to square its policy with the recognised principles of humanity as embodied in the law of nations. It has made every allowance for unprecedented conditions and has been willing to wait until the facts became unmistakable and were susceptible of only one interpretation. It now owes it to a just regard, for its own rights to say to the Imperial Government that that time has come. It has become painfully evident to it that the position which it took at the very outset is inevitable, namely that the use of submarines for the destruction of enemy commerce is of necessity, because of the very character of the vessels employed and the very methods, of attack which their employment of course involves, utterly incompatible with the principles of humanity, the long established and incontrovertible rights of neutrals and the sacred immunities of non-combatants.
"If it is still the purpose of the Imperial Government to prosecute relentless and indiscriminate warfare against vessels of commerce by the use of submarines without regard to what the Government of the United States must consider the sacred and indisputable rules of international law and the universally recognised dictates of humanity, the Government of the United States is at last forced to the conclusion that there is but one course it can pursue. Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present methods of submarine warfare against passenger and freight carrying vessels, the Government of the United States can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the German Government altogether. This action the Government of the United States contemplates with the greatest reluctance but feels constrained to take in behalf of humanity and the rights of neutral nations."
After von Jagow read the note the Foreign Office Telegraph Bureau sent it to Great Headquarters, which at this time was still located in Charleville, France, for the information of the Kaiser and General von Falkenhayn. It was evident to every one in Berlin that again, not only the submarine issue was to be debated at Great Headquarters, but that the Kaiser was to be forced again to decide between the Chancellor and his democratic supporters and von Falkenhayn and the military party. Before the Conference convened General Headquarters sent inquiries to five government departments, the Foreign Office, the Navy, the Ministry of War, the Treasury, and Interior. The Ministers at the head of these departments were asked to state whether in their opinion the controversy with America should be adjusted, or whether the submarine warfare should be continued. Dr. Karl Helfferich, the Vice Chancellor and Minister of Interior, Secretary of State von Jagow, and Count von Roedern, Minister of Finance, replied to adjust the difficulty. The Army and Navy said in effect: "If you can adjust it without stopping the submarine warfare and without breaking with the United States do so."
The latter part of April the Kaiser summoned all of his ministers and his leading generals to the French chateau which he used as his headquarters in Charleville. This city is one of the most picturesque cities in the occupied districts of northern France. It is located on the banks of the Meuse and contains many historic, old ruins. At one end of the town is a large stone castle, surrounded by a moat. This was made the headquarters of the General Staff after the Germans invaded this section of France. Near the railroad station there was a public park. Facing it was a French chateau, a beautiful, comfortable home. This was the Kaiser's residence. All streets leading in this direction were barricaded and guarded by sentries. No one could pass without a special written permit from the Chief of the General Staff. Von Falkenhayn had his home nearby in another of the beautiful chateaux there. The chief of every department of the General Staff lived in princely fashion in houses which in peace time were homes for distinguished Frenchmen. There were left in Charleville scarcely a hundred French citizens, because obviously French people, who were enemies of Germany, could not he permitted to go back and forth in the city which was the centre of German militarism.
When the ministers arrived at the Kaiser's headquarters, His Majesty asked each one to make a complete report on the submarine war as it affected his department. Dr. Helfferich was asked to go into the question of German finance and the relation of America to it. Dr. Solf, the Colonial Minister, who had been a very good friend of Ambassador Gerard, discussed the question of the submarine warfare from the stand-point of its relation to Germany's position as a world power. Admiral von Capelle placed before the Kaiser the figures of the number of ships sunk, their tonnage, the number of submarines operating, the number under construction and the number lost. General von Falkenhayn reported on the military situation and discussed the hypothetical question as to what effect American intervention would have upon the European war theatres.
While the conferences were going on, Dr. Heckscher and Under Secretary Zimmermann, who at that time were anxious to avoid a break with the United States, sounded Ambassador Gerard as to whether he would be willing to go to Great Headquarters to confer with the Kaiser. The Foreign Office at the same time suggested the matter to the General Staff and within a few hours Mr. Gerard was invited to go to Charleville. Before the ambassador arrived the Kaiser called all of his ministers together for a joint session and asked them to make a brief summary of their arguments. This was not a peace meeting. Not only opponents of submarine warfare but its advocates mobilised all their forces in a final attempt to win the Kaiser's approval. His Majesty, at this time, was inclined towards peace with America and was very much impressed by the arguments which the Chancellor and Dr. Helfferich presented. But, at this meeting, while Helfferich was talking and pointing to the moral effect which the ruthless torpedoing of ships was having upon neutral countries, von Falkenhayn interrupted with the succinct statement:
"Neutrals? Damn the neutrals! Win the war! Our task is to win. If we win we will have the neutrals with us; if we lose we lose."
"Falkenhayn, when you are versed in foreign affairs I'll ask you to speak," interrupted the Kaiser. "Proceed, Dr. Helfferich."
Gentleman that he is, von Falkenhayn accepted the Imperial rebuke, but not long afterward his resignation was submitted.
As a result of these conferences and the arguments advanced by Ambassador Gerard, Secretary von Jagow on May 4th handed the Ambassador the German note in reply to President Wilson's Sussex ultimatum. In this communication Germany said:
"Fully conscious of its strength, the German Government has twice in the course of the past few months expressed itself before all the world as prepared to conclude a peace safeguarding the vital interests of Germany. In doing so, it gave expression to the fact that it was not its fault if peace was further withheld from the peoples of Europe. With a correspondingly greater claim of justification, the German Government may proclaim its unwillingness before mankind and history to undertake the responsibility, after twenty-one months of war, to allow the controversy that has arisen over the submarine question to take a turn which might seriously affect the maintenance of peace between these two nations.
"The German Government guided by this idea notifies the Government of the United States that instructions have been issued to German naval commanders that the precepts of the general international fundamental principles be observed as regards stopping, searching and destruction of merchant vessels within the war zone and that such vessels shall not be sunk without warning and without saving human life unless the ship attempts to escape or offers resistance."
At the beginning of the war it was a group of military leaders consisting of General von Moltke, General von Falkenhayn, General von Mackensen, General von Herringen, Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, and a few of the Prussian military clique, which prevailed upon the Kaiser to go to war after the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne and his wife. The Allies proclaimed in their publications, in the press and in Parliaments that they were fighting to destroy and overthrow the military party in Germany which could make war without public consent. Millions of Allied soldiers were mobilised and fighting in almost a complete ring surrounding Germany, Austria Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. They had been fighting since August, 1914, for twenty-one months, and still their fighting had not shattered or weakened the hold which the military party had upon the people and the Kaiser. Von Tirpitz and von Falkenhayn, who, shortly after the war began, became the ringleaders of Germany's organised Might, had fallen not before the armed foes on the battlefield but before an unarmed nation with a president whose only weapon was public opinion. First, von Tirpitz fell because he was ready to defy the United States. Then came the downfall of von Falkenhayn, because he was prepared to damn the United States and all neutrals. Surely a nation and a government after thirteen months of patience and hope had a right to believe that after all public opinion was a weapon which was sometimes more effective than any other. Mr. Wilson and the State Department were justified in feeling that their policy toward Germany was after all successful not alone because it had solved the vexing submarine issue, but because it had aided the forces of democracy in Germany. Because, with the downfall of von Falkenhayn and von Tirpitz, there was only one recognised authority in Germany. That was the Chancellor and the Foreign Office, supported almost unanimously by the Socialists and by the Liberal forces which were at work to reform the German Government.
But this was in May, 1916, scarcely eight months before the Kaiser changed his mind and again decided to support the people who were clamouring for a ruthless, murderous, defiant war against the whole world, if the world was "foolish" enough to join in.
THE PERIOD OF NEW ORIENTATION
Dr. Karl Liebknecht, after he had challenged the Chancellor on the 4th of April, became the object of attack by the military authorities. The Chancellor, although he is the real Minister of Foreign Affairs, is, also, a Major General in the Army and for a private like Liebknecht to talk to a Major General as he did in the Reichstag was contrary to all rules and precedents in the Prussian Army. The army was ready to send Liebknecht to the firing squad and it was only a short time until they had an opportunity to arrest him. Liebknecht started riots in some of the ammunition factories and one night at Potsdamer Platz, dressed in civilian clothes, he shouted, "Down with the Government," and started to address the passers-by. He was seized immediately by government detectives, who were always following him, and taken to the police station. His home was searched and when the trial began the papers, found there, were placed before the military tribunal as evidence that he was plotting against the Government. The trial was secret, and police blockaded all streets a quarter of a mile away from the court where he was tried. Throughout the proceedings which lasted a week the newspapers were permitted to print only the information distributed by the Wolff Telegraph Bureau. But public sympathy for Liebknecht was so great that mounted police were kept in every part of the city day and night to break up crowds which might assemble. Behind closed doors, without an opportunity to consult his friends, with only an attorney appointed by the Government to defend him, Liebknecht was sentenced to two years' hard labour. His only crime was that he had dared to speak in the Reichstag the opinions of some of the more radical socialists.
Liebknecht's imprisonment was a lesson to other Socialist agitators. The day after his sentencing was announced there were strikes in nearly every ammunition factory in and around Berlin. Even at Spandau, next to Essen the largest ammunition manufacturing city in Germany, several thousand workmen left their benches as a protest, but the German people have such terrible fear of the police and of their own military organisation that they strike only a day and return the next to forget about previous events.
If there were no other instances in Germany to indicate that there was the nucleus for a democracy this would seem to be one. One might say, too, that if such leaders as Liebknecht could be assisted, the movement for more freedom might have more success.
It was very difficult for the German public to accept the German reply to President Wilson's Sussex note. The people were bitter against the United States. They hated Wilson. They feared him. And the idea of the German Government bending its knee to a man they hated was enough cause for loud protests. This feeling among the people found plenty of outlets. The submarine advocates, who always had their ears to the ground, saw that they could take advantage of this public feeling at the expense of the Chancellor and the Foreign Office. Prince von Buelow, the former Chancellor, who had been spending most of his time in Switzerland after his failure to keep Italy out of the war, had written a book entitled "Deutsche Politik," which was intended to be an indictment of von Bethmann-Hollweg's international policies. Von Buelow returned to Berlin at the psychological moment and began to mobilise the forces against the Chancellor.
After the Sussex dispute was ended the Socialist organ Vorwaerts, supported by Philip Scheidemann, leader of the majority of the Socialists, demanded that the Government take some steps toward peace. But the General Staff was so busy preparing for the expected Allied offensive that it had no time to think about peace or about internal questions. When von Falkenhayn resigned and von Hindenburg arrived at Great Headquarters to succeed him the two generals met for the first time in many months. (There was bitter feeling between the two.) Von Falkenhayn, as he turned the office over to his successor, said:
"Has Your Excellency the courage to take over this position now?"
"I have always had the courage, Your Excellency," replied von Hindenburg, "but not the soldiers."
In the Reichstag there has been only one real democratic party. That is the Socialist. The National Liberal Party, which has posed as a reform organisation, is in reality nothing more than the party controlled by the ammunition and war industries. When these interests heard that submarine warfare was to be so restricted as to be practically negligible, they began to sow seeds of discontent among the ammunition makers. These interests began to plan for the time when the submarine warfare would again be discussed. Their first scheme was to try to overthrow the Chancellor. If they were not successful then they intended to take advantage of the democratic movement which was spreading in Germany to compel the Government to consent to the creation of a Reichstag Committee on Foreign Affairs to consult with the Foreign Office when all questions of international policy, including submarine warfare, was up for discussion. Their first policy was tried early in July. Seizing that clause in the German note which said that Germany would hold herself free to change her promises in the Sussex case if the United States was not successful against England, the Navy began to threaten the United States with renewed submarine warfare unless President Wilson acted against Great Britain.
Reporting some of these events on June 12th, the Evening Ledger of Philadelphia printed the following despatch which I sent:
"BERLIN, July 12.—The overthrow of Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, champion of a conciliatory policy toward the United States, and the unloosing of German submarines within three months, was predicted by von Tirpitz supporters here to-day unless President Wilson acts against the British blockade.
"Members of the Conservative party and those favouring annexation of territory conquered by Germany joined in the forecast. They said the opinion of America will be disregarded.
"A private source, close to the Foreign Office, made this statement regarding the attempt to unseat Bethmann-Hollweg at a time when the war is approaching a crisis:
"'Unless America does something against England within the next three months there will be a bitter fight against the Chancellor. One cannot tell whether he will be able to hold his own against such opposition. The future of German-American relations depends upon America.'
"Despite this political drive against the man who stood out against a break with the United States in the Lusitania crisis, Americans here believe Bethmann-Hollweg will again emerge triumphant. They feel certain that if the Chancellor appealed to the public for a decision he would be supported.
"The fight to oust the Chancellor has now grown to such proportions that it overshadows in interest the Allied offensive. The attacks on the Chancellor have gradually grown bolder since the appearance of Prince Buelow's book 'Deutsche Politik,' because this book is believed to be the opening of Buelow's campaign to oust the Chancellor and step back into the position he occupied until succeeded by Bethmann-Hollweg in 1909.
"The movement has grown more forceful since the German answer to President Wilson's ultimatum was sent. The Conservatives accepted the German note as containing a conditional clause, and they have been waiting to see what steps the United States would take against England.
"Within the past few days I have discussed the situation with leaders of several parties in the Reichstag. A National Liberal member of the Reichstag, who was formerly a supporter of von Tirpitz, and the von Tirpitz submarine policies, said he thought Buelow's success showed that opposition to America was not dead.
"'Who is going to be your next President—Wilson or Hughes?' he asked, and then, without waiting for an answer, continued:
"'If it is Hughes he can be no worse than Wilson. The worst he can do is to declare war on Germany and certainly that would be preferable to the present American neutrality.
"'If this should happen every one in our navy would shout and throw up his hat, for it would mean unlimited sea war against England. Our present navy is held in a net of notes.
"'What do you think the United States could do? You could not raise an army to help the Allies. You could confiscate our ships in American ports, but if you tried to use them to carry supplies and munitions to the Allies we would sink them.
"'Carrying on an unlimited submarine war, we could sink 600,000 tons of shipping monthly, destroy the entire merchant fleets of the leading powers, paralyse England and win the war. Then we would start all over, build merchantmen faster than any nation, and regain our position as a leading commercial power.'
"Friends of the Chancellor still hope that President Wilson will take a strong stand against England, thereby greatly strengthening Bethmann-Hollweg's position. At present the campaign against the Chancellor is closely connected with internal policies of the Conservatives and the big land owners. The latter are fighting Bethmann-Hollweg because he promised the people, on behalf of the Kaiser, the enactment of franchise reforms after the war."
Commenting on this despatch, the New York World said:
"Not long ago it was the fashion among the opponents of the Administration to jeer loudly at the impotent writing of notes. And even among the supporters of the Administration there grew an uneasy feeling that we had had notes ad nauseam.
"Yet these plodding and undramatic notes arouse in Germany a feeling very different from one of ridicule. The resentful respect for our notes is there admirably summed up by a member of the Reichstag who to the correspondent of the United Press exclaimed bitterly: 'Our present navy is held in a net of notes.'
"Nets may not be so spectacular as knuckle-dusters, but they are slightly more civilised and generally more efficient."
The National Liberal Reichstag member who was quoted was Dr. Gustav Stressemann. Stressemann is one of the worst reactionaries in Germany but he likes to pose as a progressive. He was one of the first men to suggest that the Reichstag form a committee on foreign relations to consult with and have equal power of decision with the Foreign Office.
For a great many months the Socialist deputies of the Prussian Diet have been demanding election reforms. Their demands were so insistent that over a year ago the Chancellor, when he read the Kaiser's address from the throne room in the residence palace in Berlin to the deputies, promised election reforms in Prussia—after the war. But during last summer the Socialists began to demand immediate election reforms. To further embarrass the Chancellor and the Government, the National Liberals made the same demands, knowing all the time that if the Government ever attempted it, they could swing the Reichstag majority against the proposal by technicalities.
Throughout the summer months the Government could not hush up the incessant discussion of war aims. More than one newspaper was suppressed for demanding peace or for demanding a statement of the Government's position in regard to Belgium and Northern France. The peace movement within Germany grew by leaps and bounds. The Socialists demanded immediate action by the Government. The Conservatives, the National Liberals and the Catholic party wanted peace but only the kind of a peace which Germany could force upon the Entente. The Chancellor and other German leaders tried again throughout the summer and fall to get the outside world interested in peace but at this time the English and French attacks on the Somme were engaging the attention and the resources of the whole world.
Before these conflicting movements within Germany can be understood one must know something of the organisation of Germany in war time.
When the military leaders of Germany saw that the possibility of capturing Paris or of destroying London was small and that a German victory, which would fasten Teutonic peace terms on the rest of the world, was almost impossible, they turned their eyes to Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, the Balkans and Turkey. Friederich Naumann, member of the Progressive Party of the Reichstag, wrote a book on "Central Europe," describing a great nation stretching from the North Sea to Bagdad, including Germany, all of Austria-Hungary, parts of Serbia and Roumania and Turkey, with Berlin as the Capital. It was toward this goal which the Kaiser turned the forces of Germany at his command. If Germany could not rule the world, if Germany could not conquer the nine nations which the Director of the Post and Telegraph had lined up on the 2nd of August, 1914, then Germany could at least conquer the Dual Monarchy, the Balkans and, Turkey, and even under these circumstances come out of the war a greater nation than she entered it. But to accomplish this purpose one thing had to be assured. That was the control of the armies and navies and the foreign policies of these governments. The old Kaiser Franz Josef was a man who guarded everything he had as jealously as a baby guards his toys. At one time when it was suggested to the aged monarch that Germany and Austria-Hungary could establish a great kingdom of Poland as a buffer nation, if he would only give up Galicia as one of the states of this kingdom, he replied in his childish fashion:
"What, those Prussians want to take another pearl out of my crown?"
In June the Austro-Hungarian General Staff conducted an offensive against Italy in the Trentino with more success than the Germans had anticipated. But the Austrians had not calculated upon Russia. In July General Brusiloff attacked the Austrian forces in the neighbourhood of Lusk, succeeded in persuading or bribing a Bohemian army corps to desert and started through the Austrian positions like a flood over sloping land. Brusiloff not only took several hundred thousand prisoners. He not only broke clear through the Austrian lines but he thoroughly demoralised and destroyed the Austrian army as a unit in the world war. Von Hindenburg, who had been made Chief of the German General Staff, was compelled to send thousands of troops to the Wohlynian battlefields to stop the Russian invasion. But von Hindenburg did not look with any degree of satisfaction upon the possibility of such a thing happening again and informed the Kaiser that he would continue as Chief of the General Staff only upon condition that he be made chief of all armies allied to Germany. At a Conference at Great Headquarters at Pless, in Silicia, where offices were moved from France as soon as the Field Marshal took charge, Hindenburg was made the leader of all the armed forces in Central Europe. Thus by one stroke, really by the aid of Russia, Germany succeeded in conquering Austria-Hungary and in taking away from her command all of the forces, naval and military, which she had. At the same time the Bulgarian and Turkish armies were placed at the disposal of von Hindenburg. So far so good for the Prussians.
But there were still some independent forces left within the Central Powers. Hungary was not content to do the bidding of Prussia. Hungarians were not ready to live under orders from Berlin. Even as late as a few months ago when the German Minister of the Interior called a conference in Berlin to mobilise all the food within the Central Powers, the Hungarians refused to join a scheme which would rob them of food they had jealously guarded and saved since the beginning of the war.
In the Dual Monarchy there are many freedom loving people who are longing for a deliverer. Hungary at one time feared Russia but only because of the Czar. The real and most powerful democratic force among the Teutonic allies is located there in Budapest. I know of no city outside of the United States where the people have such love of freedom and where public opinion plays such a big role. Budapest, even in war times, is one of the most delightful cities in Europe and Hungary, even as late as last December, was not contaminated by Prussian ideas. I saw Russian prisoners of war walking through the streets and mingling with the Hungarian soldiers and people. American Consul General Coffin informed me that there were seven thousand Allied subjects in Budapest who were undisturbed. English and French are much more popular than Germans. One day on my first visit in Budapest I asked a policeman in front of the Hotel Ritz in German, "Where is the Reichstag?" He shook his head and went on about his business regulating the traffic at the street corner. Then I asked him half in English and half in French where the Parliament was.
With a broad smile he said: "Ah, Monsieur, voila, this street your right, vis a vis." Not a word of German would he speak.
After the Allied offensive began on the Somme the old friends of von Tirpitz, assisted by Prince von Buelow, started an offensive against the Chancellor, with renewed vigour. This time they were determined to oust him at all costs. They sent emissaries to the Rhine Valley, which is dominated by the Krupp ammunition factories. These emissaries began by attacking the Chancellor's attitude towards the United States. They pointed out that Germany could not possibly win the war unless she defeated England, and it was easy for any German to see that the only way England could be attacked was from the seas; that as long as England had her fleet or her merchant ships she could continue the war and continue to supply the Allies. It was pointed out to the ammunition makers, also, that they were already fighting the United States; that the United States was sending such enormous supplies to the Entente, that unless the submarines were used to stop these supplies Germany would most certainly be defeated on land. And, it was explained that a defeat on land meant not only the defeat of the German army but the defeat of the ammunition interests.
From April to December, 1916, was also the period of pamphleteering. Every one who could write a pamphlet, or could publish one, did so. The censorship had prohibited so many people and so many organisations from expressing their views publicly that they chose this method of circulating their ideas privately. The pamphlets could be printed secretly and distributed through the mails so as to avoid both the censors and the Government. So every one in Germany began to receive documents and pamphlets about all the ails and complaints within Germany. About the only people who did not do this were the Socialists. The "Alt-Deutsch Verband," which was an organisation of the great industrial leaders of Germany, had been bitterly attacked by the Berlin Tageblatt but when the directors wanted to publish their reply the censors prohibited it. So, the Alt-Deutsch Verband issued a pamphlet and sent it broadcast throughout Germany. In the meantime the Chancellor and the Government realised that unless something was done to combat these secret forces which were undermining the Government's influence, that there would be an eruption in Germany which might produce serious results.
Throughout this time the Socialist party was having troubles of its own. Liebknecht was in prison but there was a little group of radicals who had not forgotten it. They wanted the Socialist party as a whole to do something to free Liebknecht. The party had been split before the advance of last summer so efforts were made to unite the two factions. At a well attended conference in the Reichstag building they agreed to forget old differences and join forces in support of the Government until winter, when it was hoped peace could be made.
The Socialist party at various times during the war has had a difficult time in agreeing on government measures. While the Socialists voted unanimously for war credits at the beginning, a year afterward many of them had changed their minds and had begun to wonder whether, after all, they had not made a mistake. This was the issue which brought about the first split in the Socialists' ranks. When it came time in 1916 to vote further credits to the Government the Socialists held a caucus. After three days of bitter wrangling the ranks split. One group headed by Scheidemann decided to support the Government and another group with Herr Wolfgang Heine as the leader, decided to vote against the war loans.
Scheidemann, who is the most capable and most powerful Socialist in Germany, carried with him the majority of the delegates and was supported by the greater part of public opinion. Heine, however, had the support of men like Dr. Haase and Eduard Bernstein who had considerable influence with the public but who were not organisers or men capable of aggressive action, like Scheidemann. As far as affecting the Government's plans were concerned the Socialist split did not amount to much. In Germany there is such a widespread fear of the Government and the police that even the most radical Socialists hesitate to oppose the Government. In war time Germany is under complete control of the military authorities and even the Reichstag, which is supposed to be a legislative body, is in reality during war times only a closed corporation which does the bidding of the Government. The attitude of the Reichstag on any question is not determined at the party caucuses nor during sessions. Important decisions are always arrived at at Great Headquarters between the Chancellor and the military leaders. Then the Chancellor returns to Berlin, summons the party leaders to his palace, explains what the Government desires and, without asking the leaders for their support, tells them that is what von Hindenburg expects. They know there is no choice left to them. Scheidemann always attends these conferences as the Socialist representative because the Chancellor has never recognised the so-called Socialist Labour Party which is made up of Socialist radicals who want peace and who have reached the point when they can no longer support the Government.
One night at the invitation of an editor of one of Berlin's leading newspapers, who is a Socialist radical, I attended a secret session of the Socialist Labour Party. At this meeting there were present three members of the Reichstag, the President of one of Germany's leading business organisations, two newspaper editors, one labour agitator who had been travelling to industrial centres to mobilise the forces which were opposed to a continuation of the war, and a rather well known Socialist writer who had been inspiring some anti-Government pamphlets which were printed in Switzerland and sent by mail to Germany. One of the business men present had had an audience of the Kaiser and he reported what the monarch told him about the possibilities of peace. The report was rather encouraging to the Socialists because the Kaiser said he would make peace as soon as there was an opportunity. But these Socialists did not have much faith in the Kaiser's promises and jokingly asked the business man if the Kaiser did not decorate him as a result of the audience!
The real object of this meeting was to discuss means of acquainting the German people with the American organisation entitled the League to Enforce Peace. An American business man, who was a charter member of the American organisation, was there to explain the purposes of the League. The meeting decided upon the publication in as many German newspapers as possible of explanatory articles. The newspaper editor present promised to prepare them and urged their publication in various journals. The first article appeared in Die Welt Am Montag, one of the weekly newspapers of Berlin. It was copied by a number of progressive newspapers throughout the Empire but when the attention of the military and naval authorities was called to this propaganda an order was issued prohibiting any newspaper from making any reference to the League to Enforce Peace. The anti-American editorial writers were inspired to write brief notices to the effect that the League was in reality to be a League against Germany supported by England and the United States.
Throughout the summer and fall there appeared in various newspapers, including the influential Frankfurter Zeitung, inspired articles about the possibilities of annexing the industrial centres and important harbours of Belgium. In Munich and Leipsic a book by Dr. Schumacher, of Bonn University, was published, entitled, "Antwerp, Its World Position and Importance for Germany's Economic Life." Another writer named Ulrich Bauschey wrote a number of newspaper and magazine articles for the purpose of showing that Germany would need Antwerp after this war in order to successfully compete with Holland, England and France in world commerce. He figured that the difference between the cost of transportation from the Rhine Valley industrial cities to Antwerp and the cost of transportation from the Rhine Valley to Hamburg and Bremen would be great enough as to enable German products to be sold in America for less money than products of Germany's enemies.
These articles brought up the old question of the "freedom of the seas." Obviously, if the Allies were to control the seas after the war, as they had during the war, Germany could make no plans for the re-establishment of her world commerce unless there were some assurances that her merchant fleet would be as free on the high seas as that of any other nation. During the war Germany had talked a great deal about the freedom of the seas. When the Lusitania was torpedoed von Jagow said in an interview that Germany was fighting for the free seas and that by attacking England's control, Germany was acting in the interests of the whole world. But Germany was really not sincere in what she said about having the seas free. What Germany really desired was not freedom of the seas in peace time because the seas had been free before the war. What Germany wanted was free seas in war time,—freedom for her own merchant ships to go from Germany to any part of the world and return with everything except absolute contraband. Germany's object was to keep from building a navy great enough to protect her merchant fleet in order that she might devote all her energies to army organisation. But the freedom of the seas was a popular phrase. Furthermore it explained to the German people why their submarine warfare was not inhuman because it was really fighting for the freedom of all nations on the high seas!
While these public discussions were going on, the fight on the Chancellor began to grow. It was evident that when the Reichstag met again in September that there would be bitter and perhaps a decisive fight on von Bethmann-Hollweg. The division in Germany became so pronounced that people forgot for a time the old party lines and the newspapers and party leaders spoke of the "Bethmann parties" and the "von Tirpitz party." Whether the submarine should be used ruthlessly against all shipping was the issue which divided public sentiment. The same democratic forces which had been supporting the Chancellor in other fights again lined up with the Foreign Office. The reactionaries supported Major Bassermann, who really led the fight against the Chancellor. During this period the Chancellor and the Foreign Office saw that the longer the war lasted the stronger the von Tirpitz party would become because the people were growing more desperate and were enthused by the propaganda cry of the Navy, "Down with England." The Chancellor and the Foreign Office tried once more to get the world to talk about peace. After the presidential nominations in America the press began to discuss the possibilities of American peace intervention. Every one believed that the campaign and elections in America would have an important effect on the prospects of peace. Theodore Wolff, editor of the Berlin Tageblatt, who was the Chancellor's chief supporter in newspaper circles, began the publication of a series of articles to explain that in the event of the election of Charles E. Hughes, Germany would be able to count upon more assistance from America and upon peace. At the time the Allies were pounding away at the Somme and every effort was being made to bring about some kind of peace discussions when these battles were over.
On September 20th a convention of Socialists was held in Berlin for the purpose of uniting the Socialist party in support of the Chancellor. The whole country was watching the Socialist discussions because every one felt that the Socialist party represented the real opinion of the people. After several days of discussion all factional differences were patched up and the Socialists were ready to present a solid front when the fight came in the Reichstag on September 28th. On the 27th, Berlin hotels began to buzz with excitement over the possibilities of overthrowing the Chancellor. The fight was led by the National Liberals and Centre Party groups. It was proposed by Dr. Coerting, an industrial leader from Hannover, to move a vote of lack of confidence in the Chancellor. Coerting was supported by the big ammunition interests and by the von Tirpitz crowd. Before the Reichstag convened the Chancellor went to Great Headquarters for a final conference with the Kaiser and Field Marshal von Hindenburg. Before he left it looked as if the Chancellor would be overthrown. But when he returned he summoned the Reichstag leaders who were supporting him and several editors of Liberal newspapers. The Chancellor told them that von Hindenburg would support him. The next day editorials appeared in a number of newspapers, saying that von Hindenburg and the Chancellor were united in their ideas. This was the most successful strategic move the Chancellor had made, for the public had such great confidence in von Hindenburg that when it was learned that he was opposed to von Tirpitz the backbone of opposition to the Chancellor was broken. On the 28th as von Bethmann-Hollweg appeared in the Reichstag, instead of facing a hostile and belligerent assembly, he faced members who were ready to support him in anything he did. The Chancellor, however, realised that he could take some of the thunder out of the opposition by making a strong statement against England. "Down with England," the popular cry, was the keynote of the Chancellor's remarks. In this one speech he succeeded in uniting for a time at least public sentiment and the political parties in support of the Government.
A few days afterward I saw Major Bassermann at his office in the Reichstag and asked him whether the campaign for an unlimited submarine warfare would be resumed after the action of the Reichstag in expressing confidence in the Chancellor. He said:
"That must be decided by the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Marine and the General Staff. England is our chief enemy and we must recognise this and defeat her."
With his hands in his pocket, his face looking down, he paced his office and began a bitter denunciation of the neutrality of the United States. I asked him whether he favoured the submarine warfare even if it brought about a break with the United States.
"We wish to live in peace and friendship with America," he began, "but undoubtedly there is bitter feeling here because American supplies and ammunition enable our enemies to continue the war. If America should succeed in forcing England to obey international law, restore freedom of the seas and proceed with American energy against England's brutalisation of neutrals, it would have a decisive influence on the political situation between the two countries. If America does not do this then we must do it with our submarines."
In October I was invited by the Foreign Office to go with a group of correspondents to Essen, Cologne and the Rhine Valley Industrial centres. In Essen I met Baron von Bodenhausen and other directors of Krupps. In Dusseldorf at the Industrie Klub I dined with the steel magnates of Germany and at Homburg-on-the-Rhine I saw August Thyssen, one of the richest men in Germany and the man who owns one-tenth of Germany's coal and iron fields. The most impressive thing about this journey was what these men said about the necessity for unlimited warfare. Every man I met was opposed to the Chancellor. They hated him because he delayed mobilisation at the beginning of the war. They stated that they had urged the invasion of Belgium because if Belgium had not been invaded immediately France could have seized the Rhine Valley and made it impossible for Germany to manufacture war munitions and thereby to fight a war. They said they were in favour of an unlimited, ruthless submarine warfare against England and all ships going to the British Isles. Their opinions were best represented in an inspired editorial appearing in the Rhieinische Westfaelische Zeitung, in which it was stated:
"The war must be fought to a finish. Either Germany or England must win and the interests here on the Rhine are ready to fight until Germany wins."
"Do you think Germany wants war with America?" I asked Thyssen.
"Never!" was his emphatic response. "First, because we have enemies enough, and, secondly, because in peace times, our relations with America are always most friendly. We want them to continue so after the war."
Thyssen's remarks could be taken on their face value were it not for the fact that the week before we arrived in these cities General Ludendorf, von Hindenhurg's chief assistant and co-worker, was there to get the industrial leaders to manufacture more ammunition. Von Falkenhayn had made many enemies in this section because he cut down the ammunition manufacturing until these men were losing money. So the first thing von Hindenburg did was to double all orders for ammunition and war supplies and to send Ludendorf to the industrial centres to make peace with the men who were opposed to the Government.
Thus from May to November German politics went through a period of transformation. No one knew exactly what would happen,—there were so many conflicting opinions. Political parties, industrial leaders and the press were so divided it was evident that something would have to be done or the German political organisation would strike a rock and go to pieces. The Socialists were still demanding election reforms during the war. The National Liberals were intriguing for a Reichstag Committee to have equal authority with the Foreign Office in dealing with all matters of international affairs. The landowners, who were losing money because the Government was confiscating so much food, were not only criticising von Bethmann-Hollweg but holding back as much food as they could for higher prices. The industrial leaders, who had been losing money because von Falkenhayn had decreased ammunition orders, were only partially satisfied by von Hindenburg's step because they realised that unless the war was intensified the Government would not need such supplies indefinitely. They saw, too, that the attitude of President Wilson had so injured what little standing they still had in the neutral world that unless Germany won the war in a decisive way, their world connections would disappear forever and they would be forced to begin all over after the war. Faced by this predicament, they demanded a ruthless submarine warfare against all shipping in order that not only England but every other power should suffer, because the more ships and property of the enemies destroyed the more their chances with the rest of the world would be equalised when the war was over. Food conditions were becoming worse, the people were becoming more dissatisfied; losses on the battlefields were touching nearly every family. Depression was growing. Every one felt that something had to be done and done immediately.
The press referred to these months of turmoil as a period of "new orientation." It was a time of readjustment which did not reach a climax until December twelfth when the Chancellor proposed peace conferences to the Allies.
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WHAT YOU CANNOT EAT OR DRINK
FOODSTUFFS WHICH ARE COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED IN GERMANY
1. Rice. 12. Nuts. 2. Coffee. 13. Candy (a very limited 3. Tea. number of persons can buy 4. Cocoa. one-quarter of a pound 5. Chocolate. about once a week). 6. Olive oil. 14. Malted milk. 7. Cream. 15. Beer made of either 8. Fruit flavorings. malt or hops. 9. Canned soups or 16. Caviar. soup cubes. 17. Ice cream. 10. Syrups. 18. Macaroni. 11. Dried vegetables, beans, peas, etc.
WHAT YOU MAY EAT
FOOD OBTAINABLE ONLY BY CARDS
1. Bread, 1,900 grams per week per person. 2. Meat, 250 grams (1/2 pound) per week per head. 3. Eggs, 1 per person every two weeks. 4. Butter, 90 grams per week per person. 5. Milk, 1 quart daily only for children under ten and invalids. 6. Potatoes, formerly 9 pounds per week; lately in many parts of Germany no potatoes were available. 7. Sugar, formerly 2 pounds per month, now 4 pounds, but this will not continue long. 8. Marmalade, or jam, 1/4 of a pound every month. 9. Noodles, 1/2 pound per person a month. 10. Sardines, or canned fish, small box per month. 11. Saccharine (a coal tar product substitute for sugar), about 25 small tablets a month. 12. Oatmeal, 1/2 of a pound per month for adults or 1 pound per month for children under twelve years.
WHAT YOU CAN EAT
FOODS WHICH EVERY ONE WITH MONEY CAN BUY
1. Geese, costing 8 to 10 marks per pound ($1.60 to $2 per pound). 2. Wild game, rabbits, ducks, deer, etc. 3. Smuggled meat, such as ham and bacon, for $2.50 per pound. 4. Vegetables, carrots, spinach, onions, cabbage, beets. 5. Apples, lemons, oranges. 6. Bottled oil made from seeds and roots for cooking purposes, costing $5 per pound. 7. Vinegar. 8. Fresh fish. 9. Fish sausage. 10. Pickles. 11. Duck, chicken and geese heads, feet and wings. 12. Black crows.
THE FOOD SITUATION AT A GLANCE
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THE BUBBLING ECONOMIC VOLCANO
When I entered Germany in 1915 there was plenty of food everywhere and prices were normal. But a year later the situation had changed so that the number of food cards—Germany's economic barometer—had increased eight times. March and April of 1916 were the worst months in the year and a great many people had difficulty in getting enough food to eat. There was growing dissatisfaction with the way the Government was handling the food problem but the people's hope was centred upon the next harvest. In April and May the submarine issue and the American crisis turned public attention from food to politics. From July to October the Somme battles kept the people's minds centred upon military operations. While the scarcity of food became greater the Government, through inspired articles in the press, informed the people that the harvest was so big that there would be no more food difficulties.
Germany began to pay serious attention to the food situation, when early in the year, Adolph von Batocki, the president of East Prussia and a big land owner, was made food dictator. At the same time there were organised various government food departments. There was an Imperial Bureau for collecting fats; another to take charge of the meat supply; another to control the milk and another in charge of the vegetables and fruit. Germany became practically a socialistic state and in this way the Government kept abreast of the growth of Socialism among the people. The most important step the Government took was to organise the Zentral Einkaufgesellschaft, popularly known as the "Z. E. G." The first object of this organisation was to purchase food in neutral countries. Previously German merchants had been going to Holland, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries to buy supplies. These merchants had been bidding against each other in order to get products for their concerns. In this way food was made much more expensive than it would have been had one purchaser gone outside of Germany. So the Government prohibited all firms from buying food abroad. Travelling agents of the "Z. E. G." went to these countries and bought all of the supplies available at a fixed price. Then these resold to German dealers at cost.
Such drastic measures were necessitated by the public demand that every one share alike. The Government found it extremely difficult to control the food. Farmers and rich landowners insisted upon slaughtering their own pigs for their own use. They insisted upon eating the eggs their chickens laid, or, upon sending them through the mail to friends at high prices, thereby evading the egg card regulations. But the Government stepped in and farmers were prohibited from killing their own cattle and from sending foods to friends and special customers. Farmers had to sell everything to the "Z. E. G." That was another result of State Socialism.
The optimistic statements of Herr von Batocki about the food outlook led the people to believe that by fall conditions would be greatly improved but instead of becoming more plentiful food supplies became more and more organised until all food was upon an absolute ration basis.
"Although the crops were good this year, there will be so much organisation that food will spoil," said practically every German. Batocki's method of confiscating food did cause a great deal to spoil and the public blamed him any time anything disappeared from the market. One day a carload of plums was shipped from Werder, the big fruit district near Berlin, to the capital. The "Z. E. G." confiscated it but did not sell the goods immediately to the merchants and the plums spoiled. Before this was found out, a crowd of women surrounded the train one day, which was standing on a side track, broke into a car and found most of the plums in such rotten condition they could not be used. So they painted on the sides of the car: "This is the kind of plum jam the 'Z. E. G.' makes."
There was a growing scarcity of all other supplies, too. The armies demanded every possible labouring man and woman so even the canning factories had to close and food which formerly was canned had to be eaten while fresh or it spoiled. Even the private German family, which was accustomed to canning food, had to forego this practice because of a lack of tin cans, jars and rubber bands.
The food depots are by far the most successful undertaking of the Government. In Cologne and Berlin alone close to 500,000 poor are being fed daily by municipal kitchens. Last October I went through the Cologne food department with the director. The city has rented a number of large vacant factory buildings and made them into kitchens. Municipal buyers go through the country to buy meat and vegetables. This is shipped to Cologne, and in these kitchens it is prepared by women workers, under the direction of volunteers.
A stew is cooked each day and sold for 42 pfennigs (about eight cents) a quart. The people must give up their potato, fat and meat cards to obtain it. In Berlin and all other large cities, the same system is used. In one kitchen in Berlin, at the main market hall, 80,000 quarts a day are prepared.
In Cologne this food is distributed through the city streets by municipal wagons, and the people get it almost boiling hot, ready to eat. Were it not for these food depots there would be many thousands of people who would starve because they could not buy and cook such nourishing food for the price the city asks. These food kitchens have been in use now almost a year, and, while the poor are obtaining food here, they are becoming very tired of the supply, because they must eat stews every day. They can have nothing fried or roasted.