These indictments of the Allies were more terrible to him than the war itself.
General von Kirchhoff in this respect is typical of Germany. Most Germans, practically every German I knew, could not understand why the Allies did not respect their enemies as the Germans said they respected the Allies.
A few weeks later, in November, when I was on the Somme with another group of correspondents, I was asked by nearly every officer I met why it was that Germany was so hated throughout the world. It was a question I could not easily answer without, perhaps, hurting the feelings of the men who wanted to know, or insulting them, which as a guest I did not desire to do.
A few days later on the train from Cambrai to Berlin I was asked by a group of officers to explain why the people in the United States, especially, were so bitter. To get the discussion under way the Captain from the General Staff who had acted as our escort presented his indictment of American neutrality and asked me to reply.
This feeling, this desire to know why Germany was regarded as an outlawed nation, was not present in Germany early in 1915 when I arrived. In February, 1915, people were confident. They were satisfied with the progress of the war. They knew the Allies hated them and they returned the hate and did not care. But between February, 1915, and November, 1916, a great change took place. On my first trip to the front in April, 1915, I heard of no officers or men shedding tears because the Allies hated them.
When I sailed from New York two years ago it seemed to me that sentiment in the United States was about equally divided; that most people favoured neutrality, even a majority of those who supported the Entente. The feeling of sympathy which so many thousands of Americans had for Germany I could, at that time, readily understand, because I myself was sympathetic. I felt that Germany had not had a fighting chance with public opinion in the United States.
I could not believe that all the charges against Germany applied to the German people. Although it was difficult to understand what Germany had done in Belgium, although it was evident and admitted by the Chancellor that Germany violated the neutrality of that country, I could not believe that a nation, which before the war had such a high standing in science and commerce, could have plotted or desired such a tremendous war as swept Europe in 1914.
When I arrived in Berlin on March 17, 1915, and met German officials and people for the first time, I was impressed by their sincerity, their honesty and their belief that the Government did not cause the war and was fighting to defend the nation. At the theatre I saw performances of Shakespeare, which were among the best I had ever seen. I marvelled at the wonderful modern hospitals and at the efficiency and organisation of the Government. I marvelled at the expert ways in which prison camps were administered. I was surprised to find railroad trains clean and punctual. It seemed to me as if Germany was a nation which had reached the height of perfection and that it was honestly and conscientiously defending itself against the group of powers which desired its destruction.
For over a year I entered enthusiastically into the work of interpreting and presenting this Germany to the American people. At this time there was practically no food problem. German banks and business men were preparing for and expecting peace. The Government was already making plans for after the war when soldiers would return from the front. A Reichstag Committee had been appointed to study Germany's possible peace time labour needs and to make arrangements for solving them.
But in the fall of 1915 the changes began. The Lusitania had been destroyed in May and almost immediately the hate campaign against America was started. I saw the tendency to attack and belittle the United States grow not only in the army, in the navy and in the press, but among the people. I saw that Germany was growing to deeply resent anything the United States Government said against what the German Government did. When this anti-American campaign was launched I observed a tendency on the part of the Foreign Office to censor more strictly the telegrams which the correspondents desired to send to the American newspapers. Previously, the Foreign Office had been extremely frank and cordial and permitted correspondents to send what they observed and heard, as long as the despatches did not contain information which would aid the Allies in their military or economic attacks on Germany. As the hate articles appeared in the newspapers the correspondents were not only prohibited from sending them, but they were criticised by the Foreign Office for writing anything which might cause the American people to be angered at Germany. One day I made a translation of a bitter article in the B. Z. am Mittag and submitted it to the Foreign Office censor. He asked why I paid so much attention to articles in this newspaper which he termed a "Kaese-blatt"—literally "a cheese paper." He said it had no influence in Germany; that no one cared what it said. This newspaper, however, was the only noon-day edition in Berlin and was published by the largest newspaper publishing house in Germany, Ullstein & Co. At his request I withdrew the telegram and forgot the incident. Within a few days, however, Count zu Reventlow, in the Deutsche Tageszeitung, and Georg Bernhard, in the Vossische Zeitung, wrote sharp attacks on President Wilson. But I could not telegraph these.
Previous to the fall of 1915 not only the German Government but the German people were charitable to the opinions of neutrals, especially those who happened to be in Germany for business or professional reasons, but, as the anti-American campaign and the cry that America was not neutral by permitting supplies to be shipped to the Allies became more extensive, the public became less charitable. Previously a neutral in Germany could be either pro-German, pro-Ally or neutral. Now, however, it was impossible to be neutral, especially if one were an American, because the very statement that one was an American carried with it the implication that one was anti-German. The American colony itself became divided. There was the pro-American group and the pro-German government group. The former was centred at the American Embassy. The latter was inspired by the German-Americans who had lived in Germany most of their lives and by other sympathetic Americans who came from the United States. Meanwhile there were printed in German newspapers many leading articles and interviews from the American press attacking President Wilson, and any one sympathising with the President, even Ambassador Gerard, became automatically "Deutschfeidlich."
As the submarine warfare became more and more a critical issue German feeling towards the United States changed. I found that men who were openly professing their friendship for the United States were secretly doing everything within their power to intimidate America. The Government began to feel as if the American factories which were supplying the Allies were as much subject to attack as similar factories in Allied countries. I recall one time learning at the American Embassy that a man named Wulf von Igel had asked Ambassador Gerard for a safe conduct, on the ground that he was going to the United States to try and have condensed milk shipped to Germany for the children. Mr. Gerard refused to ask Washington to grant this man a safe conduct. I did not learn until several months afterwards that Herr von Igel had been asked to go to the United States by Under Secretary of State Zimmermann for one of two purposes, either he was to purchase a controlling interest in the Du Pont Powder Mills no matter what that cost, or he was to stir up dissatisfaction in Mexico. Zimmermann gave him a card of introduction to Count von Bernstorff, the German Ambassador in Washington, and told him that the German Embassy would supply him with all necessary funds.
Carrying out the German idea that it was right to harm or destroy American property which was directly or indirectly aiding the Allies, both Germany and Austria-Hungary published notices that their citizens in the United States were not permitted to work in such factories. And plots which Captains Boy-Ed and von Papen instigated here were done with the approval and encouragement of the German Government. If any proof is needed for this statement, in addition to that already published, it is that both of these men upon their return to Germany were regarded as heroes and given the most trusted positions. Captain Boy-Ed was placed at the head of the Intelligence Department of the Navy and Captain von Papen was assigned to the Headquarters of the General Commanding the operations on the Somme.
As the food situation in Germany became worse the disposition of the people changed still more. The Government had already pointed out in numerous public statements that the United States was not neutral because it overlooked the English blockade and thought only about the German submarine war. So as food difficulties developed the people blamed the United States and held President Wilson personally responsible for the growing shortages within Germany. The people believed Mr. Wilson was their greatest enemy and that he was the man most to be feared. How strong this feeling was not only among the people but in Government circles was to be shown later when Germany announced her submarine campaign.
As was pointed out in a previous chapter while Germany was arguing against shipments of war munitions from the United States she was herself responsible for the preparations which Russia and Roumania had made against her, but this proof of deception on the part of the Government was never explained to the German people. Furthermore the people were never told why the United States asked for the recall of Germany's two attaches who were implicated in spy plots. Nothing was ever published in the German newspapers about Herr von Igel. The newspapers always published despatches which told of the destruction of ammunition factories by plotters, but never about the charges against and arrests of German reservists. Just as the German Government has never permitted the people to know that it prepared for a war against nine nations, as the document I saw in the Chief Telegraph Office shows, so has it not explained to the people the real motives and the real arguments which President Wilson presented in his many submarine notes. Whenever these notes were published in the German newspapers the Government always published an official explanation, or correspondents were inspired to write the Government views, so the people could not think for themselves or come to honest personal conclusions.
The effectiveness of Mr. Wilson's diplomacy against Germany was decreased by some German-Americans, and the fact that the United States is to-day at war with Germany is due to this blundering on the behalf of some of those over-zealous citizens who, being so anxious to aid Germany, became anti-Wilson and in the long run defeated what they set out to accomplish. Had the German Government not been assured by some German-Americans that they would never permit President Wilson to break diplomatic relations or go to war, had these self-appointed envoys stayed away from Berlin, the relations between the United States and Germany might to-day be different than they are. Because if Germany at the outset of the submarine negotiations had been given the impression by a united America that the President spoke for the country, Germany would undoubtedly have given up all hope of a ruthless submarine warfare.
I think President Wilson and Mr. Gerard realised that the activities of the German-Americans here were not only interfering with the diplomatic negotiations but that the German-Americans were acting against their own best interests if they really desired peace with Germany.
When some of the President's friends saw that the German people were receiving such biased news from the United States and that Germany had no opportunity of learning the real sentiment here, nor of sounding the depth of American indignation over the Lusitania they endeavoured to get despatches from the United States to Germany to enlighten the people. Mr. Roy W. Howard, President of the United Press, endeavoured several times while I was in Berlin to get unadulterated American news in the German newspapers, but the German Government was not overly anxious to have such information published. It was too busy encouraging the anti-American sentiment for the purpose of frightening the United States. It was difficult, too, for the United Press to get the necessary co-operation in the United States for this news service. After the settlement of the Sussex dispute the Democratic newspapers of Germany, those which were supporting the Chancellor, were anxious to receive reports from here, but the German Foreign Office would not encourage the matter to the extent of using the wireless towers at Sayville and Tuckerton as means of transmitting the news.
How zealously the Foreign Office censor guards what appears in the German newspapers was shown about two weeks before diplomatic relations were broken. When the announcement was wirelessed to the United States that Germany had adopted the von Tirpitz blockade policy the United Press sent me a number of daily bulletins telling what the American Press, Congressmen and the Government were thinking and saying about the new order. The first day these despatches reached me I sent them to several of the leading newspapers only to be notified in less than an hour afterward by the Foreign Office that I was to send no information to the German newspapers without first sending it to the Foreign Office. Two days after the blockade order was published I received a telegram from Mr. Howard saying that diplomatic relations would be broken, and giving me a summary of the press comment. I took this despatch to the Foreign Office and asked permission to send it to the newspapers. It was refused. Throughout this crisis which lasted until the 10th of February the Foreign Office would not permit a single despatch coming direct from America to be printed in the German newspapers. The Foreign Office preferred to have the newspapers publish what came by way of England and France so that the Government could always explain that only English and French news could reach Germany because the United States was not interested in seeing that Germany obtained first hand information.
While Germany was arguing that the United States was responsible for her desperate situation, economically, and while President Wilson was being blamed for not breaking the Allied blockade, the German Foreign Office was doing everything within its power to prevent German goods from being shipped to the United States. When, through the efforts of Ambassador Gerard, numerous attempts were made to get German goods, including medicines and dye-stuffs, to the United States, the German Government replied that these could not leave the country unless an equal amount of goods were sent to Germany. Then, when the State Department arranged for an equal amount of American goods to be shipped in exchange the German Foreign Office said all these goods would have to be shipped to and from German ports. When the State Department listened to this demand and American steamers were started on their way to Hamburg and Bremen the German Navy was so busy sewing mines off these harbours to keep the English fleet away that they failed to notify the American skippers where the open channels were. As a result so many American ships were sunk trying to bring goods into German harbours that it became unprofitable for American shippers to try to accommodate Germany.
About this time, also, the German Government began its policy of discouraging American business in Germany. Ambassador Gerard had had a long wrangle with the Chancellor over a bill which was introduced in the Reichstag shortly after the beginning of the war to purchase all foreign oil properties "within the German Customs Union." The bill was examined by Mr. Gerard, who, for a number of years, was a Supreme Court Judge of New York. He discovered that the object of the bill was to put the Standard Oil Company out of business by purchasing all of this company's property except that located in Hamburg. This was the joker. Hamburg was not in the German Customs Union and the bill provided for the confiscation of all property not in this Union.
Mr. Gerard called upon the Chancellor and told him that the United States Government could not permit such a bill to be passed without a vigorous protest. The Chancellor asked Mr. Gerard whether President Wilson and Secretary of State Bryan would ever protect such a corporation as the Standard Oil Company was supposed to be. Mr. Gerard replied that the very fact that these two officials were known in the public mind as having no connection with this corporation would give them an opportunity of defending its interests the same as the Government would defend the interests of any other American. The Chancellor seemed surprised at this statement and Mr. Gerard continued about as follows:
"You know that Germany has already been discriminating against the Standard Oil Company. You know that the Prussian State Railways charge this American corporation twice as much to ship oil from Hamburg to Bremen as they charge the German oil interests to ship Roumanian oil from the Austrian border to Berlin. Now don't you think that's enough?"
The interview ended here. And the bill was never brought up in the Reichstag.
But this policy of the Government of intimidating and intriguing against American interests was continued until diplomatic relations were broken. In December, 1916, Adolph Barthmann, an American citizen, who owned the largest shoe store in Berlin, desired to close his place of business and go to the United States. It was impossible for him to get American shoes because of the Allied blockade and he had decided to discontinue business until peace was made.
Throughout the war it has been necessary for all Americans, as well as all other neutrals, to obtain permission from the police before they could leave. Barthmann went to Police Headquarters, and asked for authority to go to the United States. He was informed that his passport would have to be examined by the General Staff and that he could call for it within eight days. At the appointed day Barthmann appeared at Police Headquarters where he was informed by the Police Captain that upon orders of the General Staff he would have to sign a paper and swear to the statement that neither he nor the American firms he represented had sold, or would sell, shoes to the Allies. Barthmann was told that this statement would have to be sworn to by another American resident of Berlin and that unless this was done he would not be permitted to return to Germany after the war. Mr. Barthmann had to sign the document under protest before his American passport was returned.
The facts in this as in the other instances which I have narrated, are in the possession of the State Department at Washington.
When the German Government began to fear that the United States might some day join the Allies if the submarine campaign was renewed, it campaigned by threatening the United States with a Russian-Japanese-German alliance after the war against England and the United States. These threats were not disguised. Ambassador Gerard was informed, indirectly and unofficially of course, by German financiers and members of the Reichstag that Germany "would be forced" to make such an alliance if the United States ever joined the Allies. As was shown later by the instructions of Secretary of State Zimmermann to the German Minister in Mexico City, Germany has not only not given up that idea, but Germany now looks forward to Mexico as the fourth member of the league.
As Germany became more and more suspicious of Americans in Germany, who were not openly pro-German, she made them suffer when they crossed the German frontier to go to neutral countries. The German military authorities, at border towns such as Warnemuende and Bentheim, took a dislike to American women who were going to Holland or Denmark, and especially to the wives of U. S. consular officials. One time when I was going from Berlin to Copenhagen I learned from the husband of one of the women examined at the border what the authorities had done to her. I saw her before and after the ordeal and when I heard of what an atrocious examination they had made I understood why she was in bed ten days afterward and under the constant care of physicians. Knowing what German military officers and German women detectives had done in some of the invaded countries, one does not need to know the details of these insults. It is sufficient to state that after the wives of several American officials and other prominent American residents of Berlin had been treated in this manner that the State Department wrote a vigorous and defiant note to Germany stating that unless the practice was immediately discontinued the United States would give up the oversight of all German interests in Allied countries. The ultimatum had the desired effect. The German Government replied that while the order of the General Staff could not be changed it would be waived in practice.
No matter who the American is, who admired Germany, or, who respected Germany, or, who sympathised with Germany as she was before, or, at the beginning of the war, no American can support this Germany which I have just described, against his own country. The Germany of 1913, which was admired and respected by the scientific, educational and business world; the Germany of 1913 which had no poor, which took better care of its workmen than any nation in the world; the nation, which was considered in the advance of all countries in dealing with economic and industrial problems, no longer exists. The Germany which produced Bach, Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe and other great musicians and poets has disappeared. The musicians of to-day write hate songs. The poets of to-day pen hate verses. The scientists of to-day plan diabolical instruments of death. The educators teach suspicion of and disregard for everything which is not German. Business men have sided with the Government in a ruthless submarine warfare in order to destroy property throughout the world so that every nation will have to begin at the bottom with Germany when the war is over.
The Germany of 1914 and 1915 which arose like one man to defend the nation is not the Germany which to-day is down on the whole world and which believes that its organised might can defend it against every and all nations. The Germany I saw in 1915, composed of sympathetic, calm, charitable, patient people is to-day a Germany made up of nervous, impatient, deceptive and suspicious people.
From the sinking of the Lusitania to February, 1917, President Wilson maintained diplomatic relations with Germany in order to aid the democratic forces which were working in that country to throw out the poison which forty years of army preparation had diffused throughout the nation. President Wilson believed that he could rely upon the Chancellor as a leader of democracy against von Tirpitz and von Falkenhayn, as leaders of German autocracy. The Chancellor knew the President looked upon him as the man to reform Germany. But when the crisis came the Chancellor was as weak as the Kaiser and both of them sanctioned and defended what von Hindenburg and Ludendorf, the ammunition interests and the navy, proposed.
If the United States were to disregard absolutely every argument which the Allies have for fighting Germany there would still be so many American indictments against the German Government that no American could have a different opinion from that of President Wilson.
Germany sank the Lusitania and killed over 100 Americans and never apologised for it.
Germany sank the Ancona, killed more Americans and blamed Austria.
Germany sank the Arabic and torpedoed the Sussex.
Germany promised after the sinking of the Sussex to warn all merchant ships before torpedoing them and then in practice threw the pledges to the winds and ended by breaking all promises.
Germany started anti-American propaganda in Germany.
The German Government made the German people suspect and hate President Wilson.
Germany supplied Russia and Roumania with arms and ammunition and criticised America for permitting American business men to aid the Allies.
Germany plotted against American factories.
Germany tried to stir up a revolt in Mexico.
Germany tried to destroy American ammunition factories.
Germany blamed the United States for her food situation without explaining to the people that one of the reasons the pork supply was exhausted and there was no sugar was because Minister of the Interior Delbrueck ordered the farmers to feed sugar to the pigs and then to slaughter them in order to save the fodder.
Germany encouraged and financed German-Americans in their campaigns in the United States.
Germany paid American writers for anti-American contributions to German newspapers and for pro-German articles in the American press.
Germany prohibited American news associations from printing unbiased American news in Germany.
Germany discriminated against and blacklisted American firms doing business in Germany.
Germany prevented American correspondents from sending true despatches from Berlin during every submarine crisis.
Germany insulted American women, even the wives of American consular officials, when they crossed the German border.
Germany threatened the United States with a Russian-Japanese-German-Mexican alliance against England and the United States.
German generals insulted American military observers at the front and the U. S. War Department had to recall them.
These are Uncle Sam's indictments of the Kaiser.
Germany has outlawed herself among all nations.
THE UNITED STATES AT WAR
When the German Emperor in his New Year's message said that victory would remain with Germany in 1917 he must have known that the submarine war would be inaugurated to help bring this victory to Germany. In May, 1916, Admiral von Capelle explained to the Reichstag that the reason the German blockade of England could not be maintained was because Germany did not have sufficient submarines. But by December the Kaiser, who receives all the figures of the Navy, undoubtedly knew that submarines were being built faster than any other type of ship and that the Navy was making ready for the grand sea offensive in 1917. Knowing this, as well as knowing that President Wilson would break diplomatic relations if the submarine war was conducted ruthlessly again, the Kaiser was a very confident ruler to write such a New Year's order to the Army and Navy. He must have felt sure that he could defeat the United States.
* * * * * * * *
To My Army and My Navy!
Once more a war year lies behind us, replete with hard fighting and sacrifices, rich in successes and victories.
Our enemies' hopes for the year 1916 have been blasted. All their assaults in the East and West were broken to pieces through your bravery and devotion!
The latest triumphal march through Roumania has, by God's decree, again pinned imperishable laurels to your standards.
The greatest naval battle of this war, the Skager Rak victory, and the bold exploits of the U-boats have assured to My Navy glory and admiration for all time.
You are victorious on all theatres of war, ashore as well as afloat!
With unshaken trust and proud confidence the grateful Fatherland regards you. The incomparable warlike spirit dwelling in your ranks, your tenacious, untiring will to victory, your love for the Fatherland are guaranties to Me that victory will remain with our colours in the new year also.
God will be with us further!
Main Headquarters, Dec. 31, 1916.
THE KAISER'S NEW YEAR ORDER TO THE ARMY AND NAVY
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Ambassador Gerard warned the State Department in September that Germany would start her submarine war before the Spring of 1917 so the United States must have known several months before the official announcement came. But Washington probably was under the impression that the Chancellor would not break his word. Uncle Sam at that time trusted von Bethmann-Hollweg.
Diplomatic relations were broken on February 1st. Ambassador Gerard departed February 10th. Upon his arrival in Switzerland several German citizens, living in that country because they could not endure conditions at home, asked the Ambassador upon his arrival in Washington to urge President Wilson if he asked Congress to declare war to say that the United States did not desire to go to war with the German people but with the German Government. One of these citizens was a Prussian nobleman by birth but he had been one of the leaders of the democratic forces in Germany and exiled himself in order to help the Liberal movement among the people by working in Switzerland. This suggestion was followed by the President. When he spoke to the joint session of Congress on February 1st he declared the United States would wage war against the Government and not against the people. In this historic address the President said:
"I have called the Congress into extraordinary session because there are serious, very serious, choices of policy to be made, and made immediately, which it was neither right nor constitutionally permissible that I should assume the responsibility of making.
"On the 3rd of February last I officially laid before you the extraordinary announcement of the Imperial German Government, that on and after the 1st day of February it was its purpose to put aside all restraints of law or of humanity and use its submarines to sink every vessel that sought to approach either the ports of Great Britain and Ireland or the western coasts of Europe, or any of the ports controlled by the enemies of Germany within the Mediterranean.
"That had seemed to be the object of the German submarine warfare earlier in the war, but since April of last year the imperial Government had somewhat restrained the commanders of its under-sea craft, in conformity with its promise then given to us that passenger boats should not be sunk, and that due warning would be given to all other vessels which its submarines might seek to destroy, when no resistance was offered or escape attempted, and care taken that their crews were given at least a fair chance to save their lives in their open boats. The precautions taken were meagre and haphazard enough, as was proved in distressing instance after instance in the progress of the cruel and unmanly business, but a certain degree of restraint was observed.
"The new policy has swept every restriction aside. Vessels of every kind, whatever their flag, their character, their cargo, their destination, their errand, have been ruthlessly sent to the bottom without warning and without thought of help or mercy for those on board, the vessels of friendly neutrals along with those of belligerents. Even hospital ships and ships carrying relief to the sorely bereaved and stricken people of Belgium, though the latter were provided with safe conduct through the prescribed areas by the German Government itself, and were distinguished by unmistakable marks of identity, have been sunk with the same reckless lack of compassion or of principle.
"I was for a little while unable to believe that such things would in fact be done by any government that had hitherto subscribed to the humane practices of civilised nations. International law had its origin in the attempt to set up some law, which would be respected and observed upon the seas, where no nation had right of dominion and where lay the free highways of the world. By painful stage after stage has that law been built up, with meagre enough results, indeed, after all was accomplished that could be accomplished, but always with a clear view at least of what the heart and conscience of mankind demanded.
"This minimum of right the German Government has swept aside under the plea of retaliation and necessity, and because it had no weapons which it could use at sea except these, which it is impossible to employ as it is employing them without throwing to the winds all scruples of humanity or of respect for the understandings that were supposed to underlie the intercourse of the world.
"I am not now thinking of the loss of property involved, immense and serious as that is, but only of the wanton and wholesale destruction of the lives of non-combatants, men, women and children, engaged in pursuits which have always, even in the darkest periods of modern history, been deemed innocent and legitimate. Property can be paid for; the lives of peaceful and innocent people cannot be.
"The present German warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind. It is a war against all nations. American ships have been sunk, American lives taken, in ways which it has stirred us very deeply to learn of, but the ships and people of other neutral and friendly nations have been sunk and overwhelmed in the waters in the same way. There has been no discrimination. The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. The choice we make for ourselves must be made with a moderation of counsel and a temperateness of judgment befitting our character and our motives as a nation. We must put excited feeling away. Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.
"When I addressed the Congress on the twenty-sixth of February last I thought that it would suffice to assert our neutral rights with arms, our right to use the seas against unlawful interference, our right to keep our people safe against unlawful violence. But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable.
"Because submarines are in effect outlaws when used as the German submarines have been used, against merchant shipping, it is impossible to defend ships against their attacks, as the law of nations has assumed that merchantmen would defend themselves against privateers or cruisers, visible craft giving chase upon the open sea. It is common prudence in such circumstances—grim necessity, indeed—to endeavour to destroy them before they have shown their own intention. They must be dealt with upon sight, if dealt with at all.
"The German Government denies the right of neutrals to use arms at all within the areas of the sea which it has proscribed, even in the defence of rights which no modern publicist has ever before questioned their right to defend. The intimation is conveyed that the armed guards which we have placed on our merchant ships will be treated as beyond the pale of law and subject to be dealt with as pirates would be.
"Armed neutrality is ineffectual enough at best; in such circumstances and in the face of such pretensions it is worse than ineffectual; it is likely to produce what it was meant to prevent; it is practically certain to draw us into the war without either the rights or the effectiveness of belligerents.
"There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making: We will not choose the path of submission and suffer the most sacred rights of our nation and our people to be ignored or violated. The wrongs against which we now array ourselves are not common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.
"With a profound sense of the solemn and even tragical character of the step I am taking and of the grave responsibilities which it involves, but in unhesitating obedience to what I deem my constitutional duty, I advise that the Congress declare the recent course of the Imperial German Government to be in fact nothing less than war against the Government and people of the United States; that it formally accept the status of belligerent which has thus been thrust upon it, and that it take immediate steps not only to put the country in a more thorough state of defence, but also to exert all its power and employ all its resources to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms and end the war.
"What this will involve is clear. It will involve the utmost practicable co-operation in counsel and action with the governments now at war with Germany, and, as incident to that, the extension to those governments of the most liberal financial credits in order that our resources may, so far as possible, be added to theirs.
"It will involve the organisation and mobilisation of all the material resources of the country to supply the materials of war and serve the incidental needs of the nation in the most abundant and yet the most economical and efficient way possible.
"It will involve the immediate full equipment of the navy in all respects, but particularly in supplying it with the best means of dealing with the enemy's submarines. It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States, already provided for by law in case of war, at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service; and also the authorisation of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training.
"It will involve also, of course, the granting of adequate credits to the Government, sustained, I hope, so far as they can equitably be sustained by the present generation, by well conceived taxation. I say sustained so far as may be by equitable taxation because it seems to me that it would be most unwise to base the credits which will now be necessary entirely on money borrowed. It is our duty, I most respectfully urge, to protect our people so far as we may against the very serious hardships and evils which would be likely to arise out of the inflation which would be produced by vast loans.
"In carrying out the measures by which these things are to be accomplished we should keep constantly in mind the wisdom of interfering as little as possible in our own preparation and in the equipment of our own military forces with the duty—for it will be a very practical duty—of supplying the nations already at war with Germany with the materials which they can obtain only from us or by our assistance. They are in the field, and we should help them in every way to be effective there.
"I shall take the liberty of suggesting, through the several executive departments of the Government, for the consideration of your committees measures for the accomplishment of the several objects I have mentioned. I hope that it will be your pleasure to deal with them as having been framed after very careful thought by the branch of the Government upon which the responsibility of conducting the war and safeguarding the nation will most directly fall.
"While we do these things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear, and make very clear to all the world what our motives and our objects are. My own thought has not been driven from its habitual and normal course by the unhappy events of the last two months, and I do not believe that the thought of the nation has been altered or clouded by them.
"I have exactly the same thing in mind now that I had in mind when I addressed the Senate on the 22d of January last; the same that I had in mind when I addressed the Congress on the 3d of February and on the 26th of February. Our object now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and the justice in the life of the world as against selfish and autocratic power and to set up among the really free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and of action as will henceforth insure the observance of those principles.
"Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organised force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people. We have seen the last of neutrality in such circumstances.
"We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilised states.
"We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval.
"It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men who were accustomed to use their fellowmen as pawns and tools.
"Self-governed nations do not fill their neighbour states with spies or set the course of intrigue to bring about some critical posture of affairs which will give them an opportunity to strike and make conquest. Such designs can be successfully worked only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions.
"Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class. They are happily impossible where public opinion commands and insists upon full information concerning all the nation's affairs.
"A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants.
"It must be a league of honour, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plottings of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart.
"Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honour steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.
"Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia?
"Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke for their natural instinct, their habitual attitude toward life.
"Autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, in character or purpose, and now it has been shaken, and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their native majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a league of honour.
"One of the things that have served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies, and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of council, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce.
"Indeed, it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began; and it is unhappily not a matter of conjecture, but a fact proved in our courts of justice, that the intrigues, which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country, have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction, of official agents of the imperial Government accredited to the Government of the United States.
"Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them, because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people toward us (who were, no doubt, as ignorant of them as we ourselves were), but only in the selfish designs of a government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing. But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that Government entertains no real friendship for us, and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience.
"That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted note to the German Minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence.
"We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend, and that in the presence of its organised power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world.
"We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included, for the rights of nations great and small, and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience.
"The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the trusted foundations of political liberty.
"We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been as secure as the faith and the freedom of the nation can make them.
"Just because we fight without rancour and without selfish objects, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.
"I have said nothing of the governments allied with the imperial Government of Germany, because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honour. The Austro-Hungarian Government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified indorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the imperial Government, and it has therefore not been possible for this Government to receive Count Tarnowski, the ambassador recently accredited to this Government by the imperial and royal Government of Austria-Hungary, but that Government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna. We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.
"It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck.
"We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early re-establishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us—however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present Government through all these bitter months because of that friendship—exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible.
"We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions toward the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live amongst us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it toward all who are in fact loyal to their neighbours and to the Government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose.
"If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression; but if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there, and without countenance, except from a lawless and malignant few.
"It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilisation itself seeming to be in the balance.
"But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.
"To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other."
After this speech was printed in Germany, first in excerpts and then as a whole in a few papers, there were three distinct reactions:
1. The Government press and the circles controlled by the Army published violent articles against President Wilson and the United States.
2. The democratic press led by the Vorwaerts took advantage of Wilson's statements to again demand election reforms.
3. Public feeling generally was so aroused that the official North German Gazette said at the end of a long editorial that the Kaiser favoured a "people's kingdom of Hohenzollern."
The ammunition interests were among the first to express their satisfaction with America as an enemy. The Rheinische Westfaelische Zeitung, their official graphophone, said:
"The real policy of America is now fully disclosed by the outbreak of the war. Now a flood of lies and insults, clothed in pious phraseology, will descend on us. This is a surprise only to those who have been reluctant to admit that America was our enemy from the beginning. The voice of America does not sound differently from that of any other enemy. They are all tarred with the same brush—those humanitarians and democrats who hurl the world into war and refuse peace."
The Lokal Anzeiger, which is practically edited by the Foreign Office, said President Wilson's attempt to inveigle the German people into a revolt against the dynasty beats anything for sheer hypocrisy in the records of the world.
"We must assume that President Wilson deliberately tells an untruth. Not the German Government but the German race, hates this Anglo-Saxon fanatic, who has stirred into flame the consuming hatred in America while prating friendship and sympathy for the German people."
The Lokal Anzeiger was right when it said the German people hated America. The Lokal Anzeiger was one of the means the Government used to make the German people hate the United States.
The North German Gazette, which prints only editorials dictated, or authorised by, the Secretary of State, said:
"A certain phrase in President Wilson's speech must be especially pointed out. The President represents himself as the bearer of true freedom to our people who are engaged in a severe struggle for their existence and liberty. What slave soul does he believe exists in the German people when it thinks that it will allow its freedom to be meted out to them from without? The freedom which our enemies have in store for us we know sufficiently.
"The German people, become clearsighted in war, and see in President Wilson's word nothing but an attempt to loosen the bonds between the people and princes of Germany so that we may become an easier prey for our enemies. We ourselves know that an important task remains to us to consolidate our external power and our freedom at home."
But the mask fell from the face of Germany which she shows the outside world, when the Kaiser issued his Easter proclamation promising election reforms after the war. Why did the Kaiser issue this proclamation again at this time? As early as January, 1916, he said the same thing to the German people in his address from the throne to the Prussian Diet. Why did the Kaiser feel that it was necessary to again call the attention of the people to the fact that he would be a democrat when the war was over? The Kaiser and the German army are clever in dealing with the German people. If the Kaiser makes a mistake or does something that his army does not approve it can always be remedied before the mistake becomes public.
Last Fall a young German soldier who had been in the United States as a moving picture operator was called to the General Staff to take moving pictures at the front for propaganda purposes. One week he was ordered to Belgium, to follow and photograph His Majesty. At Ostend, the famous Belgian summer resort, the Kaiser was walking along the beach one day with Admiral von Schroeder, who is in command of the German defences there. The movie operator followed him. The soldier had been following the Kaiser several days so His Majesty recognised him, ordered him to put up his camera and prepare to make a special film. When the camera was ready His Majesty danced a jig, waved his sceptre and then his helmet, smiled and shouted greetings to the camera man—then went on along the beach.
When the photographer reached Berlin and showed the film to the censors of the General Staff they were shocked by the section of the Kaiser at Ostend. They ordered it cut out of the film because they did not think it advisable to show the German people how much their Emperor was enjoying the war!
The Kaiser throughout his reign has posed as a peace man although he has been first a soldier and then an executive. So when the Big War broke out the Kaiser had a chance to make real what had been play for him for forty years. Is it surprising then that he should urge the people to go on with the war and promise them to reform the government when the fighting was over?
The Kaiser's proclamation itself shows that the Kaiser is not through fighting.
"Never before have the German people proved to be so firm as in this war. The knowledge that the Fatherland is fighting in bitter self defence has exercised a wonderful reconciling power, and, despite all sacrifices on the battlefield and severe privations at home, their determination has remained imperturbable to stake their last for the victorious issue."
Could any one except a soldier who was pleased with the progress of the war have written such words?
"The national and social spirit have understood each other and become united, and have given us steadfast strength. Both of them realise what was built up in long years of peace and amid many internal struggles. This was certainly worth fighting for," the Emperor's order continued. "Brightly before my eyes stand the achievements of the entire nation in battle and distress. The events of this struggle for the existence of the empire introduce with high solemnity a new time.
"It falls to you as the responsible Chancellor of the German Empire and First Minister of my Government in Prussia to assist in obtaining the fulfilment of the demands of this hour by right means and at the right time, and in this spirit shape our political life in order to make room for the free and joyful co-operation of all the members of our people.
"The principles which you have developed in this respect have, as you know, my approval.
"I feel conscious of remaining thereby on the road which my grandfather, the founder of the empire, as King of Prussia with military organisation and as German Emperor with social reform, typically fulfilled as his monarchial obligations, thereby creating conditions by which the German people, in united and wrathful perseverance, will overcome this sanguinary time. The maintenance of the fighting force as a real people's army and the promotion of the social uplift of the people in all its classes was, from the beginning of my reign, my aim.
"In this endeavour, while holding a just balance between the people and the monarchy to serve the welfare of the whole, I am resolved to begin building up our internal political, economic, and social life as soon as the war situation permits.
"While millions of our fellow-countrymen are in the field, the conflict of opinions behind the front, which is unavoidable in such a far-reaching change of constitution, must be postponed in the highest interests of the Fatherland until the time of the homecoming of our warriors and when they themselves are able to join in the counsel and the voting on the progress of the new order."
It was but natural that the Socialists should hail this declaration of the Kaiser's at first with enthusiasm.
"Internal freedom in Prussia—that is a goal for which for more than one hundred years the best heads and best forces in the nation have worked. Resurrection day of the third war year—will go down in history as the day of the resurrection of old Prussia to a new development," said the Vorwaerts.
"It has brought us a promise, to be sure; not the resurrection itself, but a promise which is more hopeful and certain than all former announcements together. This proclamation can never be annulled and lapse into dusty archives.
"This message promises us a thorough reform of the Prussian three class electoral system in addition to a reform of the Prussian Upper House. In the coming new orientation the Government is only one factor, another is Parliament, the third and decisive factor is the people."
Other Berlin newspapers spoke in a similar vein but not one of them pointed out to the public the fact that this concession by the Kaiser was not made in such a definite form, until the United States had declared war. As the United States entered the war to aid the democratic movement in Germany this concession by the Kaiser may be considered our first victory.
As days go by it becomes more and more evident that the American declaration of war is having an important influence upon internal conditions in Germany just as the submarine notes had. The German people really did not begin to think during this war until President Wilson challenged them in the notes which followed the torpedoing of the Lusitania. And now with the United States at war not only the people but the Government have decided to do some thinking.
By April 12th when reports began to reach Germany of America's determination to fight until there was a democracy in Germany the democratic press began to give more serious consideration to Americans alliance with the Allies. Dr. Ludwig Haas, one of the Socialist members of the Reichstag, in an article in the Berlin Tageblatt made the following significant statements.
"One man may be a hypocrite, but never a whole nation. If the American people accept this message [President Wilson's address before Congress] without a protest, then a tremendous abyss separates the logic of Germans from that of other nations.
"Woodrow Wilson is not so far wrong if he means the planning of war might be prevented if the people asserted the right to know everything about the foreign policies of their countries. But the President seems blind to the fact that a handful of men have made it their secret and uncontrolled business to direct the fate of the European democracies. With the press at one's command one can easily drive a poor people to a mania of enthusiasm, when they will carry on their shoulders the criminals who have led to the brink of disaster."
Dr. Haas was beginning to understand that the anti-American campaign in Germany which the Navy started and the Foreign Office encouraged, had had some effect.
Everything the United States does from now on will have a decisive influence in the world war. The Allies realise it and Washington knows it. Mr. Lloyd-George, the British Prime Minister, realised what a decisive effect American ships would have, when he said at the banquet of the American Luncheon Club in London:
"The road to victory, the guaranty of victory, the absolute assurance of victory, has to be found in one word, 'ships,' and a second word, 'ships,' and a third word, 'ships.'"
But our financial economic and military aid to the Allies will not be our greatest contribution towards victory. The influence of President Wilson's utterances, of our determination and of our value as a friendly nation after the war will have a tremendous effect as time goes on upon the German people. As days and weeks pass, as the victory which the German Government has promised the people becomes further and further away, the people, who are now doing more thinking than they ever have done since the beginning of the war, will some day realise that in order to obtain peace, which they pray for and hope for, they will have to reform their government during the war—not after the war as the Kaiser plans.
Military pressure from the outside is going to help this democratic movement in Germany succeed in spite of itself. The New York World editorial on April 14th, discussing Mr. Lloyd-George's statement that "Prussia is not a democracy; Prussia is not a state; Prussia is an army," said:
"It was the army and the arrogance actuating it which ordered hostilities in the first place. Because there was no democracy in Prussia, the army had its way. The democracies of Great Britain and France, like the democracy of the United States, were reluctant to take arms but were forced to it. Russian democracy found its own deliverance on the fighting-line.
"In the fact that Prussia is not a democracy or a state but an army we may see a reason for many things usually regarded as inexplicable. It is Prussia the army which violates treaties. It is Prussia the army which disregards international law. It is Prussia the army, represented by the General Staff and the Admiralty, which sets at naught the engagements of the Foreign Office. It is Prussia the army which has filled neutral countries with spies and lawbreakers, which has placed frightfulness above humanity, and in a fury of egotism and savagery has challenged the world.
"Under such a terrorism, as infamous at home as it is abroad, civil government has perished. There is no civil government in a Germany dragooned by Prussia. There is no law in Germany but military law. There is no obligation in Germany except to the army. It is not Germany the democracy or Germany the state, it is Germany the army, that is to be crushed for its own good no less than for that of civilisation."
The United States entered the war at the psychological and critical moment. We enter it at the moment when our economic and financial resources, and our determination will have the decisive influence. We enter at the moment when every one of our future acts will assist and help the democratic movement in Germany succeed.
The United States entered the war at a time when many Americans believed the Allies were about to win it. By May 1st, 1917, the situation so changed in Europe that it was apparent to observers that only by the most stupendous efforts of all the Allies could the German Government be defeated.
At the very beginning of the war, when Teutonic militarism spread over Europe, it was like a forest fire. But two years of fighting have checked it—as woodsmen check forest fires—by digging ditches and preventing the flames from spreading. Unlimited submarine warfare, however, is something new. It is militarism spreading to the high seas and to the shores of neutrals. It is Ruthlessism—the new German menace, which is as real and dangerous for us and for South America as for England and the Allies. If we hold out until Ruthlessism spends its fury, we will win. But we must fight and fight desperately to hold out.
Dr. Kaempf, President of the Reichstag, declared that President Wilson would "bite marble" before the war was over. And the success of submarine warfare during April and the first part of May was such as to arouse the whole world to the almost indefinite possibilities of this means of fighting. The real crisis of the war has not been reached. We are approaching it. The Allies have attempted for two years without much success to curb the U-boat danger. They have attempted to build steel ships, also without success, so that the real burden of winning the war in Europe falls upon American shoulders.
Fortunately for the United States we are not making the blunders at the beginning of our intervention which some of the European nations have been making since August, 1914. America is awakened to the needs of modern war as no other nation was, thanks to the splendid work which the American newspapers and magazines have done during the war to present clearly, fairly and accurately not only the great issues but the problems of organisation and military tactics. The people of the United States are better informed about the war as a whole than are the people in any European country. American newspapers have not made the mistakes which English and French journals made—of hating the enemy so furiously as to think that nothing more than criticism and hate were necessary to defeat him. Not until this year could one of Great Britain's statesmen declare: "You can damn the Germans until you are blue in the face, but that will not beat them."
* * * * * * * *
Professor Charles Gray Shaw, of New York University, stated before one of his classes in philosophy that there was a new "will" typified in certain of our citizens, notably in President Wilson.
"The new psychology," said Professor Shaw, "has discovered the new will—the will that turns inward upon the brain instead of passing out through hand or tongue. Wilson has this new will; the White House corroborates the results of the laboratory. To Roosevelt, Wilson seems weak and vacillating; but that is because T. R. knows nothing about the new will. T. R. has a primitive mind, but one of the most advanced type. In the T. R. brain, so to speak, will means set teeth, clenched fist, hunting, and rough riding.
"Wilson may be regarded as either creating the new volition or as having discovered it. At any rate, Wilson possesses and uses the new volition, and it remains to be seen whether the political world, at home and abroad, is ready for it. Here it is significant to observe that the Germans, who are psychologists, recognize the fact that a new and important function of the mind has been focused upon them.
"The Germans fear and respect the Wilson will of note writing more than they would have dreaded the T. R. will with its teeth and fists."
As a psychologist Professor Shaw observed what we saw to be the effect in Germany, of Mr. Wilson's will.
THE WILSON WILL
* * * * * * * *
The United States enters the greatest war in history at the psychological moment with a capable and determined president, a united nation and almost unlimited resources in men, money and munitions.
There is a tremendous difference between the situation in the United States and that in any other European country. During the two years I was in Europe I visited every nation at war except Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey. I saw conditions in the neutral countries of Holland, Denmark, Switzerland and Spain. The one big thing which impressed me upon my arrival in New York was that the United States, in contrast to all these countries, has, as yet, not been touched by the war. Americans are not living under the strain and worry which hang like dreadful dull clouds over every European power. In Switzerland the economic worries and the sufferings of the neighbouring belligerents have made the Swiss people feel that they are in the centre of the war itself. In France, although Paris is gay, although people smile (they have almost forgotten how to smile in Germany), although streets are crowded, and stores busy, the atmosphere is earnest and serious. Spain is torn by internal troubles. There is a great army of unemployed. The submarine war has destroyed many Spanish ships and interrupted Spanish trade with belligerents. Business houses are unable to obtain credit. German propaganda is sowing sedition and the King himself is uncertain about the future. But in the United States there is a gigantic display of energy and potential power which makes this country appear to possess sufficient force in itself to defeat Germany. Berlin is drained and dead in comparison. Paris, while busy, is war-busy and every one and everything seems to move and live because of the war. In New York and throughout the country there are young men by the hundreds of thousands. Germany and France have no young men outside the armies. Here there are millions of automobiles and millions of people hurrying, happy and contented, to and from their work. In Germany there are no automobiles which are not in the service of the Government and rubber tires are so nearly exhausted that practically all automobiles have iron wheels.
Some Americans have lived for many years with the idea that only certain sections of the United States were related to Europe. Many people, especially those in the Middle West, have had the impression that only the big shipping interests and exporters had direct interests in affairs across the ocean. But when Germany began to take American lives on the high seas, when German submarines began to treat American ships like all other belligerent vessels, it began to dawn upon people here that this country was very closely connected to Europe by blood ties as well as by business bonds. It has taken the United States two years to learn that Europe was not, after all, three thousand miles away when it came to the vital moral issues of live international policies. Before Congress declared war I found many Americans criticising President Wilson for not declaring war two years ago. While I do not know what the situation was during my absence still the impression which Americans abroad had, even American officials, was that President Wilson would not have had the support of a united people which he has to-day had he entered the war before all question of doubt regarding the moral issues had disappeared.
In the issue of April 14th of this year the New Republic, of New York, in an editorial on "Who willed American participation?" cast an interesting light upon the reasons for our intervention in the Great War.
"Pacifist agitators who have been so courageously opposing, against such heavy odds, American participation in the war have been the victims of one natural but considerable mistake," says The New Republic. "They have insisted that the chief beneficiaries of American participation would be the munition-makers, bankers and in general the capitalist class, that the chief sufferers would be the petty business men and the wage-earners. They have consequently considered the former classes to be conspiring in favour of war, and now that war has come, they condemn it as the work of a small but powerful group of profiteers. Senator Norris had some such meaning in his head when he asserted that a declaration of war would be equivalent to stamping the dollar mark on the American flag.
"This explanation of the great decision is an absurd mistake, but the pacifists have had some excuses for making it. They have seen a great democratic nation gradually forced into war, in spite of the manifest indifference or reluctance of the majority of its population; and they have rightly attributed the successful pressure to the ability of a small but influential minority to impose its will on the rest of the country. But the numerically insignificant class whose influence has been successfully exerted in favour of American participation does not consist of the bankers and the capitalists. Neither will they be the chief beneficiaries of American participation. The bankers and the capitalists have favoured war, but they have favoured it without realising the extent to which it would injure their own interests, and their support has been one of the most formidable political obstacles to American participation. The effective and decisive work on behalf of war has been accomplished by an entirely different class—a class which must be comprehensively but loosely described as the 'intellectuals.'
"The American nation is entering this war under the influence of a moral verdict reached, after the utmost deliberation by the more thoughtful members of the community. They gradually came to a decision that the attack made by Germany on the international order was sufficiently flagrant and dangerous to justify this country in abandoning its cherished isolation and in using its resources to bring about German defeat. But these thoughtful people were always a small minority. They were able to impose their will upon a reluctant or indifferent majority partly because the increasingly offensive nature of German military and diplomatic policy made plausible opposition to American participation very difficult, but still more because of the overwhelming preponderance of pro-Ally conviction in the intellectual life of the country. If the several important professional and social groups could have voted separately on the question of war and peace, the list of college professors would probably have yielded the largest majority in favour of war, except perhaps that contained in the Social Register. A fighting anti-German spirit was more general among physicians, lawyers and clergymen than it was among business men—except those with Wall Street and banking connections. Finally, it was not less general among writers on magazines and in the newspapers. They popularised what the college professors had been thinking. Owing to this consensus of influences opposition to pro-Ally orthodoxy became intellectually somewhat disreputable, and when a final decision had to be made this factor counted with unprecedented and overwhelming force. College professors headed by a President who had himself been a college professor contributed more effectively to the decision in favour of war than did the farmers, the business men or the politicians.
"When one considers the obstacles to American entrance into the war, the more remarkable and unprecedented does the final decision become. Every other belligerent had something immediate and tangible to gain by participating and to lose by not participating. Either they were invaded or were threatened with invasion. Either they dreaded the loss of prestige or territory or coveted some kind or degree of national aggrandisement. Even Australia and Canada, who had little or nothing to gain from fighting, could not have refused to fight without severing their connection with the British Empire, and behaving in a manner which would have been considered treacherous by their fellow Britons. But the American people were not forced into the war either by fears or hopes or previously recognised obligations. On the contrary, the ponderable and tangible realities of the immediate situation counselled neutrality. They were revolted by the hideous brutality of the war and its colossal waste. Participation must be purchased with a similarly colossal diversion of American energy from constructive to destructive work, the imposition of a similarly heavy burden upon the future production of American labour. It implied the voluntary surrender of many of those advantages which had tempted our ancestors to cross the Atlantic and settle in the New World. As against these certain costs there were no equally tangible compensations. The legal rights of American citizens were, it is true, being violated, and the structure of international law with which American security was traditionally associated was being shivered, but the nation had weathered a similar storm during the Napoleonic Wars and at that time participation in the conflict had been wholly unprofitable. By spending a small portion of the money which will have to be spent in helping the Allies to beat Germany, upon preparations exclusively for defence, the American nation could have protected for the time being the inviolability of its own territory and its necessary communications with the Panama Canal. Many considerations of national egotism counselled such a policy. But although the Hearst newspapers argued most persuasively on behalf of this course it did not prevail. The American nation allowed itself to be captured by those upon whom the more remote and less tangible reasons for participation acted with compelling authority. For the first time in history a wholly independent nation has entered a great and costly war under the influence of ideas rather than immediate interests and without any expectation of gains, except those which can be shared with all liberal and inoffensive nations.
"The United States might have blundered into the war at any time during the past two years, but to have entered, as it is now doing, at the right time and in the clear interest of a purely international programme required the exercise of an intellectualised and imaginative leadership. And in supplying the country with this leadership Mr. Wilson was interpreting the ideas of thoughtful Americans who wished their country to be fighting on the side of international right, but not until the righteousness of the Allied cause was unequivocally established. It has taken some time to reach this assurance. The war originated in conflicting national ambitions among European Powers for privileged economic and political positions in Africa and Asia, and if it had continued to be a war of this kind there never could have been a question of American intervention. Germany, however, had been dreaming of a more glorious goal than Bagdad and a mightier heritage than that of Turkey. She betrayed her dream by attacking France through Belgium and by threatening the foundations of European order. The crucifying of Belgium established a strong presumption against Germany, but the case was not complete. There still remained the dubious origin of the war. There still remained a doubt whether the defeat of German militarism might not mean a dangerous triumph of Russian autocracy. Above all there remained a more serious doubt whether the United States in aiding the Allies to beat Germany might not be contributing merely to the establishment of a new and equally unstable and demoralising Balance of Power in Europe. It was well, consequently, to wait and see whether the development of the war would not do away with some of the ambiguities and misgivings, while at the same time to avoid doing anything to embarrass the Allies. The waiting policy has served. Germany was driven by the logic of her original aggression to threaten the security of all neutrals connected with the rest of the world by maritime communications. The Russian autocracy was overthrown, because it betrayed its furtive kinship with the German autocracy. Finally, President Wilson used the waiting period for the education of American public opinion. His campaign speeches prophesied the abandonment of American isolation in the interest of a League of Peace. His note of last December to the belligerents brought out the sinister secrecy of German peace terms and the comparative frankness of that of the Allies. His address to the Senate clearly enunciated the only programme on behalf of which America could intervene in European affairs. Never was there a purer and more successful example of Fabian political strategy, for Fabianism consists not merely in waiting but in preparing during the meantime for the successful application of a plan to a confused and dangerous situation.
"What Mr. Wilson did was to apply patience and brains to a complicated and difficult but developing political situation. He was distinguished from his morally indignant pro-Allies fellow countrymen, who a few months ago were abusing him for seeking to make a specifically American contribution to the issues of the war, just as Lincoln was distinguished from the abolitionists, not so much by difference in purposes as by greater political wisdom and intelligence. It is because of his Fabianism, because he insisted upon waiting until he had established a clear connection between American intervention and an attempt to create a community of nations, that he can command and secure for American intervention the full allegiance of the American national conscience. His achievement is a great personal triumph, but it is more than that. It is an illustration and a prophecy of the part which intelligence and in general the 'intellectual' class have an opportunity of playing in shaping American policy and in moulding American life. The intimate association between action and ideas, characteristic of American political practice at its best, has been vindicated once more. The association was started at the foundation of the Republic and was embodied in the work of the Fathers, but particularly in that of Hamilton. It was carried on during the period of the Civil War and was embodied chiefly in the patient and penetrating intelligence which Abraham Lincoln brought to his task. It has just been established in the region of foreign policy by Mr. Wilson's discriminating effort to keep the United States out of the war until it could go in as the instrument of an exclusively international programme and with a fair prospect of getting its programme accepted. In holding to this policy Mr. Wilson was interpreting with fidelity and imagination the ideas and the aspirations of the more thoughtful Americans. His success should give them increasing confidence in the contribution which they as men of intelligence are capable of making to the fulfilment of the better American national purposes."
During 1915 and 1916 our diplomatic relations with Germany have been expressed in one series of notes after another, and the burden of affairs has been as much on the shoulders of Ambassador Gerard as on those of any other one American, for he has been the official who has had to transmit, interpret and fight for our policies in Berlin. Mr. Gerard had a difficult task because he, like President Wilson, was constantly heckled and ridiculed by those pro-German Americans who were more interested in discrediting the Administration than in maintaining peace. Of all the problems with which the Ambassador had to contend, the German-American issue was the greatest, and those who believed that it was centred in the United States are mistaken, for the capital of German-America was Berlin.
"I have had a great deal of trouble in Germany from the American correspondents when they went there," said Ambassador Gerard in an address to the American Newspapers Publishers Association in New York on April 26th.
"Most of them became super-Ambassadors and proceeded to inform the German Government that they must not believe me—that they must not believe the President—they must not believe the American people—but believe these people, and to a great extent this war is due to the fact that these pro-German Americans, a certain number of them, misinformed the German Government as to the sentiments of this country."
James W. Gerard's diplomatic career in Germany was based upon bluntness, frankness and a kind of "news instinct" which caused him to regard his position as that of a reporter for the United States Government.
Berlin thought him the most unusual Ambassador it had ever known. It never knew how to take him. He did not behave as other diplomats did. When he went to the Foreign Office it was always on business. He did not flatter and praise, bow and chat or speak to Excellencies in the third person as European representatives usually do. Gerard began at the beginning of the war a policy of keeping the United States fully informed regarding Germany. He used to report daily the political developments and the press comment, and the keen understanding which he had of German methods was proved by his many forecasts of important developments. Last September he predicted, in a message to the State Department, ruthless submarine warfare before Spring unless peace was made. He notified Washington last October to watch for German intrigue in Mexico and said that unless we solved the problem there we might have trouble throughout the war from Germans south of the Rio Grande.
During the submarine controversies, when reports reached Berlin that the United States was divided and would not support President Wilson in his submarine policy, Ambassador Gerard did everything he could to give the opposite impression. He tried his best to keep Germany from driving the United States into the war. That he did not succeed was not the fault of his efforts. Germany was desperate and willing to disregard all nations and all international obligations in an attempt to win the war with U-boats.
Last Summer, during one of the crises over the sinking of a passenger liner without warning, Mr. Gerard asked the Chancellor for an audience with the Kaiser. Von Bethmann-Hollweg said he would see if it could be arranged. The Ambassador waited two weeks. Nothing was done. From his friends in Berlin he learned that the Navy was opposed to such a conference and would not give its consent. Mr. Gerard went to Herr von Jagow who was then Secretary of State and again asked for an audience. He waited another week. Nothing happened and Mr. Gerard wrote the following note to the Chancellor:
"Three weeks ago I asked for an audience with His Majesty the Kaiser.
"A week ago I repeated the request.
"Please do not trouble yourself further.
"JAMES W. GERARD."
The Ambassador called the Embassy messenger and sent the note to the Chancellor's palace. Three hours later he was told that von Bethmann-Hollweg had gone to Great Headquarters to arrange for the meeting.
Sometimes in dealing with the Foreign Office the Ambassador used the same rough-shod methods which made the Big Stick effective during the Roosevelt Administration. At one time, Alexander Cochran, of New York, acted as special courier from the Embassy in London to Berlin. At the frontier he was arrested and imprisoned. The Ambassador heard of it, went to the Foreign Office and demanded Cochran's immediate release. The Ambassador had obtained Mr. Cochran's passports, and showed them to the Secretary of State. When Herr von Jagow asked permission to retain one of the passports so the matter could be investigated, the Ambassador said:
"All right, but first let me tear Lansing's signature off the bottom, or some one may use the passport for other purposes."
The Ambassador was not willing to take chances after it was learned and proved by the State Department that Germany was using American passports for spy purposes.
In one day alone, last fall, the American Embassy sent 92 notes to the Foreign Office, some authorised by Washington and some unauthorised, protesting against unlawful treatment of Americans, asking for reforms in prison camps, transmitting money and letters about German affairs in Entente countries, and other matters which were under discussion between Berlin and Washington. At one time an American woman instructor in Roberts' College was arrested at Warnemuende and kept for weeks from communicating with the Ambassador. When he heard of it he went to the Foreign Office daily, demanding her release, which he finally secured.
Mr. Gerard's work in bettering conditions in prison camps, especially at Ruhleben, will be long remembered. When conditions were at their worst he went out daily to keep himself informed, and then daily went to the Foreign Office or wrote to the Ministry of War in an effort to get better accommodations for the men. One day he discovered eleven prominent English civilians, former respected residents in Berlin, living in a box stall similar to one which his riding horse had occupied in peace times. This so aroused the Ambassador that he volunteered to furnish funds for the construction of a new barracks in case the Government was not willing to do it. But the Foreign Office and the War Ministry and other officials shifted authority so often that it was impossible to get changes made. The Ambassador decided to have his reports published in a drastic effort to gain relief for the prisoners. The State Department granted the necessary authority and his descriptions of Ruhleben were published in the United States and England, arousing such a world-wide storm of indignation that the German Government changed the prison conditions and made Ruhleben fit for men for the first time since the beginning of the war.
This activity of the Ambassador aroused a great deal of bitterness and the Government decided to try to have him recalled. The press censorship instigated various newspapers to attack the Ambassador so that Germany might be justified in asking for his recall, but the attack failed for the simple reason that there was no evidence against the Ambassador except that he had been too vigorous in insisting upon livable prison camp conditions.
* * * * * * * *
I have pointed out in previous chapters some of the things which President Wilson's notes accomplished in Germany during the war. Suppose the Kaiser were to grant certain reforms, would this destroy the possibilities of a free Germany, a democratic nation—a German Republic!
The German people were given an opportunity to debate and think about international issues while we maintained relations with Berlin, but as I pointed out, the Kaiser and his associates are masters of German psychology and during the next few months they may temporarily undo what we accomplished during two years. Americans must remember that at the present time all the leading men of Germany are preaching to the people the gospel of submarine success, and the anti-American campaign there is being conducted unhindered and unchallenged. The United States and the Allies have pledged their national honour and existence to defeat and discredit the Imperial German Government and nothing but unfaltering determination, no matter what the Kaiser does, will bring success. Unless he is defeated, the Kaiser will not follow the Czar's example.
In May of this year the German Government believed it was winning the war. Berlin believed it would decisively defeat our Allies before Fall. But even if the people of Germany again compel their Government to propose peace and the Kaiser announces that he is in favour of such drastic reforms as making his Ministry responsible to the Reichstag, this (though it might please the German people) cannot, must not, satisfy us. Only a firm refusal of the Allies will accomplish what we have set out to do—overthrow the present rulers and dictators of Germany. This must include not only the Kaiser but Field Marshal von Hindenburg and the generals in control of the army, the Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, who did not keep his promises to the United States and the naval leaders who have been intriguing and fighting for war with America for over two years. Only a decisive defeat of Germany will make Germany a republic, and the task is stupendous enough to challenge the best combined efforts of the United States and all the Allies.
Prophecy is a dangerous pastime but it would not be fair to conclude this book without pointing out some of the possibilities which can develop from the policy which President Wilson pursued in dealing with Germany before diplomatic relations were broken.
The chief effect of Mr. Wilson's policy is not going to be felt during this war, but in the future. At the beginning of his administration he emphasised the fact that in a democracy public opinion was a bigger factor than armies and navies. If all Europe emerges from this war as democratic as seems possible now one can see that Mr. Wilson has already laid the foundation for future international relations between free people and republican forms of governments. This war has defeated itself. It is doubtful whether there ever will be another world war because the opinion of all civilised people is mobilised against war. After one has seen what war is like, one is against not only war itself but the things which bring about war. This great war was made possible because Europe has been expecting and preparing for it ever since 1870 and because the governments of Europe did not take either the people or their neighbours into their confidence. President Wilson tried to show while he was president that the people should be fully informed regarding all steps taken by the Government. In England where the press has had such a tussle to keep from being curbed by an autocratic censorship the world has learned new lessons in publicity. The old policy of keeping from the public unpleasant information has been thrown overboard in Great Britain because it was found that it harmed the very foundations of democracy.
International relations in the future will, to a great extent, be moulded along the lines of Mr. Wilson's policies during this war. Diplomacy will be based upon a full discussion of all international issues. The object of diplomacy will be to reach an understanding to prevent wars, not to avoid them at the eleventh hour. Just as enlightened society tries to prevent murder so will civilised nations in the future try to prevent wars.
Mr. Wilson expressed his faith in this new development in international affairs by saying that "the opinion of the world is the mistress of the world."
The important concern to-day is: How can this world opinion be moulded into a world power?
Opinion cannot be codified like law because it is often the vanguard of legislation. Public opinion is the reaction of a thousand and one incidents upon the public consciousness. In the world to-day the most important influence in the development of opinion is the daily press. By a judicious interpretation of affairs the President of the United States frequently may direct public opinion in certain channels while his representatives to foreign governments, especially when there is opportunity, as there is to-day, may help spread our ideas abroad.
World political leaders, if one may judge from events so far, foresee a new era in international affairs. Instead of a nation's foreign policies being secret, instead of unpublished alliances and iron-bound treaties, there may be the proclaiming of a nation's international intentions, exactly as a political party in the United States pledges its intentions in a political campaign. Parties in Europe may demand a statement of the foreign intentions of their governments. If there was this candidness between the governments and their citizens there would he more frankness between the nations and their neighbours. Public opinion would then be the decisive force. International steps of all nations would then be decided upon only after the public was thoroughly acquainted with their every phase. A fully informed nation would be considered safer and more peace-secure than a nation whose opinion was based upon coloured official reports, "Ems" telegrams of 1870 and 1914 variety, and eleventh-hour appeals to passion, fear and God.