My Three Years in America
by Johann Heinrich Andreas Hermann Albrecht Graf von Bernstorff
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Later—whether intentionally or not I do not know—Bolo met the co-proprietor of the firm Amsinck and Co., Herr Pavenstedt, who was one of the most respected, if not the most respected, Imperial German in New York, and intimately acquainted with all the members of the Embassy. Herr Pavenstedt, who as a private citizen was not in a position to accept Bolo's suggestions, then travelled to Washington to lay the matter before me. He gave me to understand that a French acquaintance of long standing, for whose good faith he could vouch, had come to America to raise funds for a Pacifist agitation in France. He said that national feeling in that country had reached a point which promised success for such a movement, if the prospect could be held out of a peace by negotiation. Herr Pavenstedt said that he could not, under any circumstances, disclose the gentleman's name. As the plans of the Frenchman recommended by Herr Pavenstedt coincided with my policy for bringing about a peace by negotiation, and I had absolute confidence in Herr Pavenstedt, I communicated the matter to Berlin, where the necessary money was granted. Later, the breaking off of diplomatic relations with the United States interrupted the policy I had initiated, and also put an end to any prospect of effecting a change of feeling in France, where the hope of American assistance revived enthusiasm for the war.

I do not know how Bolo's enterprise came to the knowledge of the French Government. In any case this cannot have been due to the deciphering of my telegrams to Berlin, as I did not know Bolo's name. Owing to this ignorance on my part it was arranged between Herr Pavenstedt and myself, at a second interview, that the anonymous Frenchman should at a given time address further communications on the progress of the movement to our Embassy at Bern under the pseudonym "St. Regis."

At the time of the Sussex crisis a further awkward incident occurred which took us back to the days of conspiracies. In consequence of the Welland Canal case the American secret police came down upon Herr von Igel, the representative of the Military Attache, in his New York office, for alleged complicity, arrested him by force and seized papers which were found on his table. I immediately laid a protest before the State Department, whereupon Herr von Igel was set at liberty and a long international controversy arose which had not come to an end when Herr von Igel returned with me to Germany. The American Law Department maintained that Herr von Igel was suspected of complicity in a legal offence, that he could not therefore plead extra-territoriality, and must stand his trial before an American Court. The State Department, it is true, had doubts as to whether an office in New York could be recognized as extraterritorial, but for the rest maintained a correct attitude and refused to agree to the opening of proceedings against Herr von Igel.

The seized documents were handed over to the State Department, where they probably still lie. The State Department declared to me their readiness to hand back the papers if I wished to declare them Embassy documents. I, however, thought that an attempt might be made later to use such a declaration against me as a trap and I rejected the offer to return the papers on these conditions, as they were of no further importance to us. If there was among them material which could be used against the former Attaches it might be assumed that the Law Department would long ago have had the documents copied.

The Igel affair had no definite political result, as the American Government dropped all controversies when they began to take up the question of mediation.

To return to the settlement of the Sussex incident it should be mentioned that our surrender on the submarine question was widely resented in Germany. Further, it caused a check in submarine construction. At least, Secretary of State von Capelle has declared before the Commission of the National Assembly that an extensive submarine construction programme had to be abandoned because it would have been too sharp a contrast with Germany's attitude after the settlement of the Sussex affair. As a matter of fact, submarine construction was never carried on with full vigor after 1916 as has been pointed out by Messrs. Struve, Gothein and Co. In the light of this the gravity of the decision in 1917 to resort to unrestricted submarine warfare is doubled. It will be seen clearly here how our divided policy on the one hand permanently crippled the submarine policy and on the other that of mediation.

To conclude the Sussex question, I will add one more telegram which I sent to the Foreign Office after Secretary of State Lansing had publicly mentioned an Anglo-American agreement—a remark which in Berlin was taken to mean that America had formed an alliance with England. It is well known that during the war such a statement has frequently been made.


"Washington, 21st May, 1916.

"I am working confidentially in co-operation with House for the settlement of such still unsettled questions as the Lusitania and the Igel cases, so as to clear the air completely. Feeling here now more favorable owing to the influence of the Irish executions. Wilson regards conflict with us as a thing of the past and desires to let things rest and soon to lay the foundations of peace. Lansing's speech as to Anglo-American agreement refers to the Bryan agreement. He desired to make clear that war with England because of the blockade is out of the question, and therefore there is no means of bringing pressure to bear. The speech coincides with the American view I have already reported that it would be easier to bring the war to an end than to force England to raise the blockade."

Hitherto I have not mentioned the different German vessels which visited United States ports during the war. Besides their history is well known. I will therefore only describe their psychological influence and my own experiences.

The auxiliary cruisers Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm and Eitel Friedrich were the first German ships to enter Hampton Roads, there to be interned.

Much more interest was aroused by the arrival on the 15th February, 1916, of the Appam, because it was then a long time since the German flag had been seen on the American side of the Atlantic. The facts are familiar to German readers from Count Dohna's Moeve book. Lieutenant Berg's exploit met with general appreciation in the United States, especially as his conduct was completely in accord with the American conception of international law. Even to-day I can hear the tone of absolute conviction in which Secretary of State Lansing told me at the Metropolitan Club that the voyage of the Appam was a "marvellous achievement."

In the far-off future, students of international law will quote the Appam case as a classic. At the German Embassy in Washington volumes were filled with the opinions of eminent lawyers, for the incident was not treated politically by the American Government, but submitted to the courts. Meanwhile the Appam remained interned in Hampton Roads as a prize. The case was not settled until after the breaking-off of diplomatic relations, when it was no longer of any importance to us.

The interest roused by the Appam shrank into nothing before the excitement caused by the arrival of the submarine Deutschland on the 8th July, 1916. Apart from those that followed the agreement on the Arabic incident, the few days after the arrival of the Deutschland were the pleasantest I experienced in America during the war. Feeling on all sides was openly friendly, and Captain Koenig was the most popular man in the United States. If we had sent ten such merchant submarines to America and for the rest had carried on the submarine campaign according to the principles laid down for cruiser warfare, we should have attained far greater political results than has been the case.

The arrival of the submarine Deutschland at Baltimore and Captain Koenig's first visit to the town resembled a triumphal procession. I had intended to go there at once to welcome the hero of the day and his bold seamen, but thought it better to wait and see what would be the American attitude towards the protests of the English and French Ambassadors, who had both claimed that the Deutschland, as a submarine, should be regarded without hesitation as a ship of war. On the 13th July a most minute inspection of the Deutschland was made by an American Government Commission consisting of three naval officers, and she was recognized as a genuine merchant vessel. In consequence the Deutschland had a right to lie at Baltimore as long as was necessary to take a cargo on board for the return journey. It was now possible for me to pay an official visit to Baltimore and to view the Deutschland. The Mayor of the town accompanied me and went down with me, in spite of the terrific heat of about 40 deg. centigrade, into the lowest parts of the submarine, which cost the stoutly-built gentleman considerable effort and a good deal of perspiration. In the evening the Mayor gave a banquet which passed off as in the good days before the war. The rooms were decorated with German and American flags, the band played the "Wacht am Rhein," and many speeches were made on the good relations between the two countries.

Again on her second visit, which took place in October in New London (Connecticut), the Deutschland met with a very friendly reception, even though the atmosphere was appreciably cooler. Feeling in the New England state has always been particularly unfavorable to us. But there, to, I passed a very pleasant day with Captain Koenig.

In contrast to the moral gain of the visit of the Deutschland was the generally unfavorable impression created by the visit at the same time of the U53. Quite unexpectedly I received the news that a German submarine had arrived at Newport, the captain of which had reported himself to the American commandant and had handed him a letter addressed to me. The letter attracted a good deal of attention in the Press, but it actually contained nothing further than the introduction of the captain. The episode of the U53 was, from a political point of view, most undesirable and of no military value. When, moreover, a few days later the news arrived that the U53 had sunk several ships off the American coast—always, it is true, according to international law—the incident assumed a fairly serious aspect. Meanwhile I travelled direct to Shadow Lawn, the President's beautiful summer residence on the New Jersey coast, to hand to Mr. Wilson a letter from the Emperor. The President had appealed to the Heads of all the combatant States to urge them to permit relief to starving Poland, as had been done for Belgium. As was to be expected, the Entente rejected the proposal while the Central Powers agreed to it. The Emperor's approval was contained in the letter which I brought to Mr. Wilson.

The President took this opportunity to speak to me very seriously on the cruise of the U53, and urged me to see to it that this incident was not repeated. Otherwise he could not be responsible for public feeling in the United States, which might again become very bitter. The affair was very disagreeable to me personally, because I was building hopes on Mr. Wilson's mediation and because I feared that the cruise of the U53 would be interpreted as an attempt on our part to put difficulties in the way of the President's re-election. It might be assumed that his Republican opponents would say that Germany could now do what she liked, as Mr. Wilson had never adopted energetic measures.

On the subject of this conversation with Mr. Wilson I sent the following telegram to the foreign office:


"Washington, 11th October, 1916.

"I had a conversation with Mr. Wilson on the occasion of handing over the Emperor's autograph letter with regard to Polish relief. The President is anxious to carry the matter further and asked me how this could best be done. I replied that the difficulties lay exclusively on the English side.

"The cruiser warfare undertaken by our submarines off the American coast is naturally regarded by Mr. Wilson with anxiety, because all his hopes of re-election are based exclusively on the fact that according to the opinion held over here he has kept the United States out of the war and in spite of that has put an end to our so-called illegal attacks on American lives. His whole position falls to pieces if American lives are lost now, or if indignation is aroused by a submarine campaign off the American coast. So far this has not occurred. The exploit of U53 is even hailed as a sporting achievement. This view will, however, be changed if the incident is repeated. For this reason Wilson spoke plainly about a continuance of the submarine campaign off the American coast. He regarded as particularly serious the fact that two neutral ships were sunk, as well as a Canadian passenger vessel making for the United States. He said that such incidents could not be understood by the American public."

To this telegram I received from the Imperial Chancellor the following reply:


"Berlin, 4th October, 1916.

"England entirely responsible for difficulties with regard to Polish relief. For Your Excellency's exclusive information it is not intended to continue submarine campaign off American coast. Final decision as to activity of U53 not possible until she returns. Our concessions to America are being strictly observed and will be until explicitly revoked.




At midsummer, 1916, the political lull desired by Colonel House actually set in. The Colonel betook himself to one of the beautiful lakes of New Hampshire, in the far north of the United States, where in the ordinary way I could only reach him by letter or telegram. How secret we kept our communications is shown by the fact that, according to agreement, I wrote and telegraphed to Colonel House under the pseudonym "Martin." This caution proved to be fully justified, as the inquiry by the Senate Committee has shown that the letters from the Embassy were frequently opened by agents of the Entente propaganda, whether with or without the connivance of the American secret police I will not definitely say. I have already had occasion to mention this question in connection with the robbing of Mr. Albert. There are in the secret police of all countries men of doubtful honor. It might be taken as certain that there were such men in the pay of the Entente agents.

Soon after the settlement of the Sussex incident—on 27th May—Mr. Wilson made public, for the first time, his plan for the League of Nations. This idea was to constitute the foundation-stone of his mediation and fulfil all the hopes of the American pacifists for a compulsory court of arbitration in international disputes and general disarmament. Before the war many shrewd men in the United States thought that the arbitration system initiated by the American Government would exclude the possibility of great wars. The outbreak of the World War showed that this was an illusion, and the question arose what precautions could be taken to prevent a recurrence of the world catastrophe. Mr. Wilson was one of the first in whom the idea matured that the scheme, hitherto regarded as utopian, of a league binding all civilized nations to a peaceful settlement of their disputes was capable of being made a practical proposition if backed, as a means of compulsion, by a commercial boycott, similar to that which the Entente, in contravention of international law, employed with such terrible results against Germany.

The most important sentences of the speech which the President addressed to the American peace league ran as follows:

"When the invitation for me to be here to-night came to me, I was glad to accept,—not because it offered me an opportunity to discuss the programme of the League,—that you will, I am sure, not expect of me,—but because the desire of the whole world now turns eagerly towards the hope of peace, and there is just reason why we should take our part in counsel upon this great theme....

"With its causes and its objects we are not concerned. The obscure fountains from which its stupendous flood has burst forth we are not interested to search for or explore....

"And the lesson which the shock of being taken by surprise in a matter so deeply vital to all the nations of the world has made poignantly clear is, that the peace of the world must henceforth depend upon a new and more wholesome diplomacy. Only when the great nations of the world have reached some sort of agreement as to what they hold to be fundamental to their common interest, and as to some feasible method of acting in concert when any nation or group of nations seek to disturb those fundamental things, can we feel that civilization is at least in a way of justifying its existence and claiming to be finally established. It is clear that nations must in future be governed by the same high code of honor that we demand of individuals....

"Repeated utterances of the leading statesmen of most of the great nations now engaged in the war have made it plain that their thought has come to this, that the principle of the public right must henceforth take precedence over the individual interests of particular nations, and that the nations of the world must in some way band themselves together to see that right prevails as against any sort of selfish aggression; that henceforth alliance must not be set up against alliance, understanding against understanding, but that there must be a common agreement for a common object, and that at the heart of that common object must lie the inviolable rights of peoples and mankind....

"This is undoubtedly the thought of America. This is what we ourselves will say when there comes a proper occasion to say it....

"We believe these fundamental things: First, that every people has a right to choose the sovereignty under which they shall live. Like other nations, we have ourselves no doubt once and again offended that principle when for a little while controlled by selfish passion, as our franker historians have been honorable enough to admit; but it has become more and more our rule of life and action. Second, that the small States of the world have a right to enjoy the same respect for their sovereignty and for their territorial integrity that great and powerful nations expect and insist upon. And, third, that the world has a right to be free from every disturbance of its peace that has its origin in aggression and disregard of the rights of peoples and nations.

"So sincerely do we believe in these things that I am sure that I speak the mind and wish of the people of America when I say that the United States is willing to become a partner in any feasible association of nations formed in order to realize these objects and make them secure against violation....

"But I did not come here, let me repeat, to discuss a programme. I came only to avow a creed and give expression to the confidence I feel that the world is even now upon the eve of a great consummation, when some common force will be brought into existence which shall safeguard right as the first and most fundamental interests of all peoples and all governments, where coercion shall be summoned, not to the service of political ambition or selfish hostility, but to the service of a common order, a common justice, and a common peace. God grant that the dawn of that day of frank dealing and of settled peace, concord, and co-operation may be near at hand!"

This speech displayed all the characteristics of Mr. Wilson's oratory: brilliant command of the English language, dazzling wealth of vocabulary and nebulous sentence construction which made the purpose clear only to the initiated. Nevertheless, the vital points of the speech could not be misunderstood. It prepared the world for American mediation by strong emphasis of the League of Nations idea.

The political lull of midsummer brought an important improvement in public feeling towards us. This change for the better was reflected with special clearness in the reception given to the merchant submarine Deutschland, as I have already described.

At the time of this speech of Mr. Wilson's, I sent the following report:


"Washington, 28th May, 1916.

"The placation of American public opinion is progressing. Hardly any mention is now made in the Press of German-American relations. Only two persons are still wavering. The American Government are delaying the publication of my letter on the subject of the Lusitania settlement, because they think that it will not satisfy public opinion here. It may be assumed that its publication will take place at the beginning of June, during the Republican National Convention, so that it may pass as far as possible unnoticed in the general excitement about domestic politics. The American Government's delay in this matter shows clearly how great the opposition has been. While we thought to have made important concessions, the American Government here consider that they have not attained the objective prescribed for them by public opinion.

"Further, the Igel incident is not yet settled. On this question there is a difference of opinion between the State and Law Departments. The former confirming our standpoint that the seizure of the papers was illegitimate and that they must be returned. The Law Department, on the other hand, holds that Herr von Igel has been guilty of a legal offence and so has forfeited his diplomatic privileges. Consequently I get no further, and the case is continually deferred. It is to be hoped that the State Department will soon bestir itself to make a decision which will, however, in any case, necessitate the recall of Herr Igel.

"Mr. Wilson's peace plans are becoming more and more tangible. The only question is whether he possesses sufficient authority to force our enemies to agree to negotiations. Colonel House is convinced that Mr. Wilson will succeed. The President is considering the plan of calling together a conference at the Hague, in which the neutrals will only participate so far as the 'Freedom of the Seas' is concerned. If the project materializes, Colonel House is sure to take part in the conference, even though he may not be the official American representative. His influence, however, would be sure to be great, for no one else is so completely in touch with Mr. Wilson's views. The latter is still of the opinion that the United States should under no circumstances take part in the actual settlement of the peace conditions. He and his alter ego are meanwhile very much afraid that our enemies might remain obdurate, since they are under the impression, or are trying to spread the impression, that the President, in opening the peace negotiations, is acting for Germany. Certainly England continually drags this idea into the discussion. At one time it is said that Prince Buelow is coming here to submit the German peace conditions to Mr. Wilson; at another, that Germany is on the brink of starvation and must therefore sue for peace. We ought as far as possible to counteract this propaganda of our enemies. It is to be hoped that it will not do serious harm, because the peace vote in America continues to grow and Mr. Wilson can count with certainty on re-election if he establishes a peace conference. We shall therefore daily gain ground here so long as we appear to be ready to encourage the American peace movement, while our enemies adopt an unfavorable attitude. The American people is now pacifically minded. It becomes clearer every day how difficult it is to arouse enthusiasm for war preparedness, etc. No one who has lived here for any length of time can help coming to the conclusion that peaceful money-making is the Americans' chief interest in life. Only when they think that their rights have been seriously infringed do they lash themselves into an hysterical war-fever. Why should war passion smoulder in the hearts of a people whose boundaries are so secure that no enemy has ever been seen inside them, nor in all human probability ever will be?"

After the settlement of the Sussex incident the Imperial Government naturally hoped that Mr. Wilson would take steps to justify our concessions with regard to the submarine question. Accordingly I received the following general instructions:

"Berlin, 7th June, 1916.

"Order A. 56.


"More than a month has passed since our last Note to the United States without President Wilson making up his mind to approach the English Government on the question of the blockade. True I do not expect that England would allow herself to be influenced by the United States to abandon her infringement of international law; nor do I imagine that a rejection of the American demands by England would lead to a serious disturbance of the relations between these two countries. The existing arbitration treaty, which makes it possible in extreme cases to delay the settlement of the points of contention indefinitely, rules this out. But the complete passivity of Mr. Wilson, which could be understood so long as he wished to avoid giving the impression that he was acting under German coercion, but which cannot continue to be justified on these grounds, is bound to re-act very unfavorably on public opinion here and puts the Imperial Government in an extremely difficult position.

"From the information which has reached you, Your Excellency will already realize that our surrender to America on the submarine question has met with approval in wide and influential circles in Germany. If President Wilson persists in his passive attitude towards England, it is to be feared that the section of German public opinion whose attitude has so far been favorable to the Government will ally themselves with the opponents of the Government policy, and that the whole of public opinion in Germany will clamor for the resumption of the submarine campaign on the old lines. In that case, the Imperial Government would be all the less in a position to resist this demand for any length of time, as all the military authorities have always been unanimous in regarding and urging unrestricted submarine warfare as the only effective means to bring about the defeat of England. Moreover, as we have received secret information that the Entente have decided on a drastic tightening of the blockade, and at the same time have agreed in future to meet the protests of the neutrals, and particularly America, with the argument that only in this way can the end of the war, which is also in the interests of the neutral countries, be brought about. Your Excellency will therefore bring to the notice of President Wilson and Mr. House the serious dangers which his passivity towards England involves.

"With regard to Mr. Wilson's plans for mediation, they are meanwhile meeting with vigorous opposition in England. If they are rejected by England, the result cannot but be favorable to us, for we are naturally sceptical of mediation on the part of a statesman so partial to England, and at the same time so naive as President Wilson. This necessarily follows on the consideration that the President would primarily be concerned to construct peace on the basis of the status quo ante, and particularly in respect of Belgium. Although there is to-day little on which to form an estimate as to how far we shall be in a position to bring about a solution in conformity with our own interests to the Belgian question, which is the direct result of the war, so much is certain, that if the war continues in our favor, a peace on the basis of the absolute status quo ante would not be acceptable to us. So, as the President interprets his role as the chosen champion of all that, in his opinion, is right and just, it is to be feared that a refusal on our part to make peace on this basis might induce him to go over openly to the enemy's camp. It is not, however, out of the question that public opinion in England may in time again turn to Mr. Wilson and his desire for mediation. As soon, therefore, as Mr. Wilson's mediation plans threaten to assume a more concrete form and there is evidence of an inclination on the part of England to fall in with them, it will be Your Excellency's duty to prevent President Wilson from approaching us with a positive proposal of mediation. The choice of means for attaining this object without endangering our relations with the United States I think I may leave to Your Excellency's diplomatic skill, as from here I am not in a position to get a clear insight into the position of affairs in America.


I have already mentioned that Mr. Wilson had for some time past subordinated the question of the "Freedom of the Seas," i.e., in this concrete instance the English blockade, to his desire for mediation. Regarded from his point of view, this new ordering of his plans was based on an entirely correct political train of thought. The President gave first place to the attainable, with a view to taking up later what was for the time being unattainable. In view of the fact that we could bring no pressure to bear to change Mr. Wilson's point of view, it only remained for us to exploit his plans as far as possible in the interests of German policy.

As my instructions on the most important point—the question of mediation—did not appear to me sufficiently clear, I asked in the following report, dated from the summer quarters of the Embassy, for a more detailed explanation:


"In reply to Order A. 56, "Rye, 13th July, 1916.

"The inactivity of Mr. Wilson, who has only one thought, re-election, is due in the first place to the fact that no pressure is being put upon him by American public opinion to take action with regard to England. It is obvious that conditions here are not favorable to such action. Those American circles which are suffering financial losses as a result of the English blockade, have no weight in face of the tremendous stream of gold which our enemies have poured lavishly over this country, not haggling over details, and conniving at 'graft.' For the rest, Mr. Wilson's train of thought with regard to action in respect of England practically coincides with that expressed by Your Excellency. He does not think at present that it is likely to meet with any success, as he has no means of bringing pressure to bear. No one would take him seriously if he threatened England with war.

"The position is quite different with the President's well-known anxiety to bring about peace in Europe. In this matter he now has the whole of American public opinion behind him. He also believes that, after the expected failure of their present offensives, our enemies will be ready to open peace negotiations. If this assumption proves unfounded, and our enemies reject an American invitation on these lines, the main question dealt with in Your Excellency's instructions to me will be settled. Meanwhile, he is sure to make an attempt to negotiate peace, if only for election purposes. I therefore venture to request Your Excellency to cable me further brief instructions as to how I am to interpret the words 'more concrete form of mediation plans,' and 'positive proposal of mediation.' I am assuming that the main part of my respectful reports will only reach Your Excellency at the same time as this. Therefore, Mr. Gerard, when Your Excellency spoke with him at the beginning of May, on the question of mediation, would not have received detailed instructions as to the President's intentions. In any case, he was mistaken as to the attitude Your Excellency should adopt with regard to an American peace-movement. On the strength of a telegram received at that time from Mr. Gerard, Mr. Wilson believed that the Imperial Government was ready to accept his mediation, and I accordingly contradicted this assumption as instructed. As far as I know, Mr. Wilson refuses definitely to take any part in the discussion of territorial questions, but confines his interest to 'disarmament' and 'Freedom of the Seas.' His idea is that there should be a conference at the Hague, in which the United States and other neutral Powers would only take part in so far as these two questions are concerned. 'Disarmament' may certainly be very undesirable for us, but, on the other hand, the 'Freedom of the Seas,' ought, without a doubt, to bring us on the side of the United States. If it once comes to peace negotiations between the combatants, I regard it as out of the question—even were they to fail—that the United States would enter the war against us. American public feeling in favor of peace is too strong for that. It required the hysterical excitement roused by the Lusitania question, and the incidents connected with it, to produce a state of mind among Americans which at times made war seem inevitable. In the absence of similar incidents, such a state of public feeling could not be aroused. The admiration with which the cruise of the submarine Deutschland was regarded showed plainly which way the wind blows now.

"I made the above mentioned request because I consider it out of the question to prevent Mr. Wilson from taking action with regard to peace. I am in doubt, however, whether by a 'positive proposal of mediation' your Excellency means such a proposal as that made by Mr. Roosevelt after the Russo-Japanese War. On that occasion it is well known that the negotiations were carried on under direct American influence. This, as I have already said, is not what Mr. Wilson wants. He only wants to play the part of peace-instigator; he would like to deserve the credit for having brought the combatants to negotiate one with the other. Such a success would, in view of the state of feeling here, probably assure his re-election.

"I am therefore convinced that within the next few weeks the President will institute proceedings with regard to peace, provided that the enemy offensive continues to prove abortive. Mr. Wilson will then tell England that he has been obliged on the grounds of domestic politics to make a sharp protest against the blockade, provided that peace negotiations have not been opened. For me the question now arises whether I am to try to stand in the way of these proceedings. Of course I could exert strong influence on Colonel House. Wilson, however, would immediately suspect that we were attempting to deal with his successor, and to give Mr. Hughes the honor of instigating peace proceedings.

"As far as I can judge from here, there seem to be three possibilities:

"1. That the Wilson peace movement should fail in consequence of the obduracy of our enemies. In that case, if we were to reopen the submarine campaign to bring England to her knees, the situation would at least be more favorable to us than before.

"2. That the peace movement should fail through us, and that we should resume the submarine war.

"3. That the peace movement should be accepted by both sides.

"In the first case, I consider war with the United States probable; in the second, certain. This is the reason for my request for more definite instructions as to whether I am to impede a peace movement, or only a positive proposal that would bind us in respect of territorial conditions."

To this report I received the following reply, containing quite clear instructions, emphatically to encourage Mr. Wilson in whatever course he might take:


"Berlin, 18th August, 1916.

"In reply to report A. 350 of the 13th inst.

"Mediation by the President intended lead to the opening of peace negotiations between the combatants we are gladly ready to accept. Please encourage emphatically the President's efforts in this direction. Naturally it must not be imagined that in accepting such mediation we bind ourselves to any concrete peace conditions. A general peace conference with participation of neutrals only tolerable on the lines of previous successful peace-negotiations between combatants with regard to general and international questions of Freedom of the Seas and Disarmament.


In close connection with the above exchange of letters with Berlin, stood an interchange of telegrams dealing with the eventual reopening of the unrestricted submarine campaign. I received the following telegrams:


"(Strictly confidential.)

"Berlin, 12th June, 1916.

"The Army and Navy are again urging submarine warfare as the only weapon against England, and particularly against her blockade, to which President Wilson has never, nor can very well, take exception.

"It now remains to be decided:

"1. Whether after his nomination Wilson would still be prepared to press matters as far as a rupture and war, even if we spare human life in the new submarine war?

"2. What attitude the Republican candidate would adopt on this matter?

"Public opinion in England is opposed to mediation by Wilson, which is also not wanted on principle here, because too unpopular.


I dispatched as quickly as possible to Berlin the following telegram:


"Washington, 19th June, 1916.

"Assuming that it is intended that the resumption of the submarine campaign be accompanied by the official or clandestine withdrawal of the concessions granted in our Note of the 4th May, such a withdrawal or modification of our concessions would in my opinion lead to a rupture and America's entry into the war. By condoning such a move Wilson would forfeit all hope of being re-elected and Hughes, who is already suspected of being the German candidate, could not afford to recommend a surrender. With regard to mediation and blockade I am in constant communication with House. The former to be expected in course of summer, for election reasons; probably Wilson will inform our enemies that he will have to resort to sharp measures if peace is not attained."

From the orders and telegrams here reproduced I gathered that the political situation was, as far as I was concerned, to be regarded as a kind of race between the unrestricted submarine campaign on the one hand and the American peace mediation on the other. There was apparently no third possibility.

On the 1st September I saw Colonel House again. In order that this visit should not attract notice I went to stay with other friends in New Hampshire for the customary American September holidays (Labor Day). From there I motored to New London, where Colonel House had been spending the summer. The conversation brought out that the President considered a postponement of mediation unavoidable, because the Entente were now filled with hopes of victory in consequence of Rumania's entry into the war. In all my conversations with Colonel House we both proceeded from the assumption that an attempt to bring about American mediation could only succeed provided that the Entente had given up hope of victory without the entry into the war of the United States. For this reason Colonel House repeated his advice that there should be less public talk in Berlin of an early peace than had hitherto been the case, since in this way we were betraying weakness and making America's task more difficult.

Colonel House also said that the President now intended to await the further development of the war, and, if he should be re-elected, immediately to take steps towards mediation. Before the presidential election the time was too short for any action, for the Entente would pay no heed to the mediation of a problematical candidate.

Looking back, I am still convinced even to-day that Colonel House's estimate of the situation with regard to the President was entirely correct from the American point of view. Mr. Wilson could only afford to offer his mediation provided that he was sure of success. For us the position was in my opinion different. For Germany American mediation would have been welcome at any time. It would either succeed and bring about an acceptable peace, or the Entente would reject Wilson's proposal after we had accepted it. In the latter case we should score a diplomatic success in Washington which would make it very difficult for the American Government to enter the war. The third possibility, that the German Government, after all that had passed, might refuse Mr. Wilson's mediation, I did not even consider.

Immediately after my return from New Hampshire I telegraphed the following to the Foreign Office:


"Rye, 6th September, 1916.

"Wilson's mediation postponed until further notice because for the moment out of question, owing to Rumania's entry into war and consequent renewed prospect of victory for our enemies. Wilson thinks he cannot now mediate before the election, because England might pay little attention to him until after the election, and if he were not elected would have nothing further to do with him. If, however, Wilson wins at the polls, for which the prospect is at present favorable, and if the war meanwhile remains at a standstill, the President will at once take steps towards mediation. He thinks in that case to be strong enough to compel a peace conference.

"Wilson regards it as in the interest of America that neither of the combatants should gain a decisive victory."

This telegraphic report of my conversation with Colonel House reached Berlin when they were beginning to grow impatient of the delay in the peace movement. According to Karl Helfferich's account the question was discussed at the time between himself, the Imperial Chancellor and Herr von Jagow. Thereupon, according to General Ludendorff's "War Memories," "the Chancellor proposed to His Majesty that instructions should be given to Ambassador Count Bernstorff to induce the President at the earliest possible moment, and in any case before the presidential election, to make a peace offer to the Powers." Herr Helfferich then goes on to report that the Chancellor cabled to me to question me quite personally as to my opinion of Wilson as a peace mediator. The accounts of both these gentlemen are doubtless accurate, but they do not mention that the inquiry addressed to me did not, nor was intended to, create a new situation, but had as its sole object to obtain my opinion as to the prospects of a movement which had long been set on foot. In the inquiry, as Herr Helfferich also reports, I was informed that we would evacuate Belgium. This was of course a necessary preliminary to Mr. Wilson's mediation, which otherwise, in view of the feeling prevailing in America, would have been entirely out of the question.

The Chancellor's inquiry read as follows:


"Berlin,2nd September, 1916.


"Our West Front stands firm. East Front naturally threatened somewhat by Rumania's declaration of war. Rolling up of front or collapse of Austria, however, not to be feared. Turkey and Bulgaria to be relied on. Greece uncertain. Hopes of peace before winter, as result of Russian or French war-weariness, diminished by this development. Apparently, if no great catastrophe occurs in East, Wilson's mediation possible and successful if we guarantee required restoration of Belgium. Otherwise, unrestricted submarine warfare would have to be seriously considered. Request you give purely personal opinion without inquiry in any quarter.


To this inquiry I replied as follows:


"Rye, 8th September, 1916.

"In reply to Telegram No. 74.

"Your question answered in substance by my telegram No. 100. I take it then that your Excellency intends yourself to invite Wilson's mediation. In so far as the United States of America concerns itself with territorial questions—which hitherto I have always categorically opposed—restoration of Belgium should constitute America's principal interest, since public opinion is almost exclusively favorable to this.

"If Wilson is re-elected, I think there is good prospect of his mediation before the end of the year.

"From this point of view the attainment of peace through unrestricted submarine war seems hopeless, since the United States would inevitably be drawn into the war—no matter what may be the result of the election—and consequently the war would be prolonged."

I should like particularly to draw the reader's attention to this telegram, because it expresses definitely my opinion that the submarine campaign could not bring us peace.

Soon afterwards I was again instructed by the Chancellor to hasten Mr. Wilson's peace movement. His telegram is here reproduced:


"Berlin, 26th September, 1916.

"For Your Excellency's personal information.

"The enemy's intention of breaking through our fronts has not, so far, succeeded, and will not succeed, any more than his Salonika and Dobrudja offensives. On the other hand, the operations of the Central Powers against Rumania are making encouraging progress. Whether we shall succeed this year in gaining a victory there that will bring the war to an end is still doubtful; therefore, for the present we must be prepared for a further prolonging of the war. Meanwhile, the Imperial navy is confident that by the unrestricted employment of large numbers of submarines they could in view of England's economic position, meet with a success which would in a few months make our principal enemy, England, more disposed to entertain thoughts of peace. It is therefore essential that G.H.Q. should include a submarine campaign among their other measures to relieve the situation on the Somme Front, by impeding the transport of munitions, and so making clear to the Entente the futility of their efforts in this area.

"The whole situation would change if President Wilson, following out the plans he has already indicated, were to make an offer of mediation to the Powers. This would, of course, not have to include any definite proposals of a territorial nature, as these questions should form part of the agenda of the peace negotiations. Such a move, however, would have to be made soon, as otherwise we could not continue to stand calmly aside and watch England, realizing as she does the many difficulties to be reckoned with, exert with impunity increasingly strong pressure on the neutrals, with a view to improving her military and economic position at our expense, and we should have to claim the renewed liberty of action for which we stipulated in the Note of the 4th of May of this year. Should Mr. Wilson insist on waiting until immediately before or after the election, he would lose the opportunity for such a step. Also the negotiations should not at first aim at the conclusion of an armistice, but should be carried on solely by the combatant parties, and within a short period directly bring about the preliminary peace. A further prolongation would be unfavorable to Germany's military situation, and would result in further preparations being made by the Powers for the continuance of the war into next year, so that there would be no further prospect of peace within a reasonable time.

"Your Excellency should discuss the position cautiously with Colonel House, and find out the intentions of Mr. Wilson. A peace movement on the part of the President which bore the outward appearance of spontaneity would be seriously considered by us, and this would also mean success for Mr. Wilson's election campaign.

"Gerard has applied for leave, as the result of a private letter from Colonel House, but he has received no reply from the State Department.


The explanation of the final sentence of the above telegram is as follows. I have already mentioned that Mr. Gerard was not popular in Berlin, owing to his very highly-strung temperament, his impetuosity and his want of tact. His recall was eagerly desired. Consequently, I had received instructions to arrange, if possible, for the replacement of Mr. Gerard, and in any case that the Ambassador should be recalled for a time to Washington, so that his nerves might have a chance to rest. As always, in strictly confidential matters, I referred this to Colonel House, who told me that in view of the existing political situation there could be no question of a recall of Gerard. He would, however, arrange for the Ambassador to be summoned at once to Washington for fresh instructions. If once Mr. Gerard learned that the President now had the definite intention of mediating with a view of peace, Colonel House thought he would be received in a more friendly manner in Berlin.

I answered the Chancellor's last telegram as follows:


"Washington, 5th October, 1916.

"No. 121.

"Telegram No. 89 discussed according to instructions.

"No change here in the situation reported in telegrams Nos. 100 and 101.

"In view of possibility of surprises in war and election, Wilson, for reasons already stated, refuses to attempt mediation until re-elected. Result of election, which is being fought exclusively on foreign politics, uncertain. President showing surprising firmness. If unrestricted submarine campaign unavoidable, advise emphatically, postpone at least until after election. Now, immediate rupture with United States would be certain; after election Wilson's mediation probable on the one hand; on the other hand at least slight possibility of finding modus vivendi by negotiation with United States."

The instructions from Berlin gave me occasion for repeated conversations with Colonel House. The Imperial Government were now ready to accept Mr. Wilson's League of Nations programme, which provided for general disarmament, freedom of the seas, and compulsory arbitration. My reports to Berlin on this question had the result that on 9th November the Chancellor in a speech publicly espoused this programme, and that I, at my own suggestion, received permission to communicate officially the Chancellor's speech to the American Peace League, which published my communication.

On the other hand, the Imperial Government desired that the territorial questions should be regulated by direct negotiations between the combatant Powers. Mr. Wilson, as Colonel House told me, was in agreement with this. Mr. Wilson had already expressed himself to this effect in the above mentioned speech of the 27th May, and in general adopted the point of view that the United States had no interest in the details of territorial adjustment; but that it was of equally fundamental importance for America as for Europe that in future wars should be avoided. The President was only willing to intervene in so far as he was certain of having American public opinion behind him. In my conversations with Colonel House we never spoke of the evacuation of any German territory. We always confined ourselves exclusively to a real peace by negotiation on the basis of the status quo ante. With such a peace Germany's position in the world would have remained unimpaired. The freedom of the seas, a principal point in the Wilson programme, could not but be welcome to us. The President and Colonel House have been the sponsors of this idea in America. Both were indefatigable in their efforts to materialize this idea in such a way that war on commerce should be abolished and that all commerce, even in war-time, should be declared free. As a necessary result of this development of the laws of naval warfare Mr. Wilson hoped to bring about general naval disarmament, since navies would lose their raison d'etre if they could only be used against each other and no longer against commerce and for purposes of blockade. It is a regrettable fact that at the Hague Conference we accepted the English standpoint on the question of war on commerce, and not the American.

In October I was again instructed from Berlin to speed up Mr. Wilson's peace movement. With regard to this new urgency Herr von Jagow, on the 14th April, 1919, granted an interview to the Berlin representative of the New York Sun, the substance of which was as follows:

"In the autumn of 1916 the Emperor, Count Bernstorff and I opposed the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, which was urged with increasing vigor by our military and naval departments, as being the only means of bringing the war to an early conclusion. Week after week we watched for the hoped-for peace move of President Wilson, which, however, did not come. At last, in October, the Emperor, upon whom increasing pressure was being brought to bear to give his consent to the unrestricted submarine campaign, sent a memorandum to the American Government, reminding them or certain mediation promises which had been made at the time of the Sussex crisis.

"When this memorandum, addressed to Mr. Gerard, reached Berlin Mr. Gerard had already left for America. I, therefore, cabled the text to Washington and instructed Count Bernstorff to hand the memorandum to Mr. Gerard on his arrival in New York. Count Bernstorff, who had been made fully aware that the Emperor wished to avert the submarine campaign and a rupture with the United States, was also informed by me that the memorandum had been written by the Emperor in person. For reasons which there is no need for me to mention here, Count Bernstorff handed the memorandum, not to Mr. Gerard, but to Colonel House, who certainly communicated it to the President."

The telegram in which the Emperor's memorandum was communicated to me read as follows:


"Berlin, 9th October, 1916.

"His Majesty the Emperor desires that the following memorandum should be handed to Ambassador Gerard on the latter's arrival.

"Your Excellency should do this in strict confidence and say that the memoir is not intended to convey a threat of submarine warfare. I should only like you to remind the Ambassador before his interview with the President of the expectations we based in the spring on Wilson and to call his attention to the increasing ruthlessness with which the enemy is carrying on the war. I take it for granted that Gerard will treat my memoir as strictly confidential and will not publish it.

"Should Your Excellency, however, regard the delivery of the memorandum as indiscreet, I request that it may be deferred.

"For Your Excellency's information (strictly confidential):

"1. The memorandum is written personally by His Majesty.

"2. Unrestricted submarine warfare is for the present deferred.


"Your Excellency hinted to His Majesty in your last conversation at Charleville in April that President Wilson possibly would try towards the end of summer to offer his good services to the belligerents for the promotion of peace. The German Government has no information as to whether the President adheres to this idea, and as to the eventual date at which his step would take place. Meanwhile the constellation of war has taken such a form, that the German Government foresees the time at which it will be forced to regain the freedom of action that it has reserved to itself in the Note of May 4th last, and thus the President's steps may be jeopardized."

Mr. Gerard arrived in New York a few days after I had received the Emperor's memorandum. He was accompanied by the American journalist, Herbert Swope, a correspondent of The World, who had spent a considerable time in Berlin. This gentleman professed to be Mr. Gerard's confidant, and even from the ship sent wireless messages to his paper in which he reported that the unrestricted submarine campaign was imminent. The Ambassador also, after landing in New York, expressed himself, as I at once learned, to the same effect, and Mr. Swope continued his open Press-campaign in this direction.

Under these circumstances I considered it inopportune to give Mr. Gerard the Emperor's memorandum, as I assumed that he would read into it merely a confirmation of his view, and would discuss it in that light. If, however, the idea spread abroad that we were about to begin the unrestricted submarine campaign all prospect of success for peace mediation was lost. It was indeed clear that the Entente would not accept American mediation if they could hope for the submarine campaign and consequent declaration of war by the United States. It must continually be repeated that mediation could only succeed if the Entente had already abandoned all hope of American assistance. On these considerations I handed the memorandum to Colonel House, of whose discretion I had two years' experience. In this way it came into the hands of the equally unusually discreet President, without anyone else learning anything about it. The memorandum at once produced a great effect, as now the American authorities had no further doubt that the Imperial Government would accept the intended mediation. This could, however, not be speeded up because Mr. Wilson did not want to undertake a great political movement so shortly before the election.

At this time I sent the following report to the Chancellor:


"Washington, 17th October, 1916.

"For a week there has again been some excitement here about foreign policy. This is due to a variety of causes. At first the rumor was that Ambassador Gerard was bringing with him a peace proposal from the German Government. In spite of all denials this rumor was believed for a time, because it was started by one of the first bankers of New York. Unfortunately Mr. Gerard heard of this canard while he was still on the ship, and as he was travelling with Herbert Swope a denial, sent by wireless, appeared in The World, which was worse than the rumor itself. In this Swope reported that Mr. Gerard was coming over to announce the approaching beginning of ruthless submarine war. Just at this moment the U53 appeared at Newport, and two days later I had an audience of the President, which had been arranged a long time before, that I might hand to Mr. Wilson the reply of His Majesty the Emperor and King on the question of Polish relief.

"Colonel House, with whom, as is known, I am in constant communication, expected that on his landing Mr. Gerard would let fall some intentional or unintentional diplomatic lapsus linguoe, and therefore went in the early morning to the quarantine station in order to protect Gerard from the reporters. Mr. Gerard received a very hearty reception, which, however, had certainly been engineered for election purposes, because it is to the interest of the Democratic Administration to extol their ambassador and their foreign policy. Immediately after the reception Gerard breakfasted with House, and there everything was denied that had been actually said or implied.

"As I have known Mr. and Mrs. Gerard for many years I had a longish conversation with them on the day after their arrival. The quintessence of the ambassador's remarks was that he was completely neutral, but that Berlin expected more than that.

"Now everything has calmed down again here, and nothing is talked about except the election, which will be decided in three weeks' time. As I have several times had the honor to report, the result is most uncertain. While four months ago a Republican victory seemed certain, to-day Wilson's success is very possible. This is explained by the fact that Mr. Hughes has made no permanent impression as a speaker, whereas Roosevelt blew the war trumpet in his usual bombastic fashion. If Hughes should be defeated he can thank Roosevelt. The average American is, and remains a pacifist 'Er segnet Friede und Friedenszeiten,' and can only be drawn into war by passionate popular excitement."

With the facts contained in the above report the following telegram is also concerned, which I despatched after the visit to the President mentioned above:


"Washington, 11th October 1916.

"Wilson gave particular force to his remarks by pointing out that the leaders of the opposition Roosevelt, Lodge and Co., desired war with Germany, which he was quite unable to understand. His only desire was to remain neutral, and to help to bring the war to an end as a decision by force of arms seemed to him out of the question. He thought that neither of the belligerent parties would be able to gain a decisive victory. Therefore it was better to make peace to-day than to-morrow. But all prospect of ending the war would vanish if the United States were also drawn in.

"As Wilson always spoke as though he was holding himself in readiness, in case his services as mediator were required, I told him that in my opinion there was no prospect of any advances being made by the belligerent Powers.

"It was obvious that Wilson would have preferred to be directly encouraged to make peace before the election because in that case he would have been sure of being re-elected. If, however, he were re-elected without this, he would have to make up his mind to take the initiative himself. Result of the poll still very doubtful. Wilson surprisingly strong, as Hughes has little success as a speaker and Roosevelt does more harm than good."

To this I received the following reply from the Chancellor:


"Berlin, 14th October, 1916.

"Demand for unrestricted submarine campaign increasing here with prolongation of war and improbability of decisive military blow, without, however, shaking the Government's attitude.

"Direct request for Wilson's mediation still impossible, in view of favor hitherto shown to Entente, and after last speeches of Asquith and Lloyd George. Spontaneous appeal for peace, towards which I again ask you to encourage him, would be gladly accepted by us. You should point out Wilson's power, and consequently his duty, to put a stop to slaughter. If he cannot make up his mind to act alone he should get into communication with Pope, King of Spain and European neutrals. Such joint action, since it cannot be rejected by Entente, would insure him re-election and historical fame.


The incident of the Emperor's memorandum closed with the following telegram sent by me:


"Washington, 20th October, 1916.

"I thought it better to give memorandum to Gerard for House, as in this way greater discretion is assured. Latter was incautious in his utterances to Press here. House will speak with Gerard. Both gentlemen see Wilson shortly, and are accordingly in constant touch.

"It is still not to be expected that Wilson will make peace advances before the election. Nor that he will get into communication with Pope or King of Spain as hitherto every suggestion of joint action has met with immovable opposition, chiefly based on tradition. Meanwhile prospect of Wilson's re-election becomes obviously greater every day. Should this occur I believe that Wilson will very soon attempt mediation and with success, chiefly because the feeling against England has greatly increased, which England is seeking to hide. If peace is not concluded serious Anglo-American differences of opinion are to be expected. Until now every fresh dispute with Germany with regard to the submarine question has always been exploited by our enemies here to bridge the differences with England. Already the agitation in the German Press for unrestricted submarine warfare is persistently used for this purpose."

After a hard struggle Mr. Wilson was re-elected President. The pacifist tendency in the United States had won, for the battle was fought under the watchword that Mr. Wilson had preserved peace for the United States. "He kept us out of the war" had been the battle-cry of the Democrats. The few electioneering speeches made by the President breathed the spirit of neutrality and love of peace. It is particularly to be noticed that at that time, Mr. Wilson, in an address, dealt in a thoroughly objective way with the question of guilt for the origin of the war, which was later to be the determining factor in his attitude towards us. The way was now cleared for the opening of the peace movement. Public feeling had also become more favorable to us, inasmuch as the American war industry no longer attached so much importance to the prolongation of the war after the victorious Democratic party had drawn up an extensive armament programme and so indicated to the industry the prospect of great State contracts.

On the subject of my own attitude with regard to the election, innumerable legends have been spread through Germany. The few German-Americans who shared the views of the so-called "German-American Chamber of Commerce" have reproached me with having brought about Mr. Wilson's election by influencing the German-Americans. Anti-German-American newspapers maintained, on the other hand, that I had used every lever to bring about the election of the Republican candidate, Mr. Hughes, so as to punish Mr. Wilson for his attitude towards the submarine campaign. My position was an extraordinarily difficult one, as I could neither take part in the election nor give up the relations which naturally and in the course of my duty bound me to the German-Americans and pacifists. In general I may say that the vast majority of German-Americans had absolute confidence in me throughout. A splendid testimony of this was given at the great German bazaar which was held in New York in aid of the Red Cross. This undertaking made the astounding net profit of 800,000 dollars. At the opening nearly 30,000 people were present, who gave me an indescribably enthusiastic ovation simply because they believed that I had prevented war between Germany and the United States.

I never for a moment denied that I personally should be glad to see Mr. Wilson re-elected, as I was convinced that he had the determination and the power to bring about peace. It was at that time impossible for me to foresee that our Government would change its attitude to this question. All American pacifists belonged to the Democratic camp, all militarists belonged to the Republican party.

A change in our favor was, therefore, not to be expected from the election of Mr. Hughes. Apart from the usual relations with the pacifists and German-Americans already mentioned, which were in no way altered during the election, I held myself aloof as my position demanded. If it had been possible to accuse me of taking sides, the agents of the Entente would not have missed the opportunity of bringing me to book, as this they regarded as their object in life. I continually received letters from agents provocateurs, asking for my opinion on the elections. Of course I never replied to these. Neither were the false statements of anti-German newspapers any more successful which announced that on the day of the election I had openly shown my support of Mr. Hughes.

New York at night after the polling is one of the sights of America. All streets, squares, theatres and restaurants are filled to overflowing. The election results are displayed everywhere by electric light and cinematograph. Particularly when the result is very uncertain, as in 1916, the crowd are tremendously excited. At 11 p.m. the election of Mr. Hughes seemed certain, as the Eastern States had voted for him almost to a man, and it was said that a Democratic candidate can only gain the victory if he wins over New York State. Next day the picture changed, after the results had come gradually from the West, where the Democratic party was everywhere triumphant. The majority, however, was so slight that it was several days before Mr. Wilson's election was secure.

The malcontents among the German-Americans already mentioned maintain that if Mr. Hughes had been elected, Congress would have used the four months between the election and the 4th March, during which Mr. Wilson was powerless and Mr. Hughes had not yet got the reins into his hands, to rush through the warning of American citizens against travelling on British passenger-ships. In that case, Mr. Hughes, on assuming office, would have found himself faced with a situation which would have prevented him from entering the war, in view of the national inclination towards peace. Therefore, the German-Americans ought to have supported Hughes. This had been clear to the Germans in the East. They maintained that Wilson's re-election was due to the German votes in the Western States which had obeyed a more or less clear order from the German Embassy.

This line of argument is yet another proof that the Germans in question had no idea of the situation in America. They kept exclusively to themselves in the Deutscher Verein, and scarcely ever saw a real, true-bred American. To begin with, it is difficult to see why the Germans in the West should obey the alleged order from me if the Germans in the East did not do so. But the important thing is that Wilson had firmly made up his mind, in case Mr. Hughes was elected, to appoint him Secretary of State immediately and, after Hughes had informed himself on the political position in this office, to hand over the presidency and himself retire. Mr. Wilson considered it impossible to leave the country without firm leadership at such a dangerous moment.

Immediately after the official announcement of his reelection, Mr. Wilson wrote a Peace-Note, but unfortunately kept it in his desk, because, unhappily, just at that time a new anti-German wave swept over the country on account of the Belgian deportations. Mr. Wilson was at that time in the habit of typing the drafts of his Notes and speeches himself, and only submitting them to his advisers on points of law or other technicalities. Whether he still works in this way I do not know. If the unhappy measure of the Belgian deportations had not been adopted, and particularly just as we had informed the President that we did not want to annex Belgium, the history of the world would probably have taken a different course. The American mediation would have anticipated our peace offer and, therefore, would probably have succeeded, because we could not then have reopened the unrestricted submarine campaign without letting the mediation run its course.

In November several submarine incidents occurred in which there was a doubt as to whether the rules of cruiser warfare had been followed. The ships Marina and Arabia came under particular consideration. I will not go into these cases as they had no political importance. President Wilson caused the investigations to be carried on in a dilatory fashion because he did not want to see his peace move disturbed by controversies.

Of greater importance was the wish that was again cropping up in Berlin to open the so-called "intensified submarine campaign." I learned this in the following from Secretary of State von Jagow:


"Berlin, 8th November, 1916.

"Navy wishes at least torpedo armed enemy cargo-vessels without warning. Does Your Excellency consider this dangerous, apart from probable mistakes, particularly in view of fact that now many Americans are lured to travel on such steamers!


As the "intensified submarine campaign" would have destroyed all prospect of American intervention, I advised strongly against it in the two following telegrams:


"Washington, 17th November, 1916.

"It is urgently desirable not to reopen disputes about armed merchantmen, especially in view of Wilson's peace plan."


"Washington, 20th November, 1916.

"In reply to telegram No. 112 which was delayed.

"Pursuant to Telegram No. 152.

"Urge no change in submarine war, until decided whether Wilson will open mediation. I consider this imminent."

At the same time I received the first news of the intended peace offer of the German Government. To begin with, the following telegram arrived from Secretary of State von Jagow:


"Berlin, 16th November, 1916.

"Desirable to know whether President willing to take steps towards mediation, and if so, which and when? Question important for decision of possible steps in same direction elsewhere.

"How does Mexican question stand?


Then followed a further telegram which read as follows:


"Berlin, 22nd November, 1916.

"Strictly confidential.

"For Your Excellency's strictly personal information. So far as favorable military position permits we intend, in conjunction with our Allies, immediately to announce our readiness to enter into peace negotiations.


To the first of these two telegrams I sent the following reply:


"Washington, 21st November, 1916.

"Wilson spontaneously commissioned House to tell me in strict confidence that he is anxious to take steps towards mediation as soon as possible, probably between now and the New Year. He makes it a condition, however, that until then, mediation should be spoken and written of as little as possible, and further, that we should conduct the submarine war strictly according to our promises and not allow any fresh controversies to arise.

"Wilson's reasons for the above conditions are as follows: He believes that he can only resort to mediation provided that public opinion over here remains as favorable to us as it has been during the last few months. On this account he deplores the so-called Belgian deportations. Any new submarine controversy would again affect public feeling adversely for us, whereas if this question can be eliminated the tension with regard to England will increase. The British reply on the subject of the black lists and the English Press utterances on Wilson's election have created a bad impression in Government circles over here. The submarine question, however, will always divert this resentment against us again.

"Wilson still hesitates to intervene because the State Department expects a refusal on the part of our enemies, while House urges it strongly and is very hopeful. I have, according to instructions, encouraged him as much as possible, by telling him, that in my opinion, our enemies would be quite unable to refuse to enter into negotiations, and that is all that Wilson has in view. House seemed very much impressed when I reminded him how, throughout the whole war, the English Government had tried by lying and diplomatic trickery to bring public opinion on to their side. This house of cards, built on lies and deception, would immediately collapse if our enemies were now to refuse negotiations and thus would have to admit openly their desire for conquest. I am rather afraid that England may make a pretense of entering into negotiations and then try to put us in the wrong.

"I chose this line of argument because Wilson fears above all things the humiliation of a refusal. If it does come to negotiations, even unsuccessful, Wilson will have scored a great success. Whether the negotiations will lead to a definite result I cannot judge from here. In any case, if it should come to negotiations, strong pressure will be exerted by the Government over here in the direction of peace.

"The Mexican question is still in a state of stagnation as a result of diplomatic negotiations. This affair interests practically no one any more and proved to have no influence on the election.

"If Your Excellency still desires Wilson to intervene it is necessary, in view of the above, to get rid as soon as possible of the Marina and Arabia incidents without further controversy and not to allow any fresh controversies to arise. I think that, with the help of House, I can bury these two incidents without attracting much attention, as this is the wish of Wilson himself. As House said, the President takes a tragic view of these incidents, because, after the Sussex Note, he could not possibly write another Note, and therefore, there is nothing left but to break off diplomatic negotiations, should it be impossible to dispose of the matter privately and confidentially with me.

"Next week Gerard will be in Washington for a day or two: he will lunch with me and dine with Lansing. House keeps him in strict control. In case Gerard's return to Berlin is not desired, please send me instructions. Otherwise he should be there again at the end of the year."

To this telegram, which announced very definitely the American mediation, I received from the Foreign Office the following reply:


"Berlin, 26th November, 1916.

"Replacement, or at least further retention, of Gerard in America desired in Berlin, provided that it is possible without wounding his vanity and sensitiveness to our disadvantage, that it is certain that this hint from our side will not become known in America and that a suitable successor is available.

"We should prefer Wilson's peace move to the step on our part mentioned in our telegram No. 116 of the 22nd November. For this reason it is eminently desirable that Wilson should make up his mind for immediate action if possible at the opening of congress or immediately afterwards. If it is put off until the New Year or later, the lull in military operations during the winter campaign would moderate the desire of public opinion for peace, and on the other hand would make preparations for the spring offensive necessary which would probably strengthen the military opposition of a peace movement. Please place this point of view cautiously and without empressement before House as your personal opinion and keep me closely instructed by telegram as to the position.


To this telegram I sent the following replies:



"Washington, 1st December, 1916.

"To-morrow I shall see House in New York and will try to arrange that Gerard, who is to sail on 5th December, is kept back.

"Lansing expressed himself very strongly to me on the subject of the American protest with regard to the Belgian deportations. These have endangered the whole Belgian relief movement; in addition, feeling here has been poisoned against us, and that just at a moment when it looked as though peace negotiations might be begun. Lansing expressed the view that, if the Imperial Government could find a way of yielding to the protests of the neutrals, this would make a strong impression in our favor and that it would probably be possible immediately afterwards to propose the opening of peace negotiations. Hitherto, unfortunately, something has always intervened.

"The Federal Reserve Board's warning to the banks against unsecured promissory notes of foreign States is the first sign that the Government here wishes to put pressure on our enemies."


"Washington, 4th December, 1916.

"Pursuant to Telegram No. 164 of the 1st inst.

"House told me in strict confidence question of Mr. Gerard's return has been thoroughly discussed by him with Mr. Wilson and Mr. Lansing. Mr. Gerard's unpopularity in Berlin and his unfriendly manner were well known here. However, no satisfactory successor was available, and Mr. Gerard is at least straightforward and does exactly what he is told. He has received very detailed instructions here, and is even quite enthusiastic over the idea of assisting in bringing about peace. In addition, Mr. Gerard was so pleased at the appointment of the Secretary of State that he is sure to adopt a more friendly attitude in future.

"As a matter of fact, Mr. Gerard has everywhere described the changes in the personnel at the Foreign Office as extraordinarily favorable for German-American relations, and laid particular stress on his personal friendship with the Secretary of State.

"Everything is prepared for a peace move, but with Mr. Wilson still hesitating, it is still doubtful when he will take action. All the authorities here have now been won over to favor such a step. This may then come at any time, especially if it is possible for us to adopt a conciliatory attitude on the Belgian question. Mr. Wilson believes that he is so hated in England that he won't be listened to. This train of thought largely explains his eagerness in the Belgian question. In any case, so much is certain, that House is continually urging Mr. Wilson to take action; moreover, peace propaganda here is steadily increasing, notwithstanding that it is for the moment very seriously hampered by the Belgian question. If Mr. Wilson—as is to be expected—finds a strong feeling for peace in Congress, he should at last make up his mind."

After a stay of about two months in America, Mr. Gerard, furnished with fresh instructions, left for Berlin on the 5th December. When later the Ambassador, at the much discussed Adlon dinner, declared that the relations between the United States and Germany had never been so good as at that moment since the beginning of the war, this speech was the keynote of his instructions. If on the other hand Herr Helfferich said that the exuberance of the Ambassador astonished him, this is explained by the fact that Berlin never believed in Mr. Wilson's intention to bring about peace. Why such incredulity should persist notwithstanding that Colonel House had twice travelled to Berlin for this very purpose, and that the President's peace policy had been the burden of all my reports, I shall never be able to understand, while, on the other hand, I can quite understand that Mr. Wilson's passivity with regard to the English breaches of international law had engendered strong distrust of him in Germany.

For the rest, Mr. Gerard seemed to be imperfectly informed about the situation in Berlin. He was certainly right in his prediction of the unrestricted submarine campaign, but in this case the wish was father to the thought. It accorded with Mr. Gerard's anti-German feeling, to which he gave expression later in his gossipy literature and film production, that he should welcome the submarine campaign, and with it the rupture with the United States, as well as our defeat. But after all, the Ambassador' proved at the Adlon dinner that he could sing another tune.

When Mr. Gerard lunched with me in Washington, I had just learned by cable from Berlin that Herr von Jagow had resigned and had been replaced by Herr Zimmermann. On hearing this news, the Ambassador said that now there would be no rupture between Germany and the United States, for Herr Zimmermann was his personal friend and was opposed to war, while Herr von Jagow, as an aristocrat, did not love the Americans, and looked down on bourgeois Gerard. A grosser misreading of the actual situation in Berlin can scarcely be conceived, as the unrestricted submarine campaign was only made possible by the resignation of Herr von Jagow, who was the chief opponent in Berlin of the submarine campaign, and the pillar on which the idea of American intervention rested. As long as Herr von Jagow remained Secretary of State, a breach with the United States was regarded as impossible. One of his last official acts was to write a private letter to me on the 20th November, 1916, concluding with the following sentence:

"As you have seen from your instructions, we are thoroughly in sympathy with the peace tendencies of President Wilson. His activity in this direction is to be strongly encouraged. Naturally his mediation tendencies must not extend to concrete proposals (because these would be unfavorable to us.)"

We now come to the moment in this account when the peace offer of the Imperial Government got involved with Mr. Wilson's plans for mediation. It is not my intention to go closely into the events that occurred in Berlin or the considerations that took effect there, as I only know them through their reaction on the instructions sent to me. I will only mention briefly, that, according to the statement of Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg before the Commission of the National Assembly, the peace offer of the Imperial Government was made with a view to influencing the pacifist minorities in the Entente countries, and working, through the people, on the Governments. Beyond this there was no intention of cutting out Mr. Wilson's peace move, but the Imperial Government wanted to have "two irons in the fire." Finally, all the utterances of the Imperial Government, which do not seem to tally with these two principles of their policy, are to be regarded as based on purely tactical motives. Accordingly, the decisive turn in our policy did not occur until the 9th January, 1917, when the decision to resort to the unrestricted submarine war was taken. Until then the policy followed was that of "two irons in the fire."

This is the way in which I read the situation in Washington at the time. If I had been convinced that the resignation of Herr von Jagow and the German peace offer meant a definite departure from the policy which we had hitherto followed with regard to Mr. Wilson's peace step, I should have immediately sent in my resignation, as I was completely identified with this policy. However, I shall return to this side of the question later.

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