President Poincare, on July 15th, 1915, declared the Nuremberg flight to be a fable. The Fraenkischer Kurier (a Nuremberg newspaper) on August 1st, 1915, contains an article which states that the news of these alleged airmen, whom nobody saw, was spread throughout the length and breadth of the German Empire. This same paper ridicules the whole affair.
Another extract gives the key to the whole mystery. "Yesterday (Monday, August 3rd), at 8 p.m., the following official announcement was given out for publication.
"Up till now, the German troops, in obedience to orders given, have not crossed the French frontier. In contrast to this since yesterday (August 2nd) French troops have attacked our frontier posts without any declaration of war. They have crossed the German frontier at several points, although only a few days ago the French Government assured us that they would keep a zone ten kilometres wide free from their troops. Since last night French troops hold German places in occupation. Since yesterday bomb-dropping airmen have come into Baden and Bavaria; further, by violating Belgian neutrality, they have fled over Belgian territory into the Rhine province and tried to destroy our railways. Thus France has begun an attack upon us, and thereby created a state of war. The safety of the Empire compels us to take defensive measures. The Kaiser has given the necessary orders. The German Ambassador in Paris has been instructed to demand his passports."
[Footnote 25: From the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger of August 4th.]
Germany had no earthly excuse to begin war on France, and imitating the noble example of Bismarck in forging the notorious Ems telegram which precipitated the 1870 war, the German military authorities forged the "news" of alleged attacks by French airmen and French troops. The German Official Press Bureau completed this vile, criminal work.
Although the point is proved, a few more examples of the "airmen" legend will be of interest. "Berlin, August 2nd. Last night a hostile airship was observed flying from Kerprich to Andernach. Hostile aeroplanes were observed flying from Dueren to Cologne. A French aeroplane was shot down by Wesel." (From the Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung, August 3rd.)
The Frankfurter Zeitung, August 4th, contains three separate detailed accounts of French airmen dropping bombs on Frankfort railway station during the previous night. The third account will suffice.
"The military authorities in Frankfort were informed last night that a hostile airman was flying in the direction from Darmstadt to Frankfort. At ten minutes past one the noise of the propellers as well as bursting bombs was heard by those standing on the command-bridge of the Central Station. In the dark night it was impossible to see the flying-machine. As it approached the station, where all lights were out, fifty to sixty soldiers stationed on the command-bridge fired at the aeroplane, which soon moved off in the direction of the Southern Station. There, too, it came under a heavy fire from soldiers and policemen. Nothing whatever has been found on the ground or at the station, not even parts of the bombs. It is assumed that the hand-bombs exploded in the air."
[Footnote 26: Yes, they burst in the air, aus der sie gegriffen worden sind! Author.]
In peace times no German editor would dare to refuse any contribution sent to him by the military authorities. The above airman-story sufficiently illustrates the state of affairs in war time.
"Chemnitz, August 4th. During the past night, between 3 and 4 a.m., a French airman dropped bombs on Chemnitz. Bombs exploded in the streets without, however, doing any damage. Apparently the shots fired at the aeroplane were unfortunately without result." Magdeburgische Zeitung, August 5th.
This is an excellent example of how the Press trick is worked. A lying report is published in a city hundreds of miles away from the scene of the alleged occurrence. The extract where it was alleged that a French airman was shot down at Wesel, on the Dutch frontier, was published in a Munich paper, four hundred miles away.
The last and supreme lie in Bethmann-Hollweg's speech is the most insidious of all. The Chancellor sketched a truly moving picture of Germany beseeching Austria to find a modus vivendi between herself and Russia. Germany claims that up to the last minute of the last fatal week she was working for peace. Bethmann-Hollweg insinuates that on July 31st a last decision was to have fallen in Vienna; he does not tell us what that decision would have been, but he maintains that Russia's military preparations forestalled it and so the decision was never arrived at. Thus Russia destroyed the last hope of peace; the Chancellor falsely led his hearers to believe that it was a certain hope and that the European peace would have been saved.
It is useless to choose one's words in writing of German diplomacy. This is a base lie. Austria arrived at her decision previous to sending her ultimatum to Serbia. This momentous decision was, that Russia had no right to intervene in the quarrel, which means, in other words, that Russia had absolutely no right to speak or use her influence in a crisis affecting the destiny of the Slavonic peoples, neither had Russia any right to move in a crisis which would disturb the balance of power in the Balkans and in Europe. It was merely these rights which Russia throughout the crisis endeavoured to establish; if they had been recognized there would have been no war.
In order to prove what the Austro-German standpoint was, and that from first to last never changed, reference must be made to the Austrian Red Book. On page 24: Sir Edward Grey was informed by Count Mensdorf on July 24th, "and I (Mensdorf) repeated to him (Grey) many times, that we should stick to that view."
[Footnote 27: Oesterreichisch-ungarisches Rotbuch. Vienna, 1915.]
Page 25. Count Czecsen in Paris informed French Minister: "It is a question which can only be settled between Serbia and ourselves," on July 24th.
On the same day the Austrian Ambassador emphasized the same point in an interview with the Russian Foreign Minister—pp. 27-8.
During the evening Monsieur Sasonow had interviews with both the German and Austrian Ambassadors. The latter telegraphed to Vienna: "My German colleague at once pointed out to M. Sasonow that Austria would not accept any interference in her differences with Serbia and that Germany would also not permit it."—p. 29.
That gives the situation in its simplest form, and without making further quotations, it will suffice to cite the dates on which it was re-emphasized:
July 25th in St. Petersburg, p. 89 " 27th " " " p. 101 " 28th " Berlin by Germany, p. 116 " " " London by Austria, p. 123 " 29th " St. Petersburg, " p. 128 " 30th " Berlin, " p. 130 " 30th " St. Petersburg, " p. 131 " 31st " Vienna, " p. 133 August 1st " St. Petersburg, " p. 136
Moreover, no less a personage than the Kaiser's brother confirmed this view. In Prince Heinrich's telegram to the King of England, July 30th, the following passage occurs: "If you really and sincerely wish to prevent this terrible misfortune (a European war), may I propose that you should exercise your influence on France and Russia to keep them both neutral (in the Austro-Serbian quarrel). In my opinion this would be of the greatest service. I consider this a certain means and perhaps the only possibility of preserving European peace."
Prince Heinrich expressed no hope that Austria could be persuaded to make any concession, but merely requested King George to exercise his influence to get Russia to accept a position impossible to herself and incompatible with the balance of power in Europe.
The rock of Germanic obstinacy was seated in Vienna, whether Germany was the prime mover in erecting it remains to be proved. Germany knew full well that European peace would be shattered on that rock, yet there is no fragment of evidence to show that she tried to remove it; but there is overwhelming proof that she encouraged Austria to stand by it, thus causing a European conflagration.
And as if the above were insufficient to prove that the German Imperial Chancellor was guilty of conscious falsification, Austria put one more nail in the coffin of European peace on September 24th, 1914, when it issued an official communication to the Press, reiterating that Austria had never dreamed of departing from the attitude which she first took up.
[Footnote 28: "Die Schuld am Weltkriege" ("The Guilt for the World War"), by an Austrian. Vienna, 1915, p. 59.]
Germany's aim was to employ the Serajewo crime as a lever to put Russia, as a vital force, out of the domain of European politics. In spite of denials, there is reason to believe that Austria was inclined to listen to reason, but Germany forestalled and prevented this by despatching an ultimatum to Russia and then declaring war.
A few other points in Bethmann-Hollweg's speech deserve brief notice. He quotes Germany's threats, but not one word from the peaceful overtures which were so often mentioned. He fails to cite any single point which Austria had yielded at Germany's advice. Further, no proof of Germany's vaunted "mediatory action" is discoverable either in the speech or the diplomatic documents published by the Central Powers.
In regard to his justification of the violation of Belgian neutrality, the civilized world has already passed judgment, and in this place it only remains to point out that the four hundred members of the Reichstag cheered the Chancellor's announcement. This alone is a sufficiently severe comment on the conceptions of right and justice which direct the proceedings of Germany's highest legislative body.
It evidently did not occur to the Reichstag or Germany's Imperial Chancellor that, if necessity knows no law which respects a neutrality guaranteed by Germany, then at a later date necessity would also recognize no law which protected Belgian territory after Germany had conquered it. A lamb in the jaws of a lion is in a truly dangerous position, and although the outlook may be black, it is still wiser for the lamb to try and avoid the lion's jaws.
Bethmann-Hollweg saw the mote of Greater-Serbianism in Serbia's eye, but he was peculiarly anxious not to perceive the beam of Pan-Germanism which has blinded Germany's vision for a generation, and is the one and only cause for the rapid increase in European armaments.
Before consigning the German Chancellor's Pecksniffian oration to well-deserved oblivion, there is one other fact to state, because it is of immediate interest to Great Britain. In the person of Bethmann-Hollweg the German Government stood before the world on August 4th, 1914, and endeavoured to prove that Germany was attacked, and that her conscience was clear. There are even Britons who have got stuck in Bethmann-Hollweg's peace-lime. Yet it would be interesting if the German Government would explain why the civilian population was ordered to leave Heligoland on the afternoon of Friday, July 31st. They were allowed twenty-four hours within which to leave the island, and one who was in the exodus describes the scene in the Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten for August 12th. Early on Saturday morning the civilians proceeded on to the landing-stage, where several steamers were waiting. "Suddenly the Koenigin Luise started off without taking any passengers on board, and soon disappeared under full steam."
This was the boat which laid mines round the mouth of the Thames. Although the German Chancellor protested his desire for peace with England as late as August 4th, it seems quite evident from the events in Heligoland that war with this country had been decided upon on July 31st.
"Munich.—Evening after evening masses of people thronged the streets. The heavy, oppressive atmosphere weighed upon the spirit—a leaden pressure which increased with every hour. Then came the stirring events on the evening of July 3ist, when the drums beat 'general march' on the Marienplatz, and a commissioner read the articles of war to a crowd numbered by thousands. Thirty drummers and commissioners in motors rushed through the streets of the city.
"On Saturday evening, August 1st, the general order for mobilization was proclaimed from the offices of the Muenchener Neuesten Nachrichten. A deep solemnity fell upon the masses of spectators and the crowd fell into rank to march to the Royal Palace, from a window of which King Ludwig spoke words of comfort and inspiration. Still singing the 'Wacht am Rhein,' this river of humanity flowed on to the 'Englischen Garten,' at the corner of which stands the Austrian Legation. A gentleman addressed the representative of our beloved ally, who sounded in his reply the note of 'faithfulness unto death.'
"And now from out the stifling depression of the leaden weight of the previous days there arose a terrible, united will, a single mighty thought. The whole of a great and powerful people was aroused, fired by one solemn resolve—to act; advance on the enemy, and smash him to the earth!
"Dresden.—I was sitting in the garden of a suburban restaurant; above me were the dark masses of chestnut trees, while before us, above the railway, was a long strip of bright, summer-night sky. There seemed to be something gloomy and uncanny in the air; the lamps blinked maliciously; a spirit of still expectation rested on the people; furtive glances were cast from time to time at the near embankment. Military trains were expected, and we listened nervously to the noises of the night. The first troop-transports; where were they going—against Russia or to the French frontier? It was whispered that the troops would only be transported by night.
"At last a pounding thud came through the stillness of the night, and soon two colossal engines were silhouetted against the sky, like fire-spitting monsters. Their roar seemed more sinister than usual. Heavy forebodings rumbled out in the rocking and rolling of the endless coaches—the clang of a future, pregnant with death and pain. Suddenly the tables were empty; everyone rushed towards the lighted compartments of the train, and a scene of indescribable jubilation followed as train after train of armed men rushed by into the night.
"Sometimes a troubled father was heard to exclaim: 'If only the first battles were fought and won!' Yet calm confidence prevailed from the very beginning. But the sight of the quiet, machine-like completion of the mobilization strengthened our trust, even though a justifiable indignation and rage filled our hearts at Europe's dastardly attack on the Central States. Hate flamed highest, however, when England declared war against us.
"There are several reasons for this. In the north of Germany, the Englishman is looked upon as the European who stands nearest the German, and with whom we have the most sympathy. His personal reliability and the manly firmness of his bearing, the culture of English social life, English art and style, have given Imperial Germany many points of contact and grounds for sympathy. Our historical interests have never collided. Then we suddenly became aware that this country, under the mask of friendship, had egged on the whole of Europe to attack us. Not because we had injured English feelings or interests, but solely to destroy a competitor and divide his coat of many colours.
"No political necessity compelled modern Carthage to declare war on us, but merely the avowed aim to do a good piece of business by the war. Without England's intrigues Europe would never have dared to attack us. In our case, therefore, hate has sprung out of disappointed love. England has become our mortal enemy, just as Russia is Austria's. In a word, the two Central Powers are inspired by moral superiority over their enemies, and are determined to wage war on them to the last drop of blood, and if fate permits it, to settle them off and settle up with them once for all.
"At the commencement of the mobilization the railway time-tables in force were cancelled; railway traffic ceased, and only slow local-trains ran, stopping at every station to pick up the men. During the nights a gigantic transport of troops went on to the frontiers. From that moment the sale of alcohol on the stations was prohibited. The publication of news concerning troop movements was suppressed, in order to veil our objective and to keep secret our strength on the various frontiers.
"The trains in the Tyrol were decked with wreaths and flowers. They bore Germans from the most southerly corners of our neutral ally—Italy. Members of the Wehrkraftverein (Boy Scouts) inspected the trains at every station, and it is said that a Serb was found bound fast underneath one of the carriages. Serbian scoundrels were found on all sides; if one of them had succeeded in destroying the Brenner line the whole plan of mobilization would have been disturbed. Therefore sentinels were placed along the whole line and strong guards protected every tunnel. At night all lights were put out and those on the engines covered up; even the stations were not illuminated—everywhere darkness.
"Slowly feeling its way, the train crept over the Brenner—it took twelve hours; in Innsbruck the station was crowded with Germans to welcome the warriors, and the ancient hills echoed again and again the 'Wacht am Rhein.' The solemnity which had marked the first days in Munich had given place to boisterous joy. Thousands of men in mountain costume had flocked into Munich to offer themselves as volunteers, and the streets and station rang with their jodeln! (the peculiar cry of Alpine herdsmen).
"Outside the station lay vast quantities of materials for the Flying Corps, and innumerable motor-cars. A regiment of artillery was just leaving, while a band was in the centre of the station; the rhythm of the kettle-drums rolled mightily, and the music clashed in the huge central hall; thousands of voices joined in, then helmets, hats, caps, rifles and swords were waved and the train moved off amid shouts: 'Go for them! Cut them down!' ('Drauf auf die Kerle! Haut sie zusammen!')"
[Footnote 29: Colonel Frobenius: "Durch Not und Tod" ("Through Distress and Death"). Leipzig, 1915, p. 12 et seq.]
"If I live to be a hundred I shall never forget these days. They are the greatest in our history. We never dreamed that anything so overwhelming could be experienced on earth. Only three weeks ago and we should have been quite incapable of imagining its like. The feeling that we have experienced something overpowering, something which we cannot utter, overwhelms us all. We see it in each other's faces and feel it in the pressure of a hand. Words are too weak, so each is silent about what he feels. We are conscious of one thing alone: Germany's heart has appeared to us!
"At last we see each other as we are, and that is the indescribable something—the birth of this great time. Never have we been so earnest and never so glad. Every other thought, every other feeling has gone. What we have thought and felt before was all unreality, mere ghosts; day has dawned and they have fled. The whole land bristles with arms and every German heart is filled with trust. If we were always as we are to-day—one heart and one voice—then the whole world would have to bow before us. But we no longer knew ourselves, we had forgotten our real nature. We were so many and so divided, and each wanted only to be himself. How was it that such madness could have blinded us, and discord weakened us?
"Now we realize our strength and see what we can achieve, for in spite of all we have retained our integrity; we have suffered no injury to the soul. Germany's soul had slept awhile and now awakes like a giant refreshed, and we can hardly recollect what it was all like only three weeks ago, when each lived for himself, when we were at best only parties, not a people. Each knew not the other, because he knew not himself. In unholy egoism everyone had forgotten his highest will. Now each has found his true will again, and that is proved—for we have only one.
"In all German hearts flames the same holy wrath. A sacred wrath which sanctifies and heals. Every wound heals; we are again healthy and whole. Praise be to God for this war which delivered us on the first day from German quarrelsomeness! When the days of peace return we must prove that we deserve to have lived through this holy German war. Then no word must be spoken, no deed done on German soil which would be unworthy of these sublime days.
"Groups stand at the street corners reading the latest news. One counts aloud how many enemies we have: there are already six. A silence ensues, till someone says: 'Many enemies, great honour, and we shall win, for our cause is just!' Such utterances can be heard every day. That is German faith; human might does not decide, but God's justice! That is the Supreme blessing of this great time; we put our trust in the spirit. Modern Germans have never breathed before so pure an atmosphere, for Germany's soul has appeared to us.
* * * * *
"I am going to pronounce a blessing on this war, the blessing which is on all lips, for we Germans, no matter in what part of the world we are, all bless, bless and bless again this world war. I do not intend to become lyrical. Lyric is so far from me that in all these three months I have not composed a single war poem. No, I shall endeavour to count up quite calmly, unlyrically, what we have seen during these three months: point for point, the whole list of surprises, for they have all been surprises, one after the other.
"Only a few days ago a high State official said to me: 'Let us confess at once that in all Europe nobody believed in this war; everybody had prepared for it, but nobody thought it possible—not even those who wanted war.'
"All thinking men considered that the interwoven economic dependence on each other among the nations, was so strong that none dare commit suicide by commencing a war. Thus we spoke to each other, and that seemed an axiom. Further, it seemed to be true that even if a madman let loose the dogs of war, then it would be all over in a fortnight. The man in the street imagined that it would be a kind of parade (Aufmarsch), a mobilization test, and the power which succeeded best would be the victor, for no country in the world was strong enough to stand the enormous cost for longer than three weeks.
"Now three months have gone, and we have stood the strain, and we can bear it for another three, six months, a year, or as many years as it must be. The calculation was wrong, all the calculations were wrong: the reality of this war surpasses everything which we had imagined, and it has been glorious to experience on so grand a scale that reality always surpasses the conception. Even that is not true which we learned in all the schools and read in all the books—that every war is an awful misfortune. Even this war is horrible; yes, but our salvation. It seems so to us, and so it has appeared to us from the very first day onwards.
"That first day will remain in our memories for ever; never in all our lives had we experienced anything so grand, and we had never believed it possible to experience anything so magnificent. Word for word Bismarck's prophecy (1888) has come true: 'It must be a war to which the whole nation gives its assent; it must be a national war, conducted with an enthusiasm like that of 1870, when we were ruthlessly attacked. Then all Germany from the Memel to Lake Constance will blaze up like a powder-mine and the whole land bristle with bayonets.' The war which Bismarck prophesied was this war, and what he foretold came to pass, and we saw it with our eyes. We saw the German mobilization with eyes which since then have been consecrate.
"All enthusiasm is splendid, even in an individual, be he who he may and for whatever cause you like. In enthusiasm everything good in a man appears, while the common and vulgar in him sinks away. Any enthusiasm either of groups or societies in which the individual ego loses itself is grand, but the mighty enthusiasm of a powerful people is overwhelming. This was, however, an enthusiasm of a peculiar sort—it was well disciplined, an enthusiasm combined with and controlled by the highest order.
"In this the fundamental secret of German power was revealed: to remain calm in enthusiasm, cold amidst fire and still obedient to duty in a tornado of passion. Then we were all inspired by the thought and feeling: 'Nobody can achieve that, for in order to be able to do it we have had to perform a huge intellectual and spiritual task. It is not alone the result of the last century and a half; no, that work has been going on for nearly a thousand years.'
"What is the spirit of our German mysticism, the spirit of Eckhart and Tauler, except: Drunkenness of the soul in a waking condition? The accepted law on which all great German deeds rest, is: to dovetail enthusiasm with discipline and order. From our Gothic, through German barock to Frederick the Great and Kant, on to the classical period—what does all that mean if it is not the architecture of one huge feeling? The soul runs riot in its imaginings and therewith the intellect builds. The ravings of the soul provide the materials with which the mind builds.
"What is German music from Bach to Beethoven and from Beethoven to Wagner—yes, even to Richard Strauss—but enthusiasm with discipline? German music has been our mobilization; it has gone on just as in a partitur by Richard Wagner—absolute rapture with perfect precision!
"Hence when we saw the miracle of this mobilization—all Germany's military manhood packed in railway trains, rolling through the land, day by day and night after night, never a minute late and never a question for which the right answer was not ready and waiting—when we saw all this, we were not astonished, because it was no miracle; it was nothing other than a natural result of a thousand years of work and preparation; it was the net profit of the whole of German history.
"At the German mobilization not only our brave soldiers, reserves and militia (Landwehrmaenner und Landstuermler) entered the field, but the whole of Germany's historic past marched with them. It was this which inspired the unshakable confidence which has endured from the first day of war. In truth, the dear Fatherland has every reason to be calm.
"In the meantime something more has happened: all in a moment we became Germans! We held our breaths when the Kaiser uttered these words. This too arose out of the deepest depths of Germany's yearnings; it sounded like an eagle-cry of our most ancient longings. Germany's soul has long pined to tear itself from its narrow confines (verwerden, as Eckhart, or sich entselbsten, as Goethe put it), to lay aside self-will and sacrifice itself, to be absorbed in the whole, and yet still to serve (Wagner). And this eternal German yearning had never reached fulfilment, but self-interest and egoism have always been stronger; every German has been at war with all the others. 'For every man to go his own way,' said Goethe, 'is the peculiar characteristic of the German race. I have never seen them united except in their hate for Napoleon. I am curious to see what they will do when he is banished to the other side of the Rhine.' And Goethe was right: no sooner was the land freed from the oppressor, than each began again to think and act only for himself. Hence, when we first learned of the Kaiser's words we felt almost a joyous fear. If it were only true that now there were only Germans! But on the very next day our eyes saw and our ears heard that at last there were only Germans, and with that, all pain and fear was forgotten. If war is awful, even a just war, a holy war—even for the victor too, we will endure all that, for it is as nothing; no sacrifice is too great for this prize—that we are all only Germans.
"Since the Emperor spoke those words three months have passed, and there have only been Germans in the land. These three months have brought much sorrow to German hearts, for there is hardly a home which does not lament a father, a son, or a brother. Nevertheless, one may say that since our existence as a nation, Germany has never been more joyous, in the best sense of the word, than in this time of suffering. Through our tears the noblest joy has shone; not alone at the success of our arms; it is not from pride at fighting against a world of enemies; it is not the fact that we are now assured of a future which in July last we could not have imagined; it is not the feeling of power, of which even we ourselves did not know. That shining joy springs from deeper reasons. We are glad because we have found each other; we did not know each other before. Indeed, no one knew himself. Now we know each other, and above all, each knows himself.
"It was Bismarck who uttered these terrible words: 'When the unoccupied German must give up the struggle and strife which has become dear to him, and offer the hand of reconciliation, then he loses all joy in life. Civil war is always the most terrible thing which any land can have. But with us Germans it is still more terrible, because it is fought out by us with more love for the strife than any other war.'
"Does it not sound truly horrible for the greatest benefactor of a nation, which has to thank him for having realized its century-old dream of unity, to say in all calm and as something quite obvious, that his own nation engages in a civil war 'with more love' than any other war? And wherever we look in Bismarck's speeches, the same complaint is found which had been the eternal lamentation of Goethe—the lament over the lack of faith and will of the Germans.
"How will it be this time? Will it be as after the Seven Years' War, after the War of Liberation, after 1870? Will it be again all in vain? As soon as the Fatherland is secure, will every German once again cease to be a German in order to become some kind of -crat or -ist or -er? This time it will be more difficult, for from this war he will return no more into the same Fatherland. It will have expanded; the German Fatherland will be greater. Arndt's poems must be written over again: no longer merely 'as far as the German tongue is spoken.' Germany will stretch beyond that limit, and in it the German will have work to do.
"In his speech Bismarck spoke of the 'unoccupied'; but in all probability after this war, for years to come, there will be no 'unoccupied' Germans. They will be fully occupied with the new organization. What the sword has won, we shall keep. 'The pike in the European carp-pond,' said Bismarck once, 'prevent us from becoming carp. They compel us to exertions which voluntarily we should hardly be willing to make. They compel us to hold together, which is in direct contradiction to our innermost nature.'
"As we cannot change our nature, it will be good if we take over for good and all a number—a very considerable number,—of these European pike. That will occupy the German peasant and give an outlet to his superfluous energies. There will be no leisure-energy to discharge itself in party strife. Further, we must build Europe up again. It stood on rotten foundations, and now it has fallen to pieces. We shall erect it again on a German basis, and there will be work enough."
[Footnote 30: Hermann Bahr: "Kriegssegen" ("The Blessings of War"). Published in Munich, 1915, p. 5 et seq.]
WARS AND RUMOURS OF WARS
It would be more than human if the German nation had actually realized the lyrical picture painted by two well-known writers in the preceding chapter. German newspapers, it is true, prove that the national unity so loudly acclaimed was no empty word; moreover, they show conclusively that grumblers and half-hearted enthusiasts were not lacking. It would probably be more correct to describe them as "sober-minded patriots." These elements had, however, to use a colloquialism, an "exceedingly rough time."
The author has already contended that the German is innately brutal, and in proof thereof quoted the awful statistics of brutal crimes published by the Imperial Statistic Office, Berlin. The present work will contain a picture of the natural unfolding of this "innate brutality" in Germany itself during war time, and on the battlefields of Belgium and France.
There is no doubt whatever that a systematic, officially-organized press campaign was carried on to madden the people and arouse blood-lust, successively against Russians, Belgians, French and English. One is almost inclined to exclaim: Providence caused some of the fruits of this blood-lashing to be reaped in Germany!
"Yesterday evening in the Riebeckbraeu another free fight took place, and quieter guests who refused to take part in the patriotic screaming of the students and other mob elements were badly ill-treated. Beer-glasses, ash-trays, chairs and other missiles were thrown about freely. One man was struck on the back of the head with a beer-glass, causing the blood to flow in streams. Helpless women, too, were beaten and threatened."
[Footnote 31: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 1st, 1914.]
Three days later the same journal contained a public appeal from the Mayor of Leipzig, begging the inhabitants to preserve public order: "If the disturbances in the streets, public houses, etc., should—contrary to our expectations—continue, then we shall be compelled to take severe steps to suppress them."
On the same page there is another report of similar scenes, in one of which a workman was "horribly ill-treated" by eight others. The army authorities were compelled to issue a still more drastic warning on August 6th.
A victim reported his adventures in another Leipzig paper: "I have just read your article admonishing the 'hot-heads' to keep cool. The General commanding Leipzig has also warned members of the public not to allow excitement to lead them to 'deeds of brutality and crime.' I am a good German patriot, and yet nearly lost my life at the hands of my own countrymen."
[Footnote 32: Leipziger Neuesten Nachrichten, August 9th.]
The "good patriot" then relates that during the week he had spent an evening at a concert in a beer-garden. Patriotic music was the order of the day, and as each national song was sung he stood up with the rest of the company. Towards the close of the evening he felt unwell and remained sitting, an indiscretion which he truthfully says "nearly cost him his life." Three skull wounds several inches long, his body beaten black and blue, and ruined clothes, was the punishment for not joining in with the "hurrah-patriots."
Dozens of similar instances might be cited, but for the sake of impartiality it is preferable to allow a German to generalize: "The rage of the populace has found vent not only against foreigners, but also against good German patriots, indeed even against German officers."
[Footnote 33: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 12th.]
Probably one of the most glaring instances of German indifference to brutality is afforded by the following incident. A commercial traveller named Luederitz, aged twenty-three, murdered his sweetheart in a Leipzig hotel by strangling her with his necktie. He alleged that he had killed the girl at her wish, and the judge sentenced him to three years, six months' imprisonment—not even penal servitude! The report concludes: "As the accused has been called up to serve in the army, he was allowed to go free for the present." Which means that if he survives the war he may be called upon to undergo his sentence.
[Footnote 34: Ibid., August 28th.]
A South German newspaper advised "German wives and maidens to avoid wearing striking costumes, dresses and hats. Such restrictions are not only desirable in the serious time through which our dear Fatherland is passing, but such precautions are urgently necessary in the interests of personal safety. For amidst the excitement which has unfortunately taken possession of our people, ladies are not safe, either from insult or assault, in spite of the fact that the police do their best to protect them."
[Footnote 35: Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung, August 5th.]
These are the bare facts, in a very limited selection, as regards German brutality towards Germans. In the light of these events the question suggests itself: How did foreigners fare in the midst of this Kulturvolk? The answer is simple and expressive: "Not half has ever been told;" yet the German newspapers contain more than sufficient materials to prove that the floodgates of barbarism were opened wide.
When martial law was proclaimed the Berlin Government caused official announcements to be issued throughout the whole country, requesting the public to assist in preventing tunnels, bridges, railways, etc., from being destroyed by foreign agents and spies. The whole country at once became a detective office of madmen!
Ample proof is at hand to show that this lashing of the public mind into brutal fury was the calculated work of the German authorities. "We are now absolutely dependent upon reports issued by the authorities; we do not know whether they are correct or whether they are merely intended to inflame public opinion. Thus reports have been officially circulated of Russian patrols crossing our frontiers, and from Nuremberg of French airmen dropping bombs on the railways in that neighbourhood, whereupon diplomatic relations with both countries were broken off."
[Footnote 36: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 3rd.]
The whole Press, with the exception of at least some Social Democratic organs, joined in a chorus of hatred and suspicion against Russians residing in Germany. In bitterness towards the Russian State the Socialist journals were solid in their hostility, but the author has only discovered expressions of abhorrence in their columns concerning the ill-treatment, even murder, of innocent foreigners in Germany. This fact must be recorded to their honour.
"Certain circles of Leipzig's population are at present possessed by patriotic delirium and at the same time by a spy-mania which luxuriates like tropical vegetation. In reality, love of Fatherland is something quite other than those feelings which find expression in the present noisy and disgusting scenes. These mob patriots must remember that in their mad attacks on 'Serbs' and 'Russians'—that is to say, everybody who has black hair and a beard, whom they at once conclude must belong to those nations—they are endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of Germans in France and Russia."
[Footnote 37: Ibid., August 4th.]
On the following day the same journal contained another detailed report: "In spite of official appeals to the public to display self-possession in these serious times, the nationalist mob continues to behave in the most scandalous manner, both in the streets and public restaurants, etc. The wildest outbreaks of brutal passions occur, and no one with black hair and dark complexion is secure from outbursts of rage on the part of the fanatics. Shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday a gentleman in the uniform of a German artillery officer was sitting with a lady in the Cafe Felsche; apparently somebody 'denounced' him for a Russian officer in disguise. The police accompanied by army officers arrested and led him into the street, where they were received by a yelling crowd. The enraged mob forced its way past the guards and beat the 'spy' with sticks, umbrellas, etc., till streams of blood ran down his face, his uniform being torn to shreds. The officers and police guarding him drew their weapons, but were unable to protect him from further brutal treatment; indeed, it was with the greatest difficulty that they succeeded in bringing him to a place of safety."
[Footnote 38: The unfortunate suspect was in truth a German officer.]
On the last page of the same edition there is an advertisement which helps to explain why the appeals for cool blood were useless.
"Among the foreigners in our country, especially Russians, there are a large number who, it is to be feared, are guilty of espionage and attempts to disturb our mobilization. While the Russians engaged in work on our farms may be allowed to continue their work in peace, it is necessary to watch carefully those who are studying here, or are permanent residents.
"I call upon the inhabitants to take part in the task of observation, and when strong suspicion is aroused to see to it that the suspects are arrested and handed over to the civil authorities.
"The protection of our railway lines and stations, telegraph wires, etc., demands the most careful attention during the next few days.
"VON LAFFERT, "General in Command. "Leipzig, August 4th."
An interesting contrast to the above is a police order, issued by the Director of the Stuttgart police.
[Footnote 39: Leipziger Neuesten Nachrichten, August 9th.]
"Policemen! The populace is going absolutely mad. The streets are crowded with old women of both sexes who have nothing else to do but disgrace themselves. Each sees in his neighbour a Russian or French spy, and imagines that it is his duty to thrash both him and the policeman who intervenes, till the blood flows; if not that, then at least to cause an enormous crowd to gather in giving the alleged spy over to the police. Clouds become hostile airmen, stars are mistaken for airships and the cross-bars of bicycles are thought to be bombs; bridges have been blown up, telegraph and telephone wires cut in the middle of Stuttgart; spies have been shot and water supplies poisoned! It is impossible to imagine what will happen when serious events really come.
"It has been proved that up till now there has not been the slightest reason for all this alarm; but yet, judging by appearances, we are living in a huge lunatic asylum. Everyone, if he is not a coward or a dangerous idler, should be quietly doing his duty, for the times are already serious enough.
"Policemen! continue to keep your heads cool. Be men as you were formerly, and not women. Do not allow yourselves to be frightened at straws; keep your eyes open and do your duty!
"Director of Police.
It is not surprising that this humorous police commander expressed his indignation in the forceful Swabian manner. Here are a few telegrams which had been sent to Berlin from Stuttgart, or still more probable, manufactured by the official Press Bureau in Berlin.
"A considerable number of Russians and French—including several women—have been arrested in Stuttgart to-day under the suspicion of practising espionage. One of these arrests was made in the top-floor of the Central Post Office, where the apparatus connected with the telegraph office are to be found.
"More arrests are about to be made in the environs. It has been established that numerous attempts have been made during the last few days to blow up the railway bridges. In Freudenstadt a gypsy's wagon was seized which contained a quantity of explosives."
[Footnote 40: Berliner Tageblatt, August 3rd.]
"Some of our contemporaries (Oh, shade of Pecksniff!—Author) announced yesterday that in Stuttgart eighty, according to other reports, ninety millions in French gold had been seized. In answer to our inquiry at the principal office of the Wuertemberg State Railways we were informed that the statements are pure inventions."
[Footnote 41: Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, August 4th.]
Another Socialist paper which denounced this campaign of lies in its columns deserves quotation. "The spy-mania luxuriates; every Russian is in danger of assault by over-heated patriots. The nation, however, ought to know that the Russians in our midst are labourers, students, travellers and business men; it is exceeding rare for one of this class, to sell himself to the scoundrels who follow the dirty practices of espionage.
"Civilization and good-breeding demand that everyone should respect the dictates of international law, and treat the peaceful citizens of a land with which we are at war, with decency.
"Especially those wretches deserve to have their knuckles rapped who circulate such infamous bear-baiting news as the alleged attempt on the Crown Prince's life by Russian students."
[Footnote 42: Vorwaerts, August 7th.]
"The General commanding the Leipzig district has issued the following reply in answer to an inquiry by the civil authorities: We know nothing at all of an alleged attempt on the life of the Kaiser or the Crown Prince. The commanding General von Laffert has never uttered the words ascribed to him, that the Kaiser had been murdered. These reports must be contradicted with the greatest energy."
[Footnote 43: Leipziger Tageblatt, August 3rd.]
The following extracts are of the greatest importance, for they prove beyond doubt the source of these lies, and the cold-blooded, calculated manner in which they were circulated by the German authorities:
"The decision as to what may be published in newspapers, is now in the hands of the military commander in each district.
"The regulations issued by the military authorities, force certain restrictions upon us and threaten the existence of our journals. As regards our principles and convictions no change has taken place."
[Footnote 44: The editor of the Vorwaerts to his readers on August 1st.]
"Berlin, August 10th.—Major Nicolai, director of the Press department of the General Staff, received representatives of the Press to-day and communicated to them, inter alia, the following details: Our army commanders decline to enter into competition with the lie-factories abroad. They will convince the world that truth is on our side, and that we spread neither lies nor coloured reports. We hope in a short time to be able to prove how much our enemies have sinned against the truth.
"What have we achieved up till now? The dreaded invasion of Russian cavalry was broken up by our frontier guards alone. Indeed, in many cases only the Landwehr was needed to throw back the invaders. What about the destruction of important buildings, railways, bridges and such like? Nothing at all has happened."
[Footnote 45: Condensed translation of the report in the Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 11th.]
On another page of the same issue a long official army order to the Press is given in which this paragraph occurs: "All news given out by Wolff's Telegraph-Bureau may only be quoted literally as they stand and the source named by the initials W.T.-B."
It is thus clear that the news-agency mentioned performs two separate functions, although the German army authorities do not draw this distinction. First, the circulation of reports issued by the Army Headquarters in the field, for the truth of which the Berlin General Staff guarantees. Secondly, the spreading of their own news, and information supplied to them by other German Government departments. All news published by the agency has thus received the stamp of official authority, and the German public is too ignorant to recognize the palpable fraud.
"Metz, August 3rd.—A French doctor, accompanied by two officers in disguise, was caught yesterday while trying to infect the water supply with cholera bacilli. He was at once shot under military law."
[Footnote 46: Deutsche Tageszeitung, August 3rd.]
"The report of the Metz water supply being infected, which was given out by Wolff's Bureau yesterday, proves to be a pure invention. The agency informs us that there is no ground for uneasiness, but the state of affairs at present makes it imperative to exercise great care."
[Footnote 47: Berliner Tageblatt, August 4th.]
"Coblence, August 2nd.—The Government-president in Duesseldorf reports that twelve motor-cars containing eighty French officers in Prussian uniforms tried this morning to cross the Prussian frontier by Walbeck, west of Geldern. The attempt failed."
[Footnote 48: Ibid., August 3rd.]
Referring to this episode another paper wrote: "The alleged attempt of whole caravans of French officers, masquerading as German lieutenants, to enter the Rhine province as spies is too adventurous to be believed. Especially as it is known that the Dutch frontier is very strictly guarded.
"But Wolff's Bureau, which at present takes every precaution, circulated the news. Hence we have here an instance of France violating Dutch neutrality."
[Footnote 49: Koelnische Volkszeitung, August 3rd.]
As far as the author is aware, the German Government has not yet protested to the Dutch authorities for this breach of their neutrality.
The poisoned-water-supplies lie deserves further attention. It was scattered broadcast throughout the land, and millions of credulous Germans reduced to a state of absolute panic and—what was intended by those who spread the lie—blind hate against Germany's opponents. I have before me a number of descriptions of scares in various parts of the Fatherland. A few notices will suffice as illustrations.
"A most terrifying report spread like wild-fire through the town last Monday morning, and reached to the farthest suburbs. The waters of the Mangfall had been poisoned by Russian spies, and everyone's life was in danger. It is hardly possible to conceive the effect of this terrible rumour. Messengers of despair rushed from house to house, knocking at strangers' doors in order to spread the warning. 'That is a devilish deed!' stammered the white lips of women. 'Only barbarians wage war in this manner!' hissed the men, trembling with rage and hate."
[Footnote 50: The full report of this Munich scare occupies more than a column in the Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung, August 10th.]
The Breslauer-Morgenzeitung for August 10th contains an announcement from the Breslau municipality warning the inhabitants that the waters of the Oder have possibly been poisoned, and appealing for every precaution to be taken before drinking from the town supply, till a fresh supply can be provided.
"The authorities in Danzig have declared the waters of the Weichsel to be under suspicion of having been infected with cholera bacilli. It is presumed that cholera is raging on the upper Weichsel in Russia, and that the Russians have not allowed this to become known. Water from the river must not be used for any purposes connected with human food or drink."
[Footnote 51: Leipziger Neuesten Nachrichten, August 20th. A lying report put in circulation hundreds of miles away from Danzig.]
Finally the originator of these rumours piously contradicts them all and announces, "lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein," in the following words:
"Wolff's Bureau reports: There is absolutely no reason for anxiety on account of the alleged poisoning and infection of rivers, water supplies and springs which have been reported unauthoritatively from all parts of the country, and published in the Press. These rumours, which have caused grave anxiety, on closer investigation have all proved to be utterly unfounded."
[Footnote 52: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 27th.]
The war had lasted for four weeks, and although no rivers had been poisoned, the same could not be said of the currents of popular opinion.
"While I was walking down a street in Breslau a tram suddenly stopped, loud cries proceeding from within it. The occupants had discovered a Russian, dragged him out and handed him over to a policeman who led the man away. But the official was unable to protect him, and blows with fists and sticks literally rained on the defenceless fellow. The couple, surrounded by a howling crowd, had just moved away, when a nun attracted the attention of the crowd. On account of a report that a Russian spy disguised as a nun had been arrested the same morning, the people imagined the nun to be a man in disguise.
"Smiling at the ridiculous supposition and the maddened howls of the ever-increasing throng, the lady endeavoured to enter a tram. Men placed themselves in front of the car, others dragged the frightened woman out again and with blows and kicks she was driven before them to the next police station. But the saddest part of these excesses—and I am only describing a few of which I was accidentally a witness—is that members of the so-called educated classes participated in them."
[Footnote 53: A special correspondent in the Frankfurter Zeitung, August 7th.]
"On one of the most frequented open places in Breslau a soldier approached a lady and looked searchingly into her face. She understood him, and remarked with a smile: 'I am not a spy!' The man replied: 'But you have short hair. I am sorry, you must come with me.'
"She at once recognized that the wisest plan was to accompany him, and turned to do so. The movement worked like a signal; the bystanders immediately threw themselves in blind rage upon the defenceless woman. In vain the single soldier tried to protect her, and equally in vain was the assistance of two policemen who had come up. Her cries to be taken into a neighbouring house for safety met with no response.
"Her garments were literally torn from her body, a spectacle which finally proved to her persecutors that she actually was a woman, but that fact no longer protects her. Brutal instincts, once let loose, are mad and unrestrained. Blows continue to fall on her head and kicks rain against her body. She only tries to shield her eyes. 'Take her to the police station' was shouted, but that is some distance away. And any second may mean death—a horrible, disgraceful death.
"Having arrived in the guard-room the officials are soon convinced that they have to do with an absolutely innocent woman. Outside the throngs yelled in triumph."
[Footnote 54: Breslauer Generalanzeiger, August 6th.]
A German officer wrote the following account to the Berliner Zeitung am Mittag (August 5th): "May I supplement your article 'Spies and Spy-hunting' with a few facts from my own personal knowledge. On August 3rd no fewer than sixty-four spies (?) were brought into the police station at the Potsdamer Railway Station (Berlin). Not one was kept in arrest, for the simple fact that they were all innocent German citizens.
"Among others who were 'captured' and threatened with death by the raging crowd on the Potsdamer Platz were: A pensioned Prussian major, who was waiting for his son; a surgeon in the Landwehr; a high official from the Courts of Justice; and lastly, a pensioned Bavarian army officer who, on account of his stature, was thought to be a Russian. A drunken shop-assistant egged on the crowd against this last suspect, so that his life was really in danger. He was rescued by four Prussian officers, who pretended to arrest their Bavarian colleague, and were in this way able to lead him into safety."
This twentieth-century reign of terror is not, however, without a ray of humour. The semi-official Koelnische Zeitung (August 4th) contained a legend which set all Germany hunting for French motor-cars. "Several motor-cars with ladies in them, taking gold to Russia, are on their way across Germany. They must be stopped and a communication sent to the nearest military or police station."
"The occupants of the motor-cars carrying gold to Russia are said to have transferred the precious metal to cyclists dressed as bricklayers."
[Footnote 55: Das Kleine Journal (Berlin), August 5th.]
"The official announcement that French and Russian motor-cars had been seen on our country roads has aroused the otherwise leaden, heavy imaginations of the country people to the most incredible delirium. We will limit ourselves to a single instance. One of our cars met a peasant with a hand-waggon near Nerchau. As soon as he perceived the motor he bolted in mad fright into a neighbouring corn-field.
"Our man called in a friendly voice: 'My good fellow, what are you running away for?' Then the hero answered in a trembling voice: 'I thought it was a French motor!'"
[Footnote 56: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 6th.]
On August 6th every important paper in the German Empire contained the following paragraph issued by the "Army Direction" in Berlin:
"The hunt for alleged hostile motor-cars must stop. It endangers the motor-car communications so necessary to our armies."
This warning was repeated in stronger terms on the following day, and the roll of murdered victims began to leak out. "Unfortunately through this hunt several persons have been wrongfully shot. In Leipzig a doctor and his chauffeur have been shot, while between Berlin and Koepenick a company of armed civilians on the look-out for Russian motor-cars tried to stop a car. The chauffeur was compelled to put the brakes on so suddenly that the motor dashed into a tree, with the result that the occupants—several persons connected with the army—were hurled on to the road and received dangerous injuries.
"In Munich a chauffeur was shot dead by a sentinel because he did not stop soon enough. Even children are not spared in this degrading fear of spies.
"Near Bueren (Westphalia) the twelve-year-old daughter of Town Councillor Buddeberg in Bielefeld was returning with her mother from Marburg in a motor. Somebody must have telephoned that the car was suspect, for the Landwehr Society placed armed sentinels at various points on the road. They cried 'Halt!' to the chauffeur; just as the car was stopping, shots were fired, and the girl sank dead in the arms of her mother.
"Even the nationalist journals have expressed their astonishment that a civilian society is permitted to hold the public highways with armed guards. At Coblence a teacher and organist named Ritter was shot by a sentinel."
[Footnote 57: Leifziger Volkszeitung, Supplement I., August 7th. Here we have proof that Germany allowed armed civilians to murder supposed Frenchmen, a fact to be remembered when weighing Germany's accusations against Belgian civilians. The German Government has published a White Book (328 quarto pages) during the summer, 1915, indicting Belgian civilians with all kinds of atrocities. Waiving the point that if Germany first laid aside international law she had no right to expect Belgium to respect its dictates, it may be safely assumed that the evidence cited by the Germans is of little or no value. The oath which German soldiers are compelled to take precludes the possibility that they would or could give evidence which reflected on the conduct of the German army either in peace or war, even if the evidence is absolutely true. "In the interests of military discipline" the truth must be suppressed. The same oath is, however, proof that the German soldier must be prepared to lay down either his life or his honour in defence of the army, and in a later chapter irrefutable evidence from German sources will be adduced to show that the White Book in question contains "sworn lies" emanating from members of the German army.]
In its issue for August 11th the same newspaper gave the names of four more victims who had been shot in Westphalia. Among them was a poor woman of weak intellect; she was near a bridge, and failing to comply with a sentry's challenge, was shot. The bullet passed through her leg and killed a little girl who was working near her.
Wolff's Bureau in Berlin reports: "In spite of the most urgent appeals which the Army Direction has issued during the last few days, begging the public not to place hindrances in the way of motor-cars, blundering mistakes are still being made every hour in all parts of Germany, accompanied by the most serious consequences.
"The morning papers again contain reports of gold-motors having been captured. There are neither gold-motors nor foreign motors in Germany. Anyone who interferes with motor traffic is committing a sin against the army."
[Footnote 58: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 10th.]
Another warning appeared in all the papers of August 12th in a still more imperative form. Yet a section of the public seemed to find a source of humour in this tragic hunt. A correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt gave an interesting report of his motor-ride (joy-ride?) from Lindau to Munich.
"We were hardly two kilometres out of Lindau when we were stopped by a barricade of hay-wagons. On each side peasants stood with threatening mien, armed with pitchforks, revolvers and ancient carbines at full-cock. 'Hands up!' First visitation; we show our papers, everything in order. Off again.
"About every two kilometres this scene was repeated: road jammed with huge, long wagons, the same excitement, the same discussion, but now and then somewhat sharper. In some villages the duty to defend the Fatherland has turned into madness.
"'Here, get out! Where was this paper stamped? Yes, it is possible to forge!' They refuse to believe anything; not even a passport from the Chief in Command, nor papers proving me to be a German and my companion a German officer. When I tell them that I am an author and journalist from Berlin, they parry with a 'What the devil is that?'
"These brave peasants defend their Fatherland well. Once we had to wait half an hour till a gendarme came and ended the comedy with a few short words. Then we are allowed to get in again, and as I turn round a peasant shouts a last greeting: 'Really, I took you for a common hussy in disguise!'
"They threaten us from the houses. Now and then the trigger of a gun clicks as it is levelled at us from a window. The roads are lined with peasants armed with all sorts of weapons, iron spikes, dung-forks, clubs, scythes, and old swords from the time of our great-grandfathers.
"Up to the suburbs of Munich they stand at every village by day and by night to see that nothing happens to the Fatherland! And even if we were stopped twenty-eight times in this short distance; even if we did have to put up with hard words and black looks—we suffered all this gladly. We rejoiced to see with our own eyes how valiantly our peasants defend the frontiers of their Fatherland."
[Footnote 59: Edmund Edel in the Berliner Tageblatt, August 9th.]
In due time the bloodthirsty Pecksniff who had set the avalanche in motion appeared to express his holy indignation.
"Wolff's Bureau has circulated the following warning. Berlin, August 14th. This fatal hunt for motor-cars has claimed yet another victim. Recently an Austrian countess was shot while working for the Red Cross, and now a cavalry captain and his chauffeur have been killed by a forest-keeper on the look-out for Russian automobile.
"The General Staff has again and again issued the most urgent demands that this unhappy hunt for foreign motorists—which has already caused the death of several good Germans—should cease.
"It is unadulterated madness (es ist heller Wahnsinn) to search for enemy motors in our land. Neither enemy officers, nor cars loaded with gold, are driving around in Germany. Would that our people would stop this horrible murder of their own countrymen and lend an ear to the warning voice of our Army Direction. Our Fatherland needs every single man in this serious hour."
[Footnote 60: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 15th.]
Only one more nail requires to be driven home to prove the blood-guilt of the German authorities for the murder of their own citizens.
"Innumerable reports are in circulation about the capture of spies and the prevention of plots against persons and buildings. In spite of the fact that the military authorities have repeatedly and urgently appealed for the exercise of the greatest discretion in publishing such reports, the nationalist Press exploits every opportunity to disquiet the masses and excite them to senseless delirium.
"It is obvious that we shall not join in this game. We exercise our most careful judgment before publishing anything; in these serious times we must decline to speculate in the thirst for sensation which has been bred in the public. Rather, on the contrary, we must beg our readers always to accept all news, WHICH NOW EMANATE ALMOST ENTIRELY FROM OFFICIAL SOURCES, with the necessary reserve."
[Footnote 61: The emphasis is mine. Author.]
[Footnote 62: Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 7th.]
The author has ventured to lead his readers on a mad-brained chase after non-existent motor-cars and mythical French gold. He hopes that his readers' patience has not been exhausted, because the ride may prove an instructive education in German methods and the standards of truth accepted in a country where only might is right.
The object in view, in submitting these modern fairy-tales to the British public, is to lay bare the pillars of truth which support the Fatherland. During the first month of the war there was an outbreak of brutality in Germany; contemporaneously with these horrors some million members of the same nation flooded Belgium with dread deeds of an indescribable nature. This is a noteworthy coincidence.
We have seen how Germans treat Germans, which makes it easier to comprehend how Germans treated Belgians. The present chapter gives a picture of how the German Press is worked, how popular opinion is created and blood-lust awakened. When dealing with Germany's defence of her Belgian horrors, we shall find that her entire case rests alone upon the utterances of her oracles of truth: Wolff's Telegraphic Bureau and Germany's venal, lying newspapers.
That was the reason for this mad joy-ride from end to end of the German Empire, and that is the only apology which the author has to make for introducing the latest contributions to Germanic mythology into an otherwise serious work.
Incidentally we have observed that German civilians were permitted to bear arms and did not hesitate to use them "in defence of the Fatherland," as Edmund Edel put it. The civilians were doubtless inspired by the noble desire to grab French gold. Yet when Belgian civilians—as Wolff's Bureau alleges—dared to defend their homes, wives and children against the most treacherous and dastardly invasion in the world's history—then, of course, Germany was perfectly justified in murdering all and sundry, burning towns and hamlets and laying waste a fertile land.
THE DEBACLE OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS
In the second paragraph of the Social Democratic programme published after the Halle Congress in 1890, we read: "The German workmen's socialistic party, although working for the present on national lines, is aware of the international character of the workmen's movement, and is determined to fulfil all duties accruing thereby to the working classes, in order to make the brotherhood of all men a reality."
At that meeting—the first to be held after the repeal of Bismarck's anti-socialist law—the president claimed that they had secured more votes at the Reichstag election than any other party; they were the strongest political party in Germany.
Since that year they have consistently increased their power, till in the present Reichstag they have no fewer than one hundred and eleven members, giving them almost an absolute majority.
It seems an irony of fate that at Halle in 1890 one of the speakers who dilated on international brotherhood and the inseparable bonds which bound Belgian and German workmen—was a Belgian delegate! Singer, in reporting on the doings of the representatives in the Reichstag, said: "We consider peace among the nations to be an indispensable preliminary for the improvement of social conditions. We vote against expenditure for military purposes, because we are convinced that this continuous arming, accompanied by the constant improvement of murderous weapons, must be ended. It is contradictory to the civilizing task of the nations for them to be armed to the teeth, lying in wait for the moment when they can devour each other.
"Militarism is an evil for the nations; its burdens cannot be borne for ever, and even to-day the nations are collapsing under them. Modern conditions are unbearable; out of them spring ever-increasing armaments, and at last a time will come when war must break out, because the state of modern armed peace will one day have become impossible."
Another authoritative pronouncement from the report of the Social Democratic Congress in Erfurt, 1891, deserves mention. It is a passage from a speech delivered by the elder Liebknecht in the Reichstag: "As regards the defence of the Fatherland all parties will be united when it is necessary to meet an outside enemy. In that moment no party will shirk its duty."
[Footnote 63: "Protokoll ueber die Verhandlungen des Parteitags der Soz. Dem. Partei Deutschlands zu Erfurt, 1891."]
This is an instance of what Germans call Rueckversicherung, or a covering insurance. Having pledged themselves never to leave the Fatherland in the lurch—and the pledge was repeated on many occasions—they were free to babble to French, English and Italian Socialists about the blessings of internationalism, general strikes, and eternal peace. But there is no single instance on record to show that German Socialists considered any other benefits of internationalism, except those which served the purposes of their own nationalism.
At Halle, 1890, Liebknecht said: "These ideas are indisputably correct. Nobody, no matter how enthusiastic he may be for the international cause, will dare to maintain that we have no national duties. National and international are not opposing principles. The word 'national' must be rightly understood. It includes only a certain, limited portion of international humanity. The part belongs to the whole, and international merely means going beyond the boundary-posts of the nation, the narrower limits of the native land; to extend one's horizon to include the whole; to consider humanity as one family and the world as a home."
[Footnote 64: Liebknecht was wrong. There are dupes who hold that their international obligations come before their national duties, and unfortunately in the ranks of these traitors, English M.P.'s may be found, who receive L400 per annum from the British State, presumably to aid them in injuring the British cause.]
The error into which British Socialists have fallen—or been led—is their attitude towards militarism. German Democrats have never denounced the bearing of arms; they have admitted that arms will always be necessary, pre-supposing that the world continues along the same lines of development as heretofore.
They have only objected to the existing form of militarism, but otherwise they have always been unanimous that military training should be compulsory and universal. Their British Genossen (comrades) have either misunderstood or wilfully perverted these teachings. German Socialists have unswervingly insisted upon every man learning the use of arms, while their British followers have preached absolute disarmament and done their utmost to betray this country into weakening herself below the minimum necessary to guard the land, and to maintain the country's pledges to the world.
[Footnote 65: Kautsky: "Die Internationalitaet und der Krieg" (Vorwaerts Publishing House, Berlin, 1915), p. 26. "We have fought against the military system not to make the land defenceless, but in order to introduce another system in its place, which will give us the necessary guarantees that the army will always be the tool of the civil authorities and never their master. When the latter is the case we call such a condition 'militarism,' and it is against that alone that we fight." Seeing that military power is absolutely subordinated to the civil authorities in the case of Great Britain (Mutiny Acts), then according to the principles of German Socialists their British colleagues were wrong in all the efforts which they have made against the armed powers of these islands.]
In Halle, Herr Bebel made this statement: "I have already made it clear that I consider the efforts of the so-called peace friends towards disarmament to be useless (aussichtslos), because it is unthinkable that the rival States would agree to legal restrictions concerning disarmament. If such were made, each would endeavour by secret preparations to out-do the other. War and national enmity are necessary products of society, and the existing class distinctions."
The Germans were quite logical in this matter; in effect they said—the existing States and forms of government make militarism necessary, and war inevitable. Therefore we declare war to the knife on every existing government, including Russian Czarism, British constitutionalism, German autocracy and American republicanism. They are one and all rotten, unjust and inhuman. Our programme includes their complete overthrow and the erection in their stead of a Volksstaat (People's State).
The position is perfectly simple, and to those who are sufficiently ignorant and naive this programme promises an universal salvation, as delirious in its joy as that expected by African races when bending the knee before images of wood and stone. German Socialists are pledged just as irrevocably to the doctrines of brute force as are the Junker and military powers in the German Fatherland. What is their industrial and class warfare but an attempt to enforce the doctrine of might is right?
In the official programme drawn up at Erfurt, 1891, there is a paragraph stating a claim for uneingeschraenktes Koalitionsrecht (absolute and unlimited right of coalition), which means that the masses may unite to enforce what they will, and annihilate whom they please. The same rights of coalition are denied to anyone else, and in the coal-strikes in South Wales we have a lurid example—such instances could not be found in Germany—of the absolute and unlimited right of coalition at the risk of undoing any and every other right.
[Footnote 66: The strikes during the present war.—Author.]
The point is this: German Socialists have declared their intention to give no allegiance to any existing form of government and to overthrow them at the earliest possible moment. Do British Socialists accept this part of the programme?
Throughout German Social Democratic literature we find Mr. Ramsay Macdonald referred to as Genosse Ramsay Macdonald, which means that he is considered a full member of the brotherhood. If that is really the case, and if he accepts their programme as one to be followed here he would be favouring the substitution of the volksstaat for the British constitutional monarchy.
In face of this it may be asked why do British members of the Socialist party take an oath on entering the House of Commons, and why do they accept L400 per annum to support a national State, if they have pledged themselves internationally to overthrow it?
The author admits his inability to solve the riddle, but during the years 1902-1914 he has heard members of all non-Socialist German parties assert that the German Socialists do not recognize any religious oath, and sections of the Socialists admit this position. As a party they are professedly atheistic; therefore when the might of the German State compels them to take an oath—they take it with an inward Rueckversicherung.
In a word, false-swearing is permitted, when one is obliged by circumstances, to take an oath to authorities whose right and might the oath-taker does not admit. So long ago as 1892 the Social Democrats were publicly charged with condoning perjury in order to rescue fellow members from the results of breaches of the law. Judge Schmidt in a court at Breslau said in that year: "Social Democrats have never concealed the fact that they are hostile to any religious form of oath. For them the religious importance and responsibility of an oath has no meaning whatever." Numerous German judges and authors have expressed themselves in a similar strain.
Readers who are interested in the point are referred to the report of the Socialist Congress held in Berlin, October, 1892. The party leaders endeavoured to gloss the matter over with righteous indignation and ambiguous phrases, but it nevertheless remains a fact that the desire to counteract effectively, a tendency to perjury among Socialists led the German Government a few years later to make perjury punishable by penal servitude up to ten years.
[Footnote 67: All these reports may be seen in the British Museum Reading Room. Press mark is: 08072d.]
Before leaving the Volksstaat the author only wishes to state that it lays the axe on every conception of morality, religion and social order which we esteem. In the place of existing conditions, it would erect a mob tyranny more degrading to the individual than Czarism or Republicanism. The mines of Siberia and the tinned-meat factories of Chicago may enslave the body, but the Volksstaat, as portrayed by Socialist writers and speakers, promises an intellectual tyranny—hopeless alike to body and soul; and those who have had an opportunity to observe the brutal tyranny called "party discipline" which rules the German Social Democrats, will bear the present writer out in saying that its like, could only be found inside the German army.
The strongest, best organized and most thoroughly disciplined political party in the world has repeatedly expressed its unalterable determination to place national before international interests, whenever these two should seem to be at variance. In the light of these declarations, the action of German Socialists in giving unreserved support to the German Government in this war, is not altogether surprising.
Furthermore, this foundation-stone in their policy ought never to have been left out of consideration when pondering over their ecstatic utterances on peace and internationalism.
The communistic manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, first published in London in the German language in 1847, contains the following: "Men say that we Communists wish to destroy the nationality of the native land. Workmen have no Fatherland. It is impossible to take away what they do not possess. The Communists scorn to conceal their views and intentions. We declare openly, that their aims can only be attained by the violent overthrow of all existing social orders. Let the ruling classes tremble before a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing but their chains to lose, while they have a world to gain."
[Footnote 68: "Envy and greed are the two powerful levers by which the Social Democrats are endeavouring to lift the world off its hinges. They live by the destruction of every ideal." Treitschke in the "Preussische Jahrbuecher," vol. 34.]
German Socialists have incorporated these principles in theory in their programme, but in practice they do not hold them, especially if their own skins are endangered, together with the Government which is threatened by "violent overthrow." That is the sum total of their extensive defence—literature published since the outbreak of the present war. In its naked reality that is what the guarantee-insurance policy covered. So long as no danger threatened their own lives, goods and chattels, such eloquence as the following extracts were shouted into the world; but when they personally stood face to face with the Moloch upon which for years they had heaped contemptuous abuse, then national (i.e., personal) interests came first.
Herr Fischer, in his capacity as president of the Socialist Congress in Berlin, 1892, said:
"The reception of French delegates at Halle, and of Liebknecht at Marseilles, have proved incontrovertibly that the struggling French proletarians are of one mind and heart with German Social Democracy. Let the chauvinists, burning with hate on this and that side the Rhine, urge us on to war; let the diplomats and Governments of both countries sacrifice the well-being of the two nations to militarism and the war-bogey. The working-men in the two countries stretch out their hands to each other over the frontiers as pioneers of true culture and morality. They are convinced that there is only one enemy which separates them, and that it is their common task to fight against and annihilate this one enemy—capitalism."
"Now as ever, we Social Democrats reply to the Government's military and economic policy this parole: Not a man and not a farthing will be voted for this system!"
[Footnote 69: Social Democrat members of the Reichstag in their report to the annual congress held in Cologne, 1893.]
These quotations have been intentionally taken from speeches, etc., published in the early nineties of the last century. If necessary, it would be an easy matter to fill several volumes of similar matter from the annual congress reports down to 1913; from the vast mass of German Social Democratic literature published between 1890 and 1914; and from the hundred party newspapers and reviews circulated in the Fatherland, Yet in the face of all these assurances it seemed to us that the German Socialists had shamefully betrayed their principles on August 4th, 1914, by giving their unreserved support to "Germany's Holy War."
[Footnote 70: In all Germany, and among all classes, this has become the popular designation of the European war: "Unser heiliger Krieg."]
Probably the betrayal was not so shameful as it seemed, because the fact was not made known in this country that the German Socialists had but imitated Bismarck's policy with Russia and Austria. (Bismarck concluded a treaty, with the one Power, then behind that Power's back he concluded a Rueckversicherungsvertrag with the other, i.e., a covering insurance policy intended to protect him against all risks.)
During a quarter of a century, German Social Democrats have been the most ardent and insistent pioneers of internationalism and anti-militarism. But it has not been so generally known that they too have protected their rear by a Rueckversicherung: (1.) They have consistently taught that every man must learn to bear arms, and that both man and woman must be prepared to make any sacrifice for their Fatherland. (2.) They have always held that national interests must be considered before international palaver.
In Chapter I. we have seen that up till July 28th, 1914, the German Social Democratic Party considered Austria and Germany to be entirely responsible for the European crisis. They had then no shadow of doubt, that Austria alone was guilty for bringing the danger of a European war to their very doors; from that point we again take up the story.
[Footnote 71: In all the mass of literature published by German Socialists during the war I have found only one mention of their first attitude to the war danger. On the first anniversary of the ultimatum to Serbia (July 23rd, 1915) the Leipziger Volkszeitung contains these lines in a leading article: "To-day we may not repeat that which we wrote about the ultimatum in our issue of July 24th, 1914. But there was no doubt in any section of the Press, that Europe stood on the brink of war from the moment that ultimatum was despatched."]
Three days later they tacitly agreed that Russia was the guilty party and acquiesced in the mobilization of the German army. On August 1st this proclamation occupied the front page of their seventy-seven daily papers:
"PARTEIGENOSSEN! Military law has been proclaimed. Any hour may bring with it the outbreak of the world war. Thereby the severest trials will be imposed upon, not only our nation, but upon the whole of our continent.
"Up till the last minute the internationalists have done their duty, and on the other side of our frontiers every nerve is being strained to preserve peace and to make war impossible.
"If our earnest protests, our repeated endeavours have been without success, it is because the conditions under which we live have once again proved stronger than our will, and the will of our workmen brothers. Hence, whatever comes, we must now face it with firmness.
"The horrible self-laceration of the European peoples, is the cruel confirmation of our warnings to the ruling classes for more than a generation; we have spoken admonishingly and in vain.
"Parteigenossen (comrades), we shall not live through coming events in fatalistic indifference; we shall remain true to our cause; we shall hold firmly together, permeated by the sublime greatness of our cultural mission.
"The women, on whom the burden of events presses two and threefold, have above all, in these serious times, the task of working in the spirit of Socialism for the high ideals of humanity, so that a repetition of this dreadful catastrophe may be averted, and this war may be the last.
"The stern regulations of martial law strike the workmen's movement with terrible force. Imprudent actions, useless and falsely-conceived sacrifices, damage in this moment not only the individual, but also our cause.
"Comrades, we appeal to you to persevere in the unshakable confidence that the future belongs, in spite of all, to nation-binding Socialism, to justice and humanity.
"DER PARTEIVORSTAND. (The leaders of the party.)
"Berlin, July 3ist, 1914."
With these words, millions of German Socialists, represented by four and a quarter million voters and a hundred and eleven members of the Reichstag, tacitly denied their previous protestations, that Austrian Imperialism was letting loose the war-fury on Europe. There are rumours of a secret consultation with the German Chancellor, but that is of little import in this place. The leaders of this huge party proclaimed on July 25th that Austria was the blood-guilty power and maintained this attitude in spite of bloodshed till 11 p.m. on July 28th. By what lightning-change Austria's original guilt was transferred to Russia by July 31st is not recorded.
With regard to the text of the above proclamation, there are variations to be noted. In the Vorwaerts it runs "within and without our frontiers" in the second paragraph; the text as I have given it is taken from the Leipziger Volkszeitung. In the fifth paragraph the Nuremberg Fraenkische Tagespost gives "capitalistic" for "fatalistic."
A few extracts from Socialist newspapers will suffice to illustrate the complete change of front which happened in three days:
"We Social Democrats in this solemn hour are at one with the whole German nation, without distinction of party or creed, in accepting the fight forced upon us by Russian barbarism, and we are ready to fight till the last drop of blood for Germany's national independence, fame and greatness." Der Folksfreund (Karlsruhe), August 1st.
"We desired peace and we have done everything humanly possible to secure that end. But when war is forced upon us by Russian Czarism, then, whatever the final decision may be, we must drop all class distinctions and differences of every kind, to form a single, determined people, prepared to defend Germany's independence and greatness against the enemy—even to the last drop of blood." Volksstimme (Mannheim), July 31st.
"A defeat would mean collapse, annihilation and horrors most dreadful for all of us. Our imaginations revolt at such a possibility. Our representatives in the Reichstag have unanimously declared on innumerable occasions that the Social Democrats could not leave their Fatherland in the lurch when the hour of destiny strikes; the workmen will now redeem the promise given by their representatives. The 'Fatherlandless fellows' will do their duty, and in doing it, will allow themselves to be surpassed in no wise by the patriots," Muenchener Post, August 1st.
[Footnote 72: These sentiments did not occur to this journalist when Germany began a ruthless war of invasion on Belgium.—Author.]
[Footnote 73: A phrase of contempt employed by the Kaiser when speaking of the Social Democrats in 1889, and which became proverbial.]
"Whatever our opponents have done to us, at this moment we all feel the duty to fight against Russian knout-rule. Our women and children shall not be sacrificed to Russian bestiality, nor the German people become a booty for the Cossacks." Die Volksstimme (Chemnitz), August 2nd.
It is possible that even at the end of the war no explanation will be forthcoming for this astounding change of attitude. Some have suggested that the Russian or Slavonic danger caused it. Yet just these journals, and this party, had maintained, so long as any degree of free speech was permitted, that Austria had provoked the danger, and they were fully aware that the German Government had from first to last approved of and openly assisted in provoking, nay challenging, Russia on a question which involved the latter's prestige and diplomatic existence.
Bethmann-Hollweg gave the alleged Russian mobilization as the immediate cause of the war, but doubtless the Social Democrats knew full well that for several days before Russia's mobilization was announced, Germany had been secretly mobilizing her army. From July 26th till July 30th German papers contained many reports that Russia was mobilizing; they may have been true or not, but the diplomatic correspondence published by Austria and discussed on page 63 shows conclusively that the Central Powers were baiting Russia into taking that step, and when the greatest Slavonic power had made the desired move, Germany replied with an ultimatum which brought about the war, so ardently desired by the great majority of Germany's warlike tribes.
Britishers who sympathize with German Social Democracy may advance the plea: If Germany's military preparations were secret, how could the Social Democrats know of these proceedings? The answer is direct and simple: Every individual Social Democrat—and men, women, and children, they number some twenty millions—has for years past been a spy and informer in the interests of the Umsturzpartei (overthrow-party). All the happenings of the workshop, barracks, farmyard, shop and office have been systematically reported to the local Press, and local committees of the Democratic Party; the ammunitions thus obtained have been just as systematically employed to fire insidious paragraphs and Press articles at governments, local authorities, employers, officers, and even the employers of servant-girls. Of late years it has been dangerous to have a difference even with a maid-servant; a few days later the inevitable insidious, anonymous attack would certainly appear in one or other of the S.D. journals.