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Frederick Lewis MoRHA 






From the painting by Ed'u,nn Hozdand Blashjield 









Published for 



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Copyright, IQIQ, by 


JU rights reserved, including that of translation 

into foreign languages, includinz 

the Scandinavian 










I. On the Military Side: Masterly German retreat of 1917 brings ill 
fortune to British and French armies — Russian army disappears — 
Italy meets with disaster at Caporetto. II. On the Political 
Side: The Bolshevist terror reigns in Russia — French poHtical 
morale crumbles — English realize seriousness of submarine menace — 
Calls for peace with Germany heard on all sides. III. Three 
Currents: Collapse of Allied mihtary hopes and degeneration of 
public opinion — Rousing of America and her entrance into the war — 
Rise of anarchy in Russia and its threatened dissemination through- 
out world 3 



I. The First Days: Masses in America understood very little about 
the war. II. The Spectacle: European conflict long only a spec- 
tacle to America — She came to realize the moral issues but slowly. 
III. The Clash of Opinion: America at first easily neutral — Her 
sympathy about equally divided between England and Germany 
till the incidents at Louvain and Rheims. IV. American Judg- 
ment: Brutality of Germans alienates many — Love and enthusiasm 
for France awaken. V. Propaganda: Organized German propa- 
gandists and outspoken sympathizers with Allies alike disapproved 
by most Americans. VI. The Will for Neutrality: While 
here and there currents of sympathy wax for Allies and wane for 
Germany, the will for neutrality remains strong and widespread. 
VII. Incidents: The United States, as champion of the neutrals, 
seems likely to defeat Allies by employing embargo against both 
sides. VIII. The "Lusitania" Massacre: Cause of Germany 
in United States goes down with Lusitania. IX. The First Re- 




sult: America becomes economic ally of the Entente. X. Theo- 
dore Roosevelt: He saw the war as it was and communicated his 
vision to milHons of Americans il 


The First Phase — " Incidents " : British interference with American 
trade leads to protests — Both sides infringe upon American rights, 
but German injuries are more galling than British — Lusitania sinking 
definitely alienates America from Germany. H. Second Phase — 
Notes: "Too-proud-to-fight" speech — Lusitania note — German re- 
ply — Bryan resigns — Fruitless note-exchanges — Mediterranean sink- 
ings provoke diplomatic exchanges with Austria — Sussex incident 
leads Germany to give way — President's no-embargo policy based 
on sound principles of international law, as was his refusal to protest 
against arming of British merchantmen. HI. Third Phase — 
Treason and Sedition: German agents in America attack Ad- 
ministration — Ambassador Bernstorff manipulates American press, 
engenders strikes, plots outrages on munitions plants — But stays on 
in Washington — President's peace gesture follows close on that of 
Germany — " Peace-without-victory " speech — League of Nations 
idea — Resumption of submarine warfare leads to severing of diplo- 
matic relations with Germany — Revelation of Germany's approaches 
to Mexico and Japan — President's war message and Declaration of 
War. IV. The Effect: Coming of America greatly encourages 
now desperate Allies 49 


The Two Strategic Conceptions: Allies plan coordinated at- 
tacks on all fronts at once — Germans plan to finish Russia while 
they hold fast in East, and starve out England and exhaust France 
by submarine campaign. II. The German Plan: In poor 
positions, with alternatives of retreating to better ones or of facing 
local reverses and heavy losses, Germans decide to retreat. III. 
The Great Retreat: An excellent strategic conception ruthlessly 
executed — Germans leave only a desert behind them. IV. How 
It Was Done: Slowly, methodically, Germans fell back — All things 



they could use they took with them — All else they destroyed. V. 
The Hindenburg Line: The two anchorages at Vimy Ridge and 
Craonne Plateau — System of "elastic defence" sometimes twelve 
miles deep — Canals and forests natural obstacles to Allies — Retreat 
gives Germans shorter front — Ominous devastation affects French 
morale — Allied plans are disarranged : ^4 


L Vimy Ridge: Its position and previous history in World War — Its 
strategic value — ^The German fortifications. II. The British 
Army: Its superb efficiency and morale at this time. III. Strate- 
gic AND Tactical Purpose: British are asked to divert German 
forces during attack by French. IV. The Attack: British ad- 
vance on Easter Monday and Tuesday — Monchey captured — 
Halted at "Oppy switch." V. The End of the Battle: A great 
but costly victory — A useless one because of Nivelle's failure. VI. 
Bagdad: The situation in the East — ^Need for restoring British pres- 
tige — General Maude, the new commander, moves forward slowly 
but surely — Fall of Bagdad and its far-reaching effect — Death of 
Maude 107 


I. NiVelle: Why he, and neither Retain nor Foch, was selected to 
succeed Joffre as Commander-in-Chief. II. The Great Plan: 
Two groups of armies to advance simultaneously on wide front — 
Breadth of Nivelle's conceptions and his assured bearing win support 
of politicians. III. The First Mistakes: Knowledge of plan 
becomes widespread — Retain is ignored — Russian Revolution, col- 
lapse of ItaUan Offensive, and German Retreat combine to dislocate 
Nivelle's plan — Germans' new position is much stronger than the 
old — Nivelle's officers lose faith in him — But his optimism is un- 
conquerable. IV. The Craonne Plateau: Its topography, and 
history in World War — Formidable German defenses. V. The 
Battle: Nivelle's preparations insufficient — Impossibly bad 
weather — Fifth Army's plan of operations is captured by enemy — 
Poor and weak artillery preparation — Armies of Mangin and Mazel 




attack, but are checked by thousands of German machine guns — 
Hopeless struggle continued for ten days. VI. The Consequences : 
A butcher's bill of 100,000 casualties — French demoralization — Ni- 
velle removed — Petain succeeds him 125 


The May Offensive: Russian defection dislocates Italian plans — 
Topography and military history of Isonzo front — Cadorna's May 
campaign — France and England do little to answer his call for muni- 
tions. II. Bainsizza: A splendid effort but, men and munitions 
failing, it ends in fearful disaster — Southern Slavs, under Boroevic, 
fight gallantly in Austrian army — Italian casualties of three quarters 
of million purchase but inconsiderable gains. III. Constantine: 
His belief in and admiration for Germany — England, Italy, and 
Russia for different reasons combine to keep him on throne — But 
France, through Jonnart, finally secures his abdication, with Eng- 
land's connivance 155 


Causes and Character: Long misinterpreted in West — Czar's 
government rotten when World War began — Influence of Rasputin. 
II. Western Misunderstandings: AlHes looked for Russia's re- 
generation through revolution — But there was no parallel here with 
French Revolution — Russia had no unity — Many considered capital- 
ism the real enemy, not Germany — But Allied democracies, ignorant 
of true state of affairs, gladly hailed Revolution — War had shown 
corruption and weakness of Czar's government, which finally ceased 
to function— No strong national spirit supported Russians— They 
wanted peace — ^Their leaders demanded overthrow of world's eco- 
nomic system — Moderates gave place to Kerensky, who was succeeded 
by Lenin who hoped that war-exhaustion would lead all belligerents 
to surrender to Bolshevism — Allies were slow to understand that 
Russia had become, not merely a harmless wreck, but an active 
menace to modern society. III. The Fall of the House of 
Romanoff: Rasputin assassinated in December — Duma assembles 
in January — Bread riots — Cossacks rise on March 8th — Old order 



falls on March 12th — Duma's provisional government and the Council 
of Soviets — Czar abdicates March 15th — Grand Duke Michael, 
March i6th. IV. The Duma: First, Duma vs. Soviets — ^Then 
Kerensky vs. Lenin. V. The Final Offensive. Launched by 
Kerensky who is for a time successful — Situation of Russian and 
Austrian armies in Galicia — Decided Russian successes surprise 
world, but suddenly give place to collapse of Russian army, weakened 
from within — Russian defection brings Allied prospects to low-water 
mark in July, 191 7 — New menace of Bolshevism destined to alarm 
world even after Germany's surrender 166 


I. The Graver Menace: England almost in despair over success 
of submarines — Germans did not foresee importance of submarine 
warfare — But soon learned the lesson and started building many 
submarines — England failed to prepare adequate means of defence. 
II. In April: A desperate situation, according to Admiral Sims — 
But convoy system finally enabled British navy, aided by American 
and Japanese ships, gradually to regain control of situation in 
October — Submarine campaign very nearly won the war — But in- 
stead brought America into the struggle. III. The Statistics: 
Total tonnage sunk by German submarines. IV. Sims and 
Ludendorff: Their narratives — Moral considerations ignored by 
Germans — Russian collapse unanticipated by them — They thought 
submarines would have to win the war — Sims's forceful cable des- 
patch reinforced by Ambassador Page 194 



I. Haig and Grant: British confidence before the campaign — 
Parallel with Grant's operations in summer of 1864 — Armies of 
Grant and Haig both suffered terrible slaughter — Bad weather aided 
Germans — Plumer's brilliant generalship could not make up for 
failure of Gough — British soldiers and British statesmen begin to 
doubt their generals' ability. II. The Strategic Purpose: Haig 
aimed to drive Germans from their submarine base and to turn their 
flank — This was impossible at that time because of inexhaustible 



number of fresh German divisions — Though it was accomphshed a 
year later — British objectives shrank through dire necessity — With 
heavy losses they won Passchendaele Ridge — But held it only a few 
months. III. Messines-"Whitesheet": Topography and mili- 
tary history of Ypres Salient — Ypres was costly to hold and of little 
practical value — But British clung to it — For an advance, conquest 
of Messines-"Whitesheet" Ridge was essential — Carefully prepared 
attack begins — Is completely successful. IV. The Attack of 
July 31ST: By First French, and Fifth and Second British Armies, 
under Haig — Topography of battlefield — Objectives for opening at- 
tack — Position of Allies at end of successful first day — Bad weather 
halts Allies — Local offensives by Germans and by Canadians. V. 
The Second Attack: Its objectives — Failure of Fifth Army under 
Gough. VI. The End of the Battle: Plumer's success — Cap- 
ture of Passchendaele and Goudberg Spur end battle — Costly and 
fruitless "victory" leaves Germans still with the upper hand . .217 


New Methods: Story of Cambrai repeated story of Shiloh — Sur- 
prises attempted — At Cambrai surprise succeeded, thanks to tanks — 
They take place of artillery preparation — Smaller tanks would have 
done better — German surprise tactics, as used at Riga, Caporetto, 
Cambrai, were always successful — Cambrai interesting because of the 
two new offensive methods there employed. II. Purpose and 
Topography: Cambrai necessary to divert Germans from Italy 
after Caporetto, and to prepare Allies to meet coming German offen- 
sive — British forces insufficient — As at Gallipoli, initial success raised 
hopes doomed to disappointment — ^Topography — Difficult task as- 
signed to Byng and Third British Army. III. The Battle : First, 
a brief "crash" bombardment, then came the tanks — Surprise was 
successful, but success was not complete enough — German reserves 
began to come up at end of first day, not the second — Haig decided 
to try to gain Bourlon Ridge — His reasons — Tactics of Marwitz, the 
German commander — His surprise, also, is successful — British right 
collapses, though left and centre manage to hold — Elation gives place 
to depression — British commanders failed to learn through this ex- 
perience. IV. Jerusalem: Allenby enters city December nth, 
after campaign briUiantly organized and executed — Waters of Nile 
arrive in Palestine 247 




I. The Disaster: Italian commission's explanation of Caporetto 
Revised by later experiences of Italy's allies— New system of Von 
Hutier explained by Gourand who devised means to meet it 
Positions of Italian Third Army and Second Army— Morale of latter 
badly shaken— Germans needed a brilliant success— Comparison with 
operations at the Dunajec— Left flank of Second Army disappears— 
Second Army ceases to exist. II. To the Piave: Third Army 
manages to escape— And stands upon the Piave— British and French 
despatch aid— Italy, for the time, is saved— But all Allies are dis- 
heartened—They take first step toward unification of command. 
III. Petain's Achievement: His task one of reorganization and 
restoration of morale— French manage to hold against repeated Ger- 
man attacks at Craonne— Petain ready to take initiative in August 
—His successful offensive at Verdun paved way for American success 
a year later— New French generals— Petain strikes, again success- 
fully, at Malmaison 271 



1. 1864 and 1917: Parallel of events— Courage of weaker spirits fails- 
Intrigue and paltering with evil in Britain, in France, and in Italy— 
But Germany would yield nothing— So war continued. II. In Ger- 
many: Internal political troubles— Fall of Bethmann-Hollweg— 
The Cry for "No annexation and no indemnity"— Silenced by im- 
proved military situation— Junkers pretend liberalism, while pre- 
paring great offensive— But throw off mask and refuse to restore 
Belgium, when encouraged by Russian anarchy. III. Austria: 
Her peace manoeuvres-The "letter to Sixtus "-Austria, desperate 
is saved by Caporetto— An unwilling partner of Germany. IV. 
The Pope's Appeal: Denied by President V^ilson, for the Allies. 
V Stockholm: The Sociahst Conference— Tends to reunite 
Socialists among all belligerents— They demand "a white peace" of 
the Allies— And approve events in Russia— But are silenced by Ger- 
many's cynical measures at Brest-Litovsk. VI. In France: 
Briand-His support of Joffre— He resigns-Ribot's short reign— 
And Painleve's— Clemenceau is called to power— A fearless truth- 



teller — His no-surrender policy transforms situation — Political heads 
fall to right and left: Caillaux, Malvy, Bolo Pasha, Sarrail — A year 
in power, and he wins title "Father of Victory" — A man with one 
passion, France. VII. In the United States: Perfect unity of 
thought and purpose after war was declared — Mission to Russia a 
failure — The spurlos versenkt despatch — ^Wilson's Fourteen Points — 
And his conviction as to League of Nations 290 


I. The Russian Surrender: Russian Revolution brought disaster to 
AlUes on many fronts — Russia now sought only peace — ^while Allies 
still sought victory — Riga falls before new German offensive — Korni- 
loff's unsuccessful attempt at dictatorship — Kerensky arrests Korni- 
loff and proclaims republic — Lenin and Trotsky come to power and 
Kerensky is eliminated — Lenin a visionary, but a great man because 
of his consistency and fixity of purpose — ^Trotsky a mere politician — 
Their policy to destroy army and make peace with Germany. 11. 
Armistice and Peace Negotiations: Allies protest in vain — 
Russia's peace terms — Germany offers to accept them if Allies will do 
so — ^They refuse — Germany's hard terms to helpless Russia — Seces- 
sions of the Ukraine and other Russian regions aided by Germany — 
Russia, protesting, compelled by force of arms to sign Brest-Litovsk 
Treaty — Rumania makes peace with Russia — Germany's hands now 
free for Ludendorff's great offensive. III. The Treaties of Brest- 
Litovsk: Their purposes — Their terms — What they involved — 
Germany, triumphant in Eastern theatre, watches progress of her 
armies in West — Unrepentant, arrogant, ruthless as ever, she is 
ready for last act in drama , -336 



By Frank H. Simonds 


A member of the French Senate in 1916 — A call at No. 8, Rue Franklin 
— The famous desk and the young old man behind it — *'We need a 
man" — "Kitchener is a symbol" — "I am the opposition" — "Bul- 
garia was a case of money" — "You must see our soldiers" — A man of 
energy, impatient with blunderers, and very frank — Comparison 
with Roosevelt — "Clemenceau is finished" — Yet he came back — 
For he was the final hope of France — Without Clemenceau Foch 
could not have triumphed — His personality became the expression of 
a nation 353 


By Isaac F. Marcosson 

A call at "G. H. Q." — Haig's appearance and personality — "One can- 
not afford to have friends" — Days at Oxford — The visit to Germany 
and the warning to England — Service in India and at Aldershot — 
Commanding the First Division in France — The effect of his appear- 
ance at Ypres — A patient worker — A good organizer — Modern war 
like Big Business — The day's routine at "G. H. Q." — The only 
Commander-in-Chief who lasted till the Armistice — Modest even 
while triumphant 360 


By Dr. Felice Ferrero 

The aggressive beginning — First great Austrian attack — Italian counter 
offensive and capture of Gorizia — Renewed Italian offensive: Bain- 



sizza Plateau and Hermada — Second great Austrian attack: Ca- 
poretto — Third great Austrian attack: Astico-Piave — The final 
struggle: Vittorio Veneto 377 


By Dr. £mile Joseph Dillon 

Russian origins — Christianity from a tainted source — Tartar influence 
— The Orthodox Church — Ivan the Terrible establishes Czarism — 
Measures of Peter the Great — Great influence of foreigners in Russia 
— ^The bureaucracy — ^The peasant — A conglomerate of peoples — 
Revolutionary movement inevitable — Weakness and folly of the 
Government 388 


By the Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Laird Borden 

Canada without military obligations, so unprepared — But when call 
came she answered — Canadians at Ypres, Festubert, Givenchy, St. 
Eloi, Sanctuary Wood, Hooge, Vimy Ridge — Rehef of Amiens — Last, 
glorious hundred days — Cavalry's achievements — Medical Corps 
and Railway troops — Canadians on other fronts — Casualties sufi^ered 
and honours won by Canadians — Their help on the sea — Canada aids 
her soldiers after war — Her output of munitions and of food — Con- 
tribution of Canadian women — Success of war loans — Canada's 
welfare work — Awakening of national self-consciousness .... 396 


By the Rt. Hon. William Morris Hughes 

Characteristics of the Australians — Their numbers and their losses — 
A high standard in officers — Exploits in the South Pacific — Anzacs 
at Gallipoli — Australians capture Pozieres — First to pierce Hinden- 
burg Line — From Ypres, toward Passchendaele — To the rescue of the 
Fifth British Army before Amiens — Villars Bretonneaux — Mont St. 
Quentin and Peronne — Capture of Montbrehain — Australians all 
volunteers — ^The Light Horse in the campaigns in the East — "The 
Fighting Camels" 402 



By Frank H. Simonds 


Dead battlefields — ^The Frenchwoman returns to her home at the 
Hindenburg Line — "Of course we are coming back" — "We must do 
it for the young" — Problem for the Paris Conference — The situation 
about Lens — Ypres salient, where half a million died — Utter devas- 
tation — Some one must pay — America must understand — And not 
forget — Who is to pay, German or Frenchman? 409 


'"CARRY ON" Coloured Frontispiece 



The Declaration of War — The President Addresses Congress — A 
Preparedness Parade — Turning Citizens into Soldiers — Off for the 
Mobilization Camp — Provisioning the Fleet — ^The Campaign for 
Naval Recruits — Calling Landsmen to the Sea — "The Avenue of the 

''LAFAYETTE NOUS FOICl/" (In colour) ........ 29 

THE AMERICAN DRAFT 39-46, 63-70 

The Raw Material — Fifty-Two Tongues Registered — Drawing the 
First Number — Draft Registration at Honolulu — Draft Registration 
in Chinatown, New York City — Even the Tenderloin Furnished Its 
Quota — It Was a Selective Draft — Only the Physically Fit Were 
Wanted — Philadelphia Draft Army Parade — The "Fighting Sixty- 
Ninth" off to Camp — Those Were Stirring Days — "Goodbye, Dear 
Old Manhattan Isle"— "Are We Downhearted? No!"— Philadel- 
phia "Draftees" Arriving at Camp Meade — ^The Rookie Is a Bit Be- 
wildered When Reveille Sounds — But He Attacks His "Chow" with 
a Good Appetite — First Steps in Military Training — ^There Was 
Training for Both Muscle and Mind at the Cantonments — Writing 
Letters — The New Uniforms. 

The Cathedral of Arras as the Germans Left It — On the British 
Front — Airplane Photographs of Road and Trench Systems on the 
Western Front — ^The First British Soldier Warily Enters Peronne — 
A Disabled German Gun Near Buissy — A British Wiring Party — 
Shell-Holes as Gun Emplacements — General Madolon Inspects Some 
New Dugouts with General Wood. 

ON THE WESTERN FRONT 127-134, 299-306, 323-330 

Belgian Infantry Breaking Through German Wire Entanglements — 
The Road from Arras to Bapaume — The Thinker on the Butte of 


Warlencourt — ^The Girls' College, Peronne — Adam and Eve at 
Peronne— ''That Cursed Wood"— "Shell Holes"— French Artillery- 
men Grouped About a Favourite Gun — "A Nasty Bit of Ground" — 
Bursting Shell — "Tanks" — French Infantry Creeping Forward to 
Make a Surprise Attack — Serbian Bombs — One of the Most Remark- 
able Photographs of the War — On the British Front — British Field 
Dressing Station Near Monchy — Right Through the Roof of the 
Bakery — Machine Gunners Advancing — In the Wake of the Huns — 
A Bad Corner on a Mountain Road — On the Marne Front — Ex- 
ploding Ammunition — ^The Battle of Menin Road — Cycle Orderlies 
Under Fire — Large Shell Bursting Among the Sand Dunes — A 
Liquid Fire Barrage — A Little Bit of a Modern Battle — Artillery 
in Action on a Woodland Road. 


Russian Shock Troops Charging the Germans — When Hope Was the 
Order of the Day — ^The Redoubtable Cossacks — ^The Battalions of 
Death — Revolution's Harvest of Death Begins — Figures of the 
Russian Revolution: (I) Kerensky, (II) Catherine Breshkovskaya, 
(III) Rasputin — Americans in Russia — The End of It All. 

"SPURLOS FERSENKT" {in colour) .211 


207-216, 233-240 
The Letter "Z"— The Warning— One of the British Navy's Lairs— 
The Lusitania Sails from New York Harbour — ^The Survivors — 
The Lusitania Medal — The German Submarine C/C-5 in Drydock 
after Capture — A Convoy in the Danger Zone — ^The "Rats" in 
Their Hole — One More Enemy Accounted for — Heavy Weather in 
the North Sea — Piracy Photographed from the Air — No Respect 
for Age or Sex — This Was Four Hundred Pounds of TNT — A 
Cold Vigil in the North Sea — After Twisting the Dragon's Tail — 
Making Assurance Doubly Sure — Manning the Rail. 


In Mesopotamia — The British in the Holy Land: (I) Camel Corps 
Near Beersheba: (II) Troops Resting Before Attacking Gaza; (III) 
General AUenby's Entry into Jerusalem — A Talkative Prisoner — 
Arrival of Rations at a British Outpost — ^The War in West Africa — 
The War in East Africa. 

THE MARSHAL'S BATON {in colour) 281 


CAMOUFLAGE 3^>3-37o 

Trench Shrouded in Pine Branches — Dummy Dreadnought Built by- 
British Carpenters — An Open Air Camouflage Factory — Path to the 
Front Line Trenches — A Decoy Gun — A Trench Cover of Grass — 
German Observation Post — A Curtained Road— A Study in Black 
and White — Camouflaged Field Gun at the Edge of Belleau Wood — 
Observer at a Post of Great Danger. 



The Devastated Area 98 

The Three Fronts in France 100 

The Anglo-French Offensives of April and May, 1917 109 

The German Defence Systems Attacked by the British on April 9th . 115 

The First Blow 117 

How the Line Was Straightened Out 117 

The Battle of Craonne 147 

Italy's Battlefield 156 

The Bainsizza Plateau 160 

The Ypres Front 225 

British Battlefields in May, June, August, and September, 1917. . . 242 

The Battle of Cambrai 253 

The Italian Disaster 273 

Italy's Stand at the Piave 279 

The Verdun Sector 285 

The Campaign on the Western Front in 1917 288 

Mittel-Europa in 1917 -343 


The Official Chart of the United States Government Showing the Course 

of Submarine Losses During the War 198-199 





Between January, 1917, and March, 1918, that is, between the failure 
of the first German peace offensive in the west and the promulgation of 
the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Bukharest in the east, the old Triple 
Entente of France, Great Britain, and Russia — ^which had in 191 5 been 
reinforced by Italy — suffered disastrous defeat. While British, French, 
and Italian armies were checked or routed in the field, Russia collapsed 
and quit the war and her allies, and, but for the entrance of the United 
States into the struggle in April, 1917, before Russia had yet vanished, 
Germany would have won a measurable if not a decisive victory. She 
would at the very least have been able to preserve Mittel-Europa and 
the mastery of the East. 

The period of fourteen months which we are now to examine began on 
the military side with that stupendous and terrible German retreat from 
the Somme to the Scheldt — from the battlefields of 1916 to the Hinden- 
burg Line — which not alone defeated Allied strategy but transformed 
a thousand square miles of fertile fields and scores of busy industrial 
towns into the saddest and most terrible desert in all the world. This 
retreat, on the human side, was one of the most gigantic crimes in all 
the long list of German offences against civilization and humanity, but 
on the military side it was a success which postponed Allied victory in 
the west and allowed Germany time to transfer from the Dwina and the 
Vistula the divisions which in 191 8 were to win the memorable battle 
of March 21st. 

The German retreat began in February. When it was over in April 
the British army flung itself upon the new and the old German positions 
from Vimy Ridge to the Somme and Sensee, won a brief and brilliant 



victory and then, in the swamps and mud of Passchendaele, submitted 
to a grinding, gruelhng struggle which broke the spirit and the heart of 
the finest and mightiest force that had ever assembled under the flag of 
Britain. Day by day in the storm and carnage of the campaign, hope- 
less at the outset, a monument alike to stupidity and folly, in the mud 
and mire of the swamps — the man-made swamps that lie between Ypres 
and Passchendaele — British regiments and British divisions were flung 
ruthlessly and obstinately against German artillery and German entrench- 
ments under conditions of weather which made movement almost 
impossible, until the British army lost confidence in its commanders, 
faith in victory, and declined in morale to that danger point which made 
the German triumph of the following spring not only possible, but 

Even more disastrous was the history of the French army. Under 
its new commander, leaving its entrenchments at the Alsne in the third 
week of April, that army which had won the Marne and Verdun, which 
had demonstrated alike the qualities of brilliant offensive and tenacious 
defence unsurpassed in all its splendid history, went to heart-breaking 
defeat between the Aisne and the Vesle. For the first time the morale 
of the poilu began to crumble. Some of the best divisions in the French 
army refused to attack, and at the close of a few brief days of brilliant 
fighting on the Craonne Plateau, the offensive value of that army 
had temporarily disappeared. Thenceforth for more than a year there 
was no hope of another Allied offensive which should include the French. 
Succeeding Nivelle, who had failed and disappeared, the single and 
gigantic task of Retain was to restore the confidence of the soldiers, 
at first, in their officers, and, then, in themselves. For all practical 
purposes the French army disappeared from the calculations of offen- 
sive warfare from May to the following March. 

While the British and the French armies thus endured defeats 
which, on the moral if not on the military side, were disasters, the 
Russian army, after a final despairing offensive, melted into flight on 
the field of victory and Russia as a military force disappeared; and to 
Russian desertion in June there was added Italian disaster in October. 


At Caporetto an Austro-German offensive in one brief day swept 
away all the gains of the Italian armies in two years of desperate and 
sustained fighting, transferred the conflict from the banks of the Isonzo 
to the Piave, removed Trieste from Italian menace, and brought the 
Hapsburg shadow back over Venice. Almost half Venetia, after fifty 
years of deliverance, was once more in Austrian hands when this brief 
campaign ended. Under the threat of an impending ruin as great as 
that which had overtaken the Russian armies, the Italian forces rallied 
at the Piave, but escaped only with the aid of French and British 
divisions drawn from the western front where already Ludendorff was 
preparing the most gigantic assault in all human history. 

Thus on the military side the French offensive was broken in Cham- 
pagne, the British attack foundered in Flanders, the Russian army 
ceased to exist after a brief Galician operation, and the Italian army 
suffered the greatest disaster on the Allied side in four years of war. 
And with these defeats and disasters the hope of success practically 
disappeared from the minds of the soldiers, and of three nations, each 
of whose armies had won victories, earned glory and honour, and each of 
which now, at last, was convinced that all possibility of victory by offen- 
sives, directed at an enemy entrenched and provided with all the instru- 
ments of modern warfare and all the advantages of well-selected positions, 
had vanished. And while the Russian army disappeared in the east, 
the western Allies began dimly to perceive that with their own armies 
sadly lessened by the butcheries of Champagne and Passchendaele they 
had to expect a new attack made by opposing armies now reinforced by 
a full hundred divisions brought from the east. 

Thus on the military side the period that we are to examine is the 
gloomiest and the most terrible of the whole war. While the armies 
of the nations allied against Germany, in Europe, were thus crumbling, 
America, the new ally, was incapable of sending men or armies to 
fill the gap. A few battalions marching through Paris, to rouse the 
enthusiasm of the people who were beginning to know the truth, was 
the sole military contribution of which the United States was capable 
in the campaign of 1917. Russia disappeared; Italy fell; the spirit of 


the French army was impaired, the confidence of the British army 
shaken; and, to balance this, there was on the military side only that 
hope for the future, still distant, supplied by the presence of a handful of 
American troops in Europe. 


In this same time, while the military fortunes of the Allies declined, 
what of the political circumstances ? 

In Russia, revolution marched in a few short months from the 
deliverance of the great Slav people from Romanoff tyranny to the 
complete destruction of national life and order in the Bolshevist terror 
of Lenin and Trotsky. In less than a year Russia disappeared from 
the number of nations in Europe and became a vast assemblage of 
chaotic fragments, as one after another the peoples of the western fringes 
who had been annexed as the Russian wave of expansion had swept 
westward, passed from the Russian to the German orbit or sank into a 
state of parochial anarchy which has no parallel in modern history. 

In France, defeat at the front, the deflection of the morale of the 
army, coincided with an enormous expansion of treason and "defeatism" 
behind the line. While the soldiers flatly declined to advance against 
the impregnable positions of the enemy, politicians even more frankly 
demanded peace — negotiated, surrender-peace — ^with the Germans. 
Before this double menace became too great to check, Clemenceau came 
and Caillaux exchanged the role of traitor for the condition of prisoner. 
But neither Retain in the army nor Clemenceau in the Cabinet could 
promptly or utterly redeem France before the supreme test of 1918 
came. France, tried beyond her resources of endurance, having made 
greater sacrifices than any other nation in all history, at last began 
visibly to crumble. She would be capable of one more renaissance 
which would save the war, but this last miracle was hidden from all 
eyes before the March offensive of Ludendorff . 

As for England, her condition also had undergone a dangerous 
change. At the Somme and at Passchendaele a million casualties had 
failed to win a single substantial reward. The horror of the Somme 


and the butchery of Passchendaele had already begun to effect a lodg- 
ment in the minds of the people of the British Isles who were no longer 
to be deluded by promises of victory just beyond the horizon. And for 
the British there was one more circumstance more terrible than all 
others. When the Germans in February, 1917, opened their gigantic 
submarine campaign, all the illusions of sea power and impregnability, 
which had filled the English brain for five hundred years, fell away. 
Week by week the British saw their merchant marine decline and knew 
the approach, the actual approach, of famine. England was at last 
becoming beleaguered in her narrow islands, and it required but a simple 
calculation — the division of the tonnage of the world by the monthly 
harvest of the submarines — to indicate at what point she would be 
forced to surrender if the undersea warfare continued unchecked. 

And from London, as from Paris, there was heard the voice of those 
who advised negotiations to close the horrors and the agonies of a war 
which no longer could be won; and these views gained new authority 
and new weight as the additional terror of Bolshevism burst forth in 
Russia and gave fresh apprehension to the conservatives of the world, 
who read in the excesses of Petrograd and the crimes of Moscow the 
lesson of what defeat following too-great national strain might bring 
even to western nations. The counsels of cowardice and weakness, 
disguising themselves as the voice of reason, called from London for 
that peace which the whispers of treason urged in Paris, while in Italy 
half a dozen influences, mysterious and strengthened by a supreme 
national disaster — itself procured by their intervention — demanded 

In sum, while the armies of the Allies for the first time faltered in 
the presence of the enemy, the politicians behind the lines lost heart. 

In midsummer, 1917, Germany had already effected a moral con- 
quest of Europe. Could she have followed that moral achievement by 
a military triumph, swift and sure; could Ludendorff have struck in 
August, 1917, Instead of March, 1918, the war would infallibly have 
been lost. From this terrible catastrophe the world was saved — not by 
the skill, the courage, the foresight of the politicians or the generals of 


the Allied armies; not even by the entrance of the United States into 
the war; but by the unutterable folly of the Germans, who, intoxicated 
by the extent of the actual and the prospective gains of the war, wrote 
— at Brest-Litovsk and at Bukharest — treaties of peace which served 
notice upon all mankind that no tolerable arrangement would be made 
with the enemy, that nothing but death or national dismemberment 
awaited western Europe after German victory. And out of this real- 
ization was born a final resolution, a new and ultimate courage of des- 
peration, which just availed to man the lines and delay, if not halt, 
the enemy until millions of American troops became available in Europe 
and the tide of hope, as of numbers, turned. 


In the sombre period which we are now to examine we have, then, 
several clearly separate currents of events to analyze. We have 
to note the collapse of Allied hopes on the military side with the con- 
comitant degeneration of public opinion and political courage behind 
the line. We have to study the entrance of America, reviewing 
not merely the history of American effort from the moment of her 
declaration of war, but also that long, slow process by which America 
was transformed from a neutral into a belligerent, and from a belligerent 
unarmed and untrained into the greatest single potential force in the 
alliance against Germany. Finally we have to examine, at least in 
passing, the rise and progress of revolution in Russia, the transition 
from an autocracy of tradition to the most stupendous and destructive 
anarchy of which there is any record. And we shall perceive that as 
Germanism — the German idea of conquest by force alone, directed by 
military dynasty — reaches its apex and takes decisions which fore- 
shadow its ultimate collapse, there arises a new menace and a new 
enemy to Western civilization and democracy, a force which will 
challenge the conquerors of Germany in a future not distant, and before 
they have completed the formulation of their terms of peace to be 
served upon their fallen enemies. 

For the period covered by the present volume, anarchy in Russia 


remains hidden behind the fogs of censorship, lost in the distance which 
separates Petrograd and Moscow from London, Paris, and Washington, 
and disguised by the natural but mistaken illusions of Western liberalism 
awake to the iniquity of the ancient Russian regime but blind to the 
fury of the new. In this period the Western world is conscious only 
of the desertion of a great ally, which has imperilled the whole future of 
the war. It is conscious of strange, incomprehensible words uttered 
by new and unknown Russian leaders — words seized upon by the 
radicals of the West as the first authentic sign of a new democratic 
gospel, seized upon by the leaders of Germany as the basis for propa- 
ganda and disintegrating manoeuvres amidst the enemy publics. 

Not even the immediate significance of the Russian Revolution 
was clear to mankind fighting above the Aisne and about Ypres, con- 
templating with horror German strategy which created a desert in 
Artois and Picardy, and beholding, with acute anxiety, that disaster 
which brought Italy almost to the edge of surrender. In 191 7 military 
disasters and submarine terrors filled the minds of statesmen and 
soldiers of the west. The great new social and political problems 
presented by the Russian Revolution were seen only in terms of the loss 
to the Entente of their strongest ally. The alliance between German- 
ism and Bolshevism was recognized; the possibility of the victory of 
these combined forces was at least dimly perceived; but the chance that, 
after Germanism had fallen, Bolshevism might erect itself as a new and 
greater peril was undreamed of. 

Between the rejection by the Allies of the German peace proposal 
of January, 1917, and the promulgation of the peace of Brest-Litovsk 
and that of Bukharest in 191 8, the cause of that Western civilization 
which we call representative democracy marched from disaster to dis- 
aster until, with the coming of the spring of 191 8, it stood on the brink 
of complete ruin, its one real chance of salvation depending upon 
effective American intervention. By the latter date Germany had 
destroyed the balance of power in Europe, eliminated Russia from the 
war, broken Italian military strength almost fatally, put England and 
France upon a defensive which was in itself doomed to failure and 


collapse unless American reinforcements could arrive in time. The 
European contestants had fought their war out, and Germany would 
have won it had she not, in the hour of victory, been guilty of two 
blunders, each of which in future history will rank with Napoleon's 
adventure to Moscow: the one, the submarine campaign, brought America 
to Europe with all the untouched resources of one hundred millions of 
people at last roused to the truth; the other, at Brest-Litovsk, gave to 
the people of France and England and Italy that courage of despair 
which only comes to those threatened with defeat who perceive 
that their enemy seeks to annihilate them, and that surrender will 
compel them to accept a condition so unbearable that death seems the 
more tolerable. 




On January 31, 1917, the German Ambassador at Washington 
presented to the United States Government formal notification that 
the Imperial German Government purposed on the following day to 
begin a ruthless submarine warfare directed against all ships — neutral 
and belligerent alike — found in European waters. On February 3rd, 
the United States severed diplomatic relations with Germany, recalling 
its own ambassador from Berlin and presenting the German Ambassador 
in Washington with his passports. A little more than two months 
later, on April 6th, Congress declared that a state of war existed between 
the United States and the Imperial German Government. 

We have now briefly to review the steps by which the United States, 
remote from the scene of the European struggle, its neutrality fortified 
alike by its oldest tradition and by the most earnest desire of the 
majority of its people, was dragged into a world war by a series of 
aggressions and injuries unparalleled in history. Such an examination 
necessarily divides itself into three distinct phases. It is essential to 
review the state of American feeling with respect to the European con- 
flict from the outset to the moment when we entered the war; the 
progress of events themselves; and the meaning of American entrance 
immediate and eventual in view of the situation that then existed in 

Even after the passage of so brief a time it is almost impossible to 
re-constitute the real emotion of America at the moment when the 
World War broke. For the millions there was almost literally no warn- 
ing. The assassination of the Archduke in June claimed only a passing 
notice in the press. The suppressed tension and the surcharged atmos- 


phere of European chancelleries revealed themselves only in curious 
stock-exchange variations, unnoted save in financial quarters and even 
there misunderstood. 

When the Austro-Hungarian Goverrmient served its ultimatum upon 
the Serbian Government in the closing days of June, American public 
opinion became vaguely aware that Europe was entering into another 
one of those crises which had become familiar in the previous ten years, 
but neither then nor in the next few days was there any real belief in 
the United States that the events in Europe indicated anything more 
dangerous than another such crisis as that of Tangier or Agadir. 
While Europe marched inescapably to the catastrophe, America con- 
tinued on its daily routine; in the press the events of the baseball field 
claimed equal attention with those of the European crisis, and more 
Americans were interested in the Caillaux murder trial than in the 
Austrian aggression against Serbia. To the very end the American 
public remained good-naturedly sceptical, unconquerably incredulous. 
For them the very idea of war seemed preposterous, and on the day 
before the first declaration of war — that of Germany against Russia 
which precipitated the deluge — the conviction that the storm would pass 
remained unshaken from New York to San Francisco. 

When the war did break, the initial American emotion was one of 
mingled consternation and indignation. For the mass of the American 
people it seemed as if Europe had suddenly gone mad. No single one 
of the real causes of the war was in the slightest degree understood or 
appreciated. The very idea of war between civilized countries seemed 
to the Americans to convict those nations of essential barbarism. In 
the first hours, in the first weeks, the American people as a whole inter- 
preted the war as a struggle for power and for plunder between nations 
equally guilty of sacrificing right and justice to ambition and selfish- 
ness. America as a whole, in the first phase, in the opening hours of 
the struggle, was not merely neutral. It felt a sense of moral superiority 
combined with a deep-seated satisfaction that not only the Atlantic 
but also Amejican tradition separated the United States from Europe. 
Between the two forces arrayed against each other American public 


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Signed by Champ Clark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, 
and by Thos. R. Marshall, President of the Senate; and approved 6th 
of April, 1917, by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States. 



Copyright by Underwood y Underjiood 

New York business men, one hundred and fifty thousand strong, march up Fifth Avenue, demonstrating for prepared- 

Copyright by U nderwood <J Undenvood 


Above — The students of Princeton University, already in khaki, prepare for the call to the colors by vigorous 
calisthenics on the university campus. 

Below — Candidates for commissions at Plattsburg, N. Y., take their first lesson in the "I.D.R." (Infantry Drill 

Wisconsin infantry marching through Milwaukee on their way to the railroad station 

Copyright bv V nder.ioo'i t;' Underwork 


Copyright bv Internaticnal Film Service 


A dummy fleet consisting of battleship, submarine chaser, etc., was manceuvred over the tracks of Chicago's elevated 


Copyright by Underwood y Underwood 


Looking north from Forty-Second Street, along Fifth Avenue, New York City, during the campaign 
for the Fourth Liberty Loan. The "Haiti block" is in the foreground 


opinion in the first hours neither could nor did discriminate. For the 
American the spectacle of Europe rushing to arms and to battle was a 
revelation of collective madness still incomprehensible, still inexplic- 
able, and no single thought of American participation was roused any- 
where. It would be difficult to describe for the future the paralysis 
alike of thought and of conscience which was the first resulting circum- 
stance, in the United States, of the outbreak of the world explosion. 


Thereafter, in the days while Europe was proceeding through 
mobilization to action, American attention was concentrated on two 
relatively trivial details: on the Atlantic seaboard, German ships — 
fleeing westward — arrived, landing their passengers at Bar Harbor and 
at Boston; excited ocean travellers related tales of imaginary adventures 
with phantom fleets, while from Europe came the ridiculous but absorb- 
ing reports of thousands of American tourists surprised at every watering 
place and at every tourist centre by the sudden outbreak of the conflict. 
The adventures and agonies of the rich and the locally famous, the 
tales of besieged embassies and stranded fellow-countrymen divided 
interest for the American public with the stupendous events which the 
censorship hid and American unfamiliarity with Europe made unfathom- 
able. Even when there was a consciousness that millions of men were 
on the march the whole drama remained unreal, unbelievable, for the 
United States. It was like a gigantic nightmare, a nightmare in which 
all the inevitable horror was scarcely realized, a dream in which the 
sleeper, while perceiving a mirage of fantastic outlines, preserves a sub- 
conscious sense that it is a dream and not a reality. 

Then suddenly the opening engagement of the war aroused a new 
emotion. While the newspapers day by day announced in enormous 
headlines incredible millions of men advancing to conflict, the people 
of the United States settled back to observe what was still for them 
little more than a spectacle. When Belgian neutrality was violated, 
when the French armies were broken in the first offensive, when the 
German hordes rushed downward on Paris, the press spoke little of 


moral issues but continued day by day to forecast a Trafalgar at sea 
and to expect a Waterloo on land not far indeed from the field where 
Napoleon had fought his last battle. The defence of Liege, the fall of 
Brussels, the invasion of France; these were events which more and 
more concentrated and absorbed the attention of the American people, 
who awaited with an excitement hardly to be described the onrush of 
the German wave as it engulfed northern France and approached Paris. 

It was not until the Marne had been fought and won, it was not 
until the German invasion had been turned back and the line began to 
stabilize itself along the Aisne, that there crept into American comment 
and arrived in the American mind and conscience a new sense of appre- 
ciation, vague but beginning, that moral issues were involved in what 
had been hitherto, from the day of the declaration of war to that hour, 
a wonderful, terrible, ineffaceable spectacle. It was not until France 
had saved herself and the world and it became clear that the decision 
had been adjourned and the first German bid for victory had failed, 
that the American people, getting their perspective, began slowly to 
estimate, to consider, to appraise the meaning of the struggle — not in 
terms of American self-interest, for not even then was American respon- 
sibility touched — but the meaning for the world of victory or defeat 
for either group of nations involved. 

Long after the event many public men protested that they had 
favoured intervention in the war on the day that Belgium was in- 
vaded. The truth is otherwise. Long after the event men criticized the 
President of the United States because he proclaimed American neu- 
trality rather than announced American championship of Belgium. 
But the fact is that neither the President of the United States, nor any 
public men of prominence, nor any newspaper of influence, conceived 
of American intervention then or for long months thereafter. America 
at the outbreak of the World War was neutral. America as a nation 
remained neutral — not alone in word, but in thought, for many, many 
months. President Wilson in the opening phase merely spoke the will 
of his country. It was not that Americans were essentially blind to 
moral appeal, to justice or to right; it was that there existed in the 


United States not the smallest conception of the truth of the European 
conflict. Por the mass of the people it was as if two groups of men in 
the public street had suddenly fallen into a terrific quarrel and begun to 
beat each other with fists and sticks. What the origin of the quarrel 
was, the observers could not see. If one is to understand American 
emotion between the Austrian ultimatum and the Battle of the Marne, 
it is essential to recognize that there was no comprehension of issues, 
no understanding of moral considerations involved — nothing but amaze- 
ment, horror, and indignation, all of which were subordinated in a brief 
time to the realization that, from her remote point of observation, 
America was perceiving a conflict greater than the wars of Napoleon, 
more absorbing in its dramatic intensity than anything known in 
human experience. Such was the first reaction of America in the 
World War. 


With the arrival of that military deadlock which followed the 
Marne, the Aisne, and the Yser, Americans suddenly found themselves 
plunged into a battle of words, rival sympathies, and propaganda, 
unparalleled in all their history. The mass of the American nation 
remained steadily neutral, obeying easily and loyally the advice of the 
President, but throughout the country three currents of opinion were 
nevertheless strongly developing. The first was a thoroughly spon- 
taneous national American view. It was an opinion which interpreted 
events in Europe in the terms of American ideals. It saw in the German 
invasion of Belgium, it saw in each German act which had been dis- 
closed since the very opening of the struggle, the revelation of a spirit 
totally contrary to American conceptions. The invasion of Belgium 
became, as week followed week, more and more a fatal comment on 
German purpose and German ambitions. 

As between England and Germany in August, 1914, the sympathy of 
America was at least equally divided. In point of fact, there was no- 
where in America the same long-standing if ill-founded suspicion and dis- 
like for the Germans which from the very time of the Revolution had 


survived in Eastern America with respect of the EngHsh. At the 
outset of the struggle not a few Americans were prepared to sympathize 
with Germany, recognizing, whatever else might be in the case, that 
Germany had become a great commercial rival of the English and that 
in past centuries a similar rise of any Continental State had been 
inevitably followed by the appearance of the~English on the Continent 
as an ally of the enemies of the more prosperous State. Americans 
did not accept, and Americans were not as a mass profoundly impressed 
by the British assertions that their entrance into the war was an act of 
unparalleled devotion to the cause of justice and in defence of the 
sacred obligations of a treaty and the inalienable rights of a small 

As between England and Germany the mass of the American people 
were prepared to be neutral, and had Germany neither attacked France 
nor invaded Belgium, American sympathy would never have been 
enlisted in any phase of the war. Even the invasion of Belgium 
was an act which only slowly appealed to the American conscience. 
Germany's explanation — that she was threatened, encircled, compelled 
to strike first to save herself, menaced primarily by the Russian peril — 
found sympathetic hearing in a country where Russia was the symbol of 
tyranny and the Jewish faction of the population influential and neces- 
sarily anti-Slav. 

It was not until the first whispers of Louvain were heard in the world ; 
it was not until men and women began dimly to be conscious of the fact 
that the German armies in invading Belgium had not merely trans- 
formed a solemn obligation into a scrap of paper, but had been guilty 
of crimes against women and children — had been guilty of deeds of 
wanton destruction unparalleled in a thousand years of European 
history, that there was a real if only a premonitory movement of 
American opinion; and this movement was stimulated by the German 
bombardment of Rheims Cathedral, which, in its turn, all over America 
stirred passionate protests from that relatively small but influential 
section of the population for whom beautiful things were sacred because 
they were beautiful. 



Thus, underneath the surface and following the first weeks of the 
war, the tide of American judgment almost imperceptibly, but no less 
surely, began to run against Germany and her allies. This tide was 
not influenced by the fact that one of the opponents of Germany spoke 
the language and held measurably the same political faith as America. 
It was not set in motion by any clear perception that one side was right 
and the other wrong in the war, which still remained for the mass of the 
American people primarily a contest between two commercial rivals. 
With the millions who were prepared to sympathize as much with 
Germany as with England, Germany lost a decided advantage when 
her armies, having invaded Belgium and northern France, added to 
the still debatable offence of unwarranted invasion, real and enduring 
wrongs of rapine and violence. Again; in America, divided on the 
question of England or Germany, the unanimity of sympathy with 
France was almost unbelievable. From the opening weeks of the war 
to the day of the armistice a renaissance of affection for France, an 
ever-mounting emphasis on the memories of Franco-American associa- 
tion in the Revolution, the glorification of successful French achieve- 
ment in the war, more than any other circumstance influenced the 
American people in the direction of the alliance against Germany. The 
victory of the Marne, by its splendour, by its almost miraculous char- 
acter, unloosed the tongues of thousands of those who loved France 
and believed in her, and silenced the slanders of those who misunder- 
stood or despised her. 

As time advanced, at first dozens, then scores, and at last hundreds 
of American boys crossed the ocean, following the example of Lafayette, 
and enlisted either in the armies or in the hospital service of France 
(although it is worth recording that there was a very considerable 
movement of the same sort in the direction of Canada and the Canadian 
Expeditionary Force, while not a few Americans entered the British 
army directly). The presence of France in the alliance against Ger- 
many more and more made impossible any thought of American 


entrance into the war save as an opponent of the Kaiser. Two forces 
even in this early time thus combined to lead American sympathies 
toward the Entente: (i) the German method and German manner in 
conducting the war, and (2) the glory and the peril of France which 
combined to re-awaken a friendship which was the oldest in American 
history and possessed a vitality which no one had suspected. Be- 
tween the victory of the Marne and the sinking of the Lusitania even 
both these circumstances were, however, little perceived, and equally 
incapable of disturbing the resolute neutrality of the majority of 


Much more conspicuous and much more impressive in all this time 
was the battle fought between European propagandists upon American 
soil. At the first moment of the war, sympathy was silenced in both 
camps while American partisans of both alliances watched the fate of 
the world as it was being decided upon the battlefields of France and 
Belgium. Expression of sympathy with contesting forces was restrained 
by the very tenseness of the hour and by the magnitude of the events 
which were unrolled. But when it became clear that the circumstances 
of the Hundred Days and of 1870 were not to be repeated and that 
Europe was involved in a long struggle, not in a single, brief, decisive 
conflict, the American public suddenly beheld the outburst of a battle 
between the sympathizers of the two forces which left it bewildered, 
amazed, and in no small degree indignant. 

The difference between the two camps of propaganda was day 
by day more clearly disclosed. While Englishmen, Frenchmen, and 
Belgians by individual word and letter, without organization, without 
even efficient method, laid before the American people the statement of 
the Allied case and found — fortunately for themselves and their cause — 
even abler advocates among Americans who knew or sympathized with 
the enemies of Germany, German propaganda more and more took on 
exactly the same character as German military attack in western 

Of a sudden all the German-American press in America began to 


goose-step to the command of some unseen master. The same argu- 
ments, the same insinuations, the same charges were heard from Maine 
to CaHfornia. The attack upon England was conducted by German 
agents in America with every possible appeal to ancient American 
prejudice and every conceivable incitation to Irish antipathies. In 
the nature of things this German-American outburst had to take the 
defensive as well as the offensive. It had to explain the invasion of 
Belgium, to deny with ever-increasing violence the charges and the 
evidence of German atrocities. And yet it was not unsuccessful in this 
first period. It was not without its sympathetic hearing. It might 
have availed to confuse American thinking and paralyze American 
conscience, had it been able to escape the constant necessity of explain- 
ing the inexplicable course of the German Government. 

The American reaction to this sudden violent outburst of conflict 
of alien propaganda on American soil was on the whole clear in this 
period. There was a great and growing irritation alike with the 
champions of Germany and of England. The attacks of both conflict- 
ing forces upon American neutrality were equally resented and while 
along the Atlantic seaboard, where association and sympathy with 
England and with France was greatest, a slow but sure drift toward 
even more pronounced sympathies revealed itself, a compensating tide 
in the rest of the country disclosed alike an impatience with the 
propagandists of the opposing camps and with the growing partisanship 
of one section of the country for the Allied cause. The mass of the 
country resented at least equally, sectional American sympathy with 
the Allies and German-American championship of the German cause in 
America. All over the country there began to appear in offices and 
public places signs inviting the visitor in homely American phrase to 
avoid the discussion of the issues of the war and to refrain from support 
of a foreign cause at the expense of national peace of mind. 


In the time between the Marne and the Lusitania Massacre, while 
the cause of the Allies rather than that of the Germans gained ground, 


that development was personal, not public, and the national will was 
unmistakably a will for neutrality. The Middle West viewed with 
contempt and hostility the patent sympathy of the Far East of America 
for the Allies. It did not itself indulge in profoundly pro-German 
sentiments but it continued to hold the balance even between the two, 
and more and more emphatically declared that real Americanism could 
only be expressed in neutrality — that the claims of the propagandists 
on either side of the firing line were equally unfounded. It refused to 
believe that Germans would commit atrocities; it declined to accept 
the eastern view of Allied moral superiority. It more and more gave 
itself up to an intense, if parochial, Americanism which asserted that, 
in the world in which two sets of European nations were fighting for 
old European aims and ambitions, America had alone remained faithful 
to the ideals of liberty and democracy and that the true American point 
of view could not be sympathetic with either of the camps but could 
only have unlimited condemnation for both. 

Thus, during the first months of the war, American public opinion 
more and more firmly entrenched itself behind a breast-work of 
traditional isolation and more and more rigidly insisted upon 
unqualified neutrality. There was no chance then of American par- 
ticipation in the war on the German side. There was unmistakable 
and considerable sympathy with France; actual, if comparatively 
passive, condemnation of the German invasion of Belgium. But 
these latent currents were on the whole slight and there never was at 
any time the smallest possibility that the United States would, of its 
own volition and because of its approval of either of the alliances, 
enter the war. 

The single problem posed on the day on which the war broke out 
and enduring long thereafter was whether one or the other of the alli- 
ances would, by its course, compel the United States to take up arms — 
not in the championship of a European cause but in the maintenance of 
American neutrality. But up to the sinking of the Lusitania there was 
nowhere in America any real conception that the United States could 
be involved in the struggle, just as there was nowhere any considerable 

"■ ^ 



Soon after the arrival of the ^American troops in France, General Pershing was invited tc speak at the grave of La- 
fayette. The gallant Frenchman had fought to win freedom for America, and the Americans now were come to repay 
the debt by standing shoulder to shoulder with the men of France in the hour ot their need. The delight ot Marshal 
Joffre, Pershing's most conspicuous auditor, is very evident. , 

The laconic phrase, "Lafayette, we are here!" which the occasion spontaneously evoked, was uttered some say by 
General Pershing, some say by Colonel Stanton, and some say by neither speaker. 


or influential body of opinion — that is, of purely American opinion — 
which advocated such an entrance. 

Sympathy on the whole tended in the Allied direction, but the resolu- 
tion to remain outside the area of struggle gained ground much more 
rapidly. By the time the war had been in progress for six months the 
neutrality of America seemed to be founded upon a rock, and there can 
be no more astonishing or impressive page in history than that which 
reveals the manner in which the Imperial German Government, by its 
folly, its essential blindness, its total surrender to the gospel of Force, 
literally drove a hundred millions of people — almost unanimous in their 
desire for neutrality — into an active and decisive participation in the 
European struggle. 

Realizing that the United States did ultimately become a participant 
in the war on the Allied side, it Is no less essential to recognize that, on 
the outbreak of the war, before and after the Battle of the Marne, up 
to the time of the sinking of the Lusitania, and even for a long period 
thereafter, public opinion in America remained faithful to the tradition 
that the United States should avoid entanglement in a European con- 
flict; and the majority of Americans refused to believe that there was 
a preponderance of right on one side rather than on the other sufficient 
to demand American intervention. Like the President the mass of his 
countrymen refused to believe that America could have any other role 
than that of precise neutrality until such time as she was able to act 
as the peace-maker, and intervene, not as a belligerent but as an arbi- 
trator, to restore peace — not to expand the area of conflict or the number 
of combatants by sending Americans to the fighting line. When 
German folly sank the Lusitania on the 7th of May, 191 5, such was the 
state of American opinion and purpose and so strongly entrenched was 
American neutrality that it required a supreme madness on the part of 
German leadership to dislodge it. 


Between January and May the exasperation of the Government and 
of the people of the United States over unwarranted interference with 


American commerce both by British and German sea power aroused 
emotions strangely reminiscent of American public opinion in the 
Napoleonic wars. The English blockade, not alone of German ports 
but of neutral harbours; the English refusal to accept the principles laid 
down in the Declaration of London largely by British representatives, 
led the Government to protest after protest which were only in part 
answered by British citation of Northern precedents during the Civil 
War. On the other hand, proclamation by the Germans of their sub- 
marine blockade — illegal from every point of view, and, in addition, 
indefensibly inhuman — aroused similar indignation. In this time the 
American Government essayed, as a great and powerful neutral, to 
compel both contesting alliances to live under international law, and 
this role seemed, to the larger part of intelligent Americans, the proper 
one for their own government. 

In fact, the English, as the dominating sea power of the Entente, 
and the Germans, as the similar element among the Central Powers — 
both faced with new necessities and new conditions — imitated the pre- 
cedents of a century before and tore up all existing guarantees of inter- 
national law. Each blamed the other; each pointed to the illegal acts 
of the other as the justification of its own transgressions; yet each 
continued in a course disastrous to American interests, with a persistence 
only limited by a certain degree of caution. 

But it is essential to recognize that in this period there was a clear 
governmental policy in the United States and that this policy had the 
substantial and adequate support of the American people. The United 
States Government undertook by moral suasion to compel the nations at 
war to conduct their struggle within the limits of international law. It 
spoke for the rights of its own citizens but it no less plainly spoke as the 
one great neutral for the rights of all the smaller neutral powers — rights 
which were equally unjustifiably violated by the Entente and by the Cen- 
tral Powers. Without considering yet the possibility of armed interfer- 
ence on behalf of the principles championed by oflficial declaration, the 
United States began to build up for itself a position which, could it 
have been maintained to the end, would have been fatal to the Entente. 


The state of international law at the moment of the outbreak of the 
war was such that, had it been observed, Germany would have continued 
to receive that food and those raw materials necessary to her, and in 
the very nature of things American championship of the principles of 
neutrality led to a defence of the right to trade with Germany. Ineluct- 
ably, if imperceptibly, American policy prior to the 7th of May, 191 5, 
was drifting in the direction of the use of the most powerful weapon in 
American hands to enforce neutral rights on the sea against all who 
challenged it. It is not difficult to believe that an embargo upon the 
export of food and material alike to England and to France, on the one 
hand, and to Germany, on the other, would have followed British per- 
sistence in interfering with American trade with Germany through 
neutral ports and in non-contraband had Germany permitted the 
dispute with Great Britain, which was becoming steadily more acrimon- 
ious, to continue uninterrupted. 

For the United States to have employed the embargo in 191 5, 
or in any other year of the war, would have been in effect to give Ger- 
many the victory. For the Allies to have permitted the United States to 
trade with Germany in the exercise of its indisputable rights under inter- 
national law would have been almost as certain to give Germany the 
victory. That the United States would have pursued a policy based upon 
the assertion and defence of these rights by the embargo seems almost 
certain. That we should have gone to war with Great Britain was 
always unlikely, just as it was equally unlikely that anything but 
slaughter of Americans would lead us into conflict with Germany. But 
that we should have employed the embargo at no distant date seems a 
reasonable and sound conclusion. 


But while these discussions of interference with American 
sea-borne trade were more and more exasperating the American 
people, and more and more profoundly stirring resentment against 
Europe, without regard to the war or the alliances, there came 
suddenly the news of the supreme tragedy of the Lusitania, which 


must be reckoned as the turning point in American opinion in the 
World War. 

Only a few years before the whole civilized world had waited and 
watched while the first fugitive splutters of the wireless told the story 
of the sinking of the Titanic. Hundreds of millions of people waited 
and watched for the final truth of the sinking of the greatest ship in the 
world, and the memory of that horror in the American mind still sur- 
vived the reports of more recent battles. But the Titanic was an 
accident. Now, all the circumstances of the earlier tragedy were re- 
peated as the result of a wanton act of man. 

Few of the people who were alive in America on the day and night 
when the first reports of the Lusitania Massacre began to arrive will 
ever forget the horror, the indignation, the stupefaction produced by 
that crime. For twenty-four hours the country refused to believe that 
a civilized nation, presumably holding to the same ideals and the same 
conceptions of humanity, could permit its sailors to launch against a 
passenger ship, laden with women and children and carrying neutrals 
as well as belligerents, a torpedo which would inevitably result in the 
slaughter of innocent and helpless human beings. 

When the truth was no longer to be doubted there swept from one 
end of the United States to the other an emotion which destroyed 
sympathy with Germany everywhere except among people of German 
origin or politicians dependent upon hyphenated votes for their political 
existence. The cause of Germany, so far as it had an appeal to the 
sympathy, the intelligence, and the conscience of the United States, 
went down with the Lusitania, Thereafter there could be but one 
issue: Should the United States remain neutral? — or should she enter 
the war on the Allied side.^" The brand on Cain's forehead was not 
more conspicuous or more fatal than the mark left upon the German 
cause by the Lusitania Massacre. 

On the morrow of this massacre it would have been possible for the 
President of the United States to have carried a majority of his fellow- 
countrymen into the war against Germany. But it is not less certain 
that, even after this crime, a majority of the American people still 


believed that the duty of America was still to remain outside the 
conflict. It was clear instantly that, unless Germany renounced a 
policy of murder, the American people would demand of their govern- 
ment a declaration of war. It was no less clear that the inherent, the 
traditional antipathy to participation in a European struggle endured. 
American public opinion demanded that, once and for all — emphati- 
cally, definitively — the President should warn Germany. Even at this 
hour, in the presence of their dead, the American people faintly hoped 
that the German Government would disavow the act of a German 
officer — so naively did they still cling to the notion of German hu- 

The summer of the Lusitania Massacre sees the beginning of that 
national sentiment which pushed the Government into ultimate con- 
flict with Germany. When Germany, instead of disavowing, quib- 
bled, evaded, dodged; when the President of the United States, instead 
of speaking firmly, blundered in his **too-proud-to-fight" speech and 
argued in his long-continued notes, American restiveness increased 
with every hour. Still determined to remain neutral if possible there 
was not — except amongst those controlled by their sympathy with that 
foreign country from which they had come — the smallest willingness 
permanently to bow before German terrorism. The country asked of 
its government that, either by firmness in policy or by force in action, 
it should compel Germany to abandon murder. 


With the sinking of the Lusitania^ too, all chance of the equal 
application of the principles of international law, to both alliances, 
perished. From that hour onward the factories, the fields, and the 
workmen of the United States and the vast industrial and agricultural 
machinery of the country were mobilized on the Allied side. The 
campaign to compel Great Britain to permit America to trade with 
Germany and Austria died. We became in fact, on the days following 
the tragedy off^ the Old Head of Kinsale, the economic ally of the 
Entente. With ever-increasing volume our machines and our arms, our 


food and our raw material, flowed to western Europe, depriving Ger- 
many of the advantages of superior preparation and better organization. 

This aid was not to prove adequate without the addition of American 
soldiers, but between May 7, 1915, and the spring of 1918, it was an 
indispensable contribution to Allied survival. Between the sinking of 
the Lusitania and the promulgation of the final German campaign of 
submarine ruthlessness, almost two years later, American public opinion 
marched surely to an acceptation of the Allied view of Germany; and 
the publication of the Bryce report upon the Belgian atrocities in Bel- 
gium, which almost coincided with the sinking of the Lusitania, reached a 
people at last prepared to believe those German crimes which hitherto 
had passed the credulity of a civilized nation. Retrospectively, and in 
the light of a crime which could not be denied, the American people in- 
terpreted the invasion of Belgium, the burning of Louvain, the campaign 
of rape and violence, murder and destruction over all of Belgium and 
northern France. 

While our government continued in its official documents to talk of 
German regard for humanity; while the President pursued a policy 
founded on a determination to remain neutral, and buttressed on the 
faith that words could have power unsupported by arms in dealing with 
a nation which had given itself over utterly to a gospel of force; the 
American people, with ever-growing clarity, grasped the real meaning 
of Germany in the world. Morally, materially, in all ways that it is 
possible to measure, the German cause was lost in America with the 
sinking of the Lusitania, and the single question that remained to be 
answered was whether Germany would renounce a policy of which the 
Lusitania was an everlasting evidence, or accept an inevitable war with 
the greatest of the neutrals. 

Between May 7, 1915, and January, 1917, Germany hesitated. For 
a long time she pursued a course of modified defiance. New "incidents", 
new attacks, came with relative frequency. The series culminated with 
the attack upon the Sussex in February, 1916, which would have led 
to war had it not been promptly followed by a German surrender in the 
matter of submarine warfare. Thereafter, so long as Germany observed 


her obligations, American neutrality endured; but while that neutrality 
endured, American abhorrence of German methods increased so that it 
was inevitable that if Germany ever departed from her pledges American 
entrance into the war would become almost automatic. 

The Lusitania Massacre is one of the great landmarks in history, 
not alone in American history but in human history, because it ensured 
German defeat in the World War. Looking to the terrible crisis of 1918 
it is unmistakable that, had America been neutral in that hour, the 
victory of the alliance against Germany would have been unthinkable, 
nor is it less probable that Allied consent to peace by negotiation would 
have followed the defeats of the year which we are now to examine, had 
not the entrance of the United States served to create new hopes and 
restore shaken confidence. American decision in the World War was 
finally made on the basis of the Lusitania. Between the Lusitania 
Massacre and the entrance of American troops into the line at Chateau- 
Thierry a little more than three years were to elapse; but while, on the 
surface, America continued long after the earlier event to seem blind to 
the truth, deaf to the appeals of honour and safety alike, the forces 
released by this crime continued to march — continued to extend the 
area of their influence — until a united country ultimately entered the 
European war. And, as a final detail, it is at least one of the most 
striking coincidences of which we have any knowledge that those terms 
of peace which imposed the sentence of the victorious nations upon a 
defeated Germany were delivered into German hands on the fourth 
anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania. 


No discussion of the development of American opinion in respect 
of the war would be complete without a mention of the contribution of 
Theodore Roosevelt to the illumination of the minds of his fellow- 

There was no American who saw more promptly the fundamental 
issues and principles involved in the German assault upon our Western 
civilization than Colonel Roosevelt, nor was there anv other American 


who displayed so much force or exerted so great an influence in awaken- 
ing people of the nation to the facts of the situation. 

The war found Colonel Roosevelt at the close of a brilliant political 
career which had ended summarily. The break with his own party in 
1912 was not healed. The campaign for the nomination of 1916 revealed 
the enormous popularity still retained by Colonel Roosevelt, but it was 
not sufficient to win for him the nomination, and that last defeat ended 
all hope of a return to public office. Physically a broken man, politically 
without a future, separated from most of those conspicuous figures of 
his own party who had been his associates and his subordinates in his 
own Administration, a lonely figure, he was yet able, by the sheer force 
of his personality, to rouse thousands and even millions of his country- 
men to a perception of the meaning in America of the colossal crime in 

Speaking; writing; constantly brushing aside, with impatient energy, 
theories, emotions, parochial and Utopian conceptions; taking his stand 
firmly on that platform of virile Americanism of which he had been the 
greatest exponent in his own generation. Colonel Roosevelt inveighed 
against each German aggression, each German crime, with ever-growing 
force and effect. 

Without Colonel Roosevelt it is conceivable that American neutral- 
ity might have been maintained to the end, with all its terrible con- 
sequences — first to Europe and ultimately to this country. Certainly 
no other man did so much to arouse his countrymen — to prepare 
them intellectually and morally for the great strain that was coming — 
as the man who, having twice occupied the White House and having 
been the conspicuous figure of his own generation in American public 
life, sat now almost in exile from his party councils and from his public 

Historians of the future will find it difficult to estimate and to 
appraise exactly the extent of the influence exerted by Theodore 
Roosevelt in a time of confused counsels, national blindness, political 
expediency. He saw the war as it was. He saw the Belgian crime in 
its full meaning. He saw the cause of the western Allies as the cause 



Black and white, fat and lean, jolly and sober was the grist drawn into the draft-hopper. But Negro and Latin and 
Slav and Anglo-Saxon were Americans all, and gave a good account of themselves on the battle-fields of France 

In the far islands of the Pacific long lines of yellow and brown Americans awaited their turn to register 

Copyright by Underzt.'Qod ly Undirucod 

It would have been a hopeless task, but for the help of the keen young civilian interpreter 





of the United States, and he saw plainly that there could be no escape 
from American entrance — that each halting, conciliating action, in the 
face of German menace, invited new aggression. He understood force. 
He understood the German conception. He saw that a victorious 
Germany would set its foot triumphantly upon that whole democratic 
doctrine which represented the political faith of the western powers. 

Upon his head, during the long controversial period which preceded 
the actual entrance of the United States into the war, there burst a 
passion of denunciation. He carried in his body the bullet of a would- 
be assassin who bore a German name. Democratic politicians combined 
with German propagandists to assail the man whose services to his 
country should have placed him outside of the range of such attack. 
When at last his fight had roused an American public opinion which 
met the final German menace with a declaration of war. Colonel Roose- 
velt was denied the opportunity to lead troops against the enemy. 
His physical condition probably warranted the decision of the Govern- 
ment, but no one v/ho knew him in those days could mistake the fact 
that this was the crowning disappointment of a life equally replete 
with great successes and corroding defeats. He lived to see three of his 
sons wounded in the firing line. He lived to give one of his boys to his 
country upon the battlefield. He did not die until the German had 
surrendered. At the very time when death came suddenly to him his 
voice was powerfully heard attacking, as a policy for making peace, 
precisely those conceptions wl;lch he had fought when they pointed the 
way to American neutrality. No living American of that time — with 
the possible exception of Elihu Root — knew his Europe, his world, or 
his history as did Theodore Roosevelt. Had he lived he would have 
been a potent foe of precisely those principles which were championed 
by the United States at the Paris Conference. What his influence 
might have been no man can say, but one thing is clear beyond all 
question, and that is, that from the outbreak of the war until the 
entrance of the United States into it, Colonel Roosevelt fought his last, 
his greatest, and on the whole his most successful battle. When he 
began to appeal to his fellow-countrymen they were alike blind and 


deaf to the truth. Without the support of a political party, of a friendly 
press, of an organized body of adherents, single-handed, physically 
broken, he waged war in defence of the Americanism of which he had 
ever been the embodiment, and in the end his country adopted the 
ideas which he had championed and took that action which he had 
advocated almost from the beginning of the war. 

When the United States at last entered the world conflict, the press 
of events, the magnitude of the effort, the tenseness of the interest, com- 
bined to efface from contemporary memory appreciation of the role 
which had been played by Colonel Roosevelt in arousing the conscience 
and the patriotism of the nation in days which every American will 
strive to forget. That this period of national humiliation proved to be 
but the prelude to a national awakening of unrivalled splendour, was 
due more to Roosevelt than to any other living man. Whatever he 
might have accomplished had he been in the White House, it is hard to 
believe that he could have exercised a more potent or a more valuable 
influence than that which he exerted as a private citizen — as an Ameri- 
can who, seeing his country's duty and seeing it clearly, did not rest 
until he had communicated his vision to millions. 


To trace in detail the progress of events between August i, 1914, and 
April, 191 7, could be no part of the present work, which is concerned 
with the narrative of the struggle itself. It is essential, however, to 
review, at least in a cursory fashion, the several phases which marked 
the transition of the United States from a remote and unconcerned wit- 
ness to a united and powerful participant in the conflict. Nowhere else 
can the true meaning of German policy and German method be more 
perfectly grasped than by a brief examination of Germany's course with 
respect to the American people. Nowhere else can one see as simply and 
as clearly the essential fallacy which underlay the whole German concep- 
tion of the world and of other peoples as in the story of how by use 
of force, by the resort to one illegal and immoral act after another, 
Germany destroyed such friendship as existed in America, aroused in 
its stead an indignation and a determination not surpassed in nations 
which had long recognized her as their hereditary enemy, and in the end 
brought two millions of American soldiers to Europe at the moment 
when their presence was a decisive factor in German defeat. 

The morality or the immorality of German principles and German 
methods may perhaps be long debated. They may find champions in 
later generations, but what defence could ever be possible on the prac- 
tical side for the policy which persuaded the greatest single neutral 
power in the world to lay aside a neutrality satisfactory to the mass of 
its people and, in exchange, adopt a hostility which endured even after 
Germany's arms had been struck from her hand and she lay prostrate 
before her conquerors 

The phases in the education of the American people to the meaning 
of Germany in the world may be comprehended in three periods extend- 
ing from August, 19 14, to April, 19 17, the first of which ran from the out- 



break of the war to the Lusitania Massacre; the second, from the Lusi- 
tania Massacre to the German compliance with that ultimatum which 
followed the sinking of the Sussex; and the third, from that acceptance 
to the moment when the Germans gave public warnings of their purpose 
to reverse their policy and return to unrestricted sinking. 


President Wilson's proclamation of neutrality in the opening hours 
of the war was followed slowly by an ever-increasing interference with 
American commerce, both by British and by German sea power. The 
parallel with the course of France and Great Britain during the Na- 
poleonic wars, which led to our war with Great Britain In 1 812, must Im- 
press every student of history; nor Is It less plain, from any examination 
of the evidence, that, during the first months of the war, it was toward a 
conflict with Great Britain and not with Germany that events were 
shaping. Admiral Mahan had written that In the next war the domi- 
nant sea power would make sea law to suit itself. The course of Great 
Britain In the early days of the war clearly demonstrated the accuracy 
of this prophecy. The British did not Instantly take full and effective 
measure of the possibilities of the use of their historic weapon. Little 
by little, however, deliberately experimenting with American patience, 
they invaded one right after another and more and more abandoned the 
observation of the principles expressed In the Declaration of London of 
1909, which was, to be sure, voluntary since that code of naval warfare 
had never been officially accepted by the British Government. The de- 
tention of American ships; the interference with American cargoes con- 
signed to neutral states because those neutral states had not forbidden 
the re-export of articles contained in those cargoes; the ultimate prohi- 
bition of the export of food stuffs, consigned not merely to German 
ports but to neutral ports, constituted grievances which led as early as 
December, 1914, to a formal protest by the United States. 

To this and other protests the British Government made answers, 
beginning on January 7, 191 5, which could not be considered by any 
fair-minded observer as satisfactory or candid. 


These interferences with American interests and rights, naturally 
seized upon by every German agent and sympathizer in America, 
culminated on March ist in a declaration on the part of Great Britain 
and of France that they held themselves free to detain, and take into 
port, ships carrying goods of presumed enemy destination, which 
amounted to a declaration of purpose to prevent commodities of any 
sort from reaching the Germans. 

It is true that this course was explained as retaliation for a German 
proclamation of a war zone about Great Britain and the first relatively 
restricted but no less unmistakable use of the submarine to sink on sight 
not neutral but belligerent ships. A further pretext was furnished the 
Allied Governments by the fact that on January 31st the German Gov- 
ernment undertook something approaching a seizure of grain stocks; 
not primarily, as the events proved, for military purposes, but to regu- 
late the supplies of the nation and thus early make preparation against 
waste and famine. Moreover, a third shadow of warrant for the Allied 
purpose, frankly asserted to be one of reprisal, was found in the policy 
of the German Government in indiscriminately sowing mines in the 
high seas. But the Germans on their part could as vehemently defend 
their war-zone policy as retaliation for the illegal acts of Great Britain 
and her allies, culminating in that proposed blockade, accepted and 
described by the Germans as an effort to starve them into submission. 

On February 20th the American Secretary of State had addressed 
an Identic Note suggesting agreement on some reasonable basis which 
would restrict naval warfare within limits that would prevent injury to 
neutrals. In this Note it was advocated that mines should not be 
sown in the open seas, or submarines used to attack merchantmen, save 
in the old-fashioned way of exercising the right of visit and search ; and 
that use of neutral flags, to which the British had frequently resorted, 
should be abandoned. Great Britain was called upon to abandon her 
purpose of making food and food-stufTs absolute contraband, provided 
that America ensured that these commodities should not be delivered 
in Germany for military use; and Germany was asked to give satisfac- 
tory guarantees. 


On this basis Germany was willing to talk, as her reply of February 
28th indicated, but the Allied Note of March ist destroyed all chance 
of compromise and further exchanges elicited from the Allied Govern- 
ments only a polite but unmistakable declaration that, in view of Ger- 
man practices, the British purposed to proceed with their blockade. 
Meantime the Germans had already complicated the situation by sink- 
ing, wantonly, in the Pacific, an American ship carrying wheat consigned 
to Liverpool. 

The result of these several exchanges and debates between the 
United States Government and the belligerents left the situation utterly 
unsatisfactory. American exports were subjected to every sort of illegal 
interference and restraint. Because the Germans had resorted to in- 
human and barbarous methods of making war at sea, the British and the 
French justified a policy which invaded American rights. Because the 
British and the French had resorted to illegal methods, and the United 
States had not taken up arms to defend those rights, Germany asserted' 
her freedom to employ a weapon new to war which could only be eff^ec- 
tive in so far as it not merely interfered with the rights of neutrals but 
also involved the destruction of their property and even of their lives. 

The British on their part were more fortunate in the fact that, in the 
nature of things, they could limit the extent of their interference with 
abstract rights. They could, as they purposed to do, stop neutral 
ships without destroying them, take their cargoes, pay for them, and 
thus avoid inflicting any financial loss upon neutral owners. The 
German with his submarine could only sink the neutral ship with its 
cargo and its crew. His weapon was obviously bound to be of utmost 
importance to him, his sole answer to superior sea power, but the use of it 
was fraught with incalculable peril because, while neutrals might submit 
indefinitely to interference with their rights, particularly if this interfer- 
ence carried with it no property injury, it was inconceivable that any 
neutral as powerful as was the United States would consent to suff^er its 
citizens to be murdered while they used the seas in accordance with inter- 
national law and with principles which had never before been challenged. 

German statesmanship in this timewas faced with an obvious dilemma. 


It had either to pursue the poHcy enunciated in its proclamation of 
February i8th, wherein it proclaimed a war-zone and a policy of sinking 
on sight — which had been promptly answered by an American assertion 
of an intention to hold the Imperial German Government to strict 
accountability if American ships or citizens were the victims of this 
policy — or to refrain from any pursuance of the policy which could con- 
ceivably arouse the United States Government and await a time when 
the multiplication of British interferences with American ships and rights 
would lead, if not to hostilities between the United States and the ene- 
mies of Germany, at least to the proclamation of an embargo which 
would prevent the export of war materials to Great Britain and France, 
and thus almost inevitably ensure their defeat. 

The Germans chose the former course. As early as February 28th 
a German cruiser sank the William P. Frye in the Pacific. On March 
28th the British passenger ship Falaha was torpedoed and sunk, and 
among others an American citizen lost his life. Conversations be- 
tween the United States and the German Government over the Frye 
and the Falaha led to nothing. On April 28th the American S.S. 
Gushing was bombed by a German airplane, while on the ist of May 
the American Gulflight was sunk off the Scilly Islands, and as a conse- 
quence the captain and ten of the crew lost their lives. 

This campaign culminated on May yth when the Lusitania was 
sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale and 1,153 of the 1,918 people on board 
were drowned, including 114 men, women, and children of American 
citizenship. This crime had been preceded by the insertion in American 
newspapers of the following warning: 


Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state 

of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that 

the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance 

with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag 

of Great Britain, or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters, and 

that travellers sailing in the war zone on ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at 

their own risk. 

Imperial German Embassy. 

Washington, D. C., April 22, 1915. 


With the sinking of the Lusitania the poUcy of the United States — 
manifestly based upon a purpose to endeavour to constrain both beUig- 
erents to conduct their naval operations, if not in accordance with in- 
ternational law, as written before the days of the submarine, at least to 
follow such a course as would obviate intolerable interference with neutral 
commerce — fell to the ground. The United States had been arguing 
with the Germans against murder, with the British against forcible in- 
vasion of liberties and rights. While the discussion was proceeding 
the Germans had resorted to a murder which startled and horrified the 
American people. Until the policy of murder was abandoned by the 
Germans there could no longer be any possibility of further debates 
with the British. If the Germans hoped, by resorting to assassination, 
to drive the United States into a forcible vindication of those rights 
which had been invaded by the British, this infantile conception was 
promptly abolished. German agents, German sympathizers, the 
German-American press, might and did continue to assail England as 
responsible, but whatever was the American resentment over British 
policy at this time, now and henceforth the first business and the first 
concern of the American people must be to persuade or to compel the 
German Government alike to abandon a policy of murder and to disavow 
a crime committed in defiance of all the laws of humanity as well as of 
nations and at the expense of the lives of its citizens. 


On the morning following the Lusitania Massacre there was in every 
American mind the recollection that the Secretary of State had warned 
the Imperial German Government that it would be held to "strict 
accountability" for any use of the submarine weapon which might re- 
sult in the loss of American lives. The nation expected the President of 
the United States to fulfil the obligation implied in this warning. There 
had been and there remained a division of opinion as to the extent of 
responsibility incurred by American citizens who embarked upon a 
British ship in the hour of war. The very fact that the Lusitania was 
a British ship, built for auxiliary service, complicated the question. 


and the record was further obscured by the false charges made by the 
Germans that the Lusitania had carried ammunition and had sunk as 
a consequence of the explosives in her cargo. Even amidst the horror 
over the crime there were not lacking those who felt, however intolerable 
a stain the Lusitania Massacre was upon German honour, it was not of 
itself a sufficient basis to enter the war. 

The expectation of a clear-cut statement on the part of the President 
of the United States was not fulfilled. At first retiring to his study 
when the news of the deed reached him, and separating himself from 
all his associates, the President finally broke a silence, which had be- 
come almost intolerable for his fellow-countrymen, in a speech delivered 
on May loth, in Philadelphia, which contained no direct reference to 
Germany or to the Lusitania but which derived its subsequent import- 
ance from the following paragraph : 

The example of America must be a special example. The example of America must 
be an example, not of peace because it will not fight, but of peace because peace is the 
healing and elevating influence of the world, and strife is not. There is such a thing 
as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a man being so right that 
he does not need to convince others by force that he is right. 

Three days later the State Department published the first of that series 
of notes addressed to the Imperial German Government which were all 
written by the President of the United States and were the continuing 
expression of that spirit expressed in the Philadelphia utterance. The 
United States, said this first note, had "observed with growing con- 
cern, distress, and amazement" that series of events of which the 
Lusitania was a culmination. It was "loath to believe — it cannot now 
bring itself to believe — that these acts so contrary" to the rules, prac- 
tice, and spirit of modern warfare could be sanctioned or approved by 
the German Government. There followed a recitation of, the facts; 
a biting reference to the irregularity incident to the publication in the 
American press by the German Embassy of that warning to the passen- 
gers of the Lusitania, and the final statement: "The Imperial German 
Government will not expect the Government of the United States to 
omit any word or any act necessary to the performance of its sacred duty 


to maintain the rights of the United States and its citizens and of 
safeguarding their free exercise and enjoyment." Throughout the 
country it was felt that this note was an anticHmax, after the ''strict- 
accountabiHty" warning, while abroad the note itself attracted only 
minor interest while the major attention was reserved for the "too- 
proud-to-fight" speech. In Germany and out of it this was assumed to be 
the assertion of a purpose to adhere to a policy of "peace at any price." 
As a consequence there was small occasion for surprise when the Ne- 
braskan, an American steamer, was torpedoed off Fastnet on May 23 rd. 
Public indignation, aroused at this new outrage, was intensified by the 
reception, one week later, of the German answer to the Lusitania note, 
which, instead of disavowing the act or repudiating the policy, quibbled, 
argued, attacked British policy, and fixed upon the British Government 
the responsibility for the whole episode, since it had "attempted delib- 
erately to use the lives of American citizens as protection for the am- 
munition aboard, and acted against the clear provisions of the American 
law which expressly prohibits the forwarding of passengers on ships car- 
rying ammunition, and provides a penalty therefor. The company, 
therefore, is wantonly guilty of the death of so many passengers." 
There could be no doubt that the quick sinking of the Lusitania was 
"primarily attributable to the explosion of the ammunition shipment 
caused by the torpedo. The Lusitania s passengers would otherwise 
in all probability have been saved." 

The German response in no sense satisfying American demands, a 
new note was framed, but, in the drafting of it, Mr. Wilson and his 
Secretary of State, Mr. Bryan, came at last to open disagreement. 
Mr. Bryan was a frank advocate of a peace-at-any-price policy. 
The President was not. Mr. Bryan believed that a continuation 
of notes would lead to an ever-worsening situation, with war as the 
logical result. Mr. Wilson believed that by notes he could ulti- 
mately persuade the German Government and the German people. 
The President did not regard war as a possibility. Mr. Bryan saw 
clearly that it was inevitable unless the American Government were 
prepared to tolerate the murder of its fellow-citizens. His horror of war 


would permit him such toleration. Accordingly, Mr. Bryan resigned, 
was succeeded by Mr. Lansing, and in the meantime the exchange of 
notes progressed. 

The new Secretary of State demolished the several German argu- 
ments presented in their reply and took position on the unassailable 
ground that the question of the Lusitania was not one of law but of 
humanity and that the United States was contending for nothing less 
high and sacred than the "rights of humanity which every government 
honours itself in respecting and which no government is justified in 
resigning on behalf of those under its care and authority." The final 
words of this second note were as follows: "The Government of the 
United States, therefore, deems it reasonable to expect that the Imperial 
German Government will adopt the measures necessary to put these 
principles into practice in respect of the safeguarding of American lives 
and American ships, and asks for assurances that this will be done." 

But between asking for assurances and asserting a determination to 
hold Germany to "strict accountability" and to "omit no word or act 
. . ." it was plain that there was a wide gulf. The country felt 
very clearly that, with the massacre still lacking a German disavowal and 
a policy of assassination unrepudiated by the Germans, the United States 
Government was rapidly allowing itself to drift into dialectics. Impatience 
was everywhere on the increase, and this impatience was not lessened 
when the next German note, instead of giving the required assurances, 
shifted the discussion to a suggestion that American citizens should 
travel only on neutral ships, and further offered the impudent 
intimation that these neutral ships should be conspicuously marked and 
their sailing advertised to the German Government. Once more a Ger- 
man outrage contributed to aggravating the situation. On July 9th the 
Orduna, like the Lusitania, a British passenger ship in the Atlantic ser- 
vice, was attacked by a German submarine, not far from the scene of the 
Lusitania Massacre, and followed by the submarine, which shelled her 
until she was out of range. 

Still once more the President had recourse to a note in which he 
rejected the preposterous German suggestion as to restricting American 


travel to neutral ships, and this time warned Germany yet again in the 
following words: "Friendship itself prompts the United States to say 
to the Imperial German Government that repetition, by the commanders 
of German naval vessels, of acts in contravention of those rights must be 
regarded by the Government of the United States, when they affect 
American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly." Four days later a 
German submarine sank the American ship Leelazv, but this time the 
crew was allowed time to quit the ship; and the cargo was contraband. 
Any thought that the Germans had changed their policy was destroyed 
on August 30th, when a German submarine attacked and sank the 
Arabic, again near the scene of the Lusitania Massacre. Of the 423 
persons on the Arabic, 44, including two Americans, lost their lives. 
This was the "deliberately unfriendly" action which the President had 
indicated in his last note. 

What could be left to discuss ? What further use was there of dis- 
cussing the question with the German Government? This was the 
demand of the American press and a large fraction of the American 
people. The German Government itself seemed to understand the 
gravity of the new crisis, because, through its ambassador at Washington, 
it asked that the United States Government should take no action 
until it was able to investigate the Arabic incident, and asserted that 
if it should be proved that Americans had actually lost their lives, this 
would be something contrary to German intentions. On August 26th 
the German Ambassador, following a conversation with the President, 
gave him the following pledge on behalf of the German Government: 
"Liners will not be sunk by our submarines without warning and with- 
out safety of the rights of non-combatants, provided the liners do not 
try to escape or offer resistance." This looked like a victory for the 
American contention, but three days later the Hesperian, with 650 
passengers and crew aboard, was torpedoed off Fastnet. As there were 
Canadian soldiers aboard, and the ship mounted at least one gun, there 
was a general agreement to suffer this incident to pass without challenge. 

Meantime, the activity in the Mediterranean of submarines, flying 
the Austrian flag but widely believed to be German, precipitated new 


complications. On November 7th the Italian passenger ship Ancona 
was torpedoed off the coast of Tunis by submarines which flew 
first the German and then the Austrian flag. On December 6th the 
American State Department demanded disavowal and reparation in 
terms more explicit and emphatic than had yet been employed in any 
previous note. To this the Austrian Government replied, after long 
delay, in tones which were insolent and contemptuous, refusing to 
comply with the American demand. The State Department responded 
to this with a somewhat curt repetition of the demand for disavowal 
and reparation and to this second note the Austrian Government yielded. 
One day after the Austrian surrender became known, the British S.S. 
Persia was torpedoed in the eastern Mediterranean and 392 passengers 
and crew were lost. .Among these was an American consul on his 
way to his post. When the Austrian Government was approached in 
this matter it suggested that the crime might have been the work of a 
Turkish submarine. 

The controversy continued to drag with no further grave incidents 
for two months more, during the course of which Germany, in a further 
communication, offered to modify its submarine campaign provided that 
the British would disarm their merchant ships. An enquiry, by the 
American Secretary of State, of the Allies as to their position in this 
question was met with a courteous but emphatic refusal. 

Finally, on March 24th, a French channel boat plying between 
Folkestone and Dieppe was torpedoed, and although the vessel remained 
afloat, some 80 persons were wounded, including Americans. 

The sinking of the Sussex was the last straw. Utterly derisory 
German justification was brushed aside, and on April 19th the Presi- 
dent of the United States laid before Congress the whole history of the 
submarine debate, having on the day previously addressed to the 
German Government yet one more note, which closed with the following 
sentence: ''Unless the Imperial Government should now immediately 
declare and effect an abandonment of its present method of submarine 
warfare against passenger- and freight-carrying vessels, the Government 
of the United States can have no other choice but to sever diplomatic 


relations with the German Empire altogether." On May 4th the Ger- 
man Government responded in a long note reviewing all the counter- 
charges against the British, plainly intimating that the United States 
Government was not pursuing, in respect of the British, the same course 
as in the case of Germany, but containing the all-important statement : 
"German naval forces have received the following orders: *In accord- 
ance wdth the general principles of visit and search and destruction of 
merchant vessels, recognized by international law, such vessels, both 
within and without the area declared as naval war zone, shall not be 
sunk without warning and without saving human life unless those 
ships attempt to escape or offer resistance'. " 

This was all the United States had contended for. So far it was a 
complete victory for Mr. Wilson's method. There was, however, 
appended to the note this following minatory condition: "But neutrals 
cannot expect that Germany, forced to fight for her existence, shall, 
for the sake of neutral interests, restrict the use of an effective weapon 
if her enemy is permitted to apply at will methods of warfare violating 
the rights of international law." The German Government further 
expressed its confidence that the United States should now resume its 
debates with Great Britain and force that nation to comply with its 
contentions. Should the United States fail to do this the German 
note indicated that "the German Government would then be facing a 
new situation in which it must reserve to itself complete liberty of 
decision." This was no more than Bernstorff, the German Ambassador, 
had already promised on behalf of his government before the Sussex 
episode, but a subsequent German statement conceded Germany's 
failure to fulfil its promises in the matter of the Sussex^ and expressed 
its sincere regret therefor and its readiness to meet claims for reparation. 

So ended the great submarine debate. When, a little less than a year 
later, Germany withdrew her pledge and announced her intention to 
resume unrestricted sinking, the United States promptly severed 
diplomatic relations and shortly thereafter entered the war. Doubtless 
it would have entered it a year earlier but for the German surrender. 
That the episode itself injured American prestige abroad, humiliated 


American pride at home, was and is unmistakable. Mr. Wilson's notes 
were the topic of derisory humour in the press and on the stages of all 
the European capitals. Europe did not derive the impression that 
Americans were in fact "too proud to fight'' — but too cowardly. Such 
unworthy and inaccurate suspicions were dissipated when America did 
come into the war and the character of her participation forever 
destroyed the misunderstanding due to the incidents of 1915. 

In point of fact, Germany did not cease her submarine warfare until 
Mr. Wilson laid aside arguments and resorted to the familiar ultimatum. 
Had he consented to continue his notes Germany unquestionably would 
have continued her sinkings. She was neither convinced by his logic 
nor impressed by his idealism, but in April, 1916, she confronted a situa- 
tion in which she lacked the necessary submarines to make her campaign 
effective and was at last aware that to continue the campaign meant to 
ensure American belligerence. Mr. Wilson and his fellow-countrymen 
were not alone in misunderstanding the German surrender. The 
English Government and the English navy, like the American Govern- 
ment and the American people, believed Germany had abandoned the 
submarine, and in this colossal misapprehension both failed to make 
those preparations against a resumption of ruthless sinking for which 
Germany was already preparing. For the moment German surrender 
was of material advantage to the Allies, but in the end it was of question- 
able profit since it lulled them to sleep while the greatest danger which 
was to threaten the Allied cause in the whole war slowly matured. 

While the State Department and the President had been occupied 
for nearly two years with the conduct of negotiations growing out of 
submarine outrages there had been conducted in Congress — ostensibly 
with the purpose of keeping the United States out of the war, but in 
many instances by Congressmen whose sympathies with Germany or 
whose truckling to constituencies in which the German-American vote 
was large — campaigns which sought in the first instance to place an 
embargo on the exportation of arms to the Allies, and subsequently, 
when the submarine debate had reached its most acute stage, to forbid 
Americans to travel upon armed merchantmen, and to deny clearance 


papers to such vessels. Since the British and the French had now 
adopted the practice of arming all their merchantmen against the 
submarine, this latter course would in effect have paralyzed Allied 
transport, while an embargo would unquestionably have deprived the 
Allies of precisely those materials and weapons essential to defend 
themselves against the German assault. 

In the matter of the embargo, the course of the President from the 
beginning was clear, definite, and correct. The United States, having 
always pursued a policy of unpreparedness for war, depended more than 
any other country upon its ability to import arms and war materials 
from other countries in case of conflict. To set up a precedent now in 
the matter of an embargo would be to establish a rule which might prove 
fatal to the United States at some future crisis. In the days of the 
Civil War the Union armies had been equipped almost exclusively from 
British and French sources and without such assistance the Confederacy 
would almost unquestionably have won the war. To put an embargo 
on the export, not merely of arms, but of food and food stuffs and raw 
materials generally, would have been not merely to break with American 
policy in the past and establish a precedent of incalculable peril to the 
country itself, but it would also have been a clear breach of neutrality, 
a deliberate change of the rules of war during the progress of the struggle, 
which could only inure to the benefit of one of the parties contesting. 
Moreover, the beneficiary of such a policy — Germany — had herself 
employed the unquestioned right of export of arms in the period of the 
Boer War and to the advantage of the opponents of Great Britain. 

There were not a few Americans, whose sincerity and unselfishness 
were above question, who saw with disgust and humiliation a vast tide 
of wealth rolling In upon their nation as a consequence of its contribu- 
tions of arms and munitions to a struggle in which Its own sons did not 
participate. To grow rich out of the agonies of other nations was a 
thing repugnant to them. Yet, with small exception, their ultimate 
judgment sustained the policy of the President. 

Again, those for selfish reasons Interested in an embargo, the pro- 
ducers of cotton and of such other commodities as were momentarily 

o .= 

H — 

Z ^ 


Copyright by Underwood y Undenvocd 

Men of the second draft leaving Long Island City for Camp Upton. Abig German drive was on just then, but these 

men do not seem to be afraid 

Copyright by Cliiifdinst 


It's a strange, new life which lies before them, and they regard the men already wearing khaki with much curiosity and 

some awe 





After strenuous days, crammed with new experiences, there was much to tell the people at home 


Their apparel was neither neat nor gaudy, but the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue were packed with their friends as the 

New York coascripts marched along 


affected by the closing of the German markets, were gradually appeased 
as the expansion of the Allied imports, consequent upon the ever- 
growing fraction of Allied population removed from industry to the 
firing line, absorbed their products. As the volume of the export trade 
of the United States grew to figures unprecedented in all past history 
the considerations which led to the advocacy of an embargo totally 
disappeared and were replaced by a far greater but not less selfish 
reason for opposing any embargo. 

The question of forbidding Americans to travel upon belligerent 
ships, on the contrary, continued, during the whole period of the sub- 
marine warfare, to provoke protests and to attract legislative proposals. 
At the moment when the Lusitania was sunk there was throughout the 
Middle West a marked sentiment expressed in the statement that the 
American citizens who had embarked upon a British ship were them- 
selves not alone responsible for the tragedy which overtook them but 
were also guilty of an unpatriotic act in risking the peace of their own 
country by their temerity. The right of Germany to commit mur- 
der was seldom asserted in any American quarter, but the duty of 
American citizens to refrain from travel upon British and French 
ships was often proclaimed. 

When the British armed all their merchantmen against submarine 
attack, as they were entitled to do under international law, the contro- 
versy took a new shape. Many resolutions were introduced in Congress, 
the sum of all of which was to forbid Americans to travel on armed mer- 
chantmen and to prohibit the sailing of such armed merchantmen from 
American ports. Germany herself, at the height of the submarine 
controversy, offered to abandon ruthless attacks upon passenger ships 
provided the United States could procure from the British an abandon- 
ment of the policy of arming merchantmen. The Secretary of State, 
Mr. Lansing, made such a request to the British; the President himself 
for the moment wavered and seemed willing to accept the German sug- 

Happily, however, Mr. Wilson's doubts were speedily cleared up. 
He recognized clearly that in arming their merchantmen the British 


were acting within international law. He perceived, as in the case of 
the embargo, that to undertake to change international law in the 
course of the conflict, in such way as to benefit but one of the contest- 
ants, would constitute a breach of neutrality and he squarely and cour- 
ageously took his stand against such a course in the face of a campaign 
in Congress and in the public press which at moments seemed likely to 
overwhelm his policy but in the end came to nothing. 


While there had been going forward, from the moment Germany 
proclaimed her submarine campaign to the agreement on a modus Vi- 
vendi in April, 1916, a campaign of domestic agitation unparalleled in 
American history, it was only when this submarine peril seemed re- 
moved that the country at last appreciated clearly the extent to which 
its peace had been destroyed by the representatives of alien countries 
seeking to mobilize American public opinion against the Government of 
the United States and in support of the policies of other countries. Be- 
cause President Wilson had declined to submit to a German policy of 
murder on the high seas, German agents and German sympathizers 
conducted against him and his Administration in the United States and 
through the medium of the press and certain public men, a campaign of 
utmost hostility. 

Because the President and the Congress of the United States had 
declined to place an embargo upon the export of arms and munitions, 
both were assailed, and while the German influence still sought to force 
Congress to adopt an embargo, an ever-Increasing campaign of ruthless 
violence was directed against the munition plants, the shipping, and the 
communications within the country. The investigations of this period 
and of these activities, conducted In New York State at a later time 
under the brilliant direction of a Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Alfred 
L. Becker, revealed the extent to which money had been employed in 
the purchase of American newspapers and in the corruption of men en- 
gaged in publicity work. 

All this campaign centred In the German Embassy, where the Ger- 


man Ambassador, Count von Bernstorff, at one time conducted within 
the United States an ever-growing attack upon the President and the 
Government, and posed before the people of the United States as a 
friend of their country, seeking at all times to prevent his own govern- 
ment from taking extreme measures and precipitating a conflict. 

Rarely, if ever, in history, has there been such a spectacle as Bern- 
storff presented. He knew the American press, its machinery, its weak- 
nesses, and its strength. He made his embassy a gathering-place of 
newspaper correspondents; he talked to them frequently and with frank- 
ness. Through them he conducted a campaign of publicity of almost 
unrivalled extent. Day by day the German side of each controversy 
was set forth in all the papers of the United States, frequently in ad- 
vance of any statement of the Government itself. He made war upon 
the President and he mobilized not alone the German-American press 
animated by sympathies with Germany; not alone that section of the 
American press, like the journals of Mr. William R. Hearst — ^whose 
hostility to Great Britain and sympathy with Germany led him to trans- 
form his vast and influential newspapers into organs and agents of the 
German cause; but also newspapers whose policy was unquestionably 
pro-Ally, since he provided their correspondents with news valuable to 
the paper and took his pay in the publicity his own views thereby ac- 

Nor did the German Ambassador stop with mere manipulation of 
the press. In his embassy the destruction of munition plants was 
plotted. A paralysis of American Industry by strikes and disorders 
was prepared, and the murder of American citizens, alike In factories 
and on the high seas, was arranged. No single circumstance in all Mr. 
Wilson's policy of long-suff^ering, of patience In the hope of avoiding 
participation in the World War, was at once more striking, or for frac- 
tions of the American people, more humiliating than his toleration of 
Bernstorff, whose insolence knew no bounds, whose interference in 
American domestic affairs was beyond belief. In no other country 
in the world could Bernstorff have conducted a campaign against the 
Government and the peace of the nation to which he was accredited 


as the Ambassador of a friendly nation. Evil he was, unscrupulous, 
an intriguer whose whole career in America was ultimately exposed but 
what all the country finally learned must have been long known to the 
Government which permitted him to continue his operations. 

The Austrian Ambassador, by contrast a harmless and well-inten- 
tioned diplomat, was less fortunate and was obliged to leave the country 
at the request of the State Department after having been involved in 
the German campaign against munition plants. Several of Bernstorff's 
agents shared a similar fate, after disclosures which rendered their stay 
in the United States impossible, but Bernstorff himself remained, until 
the action of his own government led to the severing of diplomatic 
relations, and in the period between the interruption and the resumption 
of unrestricted submarine warfare — that is, between April, 19 16, and 
February, 191 7 — Bernstorff's activities rose to almost unbelievable 

In this same period President Wilson gave one more illustration of 
the fashion in which he held to the view that his own and his country's 
mission was to restore peace in the world. When the German Chancel- 
lor, following the German victories in Roumania, made his first proffer 
of peace in December, 1916, President Wilson was himself preparing to 
make a gesture which might contribute to an ending of the conflict. 
He knew, moreover, that Germany contemplated a resumption of her 
unrestricted submarine warfare if the Allies did not accept this peace 
proposal, which was in its very nature unacceptable, since he had 
been directly warned by our Ambassador in Berlin. 

It was unfortunate in the extreme that the President's own peace 
note followed so closely upon the German as to give it at least the colour 
of an attempt designed to strengthen Germany's hands; nor was it 
less humiliating to Americans in later times that this note had also the 
appearance of having been dictated by a desire to prevent a new sub- 
marine campaign. In Paris and Berlin the President was held to have 
openly aided Germany. In America it was felt that he had been co- 
erced into uttering his peace note by a German threat to resume sub- 
marine warfare if he did not support Germany's peace movement. 


The President's peace note was issued on December i8th. To the 
governments of the Central Powers the following communication was 

The suggestion which I am instructed to make, the President has long had it in 
mind to offer. He is somewhat embarrassed to offer it at this particular time because 
it may now seem to have been prompted by a desire to play a part in connection with 
the recent overtures of the Central Powers. It has, in fact, been in no way suggested 
by them in its origin, and the President would have delayed offering it until those over- 
tures had been independently answered but for the fact that it also contains the ques- 
tion of peace and may best be considered in connection with other proposals which 
have the same end in view. The President can only beg that his suggestion be con- 
sidered entirely on its own merits and as if it had been made in other circumstances. 

The note to the Allies was slightly different in respect of the paragraph 
quoted above but otherwise similar. In both the President suggested 
a re-statement on the part of each contestant of its war aims and its peace 
terms, which, he pointed out — in language that excited heart-burnings 
alike in London and Paris — were identical in statement. 

Each side desires to make the rights and privileges of weak peoples and small states 
as secure against aggression or denial in the future as the rights and privileges of the 
great and powerful states now at war. 

Each wishes itself to be made secure in the future, along with all other nations 
and peoples, against the recurrence of wars like this and against aggressions of selfish 
interference of any kind. Each would be jealous of the formation of any more rival 
leagues to preserve an uncertain balance of power amid multiplying suspicions; but 
each is ready to consider the formation of a league of nations to ensure peace and jus- 
tice throughout the world. Before that final step can be taken, however, each deems 
it necessary first to settle the issues of the present war upon terms which will cer- 
tainly safeguard the independence, the territorial integrity, and the political and com- 
mercial freedom of the nations involved. 

In the measures to be taken to secure the future peace of the world the people 
and Government of the United States are as vitally and as directly interested as the 
governments now at war. Their interest, moreover, in the means to be adopted to 
relieve the smaller and weaker peoples of the world of the peril of wrong and violence 
is as quick and ardent as that of any other people or government. They stand ready, 
and even eager, to cooperate in the accomplishment of these ends, when the war is 
over, with every influence and resource at their command. But the war must first 
be concluded. The terms upon which it is to be concluded they are not at liberty to 
suggest; but the President does feel that it is his right and his duty to point out their 
intimate interest in its conclusion, lest it should presently be too late to accomplish 
the greater things which lie beyond its conclusion; lest the situation of neutral nations. 


now exceedingly hard to endure, be rendered altogether intolerable; and lest, more 
than all, an injury be done civilization itself which can never be atoned for or repaired. 

Short of such a re-statement of war aims, short of some composition of 
the differences 

. . . the contest must continue to proceed toward undefined ends by slow attri- 
tion until one group of belligerents or the other is exhausted. If million after million 
of human lives must continue to be offered up until on the one side or the other there 
are no more to offer; if resentments must be kindled that can never cool and despairs 
engendered from which there can be no recovery, hopes of peace and of the willing 
concert of free peoples will be rendered vain and idle. 

Coincident with this utterance of the President there was an Inter- 
view with the Secretary of State, in which Mr. Lansing, in explaining the 
President's statement, said: 

I mean by that that we are drawing nearer the verge of war ourselves, and, there- 
fore, we are entitled to know exactly what each belligerent seeks in order that we may 
negotiate our conduct in the future. 

The President's intervention, as we have seen in the previous vol- 
ume, came to nothing, and a final German comment upon the failure 
contained the minatory declaration: 

Germany and her allies have made an honest attempt to terminate the war and 
open the road for an understanding among the belligerents. The Imperial Govern- 
ment asserts the fact that it merely depended upon the decision of our adversaries 
whether the road toward peace should be entered upon or not. The hostile govern- 
ments declined to accept this road. Upon them falls the full responsibility for the 
continuation of the bloodshed. 

Most significant of all perhaps in the President's note, and in the 
discussions of this moment, was the first general publicity given to the 
idea of the League of Nations contained in an address before the Senate 
on January 22nd, which was at the moment memorable not because of 
its extended reference to the League-of-Nations idea but because it 
contained an astounding assertion that one of the prerequisites was 
"peace without victory." No single phrase — since "too proud to 
fight" — produced such an unfortunate impression abroad or created 
such far-reaching criticism at home. In London and in Paris it was 


once more felt that the President had failed utterly to discriminate be- 
tween the moral status of the Allies and of their assailants; and, viewed 
in the light of this utterance, the President's whole action with respect 
to peace was wrongly and invariably interpreted as a championship of a 
German manoeuvre which was at once dishonest and dangerous, while 
for the President's League of Nations there was little but derision to be 
heard at this time. 

But whatever the President hoped or believed possible or probable 
in the world situation, he was called upon to lay aside both his hopes and 
his expectations when, on the last day of January, 1917, the Imperial 
German Government proclaimed a resumption of ruthless submarine 
warfare. This course was defended as the inevitable consequence 
of the British and French refusal to accept the German peace proffer. 
The "new situation," mentioned in the German pledge to the United 
States nearly a year before, had arrived, and Germany now resumed her 
freedom of action. She fixed barred zones about the British Isles and 
in the Mediterranean and announced that all ships, neutral and belliger- 
ent alike, found in those waters would be sunk. One regular American 
passenger ship a week was to be permitted to sail to and from Falmouth, 
provided that it complied with an intricate system of regulations as to 
course, cargo, and markings. 

On February 3rd the President appeared before Congress and in an 
extended address containing a review of the whole history of the sub- 
marine campaign, closed with this momentous statement: 

I think you will agree with me that, in view of this declaration, which suddenly 
and without prior intimation of any kind deliberately withdraws the solemn assurance 
given in the Imperial Government's note of the 4th of May, 1916, this Government has 
no alternative consistent with the dignity and honour of the United States but to take 
the course which, in its note of the i8th of April, 1916, it announced that it would take 
in the event that the German Government did not declare and effect an abandonment 
of the methods of submarine warfare which it was then employing and to which it now 
purposes again to resort. 

I have, therefore, directed the Secretary of State to announce to his Excellency the 
German Ambassador that all diplomatic relations between the United States and the 
German Empire are severed, and that the American Ambassador at Berlin will imme- 
diately be withdrawn; and, in accordance with this decision, to hand to his Excellency 
his passports. 


If the German Government should now be guilty of " an overt act " 
the President advised Congress that he would appear again before it to 
recommend further steps. 

Severance of diplomatic relations did not, of itself, mean war; but 
in Europe, as in America, it was recognized as only a preliminary step. 
Meantime, whatever popular emotion was aroused anew against Ameri- 
can participation in the war was definitively destroyed when, on the last 
day of February, the people of the United States learned from an ofllicial 
publication in their newspapers the astounding fact that, more than 
six weeks before, Germany had begun to prepare for war with the 
United States by seeking alliances with Japan and with Mexico, and 
that the German Foreign Minister, Zimmermann, had instructed the 
German Minister at Mexico City to undertake to procure an alliance 
with Mexico and induce Mexico to approach Japan with the same ob- 
ject. Mexico's reward for an attack upon the United States was to be 
the reconquest of her lost provinces of New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. 
The full text of Zimmermann's note is as follows : 

Bedin, Jan. 19, 1917. 

On the 1st of February we intend to begin submarine warfare unrestricted. In 
spite of this, it is our intention to endeavour to keep neutral the United States of 

If this attempt is not successful, we propose an alliance on the following basis with 
Mexico: That we shall make war together and together make peace. We shall give 
general financial support, and it is understood that Mexico is to reconquer the lost 
territory in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The details are left to you for set- 

You are instructed to inform the President of Mexico of the above in the greatest 
confidence as soon as it is certain that there will be an outbreak of war with the United 
States, and suggest that the President of Mexico, on his own initiative, should commu- 
nicate with Japan suggesting adherence at once to his plan. At the same time, offer 
to mediate between Germany and Japan. 

Please call to the attention of the President of Mexico that the employment of 
ruthless submarine warfare now promises to compel England to make peace in a few 


Since the Lusitania Massacre nothing had happened which had so 
profoundly aroused American indignation. The last possibility of 


effective opposition to American entrance into the war disappeared. 
A filibuster in the Senate in the closing days of the session — designed 
to prevent the passage of a resolution empowering the President 
to arm American merchant vessels — ^was in itself the last stand 
of the opponents of war, and while exciting momentary passion, 
was of minor importance. When President Wilson again took office on 
March 4th he had the support of the nation in a policy which was 
universally recognized as bound to lead to war with Germany within 
the briefest possible time. The Zimmermann note had demonstrated 
beyond all question the impossibility of avoiding conflict with a nation 
which, having asserted the right to bar our ships and citizens from the 
sea and to murder Americans who undertook to exercise their un- 
questioned right to travel on the ocean, was now inciting America's 
neighbours to attack her by promises of American territory if the United 
States ventured to protect the lives of its own citizens. 

When, on April 2nd, Congress assembled in pursuance of a call of 
the President to Extraordinary Session, Mr. Wilson spoke to it the words 
for which the country was now waiting with impatience. This address 
reviewed at length the long list of injuries suffered by the American 
Government and people at the hands of the Germans and recognized 
at last that the German submarine warfare was a warfare against man- 
kind and against all nations. If American ships had been sunk the chal- 
lenge was after all not merely to America but to all mankind. The Presi- 
dent advised Congress that in his judgment it should declare the recent 
course of the Imperial German Government to be war against the Govern- 
ment and people of the United States; that it accept it as such, and that 
it take steps to exert all the country's power and employ all its resources 
to bring the Government of the German Empire to terms. 
Concerning American purpose the President said : 

Our purpose now, as then, is to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the 
life of the world against selfish and autocratic power and to set up among the really 
free and self-governed peoples of the world such a concert of purpose and action as 
will henceforth insure the observance of those principles. . . . 

We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them 
but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their govern- 
ment acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. 


It was a war determined upon as wars used to be determined upon in the old, 
unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers and wars were 
provoked and waged in the interest of dynasties or of little groups of ambitious men 
who were accustomed to use their fellowmen as pawns and tools. 

Commenting upon the recent experience of the Mexican intrigue^ 
which he described as a challenge of hostile purpose which his own 
country was about to accept, he said: 

We are now about to accept gauge of battle with this natural foe to liberty, and 
shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its preten- 
tions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pre- 
tense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the libera- 
tion of its peoples, the German people included; for the rights of nations great and 
small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. 
The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the 
tested foundations of political liberty. 

We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek 
no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely 
make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satis- 
fied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of the 
nations can make them. 

The President closed his address thus : 

It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have 
performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial 
and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great, peaceful people into 
war — into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be 
in the balance. 

But the Right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which 
we have always carried nearest our hearts — for democracy, for the right of those who 
submit to authority to have a voice in their own government, for the rights and liber- 
ties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples 
as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. 

To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are 
and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come 
when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that 
gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, 
she can do no other. 

Following the President's address a resolution declaring that war 
existed with Germany was introduced both in the Senate and the House. 
On April 5th the resolution was adopted by the Senate and passed by 
the House by a vote of 373 to 50 and the following day the President 


issued a proclamation that a state of war existed between the Imperial 
German Government and the United States. 


The announcement that the United States had severed diplomatic 
relations with Germany reached London and Paris at the moment when 
the populations of both cities were suffering from the consequences of 
the most severe winter since the siege of Paris. The news was read 
to soldiers in the trenches, whose sufferings in this same tragic winter 
were almost indescribable. To the French and the British armies, still 
expecting a short and victorious campaign, the news of American par- 
ticipation was still one more evidence of the approach of victory. 

The American declaration of war preceded by only three days the 
British offensive at Arras, and at least one American flag was carried 
by the victorious Canadian troops who climbed Vimy Ridge. When the 
British operation had ceased and the French attack had failed, when the 
morale of the Allied armies and Allied populations was beginning to 
decline dangerously, the arrival of General Pershing in Paris, with that 
small vanguard of the American hosts that were to come, served as a 
counter-weight to all the influences that made for pessimism and urged 
surrender. As the Russian Revolution continued to disorganize the 
great eastern ally until it fell first into chaos and then into a powerless- 
ness which ended in the capitulation to Bolshevism, the coming of 
America served more and more to encourage those who saw, in the 
defection of Russia, Allied disaster and defeat. 

Faithful to his ideal of preserving for his country, untarnished by 
any military effort, the rule of arbitrator and peacemaker, Mr. Wilson 
had kept America unarmed from August, 1914, to April, 1917. It 
was therefore impossible now for American divisions to march. It was 
necessary to arm the country. It was necessary first of all to invoke the 
draft and send the male population of the nation to training camps. 
If valuable service could be rendered by the Navy in combating the 
submarine peril, on the military side a full year must pass before any- 
thing was possible. The war became thus, as Mr. Lloyd George said 


at a later time, a race between the Kaiser and Wilson, although in 1917 
the real gravity of the situation was not revealed. Still it was trans- 
parent to all the well-informed that America was the last hope of the 
Allies, and this in substance was the message brought by Balfour and 
Viviani, and by Marshal Joffre himself, when they came to the United 
States immediately after the declaration of war. 

During 1917, save on the naval side, American contribution to the 
common cause was on the moral rather than on the military side. The 
German continued to believe, and certain portions of the Allied public 
still cherished the fear, that Germany would win before America could 
arrive. Both contending parties saw that if America could prepare 
before Germany attained a decisive victory, the latter's defeat was 
inevitable, and in that hope the Allied governments continued. 

Meantime that gulf which had opened between the people of America 
and those of France and Britain was closed. For two years English- 
men and Frenchmen had seen with amazement American persist- 
ence in a neutrality which to both could but seem immoral selfishness, 
proof that the American democracy was in fact corrupt. More and 
more bitterly France and Great Britain criticized American blindness 
and inactivity in the presence of a moral duty. Had the war finished 
without American participation, even though the Allies had won, many 
years must have passed before America's course could have been for- 
gotten. As it was, America's decision in a single hour abolished all 
misunderstandings. The hesitations, the baitings, the incomprehen- 
sible twistings and turnings of American policy were forgotten. Be- 
tween the three great Western democracies not only was old friend- 
ship restored, but a new sense of nearness and association was aroused. 
The American flag flew over the Houses of Parliament, where no foreign 
flag had ever before waved, and General Pershing and his scanty com- 
panies of American troops were welcomed as no foreign troops had 
ever been welcomed in Great Britain or in France. 

All this the German witnessed, not without misgivings. All through 
the summer of 19 17 German and Austrian intrigues to procure peace 
went forward. They were thwarted by German military power, which 


was still confident of victory, and, with Russia in its grasp, was pre- 
paring to dispose of western armies before America arrived. Yet it is 
hardly too much to say that before America was able to put a single 
regiment or even a full company upon the firing line in France, American 
participation in the war had contributed decisively to repulsing the 
peace oflPensive of 1917, as American troops, in July of the following 
year, were to supply the necessary reserves to enable Foch to launch 
that counter-offensive which broke the "peace storm" of Ludendorff's 
hitherto unbeaten armies. 

If America came late, came ill-prepared, came incapable immediately 
of more than a moral contribution, this contribution was hardly less 
decisive in averting a peace which must have preserved for Germany 
many of the fruits of her conquest than was the force of our man-power 
in ensuring German military defeat one year later. Had we lingered 
but a few more months; had the country, when it entered the war, 
continued a policy of hesitation and half measures, the campaign of 
191 8 would unquestionably have ended in a decisive German victory. 
The fact that, however late our entrance, we came as a united nation 
— prepared for every sacrifice, ready to make every effort — atoned in 
no small measure for previous delay and enabled us, by a very narrow 
margin, to perform a sufficient portion of the task which had devolved 
upon us to win the war. Napoleon's decision to go to Moscow and the 
Kaiser's resolution to resume ruthless submarine warfare must remain, 
in history, two of the most colossal mistakes of which there is any 
record, since each of them resulted in the fall of an empire and the ruin 
of a grandiose conception of world denomination. 





Allied strategy in the campaign of 1916 had been comprehended in a 
grand concentric attack upon the Central Powers in which British, 
French, Italian, and Russian armies, together with the Allied forces at 
Salonica and the British forces in Mesopotamia and Egypt, sought by 
coordinated and combined attack to exhaust the man-power of Ger- 
many and her allies, break through the circle of defences and win the 

This plan had, on the whole, met with general failure despite local 
successes. The German offensive at Verdun, beginning in February, 
while unsuccessful in itself, had materially diminished French man- 
power and contributed to lessening the weight of the blow at the Somme. 
The Anglo-French offensive at the Somme had failed to achieve any 
immediate sweeping victory and had degenerated into a fight from 
trench to trench. Italy's blow at Gorizia had been no more successful, 
while the Russian offensive, after tremendous opening victories, had been 
beaten down. 

Having thus checked her foes on all her fronts, Germany was able, 
in the closing months of 1916, to pass to the offensive, crush Roumania, 
and win a victory unquestioned on the military side and hardly to be 
exaggerated in its moral effect. 

Nevertheless on all the fronts the Allies could point to local gains, to 
brilliant tactical achievements. Verdun had been saved, the British 
army had been trained on a battlefield on which material progress had 
been made, Russian armies had returned triumphantly to the scenes 
of their victories of 1914, even the Salonica army had reached Monastir. 
Therefore, though these results had been inconclusive in the larger 



sense, it was plain that Allied strategy for the campaign of 1917 would 
seek to follow that of the preceding year — to attempt, following the 
example of Grant in the Civil War, to exert pressure over the whole 
vast expanse of front until, if by no other means, at least by attrition, 
the enemy should be exhausted. 

General Nivelle, when he succeeded JoflFre in December, found await- 
ing him plans of his predecessor calling for an immediate and general 
offensive all along the line. The general scheme he adopted; the details 
of the attack he modified to suit his own peculiar conceptions. Under 
Nivelle, as under Joffre — at the beginning of 191 7, as at the outset of the 
campaign of the previous year — Allied strategy was comprehended in 
the general attack of all the armies of the Allies. It was an essential 
condition to success that all the Allied armies should be ready to move 
at the same time, that the movement should be coordinated and that 
each of the greater Allies should be capable of as considerable an ef- 
fort as that of the preceding year. The elimination of a single one of 
the great European Powers allied against Germany was bound to be 
fatal to the whole plan since it would give to Germany and her allies 
superiority in numbers, and since they occupied the central position, 
would enable them to beat down any attack swiftly and surely. 

Allied strategy in 1917 was, therefore, conditioned upon the per- 
sistence of Russia. When Russia fell to revolution and chaos in the 
first months of the campaign, their entire conception fell also, and Ger- 
many was able to win considerable victories alike from France, Britain, 
and Italy. In point of fact, Russia was so nearly gone at the moment 
when the campaign opened that it seems impossible not to believe that 
history will deal severely with those who were responsible for sending 
French and British armies to inevitable defeat at the Craonne Plateau 
and Passchendaele against an enemy strongly entrenched and capable 
of matching division against division. 

But Allied High Command — like Allied statesmanship — from the 
beginning to the end of the campaign of 1917, was blind to the truth 
so far as Russia was concerned. It continued to believe in effective 
Russian participation when there was no basis for such belief. It 


continued to hope when hope itself had become patently illusory. 
The result was that the campaign of 19 17 developed into a series of 
fruitless separate attacks which successively exhausted the morale of 
the French, the British, and the Italian armies, and prepared the way 
for the Italian disaster of Caporetto and the crushing British defeat 
in the Battle of Picardy in the following year. To understand the cam- 
paign, however, it is essential to bear in mind the Allied conception of 
coordinated and concomitant attacks on all fronts, seeking victory 
as the result of equal pressure exerted at many points and putting a 
strain upon German man-power beyond its capacity, 

German strategy, on the other hand, was solidly based upon an 
accurate knowledge of the facts. The German could calculate — and 
did — that the Russian conditions would, before the end of the year, 
practically, if not absolutely, eliminate the Russian foe. He could con- 
tinue to follow the strategy of the past from which he had departed 
only in his attack upon Verdun and, holding fast in the west, finish with 
Russia. Thereafter, with his hands free, he would be able to concen- 
trate his entire strength in a colossal and final effort to wrest a deci- 
sion from the armies of France and Britain. 

Therefore the German campaign of 1917 resolves itself into the story 
of a successful defensive in the west combined with such activity as 
was necessary in the east, activity of propaganda even more than of 
arms, to complete the destruction of the military power of Russia. The 
German at the opening of 1917 said: "This year I shall hold France 
and Britain, so far as my armies are concerned, while I dispose of Rus- 
sia. But coincident with the defensive on land in the west I shall use 
my submarine warfare so to harry Allied commerce as to bring famine 
to Britain and exhaustion to the factories of France. Almost certainty 
in submarine campaign will bring Britain to surrender. Even if it 
does not I shall be able next year to dispose of both, and finally win the 

The submarine was an essential element in the calculation. The 
German believed that relentless submarine warfare would effectively 
blockade Britain and equally effectively prevent the transport of Amer- 


From a French Official Photograph 


Copyright by Underwood y Unienvood 





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- ""•' 1^ > , , -.i»' 

- - -•■ ■ ** 


Copyright by I.^nder:iccd y Under'J-ood 


Copyright by Underwood l^ Underwood 

Above — Cavalry resting near the Pol-Arras road. 

Centre — Cavalry awaiting orders to advance. 

Below — German prisoners helping to bring in the wounded to an advanced dressing-station. 

Copyright by Committee on Public Information 




lean troops to the Continent. He did not reckon with America as a 
miHtary force. He did not conceive of the possibility of the transport 
of vast American armies to Europe. He saw only the European factors 
in the game, and, seeing them alone, he saw victory. In this he reas- 
onecj not inaccurately, since only the arrival of American numbers en- 
sured his ultimate defeat. 


Having deliberately adopted the defensive on the western front, the 
German had to face immediate conditions which were unfavourable in 
the extreme. As a consequence of the Battle of the Somme, a broad, 
deep salient had been driven into his old line. At the outset, when the 
armies dug in between the Aisne and the Channel, he had had the ad- 
vantage of time in the selection of his positions, and in the months that 
followed he had transformed these positions into a fortress. At the open- 
ing of the Battle of the Somme he held practically every vantage point 
from the Lys to Champagne. 

But in the Battle of the Somme he had been pushed off the high 
ground; that portion of his force about Noyon nearest Paris found its 
rear and communications menaced by Allied gains from Peronne to Roye. 
The other section of his armies north of the Somme as far as Arras 
was equally menaced by the ever-growing British wedge driven toward 
Bapaume. British artillery had now gained the upper hand along the 
whole front and in inferior positions the German was compelled to 
take the medicine that had been the portion of the Allies for two years. 

More than this, it was apparent from the beginning of the year that 
Allied attacks would be delivered from all the vantage points gained in 
the Battle of the Somme, and the enemy knew that during the winter 
British and French engineers had been busy constructing railroads and 
highways up to that new front and preparing for the attack of the com- 
ing campaign. 

Given his experience at the Somme, given the advantage of the 
position the enemy now occupied, it was clear to the German that he was 
doomed to suffer at least considerable local defeats if he maintained the 


position in which he stood when the operations of the previous year 
terminated. He had therefore to choose between accepting battle on 
unfavourable ground, with the certainty of suffering local defeats, and 
of being compelled to make local retreats during the progress of the 
campaign, or solving all his difficulties by declining battle and retiring, 
in advance of attack, to new positions on more favourable ground. 

On the military side the advantages of a general retirement were 
patent. The territory occupied had no value; it contained no cities 
of size, no industrial plants of value to the invader; much of it had been 
torn by shell fire, wasted by two and a half years of military occupation; 
the vantage points had been lost in the campaign of 1916, and were now 
securely in enemy hands. Allied success at the Somme had removed 
the chance of any push toward Paris from the Noyon salient. A retire- 
ment which would shorten and straighten his line, iron out the bulging 
and dangerous salients, releasing a certain number of troops, would be 
of obvious profit to the German. 

On the other hand, a retreat, and a considerable retreat, the first in 
the west since the Marne campaign, would unquestionably bestow a 
great moral advantage upon the Allies. Following the repulse at Ver- 
dun and the considerable if gradual retirement at the Somme, it was 
bound to be interpreted in Allied quarters not merely as proof of victory 
in a past campaign but as the beginning of the end in the war itself. 
Coming at the opening of a new campaign it was bound to awaken new 
hopes and inspire greater efforts in Allied armies. 

Notwithstanding the moral consequences of retreat, however, the 
German decision was quickly made. Hindenburg who, at the close of 
19 1 6 had risen to supreme command, had now come west and, what was 
of more importance, he had brought with him LudendorfF, henceforth 
the great figure on the German side and certainly one of the great 
figures in military history. The prestige of Hindenburg, now at its 
apex, was sufficient to deprive a retirement of any sting for the German 
public, while the confidence of the German people alike in their military 
idol and in their victorious prospects was sufficient to avoid any danger- 
ous depression at home. 


Therefore, by the ist of January, German High Command had 
resolved upon the wide swinging retreat to new Hnes and by the first 
week in February this great operation began. 


The German retirement in the late winter and early spring of 1917 
is one of the great strategic conceptions of the whole war. It trans- 
formed the entire character of the campaign of 191 7, it totally dislocated 
all Allied strategy in the west. By shortening the German line and by 
creating on nearly a hundred miles of front a desert without roads or 
communications it released many German divisions whose presence in 
Flanders and about the Aisne sufficed to defeat British and French 
offensives. At the moment when it developed, Allied plans and prep- 
arations were complete for a gigantic offensive extending from Arras 
to Soissons. By it all these plans and preparations were rendered useless 
and, instead of attacking on the ground they had chosen, the Allies were 
forced to decide between assault on narrow fronts, precisely where the 
enemy had made his great counter-preparations, and abandoning the 
offensive altogether. 

It would be difficult to find in all history, certainly in all records of 
modern warfare, a more simple or more brutal policy than that which 
was expressed in the German retreat. Stripped of all disguise of 
euphemism German strategy was to turn a thousand square miles of 
fertile fields, smiling villages, busy towns into an absolute desert. 
Retiring to new positions selected in advance, prepared with every art 
of military science, the German willed to leave between himself and his 
enemies an indescribable region of bridgeless rivers, broken cities, 
destroyed railways. He reasoned — and he reasoned correctly — that 
with such a destruction any great Allied offensive on a wide front in the 
west would be impossible in 1917, and he calculated that in the respite 
gained he would be able to deal finally with Russia and then, turning 
westward, try again — as he had tried at the Marne and once more at 
Verdun — for decisive victory. 

The story of German devastation between Arras and Soissons is one 




The solid black from Lens to Craonne shows the 
country ravaged by the Germans in their great retreat 
to the Hindenburg Line or in the construction of this line 

which almost taxes imagina- 
tion to believe. Rivers were 
dammed and wide areas flooded ; 
towns and villages were razed 
to the ground; fruit trees and 
shade trees were methodically 
felled and lay in prostrate rows; 
every vestige of human habita- 
tion and human occupation 
was removed with meticulous 
care. Standing on one of the 
hills of Picardy when the Ger- 
man had gone, and looking east- 
ward toward his new position, 
one might fancy oneself in the 
midst of the Sahara with noth- 
ing but the shifting sand lacking 
to complete the picture of utter 

On the military side this was 
sound policy. It was the ulti- 
mate example of the German 
idea of war 
making. To 
serve German 
military needs 
it was advan- 
tageous to cre- 
ate a desert, 
to remove the 
means of com- 

The small bit of by which the 

black south of Ypres shows territory re-conquered by the British in the June . . , 

attack on the Messines-^Whitesheet" Ridge. IOC might ap- 


proach his own lines, to remove the habitations in which this foe might 
find shelter in the coming winter. To make observation of his airmen 
easy, it was important to eliminate every possible means of cover. And 
since these were the facts the German did not hesitate. From the vil- 
lages, from towns, he evicted the miserable remnant of the population 
which had failed to escape in the first weeks of the war and had lived 
in ever-growing wretchedness thereafter. Herding these people in a few 
scattered villages, sweeping off the able-bodied men and women to be- 
come his labourers or worse, he applied the torch, the bomb, the mine; 
for weeks after his retreat began the nights were lurid with the flames 
of burning villages and the earth shook with the explosions which de- 
stroyed towns and villages; while behind him he left every form of 
hellish device — delayed mine, booby trap — to slay his pursuers. 

When he had completed his task of destruction and was within his 
own lines the German looked westward upon a waste hardly to be 
paralleled in Europe. Not a tree, not a wall, not a sign of human 
residence was to be seen from his front, and there were miles and miles 
of what had once been the garden land of France in which the only 
things left intact were those colossal cemeteries which the German had 
constructed on conquered territory and the huge, barbaric monuments 
he had erected to his own dead. And even as he honoured his own dead 
he dragged bodies of French men and women from their cemeteries, 
scattered their bones, defaced and defiled their monuments, as if to 
demonstrate that not even the dead themselves were to be spared in his 
rage of destruction. 


The actual details of the German retreat are simply told. The 
winter of 191 7 was one of almost unprecedented cold. Much snow fell 
in northern France and for several weeks in January and February the 
temperature fell to zero Fahrenheit. The ground was frozen, military 
operations were impossible, aerial observations inaccurate and unsatis- 
factory, and in this time the German slowly and steadily moved his 
heavy artillery backward. In the words of Sir Douglas Haig — *The 
task of obtaining the amount of railway material to meet the demands of 



our armies, and of carrying out the work of construction at the rate 
rendered necessary by our plans, in addition to providing labour and 
materials for the necessary repair of roads, was one of the very greatest 
difficulty." On February 6th the British reported a German retire- 
ment out of Grandcourt on the arc facing Beaumont Hamel, the scene 
of desperate fighting In the last campaign. Through February there 
were multiplying reports of slight German retreats, retreats which 

tN O RTH:=S Efi\. 


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MOV f\ f" *>^ ^ 


scAic or Miia 


The solid black shows territory occupied by the Allies at the close of the Hindenburg 
retreat in 1918. The white line from Arras to Soissons shows the front at the opening of the 
Battle of the Somme in July, 1916. Both Arras and Soissons were then in Allied hands. 
The white line from La Bassee through Beauvais, Meaux, Esternay, Vitry, to Verdun and south 
of Verdun shows the limit of German advance in the Mame campaign of 1914. 

seemed at the moment rather rectifications of the front, and this impres- 
sion was confirmed by frequent German newspaper and official com- 
munications trumpeting the impregnability of the main German posi- 
tion while conceding and thus minimizing slight retirements. 

It was not until the middle of March that the real movement began. 
Then as the winter broke the weather became misty, the ground soft. 


Of a sudden, on the whole front from Arras to Solssons, the German 
began to go back. Day by day the retirement spread and grew. 
AlKed newspapers were filled with the account of the occupation of 
town after town and village after village which had been the unattained 
objectives of two years of fighting. Bapaume, Ham, Peronne, Noyon, 
were successively evacuated and occupied. Allied advance guards lost 
touch with the German rear guards and, for the first time in nearly 
three years of war, troops advanced in the open again and for the 
moment trenches disappeared. 

It would be difficult to exaggerate the momentary burst of enthu- 
siasm and joy which was evoked by the news of this German retreat. 
British and French publics alike, fired with the idea of the Somme as a 
decisive victory and Verdun as a colossal disaster, interpreted the German 
retirement as a confession of final defeat. The progress of the submarine 
campaign, the ever-deepening anxieties about Russia, were forgotten 
in the few days when Allied troops moved forward from the Scarpe to 
the Aisne over territory which had been lost since August, 1914. 

Yet very early in the retreat it became patent that the German was 
drawing back deliberately, without disorder, in accordance with me- 
thodical, well-conceived plans. He left behind him neither prisoners nor 
guns. He took with him everything of the smallest value in all the 
country he had occupied, and what he did not move, he destroyed. 
Even the enthusiasm of the French soldiers pushing forward over a 
regained province could hardly dispel the agony of the whole French 
nation as it began to learn the extent of devastation and desolation 
which the German was leaving behind him. 

At the moment when the retreat disclosed itself. Allied capitals were 
filled with speculation as to the extent of the withdrawal. Would it 
be to the frontier, as had long been forecast by military writers.'' If 
the German was actually hard pushed for numbers, if his man-power 
was in fact failing as the Allied critics asserted, no lesser retirement 
would suffice, and in the middle of March, Allied publics looked con- 
fidently forward to the swift arrival of French and British armies at the 
Belgian frontier from the Scheldt to the Meuse. The liberation of 


northern France, even the invasion of Germany, seemed at hand in that 
brief but joyous interlude between the hour when the German left his 
old battle-line and the moment when he was disclosed standing again 
behind those positions which henceforth for more than a year were to 
be known as the Hindenburg Line. That the German still felt himself 
victorious and certain to win the war was perhaps most clearly demon- 
strated by the ruthlessness of this retreat. Such destruction as he 
left behind him would have been unthinkable had he conceived for a 
single moment that he might lose the war and be compelled to restore the 
regions he had devastated, or had he thought that an hour might come 
when Allied armies would be able to enter German territory and, if they 
chose, imitate in the Rhine lands that policy which had turned so much 
of northern France into a waste. 

On the merely statistical side the German destruction totally oblit- 
erated 264 villages, 225 churches, and more than 38,000 houses. On the 
artistic side, some of the most beautiful monuments of Europe were re- 
duced to cinders; the splendid castle of Coucy-le-Chateau, hardly 
matched in the world, was transformed by dynamite into a shapeless 
pile; famous chateaux, churches, public buildings shared the same 
fate ; the statues of the great Frenchmen of the past were torn from their 
pedestals ; wells were filled or poisoned ; the British army, entering the 
smoking ruins of Bapaume, saw before it a huge sign on which was 
painted the legend: "Show not wrath but wonder.'* 

The German newspapers themselves frankly described the work 
of German hands. "All the country is but an immense and sad desert," 
said the Berliner Tageblatt, "without a tree, a bush, or a house. Our 
pioneers have sawed and cut the trees which for days have fallen until 
the whole surface of the earth is swept clear; the wells are filled up, the 
villages abolished. Dynamite cartridges explode on all sides; the at- 
mosphere is obscured by dust and smoke." 

Since the days of Attila, Europe has seen no such wanton and 
terrible waste of a country, and no modern people has ever accumulated 
such a debt as did the German people by this supreme offence against 



It remains now to describe the line on which the German retired, 
which instantly became famous as the Hindenburg Line, while for its 
various ramifications it borrowed names from German legend. 

The German retreat had swung inward from two fixed points, which 
were in a sense the hinges. These fixed points were Vimy Ridge, north 
of Arras, and the Craonne Plateau, north of Soissons. Each was a 
commanding position fortified by all the art of the German military en- 
gineers, each was regarded by the Germans as itself impregnable and as 
a guarantee against any flank attack. 

Between these two anchorages the Hindenburg Line hung like a 
cable. From Vimy Ridge it ran straight across the Douai Plain, cover- 
ing Douai and Cambrai. Thence it turned south on the high ground 
between the Scheldt and the Somme, covered St. Quentin, crossed to 
the Oise, and followed the east bank of the flooded river until it reached 
the enormous bulwark of St. Gobain Forest, which was like a central 
support, an impregnable barrier of forest and hill. Beyond the St. 
Gobain Forest it passed south of Laon across the region between the 
Ailette and the Aisne, touched the Aisne east of Soissons, and then fol- 
lowed the course of the famous Craonne Plateau where Napoleon and 
Bliicher had fought, crossing the famous Chemin-des-Dames which 
ran along the crest of the plateau. Beyond Craonne it turned south- 
ward, following the old trace to those dismantled forts from which for 
more than two and a half years the German artillery had continued to 
pour shells into the city and cathedral of Rheims. 

To defend this Hindenburg Line the German had constructed not 
one or several trench lines but a great fortified zone some ten or twelve 
miles deep in places. This zone was lined with immense concrete 
machine-gun positions ; it was covered by vast meshes of barbed wire. 

Between the Scarpe below Vimy Ridge and the Oise south of St. 
Quentin, where it crossed open, rolling country, the German defence 
borrowed the swells, cunningly constructed dug-outs and concrete pill- 
boxes behind each upward curve of the ground; while behind the main 


fortified zone he constructed support or switch Hnes which sei'ved the 
purpose of compartments in an ocean Hner and enabled him to hold the 
major part of his main fortified zone even though it were penetrated at 
some point. 

To the eye the Hindenburg Line was not impressive, it was not a 
mass of great forts. It lacked those redoubts and "works" famous in 
the Battle of the Somme which offered such admirable targets to enemy 
artillery. It was organization in depth, and the German coined the 
phrase "elastic defence*' to describe his tactics. Holding the outer 
fringe of the fortified zone lightly, but with picked troops and a wealth of 
machine guns, the German permitted his assailants to enmesh them- 
selves and, when they advanced and became entangled in the outer 
series of lines, German reserves counter-attacked the exhausted and 
heavily punished troops. 

The main elements in this new defence line were the concrete works 
so camouflaged as to escape the observation of the airmen, so spaced 
as to deliver deadly cross fire upon attacking troops, and sufficiently 
strong to offer protection to the three or four men who constituted 
the garrison, alike against artillery and against tanks. In this system 
positions such as had been contested in previous campaigns counted 
for little. Even when he had lost Vimy Ridge, the German retired to a 
switch line running across the plain and easily halted further advance 
of victorious British troops. 

The natural obstacles in the pathway of the assailants of the Hinden- 
burg Line were of two sorts. The Douai Plain is cut with many canals; 
the rivers are inconsiderable, but the canals, doubling the rivers in many 
places, constitute a protection against tanks and a difficult barrier for 
infantry to negotiate. Of these waterways the unfinished Canal du 
Nord, going northward from Peronne to the Douai Plain, and the Scheldt 
Canal going up from St. Quentin to Cambrai, played the most consider- 
able part both in 1917 and 1918. The Oise River, from the point 
where the line touched it south of St. Quentin to La Fere, was trans- 
formed into an impassable lake. In addition to the water obstacles, 
Havrincourt Wood, where the Canal du Nord reaches the Douai Plain, 


and Bourlon Woods looking down on Cambrai and the St. Gobain 
Forest, were the most considerable; and the first two were scenes of 
desperate fighting. 

Yet in the main, from the Scarpe to the Oise the country was open, 
rolhng, a country of far views with hills little above the general level, a 
country admirably suited for artillery, and, when the German had swept 
it clear of villages and cover of every sort, a country in which every 
movement of the Allies could be promptly discovered and every in- 
fantry attack terribly punished. 

And German purpose expressed in this system of defence was not 
to hold any given point but rather to exact such a price from the assail- 
ant as to break the spirit of the army and exhaust the man-power of the 
nation. The German calculated, and calculated correctly, that given 
the devastation before his line and the long months of labour that must 
ensue before the Allied troops could attack his new front, he could with 
relatively restricted numbers hold out in the west until the task in the 
east was completed. He further reasoned that by retiring from the old 
front, now dominated by the enemy from positions which he had lost, 
to a line of his own choosing, he would regain strategic freedom; and 
if the hour arrived to return to the offensive he would be able to strike 
with every advantage of position and communication in his own 

In sum, then, the great German retreat resulted: first, in giving the 
German a shorter front and thus releasing many divisions for service 
at other points; secondly, the devastation, demonstrating as it did what 
German tactics would be if German armies were compelled to make fur- 
ther retirement, insensibly but unmistakably affected French morale. 
While French armies were still fresh, with the great offensive still in 
preparation, a burning passion of anger fired the French nation; but when 
the French army had broken against the Hindenburg Line, when the 
spring offensive had come and failed, the effect of this terrible destruc- 
tion was more and more potent for peace in a war-weary people. Thirdly, 
by his retirement, the German totally disarranged the Allied plan of 
attack. Instead of a colossal drive upon a great front the French and 


the British were condemned to attack upon narrow fronts; and the Ger- 
man, immune from assault for many months along the whole stretch 
of his main front, was able to mass his reserves on those narrow sectors 
left to his enemy to attack. Finally, as the German commentators 
affirmed at the time, thereby exciting Allied derision, the German re- 
gained strategic liberty of action. The Hindenburg Line was not 
merely a defensive position; it was to prove a most admirable point 
of departure for that stupendous attack of the following year which 
so nearly won the war. 




The honour of opening the campaign in the west fell to the British. 
For the first time in the history of the war the British had consented to 
place their armies under the direction of a French generalissimo. Yield- 
ing to the representations of the French Government and of the new 
French Commander-in-Chief, the British had agreed that, for the period 
of the first great attack, British troops should obey the orders of Gen- 
eral Nivelle, although it was carefully specified that it should be for 
Field Marshal Haig to determine when the opening battle had ended, 
and thus terminate the period in which he served as a subordinate. 

Originally the British had expected to open the spring operations 
by a renewal of the Battle of the Somme, launching converging attacks 
upon the German troops in the salient between the Ancre and the Scarpe 
rivers, but their main stroke for the year was to be delivered in the 
region of Ypres and to have, for its larger purpose, piercing the German 
line on the Passchendaele Ridge, driving a wedge between the Kaiser's 
troops along the Belgian seacoast and in France, and compelling a with- 
drawal from that narrow strip of sea-front, become so important in the 
new German submarine operations. 

The great German retreat eliminated the necessity of a new Battle 
of the Somme; but the weather was not suitable, nor were the prepara- 
tions completed, for opening the Flanders campaign in April. There- 
fore, since the French scheme called for an immediate attack, it was 
necessary for the British to strike at once, and there was left to them 
as an available front only that narrow strip of German line between 
La Bassee and Arras where the German still stood in the positions he 
occupied from the moment when the western battle became stationary. 



Moreover, on that portion of this front facing Arras, Haig had planned 
one of his two converging attacks before the general retreat and had 
made the necessary preparations. 

The central feature of this available front was the great Vimy Ridge, 
the northern pivot or hinge of the recent German retreat, one of the 
commanding landmarks of the whole western front, which had already 
been the objective of two terrible but unsuccessful offensives. Like the 
Craonne Plateau to the south and the St. Gobain Forest east of the Oise, 
Vimy Ridge was one of the essential bulwarks in the German defensive 

Starting at the Straits of Dover, about Calais, there is a great chalk 
ridge which rises in gradual folds from the sea and breaks down abruptly 
into the northern plain of France and Belgium. Down its eastern 
slopes come all the little rivers tributary to the Scheldt, while the valley 
of the Somme marks its southern limit. When, in the fall of 1 9 14, the 
German dug in after his failure to reach the Channel, he occupied the 
easternmost crests of this highland. Behind him the land sloped 
rapidly down to the plain. All the fighting of the various Allied offen- 
sives from Loos to the Somme had been attempts to drive the German 
off the high ground down into the plain. His retirement, under pres- 
sure, at the Somme and his great retreat had carried him down into the 
plain from the southern outskirts of Arras to the country south of 
Cambrai, but at Vimy he was still on high ground from which he com- 
manded the country in all directions. 

Vimy Ridge itself is a long isolated hill nearly five hundred feet above 
sea-level and more than two hundred feet above the plain. Approaching 
it from the westward the ascent is gradual and long, but on the eastern 
side it falls down abruptly into the plain. To the northward it is 
separated from the heights of Notre-Dame de Lorette and the plateau 
above Lens, on which the Battle of Loos was fought, by the little 
muddy brook of Carency, which at Lens takes on the name and dignity 
of the Souchez River. To the south it touches the Scarpe River just 
after that stream, also insignificant, emerges from the eastern suburbs 
of Arras. 


The solid black from Lens to Croisilles shows the front of the British offensive 
of April 9th and the territory conquered between April 9th and May 5th in the 
Battle of Arras. The solid black north of Soissons and north of Rheims indicates 
the territory gained by the French in their offensive of April l6th and the front of 
attack extending from just north of Soissons to Rheims. 



From Vimy the Germans looked down upon Arras as they surveyed 
Soissons from the western edge of the Craonne Plateau and dominated 
Rheims from the old forts of Brimont and Nogent-rAbbesse. As their 
line stood on the first days of April, 1917, they occupied all of Vimy 
Ridge save a little of the northwest forward slope and thence their front 
descended southward until it reached the suburbs of Arras at Blangy 
and St. Laurent on the Scarpe. 

In the spring of 19 15 the French, under Foch, in their first consider- 
able offensive, which coincided with the brief and disappointing British 
effort at Festubert, had struck at Vimy and at the heights of Notre- 
Dame de Lorette, then in German hands. They had pushed down the 
little valley of the Carency Brook, carried Notre-Dame de Lorette, the 
villages of Carency and of Souchez, and pushed upward along the 
western slopes of Vimy Ridge itself. But they had failed to get through 
the gap between Notre-Dame de Lorette and Vimy, and their attack 
had been beaten down with terrific losses along the western face of the 

In the autumn of that year when the Allies launched their offensive 
at Loos and in Champagne, the French had tried again to get Vimy, 
had actually mastered a portion of the summit, but were unable to clear 
the crest of Hill 145. A few months later, when the British took over 
this portion of the French line, a successful German counter-attack 
pushed the British off that portion of the high ground won by the French 
back into the swamp which had been the scene of the 191 5 battles. 
Thenceforward the British held the low ground in the little valley 
between Vimy Ridge and Mont St. Eloi, a dominating and isolated hill 
crowned by the ruined church tower which is a landmark for many miles 

Apart from its immediate value as a strong point, Vimy Ridge was 
important as the last barrier to the Douai Plain. While the Germans 
held it, their communications were covered from all direct observation 
by the enemy. If it passed to British hands, all the country from Lens 
to Cambrai would be spread out like a map for British observers; Lens 
itself would be almost untenable, and the Germans at last would find 


themselves where the French and British had been for so long — in the 
low ground dominated by enemy positions on high. Moreover, once 
Vimy Ridge was in British hands, its steep eastern slopes would be an 
almost impregnable barrier to any new German offensive — wholly im- 
pregnable as the events of exactly a year later were to prove. Seated 
on Vimy, the German had been for more than two years reducing 
Arras to ruins as he had similarly destroyed Soissons and Rheims. 
Southward his lines actually touched the suburbs, but his real control of 
Arras lay in his occupation of Telegraph Hill, the southern crest of the 

Vimy Ridge itself had been fortified with the utmost care. Here, 
as in all places where he occupied heights, the German had tunnelled; 
and vast galleries honeycombed the chalk cliff, giving his troops shelter, 
warm and dry cover from the elements, and equally complete protec- 
tion against enemy artillery. On the whole extent of the western front 
no single position surpassed Vimy Ridge alike in natural strength and 
in the extent of its fortifications. 


The armies that were selected to make the British attack upon Vimy 
Ridge were those of General Home, who henceforth commanded the 
British First Army to the end of the war, and of General Allenby, who 
had won distinction as commander of the cavalry in the British retreat 
from Mons to the Marne and achieved justified reputation by his de- 
fence of the Messines Ridge in the critical days of the Ypres campaign. 
He was, moreover, at a later time to win still greater renown as the con- 
queror of Jerusalem and as the victor at Samaria. 

The British army, as it entered the campaign of 19 17, had reached 
a high point alike in training and in morale. It had suffered terrible 
losses at the Somme. The early expectations of swift victory had dis- 
appeared. It was comparable with the army of which Grant took com- 
mand when he came East in 1864. It was no longer a civilian army 
but it was not yet merely a professional army. Despite the losses of 
the Somme it still contained much of the best of British manhood. 


Moreover, the victories in the last phase of the Somme, the natural 
exultation excited by the recent German retreat, had created an at- 
mosphere of confidence impossible to exaggerate, while, for the first time, 
the British troops found themselves, not only superior in artillery and 
all the other mechanical appliances of war as they had been at the 
Somme, but also saw all this machinery in the hands of men trained by 
battle experience to its use. 

All through the long, hard winter the British army had felt with 
ever-growing certainty a sense of superiority over the enemy. They 
had seen him retire from the almost impregnable fortress of Bapaume 
Ridge; they had captured thousands of his best troops; during the 
winter months not a few deserters had come through the lines bringing 
stories of depression. In April, 1917, the British soldier felt himself 
to be "top dog," and for him the adequate proof of this superiority was 
found alike in the success at the Somme and the recent wide-swinging 
advance which had carried him over all the immediate objectives of the 
previous campaign. 

Whatever doubts the High Command may have felt as they saw the 
Russian Revolution marching unmistakably toward the destruction of 
Russian military power — as they saw the German retreat, permitting 
a safe escape from the dangerous positions to new lines whose strength 
was suspected if not fully appraised — the British soldier had no misgiv- 
ing. For him the campaign of victory was just beginning. 

There can be no greater tragedy than the fashion in which this 
British army and this British spirit, closely rivalled by the French army, 
were to be shaken and all but broken by the terrible experiences that were 
now to come. Between the British army that marched to the victories 
of Arras, of Messines, and the terrible conflict of Passchendaele and the 
British armies that staggered and all but broke under the German offen- 
sive one year later, there can be no comparison. After those defeats of 
191 8 the British army rallied, reorganized, won great and far-shining 
victories; but after Passchendaele it was never again what it had been 
in the spring offensive which began at Vimy. During the winter the 
British army, which now numbered fifty-two divisions, as contrasted 


with thirty in the Somme time and seven during the First Battle of Ypres, 
had taken over a new sector of the front from the French, and their 
Hne was now nearly one hundred and twenty miles long as contrasted 
with less than twenty held in the first days of 1915. Under the efficient 
direction of Sir Eric Geddes the whole system of communications had 
been reorganized. Old local railroads had been rebuilt and double- 
tracked. Lines in England and even in Canada had been moved to 
France and the organization of the British rear had become, as it remained 
till the end the best on either side. 


The British operation had for its main purpose occupying and at- 
tracting as large a number of German divisions as possible to the British 
sector. The main attack of the spring offensive was to be delivered by 
the French between the Somme and Rheims. In the larger conception 
the British offensive had no more considerable objective than that of 
occupying German reserves and placing a strain upon German man- 
power precisely at the moment when the main thrust was delivered by 
the French. 

In this wholly subordinate operation the main British objective, 
geographically, was Vimy Ridge. It was remotely possible that having 
taken Vimy Ridge, the victorious British troops might be able to press 
eastward along the Douai road, southeastward along the Cambral road, 
breaking the whole Hindenburg system of defences, and reach Douai 
and Cambral — vital points in the enemy's railroad communications. 
But this was an utterly remote possibility. At the moment when the 
blow was delivered it was interpreted as an effort to break through, to 
penetrate the German defensive system and reach the great railroad bases; 
but this was inaccurate. Nivelle asked of Haig that he should keep Ger- 
man divisions occupied, thus lessening the resisting power of the Ger- 
mans on the French front. This service Haig performed. In propor- 
tion as the French attack became more and more unsuccessful, greater 
and greater demands were made upon the British. The attack of April 
9th reached its logical conclusion on April 14th. Because of the French 


situation, however, the British were asked to attack again, and still 
later a third time. Neither of these later attacks had any chance of 
larger success. They were costly in the extreme. Their explanation 
must be found in the French situation, not in any condition growing out 
of the original blow. As a battle. Arras was over on the 14th of April. 
The operations that followed were local. 

In the initial attack only the British Third Army, commanded by 
Allenby, and the Canadian Corps of the First Army, were directly in- 
volved. The Fourth and Fifth armies to the south, under Rawlinson 
and Gough respectively, demonstrated during the first stages of the 
battle, and in the later phases participated to a certain extent; but the 
actual front of attack was not more than fifteen miles in width, more 
than half was covered by Vimy Ridge, and the Third Army and the 
Canadian Corps were alone engaged. In advance of the battle the Brit- 
ish had concentrated some four thousand pieces of artillery on their 
front. The Germans, on their side, had massed not less than three thou- 
sand, and the artillery bombardment, which began on Easter Sunday, 
was one of the most terrific of the whole war. As usual, in the British 
offensives, the weather was bad. When the troops left the trenches on 
Easter Monday it was raining heavily. Before the day had advanced 
far, the rain turned into snow and the whole of the first day's operations 
went forward in weather inclement in the extreme, making aerial obser- 
vation impossible. 

Facing Vimy Ridge the main attack was delivered by the Cana- 
dians. For nearly a year they had held the sector opposite this barrier. 
Early in their tenancy they had been driven out of positions held by 
the French, from whom they had taken over, and this reverse had been 
a bitter blow to the pride of the troops who had won for Canada endur- 
ing fame at Ypres and were now to achieve the greatest success for them 
in the whole war. Southward of the Canadian front, Scottish troops 
also participated in the Vimy Ridge phase, while away down to the 
south, around the town of Bullecourt, henceforth to have almost as 
glorious and as bitter memories for Australia as Gallipoli — Anzac troops 
were in line. In the centre, where the English troops were brought up 



to the outskirts of Arras, they made use of a tunnel dug for the attack 
and passing under the city for more than a mile. 


After more than twenty-four hours of intense bombardment the 
attack was launched at 5.30 on the morning of Easter Monday. 
In the midst of rain and snow thousands and thousands of Cana- 
dian, Scottish, and English troops left their trenches and swept 
forward. The enemy was not surprised at the point of attack. It was 
clear that he had expected some effort on this front and had made a 
counter-concentration of guns and reserves. His surprise was, in the 


^iii^*swrrcH''LiNCS C^^^'oppy line") 



main, the result of the intensity and accuracy of the artillery preparation. 
At the Somme, the year before, French artillery preparation had been 
complete ; British, largely a failure. In the offensive of 1917 the circum- 
stances were now to be exactly reversed. The essential circumstance 
in the attack was an advance, to be carried out by a succession of com- 
paratively short rushes, corresponding approximately with the enemy's 
various systems of defence; and this manoeuvre required the closest sort 
of coordination between the infantry and their artillery barrages. In 
the first part of the attack the Canadians pushed up almost to the crest 
of Vimy Ridge, the Scottish and English troops to the southward broke 
out of the City of Arras, taking the suburbs of St. Laurent and Blangy. 
Within forty minutes of the "zero hour" practically the whole of the 
German front-line system had been stormed and taken. By noon the 
Canadians were in many places up and over the summit of Vimy Ridge. 
With the single exception of the railway triangle due east of Arras, all 
the second objectives were in British hands as far north as La Folic Farm 
on Vimy Ridge itself; and by three o'clock in the afternoon they occu- 
pied the entire crest, save for the northernmost summit. Hill 145, where 
the Germans maintained a desperate and successful resistance until late in- 
to the night, when they were compelled to abandon this final hold upon 
Vimy Ridge. Southward, astride the Scarpe, English troops were push- 
ing through the gap between the hills where the river enters the Douai 
Plain, following the railroad and the highways which run parallel all the 
way to Douai; and still further south also gains were made. In this 
sector the Third German defence system had been crossed at many points 
and the gun positions reached. 

By the morning of Tuesday, April loth, Vimy Ridge was solidly in 
Canadian hands and the German troops had been driven into the plain. 
Thousands of prisoners and guns had already been captured, and up to 
this point British losses had been inconsiderable. On this Tuesday — fol- 
lowing the Canadian success to the north, which deprived the Germans 
of their flanking position — the British centre began to push out rapidly 
along the Scarpe toward Douai and was as far east as Fampoux, and 
the whole of the enemy's third-line system south of the Scarpe was 



LOOS* ]| 

J/ \ •LENS 

7 |(&IVENCHy \ J 



ARRAS l^^k/ \ 

J|^^|^^ft>MONCHY 1 

grojsilueIsV * I 


Solid black indicates the territory gained by 
the British in the first days of their attack and 
shows how they penetrated the first German 
system and the Oppy Line. 








The solid black indicates the territory con- 
quered between April 9th and May Sth and 
shows how the British were checked at or near 
the Oppy Line. 

passed. On Wednesday, April nth, Monchy-Ie-Preux, next to Vimy 
the most valuable position in this sector, was in British hands as the 
result of a daring cavalry charge; from the Souchez River straight south 
to the Arras-Cambrai road the Germans had been driven off the high 
ground; while still to the south, beyond the tiny Cojeul and Sensee rivers 
where they still clung to the heights, they were rapidly being enveloped 
from the north and the south alike. 

The loss of Monchy was capital. Projecting out into the Douai 
Plain like a cape, this high ground not only commands a wide view east- 
ward toward Douai, but northward and southward sweeps the country 
actually behind the lines on which the C ermans were attempting to rally. 


On Thursday, April 12th, the German had obviously abandoned all hope 
of regaining the ground which he had lost ; northward and southward 
he was beginning his retirement to his new positions of defence. This 
gradual retirement continued all through Friday, the 13th; by Saturday, 
April 14th, British troops had passed Lievin, one of the suburbs of 
Lens, and were actually in the outskirts of the coal town itself; while 
farther to the south, Bailleul, Vimy, Givenchy, and Arleux were in Brit- 
ish hands. The British front, which earlier in the week had been indi- 
cated by a convex bulge on either side of the Scarpe, now came down 
straight from the outskirts of Lens to the Scarpe, then southward to 
Croisilles. Fourteen thousand prisoners, including 285 officers and 
more than 200 guns, many of them of high calibre, were among the 
fruits of victory; while Vimy Ridge had passed permanently out of 
German possession and was to become a pillar in British hands when 
at last the Germans should come westward again. 

But successful as were the British attacks, there had been no break 
through. There had never been the smallest chance of piercing the 
Hindenburg defensive system. At the very moment when Allied journals 
were incorrectly reporting the fall of Lens, the British advance had been 
definitely stayed on the first German "switch line," thenceforth noto- 
rious in the military reports of the day as the "Oppy switch." This 
line, constructed by the Germans against just such an emergency as had 
now come, ran down southward from Lens, crossed the Douai Plain, 
rejoining the old line near Bullecourt. On this line the first phase of 
the battle ended. German reserves, which were rushed up, counter- 
attacked and broke the weight of British pressure; and, moreover, 
halted at the "Oppy line," the British quickly learned that behind 
this defence was still a third and even more formidable barrier the 
Drocourt-Queant "switch," which paralleled the "Oppy line" several 
miles to the east. 


Checked at the "Oppy line" after a week which was unmistakably 
the most successful in British military history during the whole war up 


to this point, the British reinforced and reorganized their front pre- 
paratory to a new attack. They had advanced rather more than four 
miles on a front of some twelve miles. They were on the outskirts of 
Lens. From Vimy Ridge and Monchy they looked out upon Douai 
and Cambrai, and between them and these cities, both of which were 
vital to the German communication system, there were no great natu- 
ral obstacles. 

Yet the experience of recent days had clearly demonstrated the 
practical impossibility of repeating the preliminary success, precisely 
as the history of the Champagne offensive in 19 15 and the German 
attack on Verdun in 19 16 had emphasized the same lesson. The Brit- 
ish had advanced beyond the effective support of their heavy artillery 
and it was a matter of many days to move these guns forward. New 
communications had to be constructed over difficult country and, what 
was of even greater importance, the German was able to match di- 
vision against division and his organization in depth had provided him 
with many more lines of defence. Moreover, beginning with April 14th, 
he changed his tactics and thereafter counter-attacked with a fury almost 
unexampled. There was no more of that waiting to be attacked which 
had contributed so much to British confidence in the closing days of 
the Somme. From Bullecourt straight up to Lens the German thrust 
back again and again. Arleux, Oppy, Gavrelle, Greenland Hill, Roeux, 
Guemappe, and half a dozen other insignificant but henceforth mem- 
orable hamlets were taken and retaken innumerable times. 

Left to himself there can be no question that Field Marshal Haig 
would have broken off the Battle of Arras on the 14th of April, as he 
himself stated in his official report, but in the week that followed, the 
French offensive had begun — and begun badly. Therefore, since he was 
under Nivelle's orders, Haig was compelled against his better judgment 
to renew the Battle of Arras on the 23 rd of April by an attack on a nine- 
mile front from Croisilles to Gavrelle. In this renewed offensive local 
gains were registered but in every case strong enemy counter-attacks 
quickly beat down the assailants. Still the battle continued; on May 
5th the front was further extended and there was terrific fighting about 


Bullecourt where the Fifth Army attacked. Thereafter the battle slowly 
died out. Haig himself fixed May 5th as the final day, and British in- 
terest and effort were transferred from Artois to Flanders. In sum, in 
less than a month of fighting the British occupied rather more ground 
than they had captured in the Somme offensive which had extended 
from July to December. In Vimy Ridge they took a position vastly 
stronger than anything which had confronted them on July i, 1916. 
They captured 257 guns, including 98 heavy pieces, 19,500 prisoners, 
464 machine guns, and 227 trench mortars. They had engaged not less 
than forty divisions, twenty-three of which had been withdrawn ex- 
hausted from the line. 

Viewed in its proper perspective — as no more than a holding opera- 
tion designed to aid the French in their major offensive to the south — 
it is plain that the Battle of Arras was for the British not only a great 
success in itself, but also a far more considerable achievement than 
might have been expected, given the limited objectives. 

Unfortunately, although the British performed their part in the 
Allied plan completely and accurately, the sacrifice was in the larger 
sense useless, since, in spite of it, Nivelle failed at the Craonne Plateau. 
Moreover, the later phases of the battle were exceedingly costly in 
men, and the prolongation made necessary by the French failure fatally 
delayed the main British thrust in Flanders. 

The consequences were not long in unfolding. It had been a great 
concession on the part of the British to place their vast armies under the 
control of the French commander. Having made this sacrifice, and 
having loyally fulfilled the task assigned to them, the British saw the 
French fail, saw their own troops compelled to make desperate and 
hopeless assaults, saw their own campaign postponed until its failure 
was inevitable. As a result, they resolved against another experi- 
ment with a unity of command; and this resolution endured, with 
evil consequences, up to the moment when the great German victory 
of March 21st of the following year brought the whole Allied cause to 
the edge of ruin. Then, and only then, the British yielded; and Foch 
became generalissimo. 


Viewed by itself, the Battle of Arras was a brilliant victory, which 
revealed the British army at its best. The taking of Vimy Ridge was 
one of the finest achievements of the whole war and, as the second act 
in the campaign of 1917 following closely upon the German retreat, it 
awakened hopes which were not warranted and led to disappointments 
which had far-reaching effects. 


Four weeks before the British had opened the campaign in Europe 
with the victory at Vimy, another British army, far out in Mesopotamia, 
had achieved a success which retrieved the British position in the East 
and restored a prestige shaken at Gallipoli and well nigh destroyed at 
Kut-el-Amara. On March nth General Maude's victorious troops 
entered Bagdad, henceforth to remain in British hands, after one of 
the most brilliant of the colonial campaigns of which the history of the 
British Empire is so full. Indeed only Kitchener's advance to Khar- 
tum along the Nile rivalled the new river campaign of Maude along the 
Tigris to Bagdad. 

The failure of the army of relief to reach General Townshend's army, 
beleaguered in Kut-el-Amara, after the disastrous and reckless dash for 
Bagdad which had failed at Ctesiphon, had resulted in April, 1916, in the 
surrender of Townshend and the collapse of the Mesopotamian cam- 
paign. Thereafter, the British situation in the east remained difficult. 
The Turk had failed in his effort to cross the Sinai desert, pass the Suez 
Canal, and burst into Egypt. The Russian victory in Armenia and the 
capture of Erzerum had brought to an end all possibility of a successful 
invasion of Russian territory south of the Caucasus Mountains so long 
as Russia remained a fighting nation. On the other hand, the conquest 
of Serbia and the crushing of Roumania had eliminated the European 
front for the Turk, although several of his divisions were with Macken- 
sen's army along the Danube. 

Since he was able without any great effort to beat down an ill-con- 
ceived British counter-offensive seeking to enter Palestine by Gaza, 
the Turk was now able to concentrate a considerable army in Bagdad; 


and his efforts, not wholly unsuccessful, were directed alike at holding 
the British forces on the Lower Tigris obtaining control of Persia, and 
raising the Moslem tribes along the frontiers of India. 

It was the Indian phase of the situation that dictated British action 
in Mesopotamia. Indian troops had shared in the disastrous campaign 
which had terminated at Kut-el-Amara. All India knew of the break- 
down of the British army and the British military system, which had 
resulted not alone in the disaster which included the surrender of the 
British army but also in the ghastly tragedy disclosed in subsequent 
Parliamentary investigation, which set forth the terrible sufferings due 
to inadequate medical supplies and insufficient communications. It 
was essential, therefore, as a matter of prestige and as a matter of safety 
for India, that the British should retrieve their position in the East and, 
having once set out for Bagdad, should arrive victoriously in that town. 

The Commander-in-Chief of the Mesopotamian Army was one of 
the great figures of British colonial warfare. Had he long survived his 
victorious entry into Bagdad, General Maude might not impossibly have 
succeeded Haig himself when the failure of the British at Passchendaele 
gravely compromised the Commander-in-Chief of the European army. 
As it was, dying almost immediately after his triumph, Maude will 
divide with Plumer the honour of being the most successful British 
army conunander in the whole of the war. In the second venture 
toward Bagdad, none of the mistakes of the first was repeated. River 
transport in abundance, boats specially adapted to the peculiar condi- 
tions of the Tigris, railway lines with all the material necessary for a 
campaign along the banks of a desert river — recalling the Khartum 
campaign vividly — were provided in abundance. 

There was no longer any political motive leading the Government to 
press the military commander to take hopeless risks on the chance that 
he might provide some shining success which might offset failures in 
other fields. Two years before, the Asquith Ministry had hoped that 
the failure to get Constantinople, resulting from the defeat at Gallipoli, 
might be covered by the capture of Bagdad. Accordingly, Maude 
moved with utmost deliberation. At the outset of the campaign the 


Turkish army occupied the locally famous lines at Sanna-i-Yat, a few 
miles below Kut-el-Amara on the Tigris River. The position was 
strong, the nature of the country advantageous to the Turks. The 
fighting began in January, but notwithstanding initial successes the first 
effort at Sanna-i-Yat did not succeed. It was not until February 17th, 
following a brilliantly successful crossing of the river, that the Sanna-i- 
Yat system was stormed. On the following day it was in British hands. 
Thus at last fell a position which for more than a year had balked all 
British efforts and had successfully held up the relieving army seeking to 
save Townshend at Kut. Kut itself fell immediately afterward and the 
river was opened to British gunboats. One week later the Turkish 
army was in full retreat and already Maude was able to report the cap- 
ture of 4,000 prisoners, 39 guns, 22 trench mortars, and 11 machine 
guns, together with the re-capture of several British boats and much 
other war material. 

In the first days of March the pursuit of the Turkish army, whose 
retreat was now degenerating into a rout, paused at Azizieh. After a 
week of reorganization and accumulation of supplies, the British advance 
was resumed on March 5th and continued until the Turks were standing 
in their last line along the Diala River, which enters the Tigris eight miles 
below Bagdad. On this line there was severe but relatively brief fight- 
ing and on March loth the Turks again retired, permitting the British 
to enter Bagdad on the following morning. 

The capture of Bagdad was an event of world importance. The 
news arrived in Europe at the very moment when the German retreat 
was in progress and when Allied publics were expecting swift and sweep- 
ing success. It therefore contributed to Allied confidence and optimism, 
the more as it represented final success in a field where there had been 
temporary disaster. But in the East the capture of Bagdad was bound 
to have a more far-reaching importance. Hitherto, although his empire 
had shrunk in Europe and in Africa, the Turk had clung to his Asiatic 
provinces. He had preserved his control over the Arab world, im- 
portant alike on the religious and the political side; but with a British 
army established in Bagdad and pressing northward toward Mosul, 


it was clear that in no long time the Turk would lose control of the val- 
leys of the Euphrates and the Tigris. He would lose touch with Persia, 
and if Russian armies should continue their operations, he would have 
to face converging attacks coming from Armenia, Mesopotamia, and 
Egypt. Nor was it less probable, as the events showed, that the Arabs 
themselves would go over to the enemy and the day of Turkish domina- 
tion in Arab lands south of the Cilician Gate would be at an end. 

For the British Empire the capture of Bagdad meant, not alone a 
restoration of prestige but an insurance for India. The German had 
planned to make the Bagdad Railroad and the Turkish Empire weapons 
directed alike against India and Egypt. He had hoped to follow the 
pathway of Alexander the Great and arrive both at Cairo and the plains 
of India. The Turkish failure at the Suez Canal had ended the Ger- 
man's African dream. The fall of Bagdad now alike terminated German 
imperial ambitions and dispelled the Turkish pan-Turanian mirage. 

With the fall of Bagdad, British armies pressed northward rapidly 
toward Mosul, and on April 2nd for the moment joined hands with 
Russian cavalry coming down out of Persia; but the Russian coopera- 
tion was only brief since the Asiatic armies shared in the general collapse 
of the military power of the great Slav state. Nor was the advance 
beyond Bagdad pushed far. The campaigning season was over and, 
henceforth, with the prize for which it had striven safely in its hands, the 
Mesopotamian Army sat down in Bagdad. The fighting in the valley 
of the great rivers was over. The decisive defeat of the Turkish armies 
would be achieved by Allenby, who was just launching his Vimy battle 
when the Bagdad operation came to a glorious end, while with the death 
of Maude, only a little later, there disappeared one of the figures which 
in the British history of the war must continue to hold a commanding 

It was Bagdad and not Vimy which really lifted the curtain in the 
campaign of 1917. Coming so closely together their moral effect was 
tremendous; while alike on the military and the political sides, the cap- 
ture of Bagdad from the Turks was an event of far greater importance — 
not impossibly the beginning of a new era in Western Asia. 





The Battle of Arras was a relatively subordinate detail in the spring 
offensive. The main blow was to be struck by the French army. In 
examining the plans of the French General Staff, it is necessary now to 
consider in detail the man who, for a few brief months, dominated the 
military situation, so far as the French army was concerned, as abso- 
lutely as had his great predecessor, and, in addition, exercised a com- 
plete control over the British army for that limited period of time 
necessary for the great battle which had opened at Vimy Ridge. 

The circumstances of the selection of General Nivelle as Com- 
mander-in-Chief were unusual. When it became clear that Joffre must 
go, when the Briand Cabinet, after hesitating and vacillating, at last 
reached the decision which removed the victor of the Marne from the 
active control of the French army, it was a cause of surprise to the whole 
world that the victor of the Marne was not replaced by the saviour of 
Verdun. As Joffre's prestige began to diminish, that of Petain had 
grown apace. 

Unhappily for the French and for the Allied cause, the rise of Petain 
to world prominence in the Verdun defence had had, as a concomitant 
circumstance, irritation and jealousy at Chantilly. French High 
Command, Joffre and those associated with him, had seen — with natural 
if censurable heart-burning — the unmistakable arrival of a new man. 
It had not been an easy thing to reach the decision which eliminated 
the chief who counted to his credit the greatest victory of modern 
mihtary history and who, despite obvious limitations, had preserved 
an unbroken front to the great enemy, superior both in resources and 
numbers, for more than two years. Joffre and his friends were the more 



easily to be reconciled to this decision if it did not carry with it the 
selection, to replace the retiring chief, of the man whose success had 
made him unpopular at French headquarters. 

In addition Petain himself was, despite his great qualities both as a 
soldier and a man, not unUke our own General Sherman, difficult to deal 
with, cold, with a gift of bitter speech, and, however considerate and 
careful with subordinates, overbearing with equals and contemptuous 
of politicians. He did not conceal his contempt for the latter and his 
biting phrases — applied equally to French politicians and Allied generals 
— contributed materially to produce a natural if unfortunate unpopular- 
ity, which led to the temporary substitution for a really great man and 
a supreme soldier, of a little man with strictly limited gifts who was as 
successful in the art of cultivating friends in public life as he was inca- 
pable of achieving victory on the battlefield. 

Petain being thus out of the question, there remained Foch, the 
victor of the Yser, Joffre's most brilliant lieutenant in the Battle of the 
Marne and the commander of the group of French armies which, with 
the British, had fought the Battle of the Somme. But Foch at this 
time was regarded as exhausted. He had continuously held high rank 
and conducted great operations since August, 1914. The campaign of the 
Somme, regarded in Great Britain as a great victory, was held in France 
to be, on the whole, a check. Particularly in the closing days of 1916 
— ^when the German retreat had not yet begun and Allied armies were 
still faced by formidable German defences with only minor gains of 
territory to show for tremendous casualties — the French considered the 
Somme more critically than did the British. 

As a consequence, Foch was, in the French military argot, ''Limoges'' ; 
his group of armies was broken up in the last days of 19 16, and on 
December 20th there was assigned him a task which was in reality a 
disguised disgrace. The general who had on the whole displayed the 
greatest brilliance in action of any commander in the war, on either 
side — and was, one brief year later, first to halt and then to turn back 
the German flood, and as Commander-in-Chief of the Allied armies, to 
win the greatest military campaign in all human history — found himself 

from the picture h\ C. R. 11'. Xt-:'inion 


A grisly highway through a land made ghastly by the hate of man. The trees to right and left of the road have not 
been wrecked by casual shells, but were systematically felled by German axes 

From the picture b\ Major Sir ll'illiam Orpeti, A.R.A. 


From the picture by Major Sir Jf'illiam Orpen, A.R.A. 


From ike picture by Major Sir William Orpen, A.R.A. 



British artillerists trying to work a big gun into satisfactory position 


in the opening months of 1917 exercising only a nominal command and 
actually engaged in making plans against a hypothetical German inva- 
sion of France through Switzerland. In that period both in France 
and England, men said, not without regret, that Foch was finished. 

Aside from Petain and Foch, Nivelle was perhaps a logical selection. 
He had served with distinction under Petain at Verdun. When, as a 
consequence of his great achievements in defending the Lorraine fortress, 
Petain was promoted to command a group of armies, Nivelle, as his 
most conspicuous lieutenant, was named to succeed him in command 
of the Verdun Army. Under Nivelle's immediate command, although 
the supreme direction was Petain's, there had been organized that 
brilliant and amazing counter-offensive of October which had retaken 
Douaumont and Vaux and swept the Germans out of the area of the 
entrenched camp of Verdun. The last act of Nivelle before he departed 
to take over the supreme command was to direct the second Verdun 
counter-offensive, completing the liberation of the town from the Ger- 
man menace which for ten months had threatened it. 

There was in addition the belief, wholly correct, that the coming of 
Nivelle to the supreme command would mean aggressive action. Joffre 
had on the whole advocated limited offensives ; Petain was known to be 
hostile to great ventures which, if they failed, meant alike exhaustion 
of the man-power and the weakening of the morale of the French army ; 
Nivelle was a champion of the attack. And a war-weary Allied world — 
and a France whose hopes for the liberation of her soil had been greatly 
deferred — longed for decisive action. 


Nivelle, as the subordinate of Petain and his successor in the com- 
mand of the army at Verdun, shared in the closing phase of that cam- 
paign and shared disproportionately the reputation of his great chief. 
He was a man of charm and force, and must be considered one of the 
most amazing military figures of the entire war. To the statesmen of 
Britain as well as of France, he outlined stupendous conceptions with a 
coldness of manner and a calmness which captivated his auditors. He 


had executed Petain's conceptions in the retaking of Douaumont and 
Vaux, using Mangin as his instrument, and his orders to Mangin were 
so artfully written that if Mangin succeeded, the glory would be 
Nivelle's; if he failed, the responsibility would be Mangin's. 

Nivelle thus came to the High Command with a great reputation. 
He came also with a colossal plan. Having seen Petain's success on a 
narrow front in the Verdun offensive — a success which was the result of 
carefully calculated estimates of the relations between the forces avail- 
able and the possibilities of the situation — he conceived that if one 
multiplied the forces one could extend the front indefinitely. Joffre 
had planned in November a great offensive between the Somme and 
the Oise, and between Craonne and Rheims, to manoeuvre the Germans 
off the Craonne Plateau. Nivelle proposed to attack from Arras to 
Rheims, to attack through and over the Craonne Plateau, and to break 
the German front. When he came to Paris to explain his plans, he told 
his amazed listeners that the problem was not one of short distances ; 
that if his plans were put in operation, the question would be whether 
the German retreat would halt at the Meuse or at the Rhine. Accord- 
ingly when he came to Headquarters in December he totally transformed 
Joffre's plan. 

Nivelle*s statements fell upon willing ears. The Somme offensive 
had failed to break through because it had been an attack upon too 
narrow a front. The German submarine campaign, in the opening 
months of 19 17, grew steadily to the point where it threatened to 
become a decisive factor and win the war for the Germans. Before the 
Allied spring offensive was launched, British naval authorities con- 
fronted the future with grave apprehension, if with unshaken courage. 
British policy therefore, quite as much as French, recognized the 
necessity of a decision, of a conclusive land victory before the end of 
1917, of an absolute success in the spring offensive. All this Nivelle 

The Germans had made their attack upon Verdun in the latter 
part of February of the previous year and Nivelle promptly borrowed 
their time-table. In fact, he set the clock ahead and planned to attack 


in the early days of the month where the Germans had attacked at the 
beginning of the final week. Joffre's last plan, before his departure, 
had been to attack on New Year's Day. 

Nivelle's plan contemplated confidently a gigantic Sedan. One 
group of French armies under Franchet d'Esperey — victor of Mont- 
mirail in the Marne campaign, and at a later time to be the conqueror 
of the Balkans — was to attack south of Amiens, advancing from west 
to east. Another group of armies, including the Fifth, Sixth, and 
Tenth — commanded by Mazel, Mangin, and Duchesne, respectively, 
and under the supreme direction of Micheler — was to advance from 
south to north on a front extending from Soissons to Rheims, but mainly 
straight over the great Craonne Plateau to Laon. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of Germans, innumerable cannon, and almost incalculable 
amounts of material, were to be captured as the two groups of armies 
closed behind the German rear, as on a far more modest scale Pershing's 
troops enveloped the St. Mihiel salient eighteen months later. 

In Nivelle's conception the whole western front was thus to be 
ruptured; the war was to be won. In his opening conversations, 
Nivelle told the amazed and fascinated public men who were his audi- 
ence not merely that his armies would arrive at Laon on the morning 
of the second day at dawn precisely but that he had prepared a time- 
table of the advance to the Meuse. Twenty-four hours after the first 
attack had been launched, the intensive exploitation of the initial 
success was to begin and, by the third day, war of movement — war in 
the open — was to commence. 

As this great operation, which was to liberate northern France, could 
not succeed without full cooperation of the British army, Haig consented 
that Nivelle should exercise supreme command over the British and 
French armies with the single limitation that when the battle— Nivelle's 
gigantic battle— had terminated, full freedom in command was to re- 
turn to Haig, while it was to be for Haig to decide when that battle had 
terminated. In the first hours of the exercise of this command, Nivelle 
was involved in difficulties with the British by the brusqueness of his 
orders, but the incident was politely forgotten. Upon the British, 


quite as much as the French, Nivelle made a great Impression. It is 
not true that British influence had contributed to his appointment. 
The selection was entirely a French matter. Still his mother had been 
English and he spoke the language with a certain fluency, much exag- 
gerated at the time. His success with the British was due rather to his 
manner, to the distinction of his bearing, to the plausibility of his state- 
ments. Thus he carried the British with him; and Haig, after prelimi- 
nary objections, willingly and loyally enlisted as a subordinate In NI- 
velle's campaign. Moreover, for Nivelle himself Haig acquired a real 
admiration, and to those who talked with him In this period, he spoke of 
NIvelle's fighting spirit In words of unqualified praise. 


No sooner had Nivelle taken command than the very firmness of his 
faith in the success of his plan led him to amazing and fatal indiscre- 
tions. By January his orders outlining his great strategic conception 
had been issued and transmitted down to the very commanders of 
companies. By February every village in France, no matter how small, 
knew of the coming of the spring offensive and knew that it would be 
directed against the Craonne Plateau, and what the French knew the 
Germans were equally prompt to discover. Preserving a certain ele- 
ment of common sense, Nivelle first invited Retain to command a group 
of armies whose mission it was to storm the Craonne Plateau. Retain 
promptly pointed out the disproportion between the task and the re- 
sources. He did not believe the great plan would succeed; he said so, 
and, as a result, one of his three armies was taken from his command 
and given to Micheler. Petain was thenceforth ignored. 

Meantime, conditions changed. The Russian Revolution broke out. 
It became clear that Russia was out of the war for the time being. This 
collapse brought paralysis to the Italian offensive which was planned to 
coincide with the attack on the western front, since It was plain that 
Italy would now have to bear the weight of Austrian troops which 
would be transferred from the Russian to the Venetian front. Joffre's 
original conception— which fixed November i6, 1916, as the day for 


launching his offensive— included, as an essential condition, attacks by 
the Russians and by the Italians. Nivelle's plan had pre-supposcd the 
same element, but now the Russians and the Italians were out of the 

More than this, in the first days of February the Germans suddenly 
began their great retreat. Slowly at first, rapidly later, they drew out of 
their positions on the Somme. They evacuated precisely those lines 
against which a great offensive might have been launched with some 
hope of success. 

On March 4th, before the German retreat had become general or 
considerable, Franchet d'Esperey appealed to Nivelle for permission to 
attack at once as the enemy was about to retreat. Nivelle answered 
on March 7th — after a three-days' delay — that a German retreat was 
inconceivable since the Germans had so strongly fortified their positions 
surrounding Roye; but on the day after the Nivelle despatch reached 
Franchet d'Esperey, the Germans were out of Roye. Thereafter fol- 
lowed the retreat and pursuit until the Germans were well behind the 
Hindenburg Line. 

Instead of an attack on lines Nivelle had foreseen, Franchet d'Es- 
perey's armies now found themselves confronting beyond the glacis of 
desert twenty-five miles in width which was destitute of all means of 
communication, a position to attack which would involve months of 
preliminary preparation and the employment of formidable artillery 
which could not be brought up for many weeks owing to the destruction 
of the roads. 

The great Nivelle plan had been comprehended in two formidable 
thrusts across the rear of the Germans in positions from the Somme 
near Peronne to Rheims, but the Germans, by retiring, had thus 
avoided one of the two converging thrusts. Nivelle had envisaged 
attacks from two sides of a square and on one side an attack was hence- 
forth impossible. 

This was not all. In addition, the Germans had reinforced their 
positions on the Craonne Plateau so that where there had been two lines 
in December there were four in February, as Micheler had reported. 


They had concentrated their artillery, elaborated caverns and grottos 
on the Aisne heights, multiplied their concrete works, and created an 
almost impregnable position. At the same time they were working on 
their Hindenburg Line. Thus, by the middle of March, such chance of 
success as there had been for the Nivelle plan had vanished. The broad 
front had been narrowed by at least half; the remaining half had 
been sown with new defences, and German reserves released by the 
Russian Revolution were already beginning to pour westward. Mean- 
time, while the chances of success were thus rapidly disappearing, cir- 
cumstances had combined to create expectations out of all proportion 
to the remaining possibilities. The retreat of the Germans, actually 
one of the most skilful pieces of strategy in the whole war, was repre- 
sented to the French army and the French public as a flight — as the 
beginning of the end — and the French soldiers were in a white heat of 
excitement. At the precise moment when the High Command, save for 
Nivelle and his immediate following, was unanimously assured of the 
impossibility of the great plan, the army was filled with an optimism as 
dangerous as it was tremendous. Nivelle and the common soldiers 
saw victory within easy grasp, but Nivelle's lieutenants, outside of a 
handful of subordinates at General Headquarters, saw the situation as it 
was. These generals recognized the impossibility of a supreme and 
crushing victory. They recognized the probability of a check after even 
greater losses than those at the Somme, with consequences to the army 
morale beyond calculation. 

From all these officers protests now began to flow, and at this 
precise moment the Briand Cabinet fell. A new Ribot Cabinet arrived 
with Monsieur Painleve as Minister of War, and no sooner had he come 
to office than Painleve discovered the chaos that now existed. The 
relations between Nivelle and his subordinates were strained. The 
confidence of these subordinates in their chief was gone; yet, in the midst 
of all this anarchy, Nivelle's confidence had grown beyond belief. To 
those who questioned the possibility of success under changed con- 
ditions and asked him if he recognized the strength of the new Ger- 
man defences on the Craonne Plateau, he answered calmly that 


he already had the Craonne Plateau in his pocket, that the only- 
question in his mind was whether he would have temporarily to halt 
his advance at the Serre or at the Oise, on account of the difficulty of 
moving up his supplies before he resumed the main thrust to the Dutch 

For the new Ministry, there was then raised the acute question: 
Should there be an offensive ? But here again was a new circumstance, 
for if the collapse of Russia had made a new offensive in the west dif- 
ficult in the extreme; if it had removed a large fraction of the remaining 
chance of success; it had, on the other hand, certainly made such an 
offensive imperative alike to save Russia and to prevent the possible 
arrival of German troops on the Italian frontier — to prevent in the 
spring what actually happened in the autumn and produced the great 
disaster of Caporetto. Added to this were British anxiety and appre- 
hension over the submarine peril, which was at this moment becoming 
terribly acute. The German submarine campaign was achieving incon- 
ceivable success. For the moment the British navy was frankly in- 
capable of coping with the danger. 

That Nivelle's grandiose plan could now succeed seemed impossible, 
both to his subordinates and to the French Ministry; but a lesser offen- 
sive, with limited objectives, carefully prepared and calling for small 
losses — an attack carrying with it the possibility of inflicting heavy cas- 
ualties and achieving local and useful gains — still held out attractions. 
If the initial attack should result not in these modest gains but in that 
actual break which Nivelle foresaw, then the operations might be con- 
tinued and expanded. This was the view of the Government and this 
was the extent of its consent to the Nivelle programme. As for Nivelle 
himself, he heard the words of warning of his subordinates and the words* 
of advice of the civilian officials with a contempt born of supreme opti- 
mism. He still believed in a complete victory. At the moment of at- 
tack, he laid before the Government maps which showed an initial ad- 
vance of twelve kilometres and this optimism did not desert him when 
25,000 French dead and five hundred yards of gain were the total har- 
vest of the first day of the offensive. 



In Nivelle's original conception, his great offensive was to be on a 
front from Arras to Rheims, the British attacking in the sector above the 
Somme. The German retreat narrowed the British operative front to 
some twelve miles immediately east of Arras. Up to the very last mo- 
ment, Nivelle hoped to employ Franchet d'Esperey's armies west of the 
Oise despite the German retreat, but a preliminary effort made by this 
group of armies on April 14th failed completely, and thereafter the fight- 
ing was restricted to the country between the southeast corner of the 
St. Gobain Forest and the heights to the north of Rheims. Across two 
thirds of this front stretched the famous Craonne Plateau which had 
seen desperate fighting in the days following the Marne, when Allied 
pursuit culminated in the First Battle of the Aisne, and one year later 
was to see the greatest French disaster of the war in the Battle of 

Resembling Vimy Ridge in certain respects, the Craonne Plateau 
is both higher and longer. It is actually the outermost rampart of 
Paris. Northward the ground slopes to the great northern plain, and 
invaders approaching Paris from the northeast encounter this great 
obstacle as the first barrier after passing the frontier of France. On the 
northern side, the Craonne Plateau drops down sharply for more than 
two hundred feet into the narrow, swampy valley of the tiny Ailette 
River. Seen from this northern side, it resembles a huge wall, its sum- 
mit level against the horizon, with precipitous approaches — a military 
obstacle deemed impregnable until that subsequent May day when the 
German troops scaled it and pressed southward to the Marne again. 

But on the southern side the Craonne Plateau descends more gently 
and slowly to the Aisne. Whereas the northern side is substantially a 
straight and solid wall, the southern side is cut by many deep ravines 
or glens through which brooks pass to the Aisne. On a relief map, the 
Craonne Plateau suggests a comb with the teeth pointed southward, 
the spaces between the teeth representing the little valleys. These 
valleys were of enormous importance in the battle of 19 17 because they 


supplied admirable cover for machine-gun nests — cover which rendered 
machine-gun positions practically undiscoverable because the valleys 
were themselves filled with small woods and underbrush. Across the 
actual summit, following the crest from end to end — that is from the 
Laon-Soissons road to the village of Craonne — ran the famous Chemin- 
des-Dames, the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the whole 
World War. 

In 1 914 when Kluck retired, after the Battle of the Ourcq, he had 
halted his armies on the first slopes of the Craonne Plateau just across 
the river from Soissons. In the Battle of the Aisne the British had suc- 
cessfully passed the river, east of Soissons, and pushed part way toward 
the crest of the ridge. The French to the eastward had actually reached 
the crest at certain points and almost, but not quite, reached the out- 
skirts of the village of Craonne. In January, 1915, during a period of 
high water on the Aisne, the Germans had vigorously attacked the 
French — ^who occupied the lines originally taken by the British — sharply 
defeated them, and forced them southward so that practically all the 
high ground remained in German hands. From this high ground the 
Germans were able to bombard Soissons at will, the city itself being less 
than a mile from their front at Crouy. 

In the great retreat of March, the Germans again evacuated ground 
which they had taken in 1915, but continued to hold a bridge-head south 
of the Aisne nearVailly which constituted a sharp southerly salient domi- 
nated by the high ground on which stood the dismantled fort of Conde; 
then their line bent back sharply almost to the crest which it then fol- 
lowed to Craonne. 

A more difllicult military obstacle than the Craonne Plateau, as the 
Germans had organized it, would be impossible to imagine. The as- 
sailants were obliged to advance over open country in plain view of the 
Germans with an unfordable river behind them, and in places they had 
to cross the river itself under fire. For centuries this plateau had been 
worked for building-stone and was filled with immense caves and grottos 
which the Germans had organized for defensive warfare. The ravines 
were lined with machine guns which swept the flanks of the French waves 


as they advanced; the German trenches ran line on Hne backward up the 
gentle slopes to the summit, while the German heavy artillery was in 
position safely covered on the reverse slopes. Nor had the Germans 
relied simply upon natural defences. They had filled the whole zone 
with concrete machine-gun emplacements until it constituted a vast de- 
fensive zone from six to ten miles deep. 

The traveller who hereafter passes over the Soissons-Laon road — 
reminiscent of the stretch of the Albert-Bapaume road, as it ascends 
to the summit of the Pozieres Ridge, rising slowly to the plateau and fol 
lowing the highway as it marches between fields which for many years 
must retain traces of the terrible artillery destruction — will marvel at 
the courage or temerity which was responsible for an offensive against 
a position naturally as strong as that he sees about him. 

Where it left the Craonne Plateau, at the point where the hill on the 
flank of which Craonne itself stands, towers above the plain in gaunt 
impressiveness — recalling Douaumont as seen from the plain of the 
Woevre — the German line bent sharply southward crossing the Aisne 
at Berry-au-Bac, and extending to the dismantled forts above Rheims. 
Here the nature of the country was less favourable for the defence. For 
a stretch of ten miles on either side of the Aisne, the line ran across 
flat country covering a gap between the Craonne Plateau and the 
mountain of Rheims. Could the French penetrate this gap, they would 
cut the German armies in France in halves and take in the rear both the 
Craonne Plateau and the German positions eastward of Rheims. 
Through this gap Nivelle planned to throw Duchesne*s armies once the 
Craonne Plateau and Fort Brimont had fallen. 

But recognizing the natural weakness of this position the Germans 
had worked for nearly three years with characteristic energy and in- 
dustry. Nowhere on the western front were so many concrete works to 
be found. The little hill near Ville-aux-Bois to the south of Craonne 
had been tunnelled, galleries had been constructed, every conceivable 
device had been employed to render impregnable a position which of 
itself was vulnerable. Southward from the Aisne at Berry-au-Bac to 
the heights about Rheims, the Germans had used the high ground east 


of the Aisne Canal and parallel to the Rheims-Laon highway; the key- 
stone of their fortified system was the old fort of Brimont. 

Against a surprise attack, neither the Craonne Plateau nor the 
position between Craonne and Rheims was perhaps invulnerable. 
Certainly the Germans were able to smash through on this entire front 
a year later — when the French occupied all the Craonne Plateau and 
many of the strongest positions to the south, which were in German 
hands in April, 191 7; but the element of surprise restored by the Germans 
in the campaign of 1918 did not exist for the French. Nivelle himself 
had set the example of contemptuous publicity, and all the world, 
German and Allied alike, was aware of the front on which the French 
were to attack. Not only that, but the several postponements of the 
assault from January to April had permitted the Germans to construct 
four lines where they had had but two, and to multiply their concrete 
defences, their machine-gun nests, and their battery positions. To 
defend what was unmistakably the strongest single stretch of western 
front, the Germans had amassed forty divisions where the French sought 
— unsuccessfully, to be sure — to defend the same ground with six a 
year later. 

The strength of the Craonne Plateau must be manifest to the merest 
civilian who looks up at the heights from the shallow valley through 
which flows the considerable Aisne, yet two successive struggles over 
these slopes have served largely to obliterate the innumerable trench 
lines which seamed the hillside. Strong as was the VImy position itself 
it was Incomparably less imposing and less considerable than that on 
which the armies of the German Crown Prince now awaited their 
French opponent, prepared to take full revenge for their own defeat at 
Verdun. So strong indeed was the Craonne position that Joffre him- 
self, in planning an offensive over the same ground, had calculated to 
turn it from the north and from the south. Yet in Nivelle's great plan 
the essential circumstance was the advance of Mangln's Sixth French 
army straight over the Craonne Plateau. So complete was his confi- 
dence, he calculated that, by the dawn of the second day, his 
cavalry would be under the walls of Laon, whose cathedral, from a 


rocky eminence recalling the Acropolis at Athens, looks southward at 
the Craonne Plateau, and northward and eastward over the vast plain of 
northern France. 

In the operation which we are now to examine, the main French 
attacks were made on the Craonne Plateau and Fort Brimont by the 
armies of Mangin and Mazel, respectively. In the latest phase of the 
offensive still a third attack was launched east of Rheims against the 
isolated Moronvillers Hills which dominate the whole of Champagne 
and constitute military obstacles hardly inferior to the Craonne Plateau 
itself. On this third field where the organization of the attack fell to 
Retain, the French were to win a considerable but useless success on the 
very ground which was to see the failure of the final German offensive 
— that of July 15, 1918. But despite the brilliance of this local opera- 
tion, it had no effect upon the main battle. Actually, the decision was 
had in the sector between the Soissons-Laon road and the heights of 
Sapigneul around Fort Brimont. On this line the French attempted, 
by a brusque offensive extending over the widest front yet assailed in a 
single operation, to smash their way through the German lines as the 
Germans had endeavoured to hack their way first through Ypres to the 
Channel and, second, through Verdun to the heart of France. 


Before the Battle of Craonne was joined, the chance of a wide-swing- 
ing success had utterly vanished. Almost without exception Nivelle's 
subordinates, aware of this fact, had advised him and the Government 
against the attack, and the Government itself had sought to limit the 
grandiose scheme to a modest local offensive — necessary both because 
of the Russian and the submarine situations. 

But there were other conditions which made unlikely even a local 
success. Retain in his two Verdun counter-offensives — delivered on a 
three- and a five-mile front respectively — had calculated accurately 
and methodically the relation between the forces at his disposal 
and the artillery "with which he could prepare the way. Before he 
launched Mangin in October he had spent weeks and months in the 




The solid line shows the French front at the opening of the attack of April 14th. The broken 
lines show approximately the extent of the French gains 

preparation of comrnunications and the organization of the rear. 
Nivelle had dreamed of expanding the Petain method from a three- to 
a sixty-mile front, but he was incapable of making the preparations 
keep pace with the expansion. 

Cannon, munitions, armament of all sorts, collected for the armies 
which were to deliver the attack, were woefully insufficient; but had 
they been adequate, the armies were insufficiently prepared both as to 
ways of communication and as to the professional training of the com- 
batants. The medical service left much to be desired, as was subse- 
quently established in official reports. Three other circumstances 
combined to abolish all possibility of the local success, which was now, 
in the minds of all reasonable and informed observers, a maximum of 
expectation. These three circumstances were: the bad weather; the 
stupidity, folly, and imprudence of the command in the Fifth Army; 


and finally, the failure of the artillery preparation, due in some measure 
to the weather. 

After one of the roughest winters in half a century, the month of 
April, 1917, was a time of snow and storm. The great British attack of 
Easter Monday, one week preceding the opening of the Craonne engage- 
ment, had been made in rain and snow and all April was marked with 
this inclemency. Because of weather conditions the offensive had to be 
delayed many times at the request of General Mangin himself. In 
March the newspapers had printed the precautionary warning: "Given 
the state of the ground, and recognizing that winter still lasts, all pros- 
pect of a rapid advance is Utopian." As the event showed the weather 
was so bad that it was impossible for the infantry to follow the barrage 
of the artillery. The rapid-fire guns, machine guns, and even the arms 
of the soldiers were completely put out of service. The infantry threw 
away all of its burdens and supplies. The black troops, which had 
demonstrated their value as shock units on half a score of fields, lost 
three quarters of their fighting efficiency because of the temperature. 
The assault was necessarily slowed down. All real observation and 
regulation of artillery fire was impossible. Transport failed. Testi- 
mony to these facts is found and re-found in the journals of opera- 
tions of all the armies that took part in the attack. These show the 
mistake, now committed for a second time, of fixing a general offensive 
for the equinoctial period, as had already been done in the Battle of 
Champagne of September 25, 1915. 

The second mistake grew out of an imprudence in the Fifth Army. 
Three days before the attack a sergeant — carrying the order of opera- 
tions which indicated in detail the disposition of the attacks to be made 
by the 7th, 32nd, and 38th Corps and the Russians — was killed, and his 
despatch bag captured by the enemy. The order contained a synthesis 
of the attack on Fort Brimont. There the principal blow was to be 
delivered from the north to the south and it pre-supposed the capture 
of the heights of Sapigneul. Thus warned, the enemy reinforced the 
threatened sector promptly and the French advance here was nil, while 
the losses of the Seventh Corps alone in four days exceeded fifteen 


thousand men. For the officer responsible for the imprudence there 
was, however, this palliating circumstance. He had promptly and 
frankly confessed his fault in permitting a non-commissioned officer to 
carry a plan of operations, and the French High Command was aware 
that its offensive plan was known by the enemy down to its last detail, 
so far as three army corps were concerned. But, knowing this, what 
possible justification remained for risking the attack.? 

Finally, the artillery preparation was badly done. Ten days of 
bombardment were as unsuccessful in reducing the enemy works as 
had been the preliminary artillery preparation of the British at the 
Somme. Weather conditions, which prevented aerial observations, 
partially explained this failure, but beyond and above this was the fact 
that Nivelle lacked artillery in sufficient quantities and munitions in 
adequate volume to reduce the enemy works over so vast a front, partic- 
ularly when for the larger portion of that front the enemy position 
rested upon magnificent natural obstacles reinforced by skilful military 

In the face of all these circumstances; with doubts and hesitations 
amounting almost to insubordination among his lieutenants — interesting 
proof of which may be found in a letter of February 13th written by 
Nivelle to Micheler, commander of the group of armies which was to 
make the attack and containing unmistakable evidence of the lack of 
harmony and the almost unbelievable anarchy existing in the High 
Command — but with an army fired by the recent German retreats, 
knowing that their commander expected to break the German line, 
Nivelle, still unshaken, announced that he expected to succeed on the 
Craonne Plateau. This announcement was made to the Government 
after the first attack — that on St. Quentin — had been made on April 
14th and had completely failed, thus dooming the whole enterprise. 
Nevertheless, fixing his attack for the morning of the i6th, Nivelle 
repeated his familiar forecast that he would arrive in Laon at dawn on 
the 17th, and that his cavalry would reach La Fere by sunset on the 
same day. Brimont was to be taken in five hours by that envelopment 
from the north of which the Germans had been so completely forewarned. 


Therefore, just one week after the British had brilliantly delivered 
their offensive on Vimy Ridge, but at the precise moment when their 
advance had been pinned down, Nivelle launched his waiting armies. 
The armies of Mangin and Mazel left their trenches at six o'clock in 
the morning in the midst of a tempest of snow, rain, and wind. The 
aviation could not function; the artillery was dependent entirely upon 
ground observation. It was in vain that the trench mortars destroyed 
practically ever3rwhere the enemy first line. An actual telescoping 
occurred on this first position with the mass of the German army which 
had received and executed the order to die on its first line rather than 

Warned long in advance, the Germans had no less than four lines, 
in a depth of eight miles. These lines were literally stuffed with light 
machine guns, hidden in the innumerable grottos and caverns of the 
porous cliffs. The French artillery did not completely dominate the 
situation as all the instructions of the High Command had expected. 
The tanks, in a gallant attack near Pontavert — ^which was designed to 
clear the gap between the Craonne Plateau and Brimont and open 
the way for the cavalry exploitation to Laon behind the Craonne 
Plateau — nowhere reached the third line, which had been their objective. 
The French armies were compelled to halt after the first hours, and the 
unforeseen pause jammed and blocked everything behind — organized 
for a great forward leap. This congestion and confusion of every 
sort still further aggravated the disappointment and disillusionment 
consequent upon a sharp check. All official records of the opera- 
tions of the i6th and 17th of April, in both armies alike, reveal with 
truly tragic monotony the essential fact that the complete check of the 
French attack was everywhere due to the multiplied use of enemy 
machine guns which had survived inadequate artillery preparations. 

The machine guns had not been completely destroyed anywhere 
by artillery preparation, and precisely this machine-gun fire, after the 
first hours, stopped the advance and broke the spirit of the best fighting 
forces of the French army. Some thousands of these guns, well placed 
and well served, were sufficient to stop in full cry the forward sweep 


of many thousands of veteran infantry soldiers confident of victory, 
and Americans will find food for reflection when they recall that a little 
more than a year later, in the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne, their 
own soldiers, with even less adequate artillery support, wrestled with 
these same machine-gun problems and suff^ered casualties well in excess 
of those which sufficed to destroy the French offensive of 19 17. 

On the morning of April 17th, when Nivelle's victorious troops 
should have arrived at dawn under the walls of Laon, they were act- 
ually only a few hundred yards from their starting place, holding with 
difficulty the second line of the Germans. All the plan for later inten- 
sive exploitation by Duchesne's Army pressing through the gap be- 
tween Craonne and Brimont had crumbled into dust. Gains had been 
made, certainly not negligible; yet, given the glowing forecasts of the 
Commander-in-Chief, it is easy to understand the extent of the disil- 
lusionment alike of the Government and of the French people. And 
public opinion held responsible for this disillusionment that commander 
who had produced it, by the exaggerated grandeur of his conception. 


As to the offensive itself. Having failed to attain the expected rup- 
ture, Nivelle on the 17th, although he subsequently declared that he had 
stopped it absolutely at noon, directed Mangin and Mazel to shift their 
attack to the northeast and go on, and in accordance with the original 
plan Anthoine's Fourth Army was launched against Moronvillers. Severe 
fighting continued over the next four days, fighting which increased the 
casualties, already great, and resulted only in small rectifications of the 
line, the most considerable of which was the reduction of the Vailly 
salient and the elimination both of the German bridgehead south of the 
Aisne and the position about the dismantled Fort of Conde, from which 
the Germans had swept the valley of the Aisne east and west with en- 
filading fire. On April 21st Micheler informed Nivelle that it was now 
necessary to give up the fight. In this letter Micheler pointed out 
that there were only four divisions of infantry available, in the reserves 
of the three armies combined, to deliver the attack which would achieve 


that prospective rupture which Nivelle still expected. This letter is an 
interesting document in view of the later statement of Nivelle's cham- 
pions that new French armies were ready to enter the fight. Micheler 
in his letter proposed also that local operations should be resumed on 
April 30th, which should include an attack upon Brimont still later on. 
In accordance with this suggestion of Micheler, on April 22nd there was 
considered, and decided in principle, the question of an energetic resump- 
tion of the general battle in the form of partial offensives — designed to 
gain both the Craonne Plateau, in order to uncover Laon, and the height 
of Moronvillers, to unblock Rheims. In point of fact, despite the later 
fighting, which included the taking of the Moronvillers Heights but was 
marked by a new failure at Brimont, the Battle of Craonne was over on 
April 25th. In ten days of terrible struggle the French army had been 
checked after a slight advance inconsiderable by comparison with the 
British progress before Arras; its fighting spirit had been broken; the 
soldiers recognized that they had been thrown against positions un- 
shaken by artillery preparation; their confidence in their Commander-in- 
Chief was gone. They were defeated troops; no camouflage in reports 
of ground gained could disguise from these veterans the fact that, having 
set out for Laon and La Fere, they had actually arrived only at the 
second and third lines of their foe. 

As to losses. On May 13th Nivelle made a remarkable statement 
to the Minister of War of his casualties between April i6th and 25th. 
Therein he cited the number of the dead — ^whose deaths had been wit- 
nessed by at least two people— as 15,500 and gave as missing 20,000, 
but only 5,000 of these 20,000 were afterward reported as prisoners; so 
in fact the killed in the ten days' fighting amounted to 30,000 while the 
other casualties approximated 70,000. The total loss was thus close 
to 100,000. 

Against this terrible butcher's bill Nivelle could show only minor 
gains, which nowhere imperilled the main fighting position of his foe, 
and the capture of 23,000 prisoners, 175 cannon, 412 machine guns, and 
119 trench mortars. 

Nivelle*s grand offensive, then, had failed and it was necessary for the 


British to prolong their costly and useless battle for many days to relieve 
the strain upon the beaten French army, in which now, for the first 
time, certain signs of demoralization began to appear. Meantime, 
the Government in Paris had been more and more alarmed by the size 
of the casualty lists; by the ever-increasing protests from the officers; 
by the unmistakable demoralization in the fighting forces which was 
shown when veteran regiments, which had participated victoriously 
and gloriously in a score of struggles, declined to advance; and the 
Minister of War was called upon to sign death warrants of French 
soldiers who refused to be murdered in the hopeless gamble of Nivelle. 

We have, then, in the first two weeks of May, a real crisis, in which 
Nivelle, having lost the confidence of the Government, his lieutenants, 
his soldiers, still continued on the hopeless enterprise of breaking the 
German line, until at last, on May 15th, he is summarily removed and 
Petain is called upon to undertake the task of restoring the French 
army, a task hardly more difficult or more doubtful of success than that 
which had fallen upon his shoulders a little more than a year before 
when he arrived at Verdun, after the mistakes of those who had pre- 
ceded him had permitted Douaumont to fall undefended into German 
hands. At the same moment Foch succeeded Petain as Chief of the 
General Staff of the French army, a position which Petain had occupied 
only since April 30th, when the Government took its first step to limit 
Nivelle's authority. 

About all this Nivelle episode there raged and continues to rage 
a great controversy. It is asserted that the politicians interfered to 
check a victorious offensive in the full cry of victory. Nivelle's cham- 
pions, few but ardent, continue to declare that the Germans were on the 
point of retiring to the Meuse when Nivelle was removed and the 
French offensive stopped; but competent and universal testimony of 
French officers is directly in conflict with this. There is a common 
agreement, confirmed by the testimony of Micheler himself in the letter 
above cited, that on the 21st of April the offensive had so completely 
failed that it was necessary to abandon it. In the few months of his 
supreme control Nivelle had suffered a bloody defeat, shaken the con- 


fidence of the army and of the country. Thereafter he departed from 
active service, leaving to Retain and to Foch, whom he had displaced, 
the gigantic task of repairing his errors; and Petain's first warning to his 
British alhes when he undertook his task was that many weeks must 
pass before the French army would be capable of another offensive. 
In point of fact, it was late October before they struck again at Craonne. 




It had been the original conception of AUied High Command that all 
the armies about the circle which encompassed Germany should attack 
the Central Powers at one time, exerting equal pressure on many sides, 
and, by virtue of superior numbers, exhaust German and Austrian re- 
serves and either penetrate through some weak point or, by attrition, 
produce collapse. 

We have seen that various circumstances combined to postpone 
Nivelle's Anglo-French offensive on the E^rench front from February 
until April. By this time the Russian Revolution had so far paralyzed 
Russian military strength that even the last fatal Kerensky offensive 
was postponed until July. A similar delay had attended Italian prep- 
arations. Instead of being able to attack in April, combining their 
blow not merely with that of Nivelle but that of Brusiloff also, the 
Italians found themselves unable to depend upon Russian cooperation, 
compelled to postpone their attack from week to week, and finally to 
deliver it, not merely without Russian aid but against an enemy who 
was already reinforcing his imperilled front by divisions drawn from 

The Italian campaign of 1917, between May and November, 
amounted to a gallantly sustained, terrifically costly endeavour — the 
third — to burst through that gap between the Julian Alps and the head 
of the Adriatic, and advance behind Trieste into Austrian territory. 

By this time the world was as familiar with the Isonzo front as with 
the various sectors of British and French activity. When Italy entered 
the war the Austrians had stood between the Julian Alps and the sea 
on a front of a little less than forty miles, with the Isonzo as a deep and 




almost impassable moat from Tolmino straight down almost to Gorizia, 
where their lines crossed the river and held the height of Podgora cover- 
ing the town. Thence their line recrossed the river and drew back 
from it across the Carso Plateau to the Adriatic. 

This front had three contrasting geographical features. From Tol- 
mino almost to Gorizia there was high ground, with crests passing 
2,000 feet in elevation. This high ground was divided into two pla- 
teaux by the valley and depression of Chiaponavo, the northern half 

bearing the name, henceforth 
memorable, of Bainsizza. The 
southern half was known to the 
Italians as the Selva di Ternova. 
Both these plateaux were tilted 
up on their western rims so that 
their highest ground rose straight 
from the Isonzo Valley and the 
peaks or hills which were now to 
acquire battle fame — Kuk, Vo- 
dice, Santo, San Gabriele, and San 
Daniele — confronting the Italians. 
South of these two plateaux 
was the valley of the Vippacco 
stream, which comes down from 
the east and joins the Isonzo be- 
low Gorizia. Still farther to the 
south was the Carso Plateau, 
culminating not far from the 
Adriatic in the peak of Hermada. 
In 1916 the Italians had taken 
Gorizia and pushed a wedge 
eastward up the Vippacco Valley 
between the northern plateau and 
Hermada, but they were unable 
to advance this wedge further 

Italy's battlefield 


because it was a narrow salient in low ground commanded by Austrian 
artillery on the northern and southern elevations. It was plain that no 
further advance eastward could be made until both Hermada and the 
two northern plateaux, Bainsizza and Ternova, were reduced. Even if 
Hermada should fall, the distance between Ternova and the sea was too 
short to give Cadorna elbow room, while the Austrians remained on 
Ternova and Bainsizza. 

The Italian plan, therefore, consisted in a series of movements 
which had for their objectives the reduction of Hermada and the occupa- 
tion of Ternova and Bainsizza plateaux. On May 14th, just one month 
lacking two days after Nivelle had launched his unsuccessful attack in 
Champagne, Cadorna opened his battle by an attack directed against the 
southern edge of the Bainsizza Plateau and the western extremity of the 
Selva di Ternova. The peaks of Kuk, Vodice, Santo, and San Gabriele 
were the immediate objectives of this preliminary movement. Lodg- 
ments were effected on Kuk and Vodice ; Monte Santo was taken and lost. 
There followed in the next few days furious Austrian counter-attacks, 
but the Italians hung on to their foothold on the Bainsizza Plateau. 

A little more than a week later, on May 23rd, a second assault was 
directed at the Carso, the southern buttress of the Isonzo position. In 
a week of desperate fighting the Italians reached, the western edge of 
Hermada, but by May 30th they were again held by a new series of 
Austrian counter-offensives, in which troops brought from the Russian 
front participated. 

Cadorna had now tried to seize both the northern and the southern 
anchorages of the Austrian position by brusque attacks. Despite 
material progress two weeks of fighting had resulted in the failure to 
attain either end. Twenty-four thousand Austrian prisoners, thirty- 
eight cannon, and a number of positions of vast strength were the 
rewards of the effort, but Austrian official statements claimed nearly 
an equal number of prisoners and proclaimed a victory, since their 
lines still held. The whole month of June was consumed in beating 
off the Austrian counter-offensives, which made no considerable gain 
but precluded any renewal of Italian attack. 


We now touch upon one of the contested questions of the war. 
Cadorna found himself unable to make further advance with such ar- 
tillery and munitions as he possessed. Accordingly he and his govern- 
ment appealed to the Allies for guns and munitions, giving assurances 
that, were these provided, Italy could win a decisive victory which would 
put Austria out of the war. His request fell upon deaf ears. The 
British had launched their unfortunate Flanders venture; the French 
army was only just beginning to recover from the consequences of Ni- 
velle's failure. Neither Petain nor Haig felt himself able to go beyond 
the despatch of a limited number of guns. In a word, while a certain 
restricted assistance was forthcoming, Cadorna and Italy met with a 
substantial rebuff from Britain and from France, and to this rebuff the 
Italians lay subsequent failure of their offensive and the supreme dis- 
aster which presently overtook their armies. 

By the time he was ready to move again, Cadorna's situation had 
fearfully worsened. Russia had completely collapsed, Austrian divi- 
sions had streamed westward from Galicia to the frontiers of Venetia, 
while there was more than a hint that German divisions would also 
presently appear on the Isonzo front. Counsels of caution now would 
seem to have advised that the Italians, like the French, should renounce 
the offensive and gather up their resources for a storm which was bound to 
break. On the other hand, pressure, alike from the Allies and from the 
Italian Government and people, combined to drive Cadorna forward into 
precisely the sort of blunder which the British were making in Flanders, 
with equally disastrous results, though the British defeat at the Somme 
was not to come until March, 1918, while the Italian reverse at Caporetto 
was far closer at hand. 


Beginning on August 18th the Italians shifted their operations 
back to the Bainsizza Plateau. They sought to complete the clearance 
of the eastern bank of the Isonzo; to seize and hold all of the Bainsizza 
Plateau; to push southward, encircling first the plateau of Ternova 
with its dominating height of Monte San Gabriele and then all the 
Austrian positions east and south of Gorizia. 


For a wliole month thereafter the ItaHans slowly but successfully 
mounted the slopes of Bainsizza, cleared all the higher summits from 
Monte Santo to Kuk, and began to threaten the plateau of Ternova 
by an enveloping movement from the north. 

It would be difficult to describe, and impossible to exaggerate, the 
greatness of Italian labour in this terrible month. They had to cross 
an unfordable river flowing in a valley almost comparable to a western 
canyon. They had to transport munitions and supplies over the east- 
ern edge of the Bainsizza Plateau, here amounting to a precipice, and 
to maintain an army on the sterile plateau above. 

The achievement of Italy on the Bainsizza Plateau was beyond 
praise. It must rank with the successful military operations of the 
war, but before it could result in decisive success Cadorna's munitions 
failed. His losses had been tremendous, amounting, even in the last 
phase of Bainsizza alone, to twice the cost to France of Nivelle's failure 
at Craonne. Moreover, he found himself daily confronted with new 
divisions drawn from the Russian front, and, at last, conducting an 
offensive with numbers only equal, if not actually inferior, to those with 
which the Austrians held positions beside which Craonne and Vimy 
were but insignificant ant-hills. 

B}^ the month of September the Bainsizza operation was over. It 
was a failure in all but local circumstances, a failure which had shaken 
the morale of the Italian army and the Italian people precisely as Ni- 
velle's unsuccessful offensive had weakened his army and shaken the 
confidence of the French nation. The best of Italian shock troops had 
been sacrificed to gain a few miles of shell-torn slopes. A new offen- 
sive, designed to produce decisive results, had been beaten down with- 
out any penetration — without a break through of the enemy lines. 
Moreover, the ground which the Italians had now gained, if advan- 
tageous for a resumption of an offensive at a future time, was unmis- 
takably dangerous to hold were the initiative suddenly to pass to the 
enemy. Having thrust forward on to the Bainsizza Plateau the Italians 
had materially lengthened their lines of communication by which the 
advancing troops were to be supplied and the Italian Second Army was 





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now pushed forward in a dangerous salient exposed to a fatal disaster 
could the enemy to the northward break through the covering troops 
and, flowing southward, reach Udine in advance of the Italians on Bain- 

The Ypres salient — so costly to the British to hold, so perilous at all 
times during the war — had been born of an unsuccessful and uncom- 
pleted British offensive In October, 1914. More than once since that 
time the British troops in "the salient" had been in grave danger. 
Now the Italian offensive across the Isonzo had created a new salient 
far more dangerous. Having to choose between abandoning all his 
gains in a bloody campaign and running the obvious risks incident to 
holding them, Cadorna chose the latter course. The result was one of 
the greatest disasters of the war, but it is essential to see that, before the 
disaster came, Cadorna had fought his army beyond the limit of en- 
durance — precisely as Nivelle had over-strained his troops at the 
Craonne Plateau and as Haig all but demoralized his armies in the 
bloody, useless Passchendaele offensive which had the disaster of the 
Somme for its consequence, as Cadorna's errors were paid for at 

In many ways the Austrian defence of the Gorizia gateway, in not 
less than twelve battles of the Isonzo, was the most brilliant and suc- 
cessful of all Austrian campaigns during the war. The general who held 
this gap, Field Marshal Boroevic, must rank with the great commanders 
of the Central Powers. A still further circumstance, deserving of notice 
now because of its later bearing, was that while Austrian troops fre- 
quently proved themselves helpless in the presence of the Russians, and 
divisions from the Slav provinces displayed disloyalty even more than 
cowardice in the presence of Slav troops on the eastern front, Boroevic's 
armies, made up almost exclusively of Southern Slavs, fought the Ital- 
ians with unflinching determination. The explanation is simple. 
However much the Slovenes, the Croatians, the Dalmatians hated the 
Hapsburg Monarchy and their Austrian and Hungarian masters, they 
preferred to remain under the rule of the rapidly decaying Dual Mon- 
archy—until such time as they could realize their own aspirations of 


independence and association with the Serbs — to accepting a new par- 
tition which would give to a victorious Italy hundreds of tliousands of 
Slovenes and Serbs and deprive the Southern Slavs of the Trieste and 
Fiume outlets upon the sea essential to the new state already existing 
in their dreams. This hostility between the Southern Slav and the 
Italian, always latent, was intensified by the years of struggle upon the 
Isonzo, in which Italy's great sacrifices and tremendous efforts were 
blocked by Southern Slav armies under a general of their own race. 

Actually the spring and summer campaign of Italy had been fought 
for the possession of two hills, the northern and southern bastions of 
the Isonzo position — San Gabriele and Hermada. When the fighting, 
which began in May, terminated in September, half of San Gabriele 
was in Italian hands and the western slopes of Hermada were in no 
man's land, but Italian casualties in battle and as a result of disease had 
amounted to nearly three quarters of a million, and — precisely as French 
armies had set out for Laon and the frontier, to arrive only at the 
Craonne Plateau — Italian troops (who had confidently mounted to the 
assault with a vision of an arrival at Laibach and a successful reappear- 
ance along the pathway by which Napoleon in 1797 had led his army 
to the point where Vienna was in his grasp and Austrian surrender 
inevitable) were halted before the immediate objective had been at- 


At the moment when Italy was opening her spring offensive and 
Russia preparing the last despairing Kerensky offensive, there ter- 
minated in Athens the sordid and ridiculous drama which for two years 
had continued to humiliate Allied statesmen and soldiers and under- 
mine Allied prestige in the Near East. On June 12th King Constan- 
tine abdicated in favour of his second son, Alexander, and, with the 
Crown Prince and his family, embarked for Switzerland, henceforth an 

When the whole story of the Greek episode can be told it will be a 
tragi-comedy unbelievable, so unreal and so preposterous were many of 
its circumstances. King Constantine himself was a field marshal of 


the German army and a brother-in-law of the Kaiser; a vain, stupid, 
obstinate man; dominated by his wife, and controlled by two passions: 
admiration for Germany, and hatred for Venizelos, the great Greek 

We have seen how Constantine in 1916 — having a year previous 
kept Greece neutral when Serbia was destroyed — continued by every 
conceivable act to aid the Central Powers. His agents warned the 
Germans of each projected operation of Sarrail's Salonica army. His 
officers had surrendered Greek troops and Greek fortresses to the he- 
reditary enemy, Bulgaria, when Germany's allies had attempted a south- 
ward push in the spring and summer of 1916. In December, French 
and British sailors who had landed in Athens in one of those brief mo- 
ments when Allied indecision gave way to ineffective Allied action, had 
been murdered and their murder had been accompanied by a pogrom 
of the political associates of Venizelos. 

Constantine believed Germany would win the war. His confidence 
in the ultimate success of German arms was never shaken, and his com- 
rades in the Greek army shared his admiration and worship for the 
German military machine. He was confident that the Kaiser would 
presently realize the grandiose scheme of Mittel-Europa; and, in that 
scheme, he saw Greece a secure and prosperous unit in a German system, 
and saw himself a great figure in this new Europe. He did not betray 
his country to an enemy. On the contrary, he was convinced that the 
salvation of Greece could be found only in alliance with Germany. 
However stupid and short-sighted the King was, he acted in the convic- 
tion that his own and his country's prosperity were equally menaced by 
the Allies and would be advanced by German victory. 

Yet despite all Constantine's open and covert services to the Central 
Powers; despite the fact that the Allies knew that at a propitious mo- 
ment the Greek army would be flung in the rear of Sarrail's forces at 
Salonica, and saw that Greek harbours offered ports of call for German 
submarines, Constantine remained master of Greece. 

The reasons for this extraordinary persistence were manifold. In 
Britain, the Court and the Tory party set their faces stubbornly against 


the removal of the King. In Italy the overthrow of Constantinc and 
the return of Venizelos were correctly analyzed as certain alike to restore 
Greece and intensify Hellenic rivalry to Italy from Valona to Smyrna. 
In Russia, to the natural opposition of the Czar to the dethronement of 
a brother monarch there was added the selfish consideration that Greece 
claimed Constantinople, the prize of Russian wars for more than a 
century, and that if Greece regained Venizelos this claim might become 
annoying if not dangerous. Only the French were neither concerned 
with respect for royalty nor by immediate selfish interests, but not until 
the Czar had fallen, the Revolution renounced Constantinople, and 
Italy's various claims satisfied in a degree by Allied pledges, were 
the French able to prevail upon their allies to take a step as logical as it 
was necessary. 

As late as the last days of May and the first of June the new French 
premier, Ribot, and his most influential minister, Painleve, soon to 
succeed him, found in London the familiar opposition to the removal 
of Constantine. Long debates terminated in apparent deadlock, 
removed only by a private contract, between Painleve and Lloyd 
George, in which it was agreed that France should undertake the re- 
sponsibility for the ultimate disposition of Constantine with the under- 
standing that Britain would disavow any failure. What Lloyd George 
agreed to was that England would look the other way while France was 
removing a nuisance, but he warned that unless the thing were done 
swiftly, quietly, with respect for those decencies so dear to the British 
mind, Great Britain might be compelled to protest against the action 
which she consented, in advance, temporarily to ignore. 

Happily the situation found the man. To Athens the French Gov- 
ernment sent Jonnart, Governor General of Algeria for many years, a 
man of fimmess and decision. Arrived in Athens, with the full authority 
of the French Cabinet behind him, in the decisive moment aided by the 
presence of warships and troops, he procured from Constantinc the neces- 
sary abdication without using cither. At the very moment when Con- 
stantinc set his signature to the document which ended his reign, the 
British Government was preparing to protest against the course of 


Jonnart in Greece. The news of success silenced this protest. Great 
Britain acquiesced in an accomplished fact. Henceforth the situation 
in the Near East was to improve alike in Mesopotamia, Palestine, and 
Macedonia, while Constantine was to prove only the first of the kings 
and princes reigning in Central European states to lose his throne be- 
cause he misinterpreted the course of events. Seventeen months later 
his illustrious brother-in-law was to flee his empire with far less grace 
and on infinitely worse terms than the man who had won for Greece 
greater victories than Hellenic history had known since the fall of the 
Byzantine Empire, and lost all by his fatal inability to perceive ultimate 
German defeat, or to make use of the services of a supremely great 
minister, who now returned to resume his task as the architect of a re- 
stored Hellenic state. 




We have seen that the French offensive had failed, that the British 
campaign for the year in Flanders had been delayed by the necessity of 
supporting the French by the Arras operation until all hope of decisive 
or even considerable success had vanished. The opening Italian attacks 
had been productive of no more than local or relatively inconsiderable 
successes. Meantime, the submarine campaign of the Germans, with 
its harvest of destruction, had assumed proportions which seemed to 
forecast complete triumph for this weapon and a consequent loss of the 
war by the Allies. While this situation was developing on the western 
front, Russia had entered upon that long, obscure, and bloody chapter 
of her history which led straight toward domestic anarchy and external 

The Russian Revolution of 191 7 is one of those great human con- 
vulsions whose causes are so mingled both with the history and with the 
psychology of a people that its origin, development, and meaning re- 
main for long a sealed book to other peoples. Certainly the first three 
years of this tremendous convulsion were totally misunderstood and 
misinterpreted by the Western world, which knew httle of Russia at 
the outset, and, so far from understanding the Russian causes, sought 
with ever-increasing folly to invest the Slavonic upheaval with the 
nobler and greater qualities of the French Revolution. 

For the purpose of this history the Russian Revolution must be 

examined primarily to determine what its effect was upon the progress 

of the World War. It is not inconceivable, however unlikely, that out 

of this great convulsion new ideas and new forces may yet develop which 

will make it even more important than the world struggle itself in its 



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Russian soldiers were brave enough. But they had much of the helplessness and ignorance of children and the simple- 
hearted fellows were again and again betrayed by pretended friends 

Soldiers marching to the Duma with banner inscribed: "Down with Monarchy! Long live the Democratic Republic!" 


Ihese splendid horsemen were Russia's stanchest defenders. When the Bolshevist blight fell upon the armies, 
most of the Cossacks stood fast. It is said that the Germans would have been troubled with no Russian Front at all in 
1917 had it not been for the Cossacks and the famous Battalions of Death. 

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Above — Maria Botchkareva, organizer and commander of the Russian women's Battalions ot Death, receives 
a dispatch from the hand of a respectful subordinate, while Mrs. Pankhurst, a sister militant but not military, 
is an interested spectator. 

Below — The "march past" of the women recruits. Only those between the ages of eighteen and thirty-seven 
were permitted to enlist. 

Catherine Breshkovskaya, "Little Grandmother of the Revohition," returns in triumph from exile in Siberia 


The sinister monk Rasputin was assassinated before the outbreak of the Revolution. Yet no figure was more 
prominent during the evil days which preceded it, among the pro-German traitors at the court of the Czar. He is 
here shown drinking tea with a characteristic group of women admirers. 


Above — Ambassador David R. Francis stands uncovered as the bodies of soldiers who have died for Russia are 
carried through a street of the capital. 

Belozv — Chief Surgeon Egbert with the American Red Cross unit at Kief. He was troubled to find that two of the 
physicians on his statt" were Russian pro-Germans, while one of the Russian nurses in the picture was an active spy. 


Many Russian soldiers dully, hopelessly surrendered to the enemy; while a faithful remnant, betrayed by their brethren, 
died a horrible death in a vain attempt to storm the German's defences 


relation to human development. It is equally possible that it may 
continue, as it seems to Western civilization now, a supreme expression 
of anarchy, chaos — a mad, passionate boiling up from the depths of all 
the dark, incoherent, bestial passions and emotions of a race, or rather of 
many races, Asiatic rather than European. 

The causes of the Russian Revolution are many, remote, and immedi- 
ate. When Russia entered into the World War, that fabric of govern- 
ment which held together one hundred and eighty millions of human 
beings was already devoid both of vitality and of force. If a victory 
might conceivably have contributed to restore the machinery, to give 
it a new hold alike upon the respect and the obedience of the subjects 
of the Czar, it was inevitable that defeat, failure, disaster, easily trace- 
able to the corrupt inefficiency of the ruling classes, would lead to the 
ultimate collapse of a system. 

Moreover, as in the case of the House of Bourbon in the period 
preceding the outbreak of the French Revolution, scandal attached to 
the Court. The story of the influence exercised by that vile creature, 
Gregory Rasputin, upon the mind of the Czarina, upon the Russian 
Court, upon the Russian Church — constituted a chapter Byzantine in 
character, incomprehensible to the Western world, calculated to destroy 
— as it did destroy — the last vestige of reverence and respect among the 
Muscovite millions. Rasputin was finally murdered — "executed" per- 
haps is the better word — by a member of the Imperial Family jealous 
alike of the honour of the House of Romanoff and of that nobility daily 
smirched by the existence of this vile creature. But Rasputin did not 
die until his contribution to the general ruin of the fortunes of Nicholas 
had been made. 

When the Russian Revolution broke, the Western world turned 
instantly to the parallels of the French Revolution, and particularly in 
Great Britain — that nation which had fought the French Revolution 
because of principles which Time has approved — sought to invest this 
new upheaval with virtues which Englishmen had rejected in that other 
earthquake a century and a quarter before. Moreover, the whole West- 
ern world recalled that the French Revolution, once it had been attacked 


by Europe, was roused to a sense of nationalism, of patriotism, to a 
military effort begun in self-defence which did not end until the French 
armies had occupied Moscow and Madrid and for more than twenty 
years victoriously traversed Europe and even penetrated into Asia and 
North Africa. Accordingly, Great Britain and France — recognizing 
that the Russian Monarchy in the closing months of 1916 and the 
opening weeks of 1917 had been disloyal to the Allied cause, that the 
creatures of the impotent Czar had betrayed both Roumania and 
Russia — hailed the coming of a liberal government and a new group of 
leaders as a sign that Russia would resume her place on the firing line 
of Europe, that Russian millions in arms would become imbued with 
the spirit which had moved the masses of the French Republic, still 
undisciplined, to march to the frontiers in 1792. 

A more colossal misapprehension it would be difficult to imagine. 
France, at the moment of her revolution, was inhabited by a people 
whom centuries of association in battle and in common history had 
taught a sense of nationality and a spirit of patriotism. The orderly 
inheritance of Latin peoples, retaining the Roman conception of law 
and discipline, expressed itself promptly when the Ancient Regime fell. 
But Russia had never been fused into a national consciousness. It was 
a geographical expression, not a political nor even a racial fact. From 
Peter the Great to the last and microscopic Nicholas, Russian autocracy 
directing a huge army, had acquired province after province. The 
Pole, the Lett, the Lithuanian, the Armenian, the innumerable peoples of 
Asia, retained either a consciousness of a racial independence which had 
persisted under Russian rule or an allegiance to that state of semi-barbar- 
ism which had been interrupted by the arrival of Russian divisions. 

Not only were the people of the fringes from the Arctic to the Caspian, 
from the Dniester to the Pacific, unassimilated, but the Russian family 
itself was divided, and the Ukranians of the South sought separation, 
not fusion. All this vast assemblage of peoples was held together by 
the double forces of bureaucracy and the army. It was held together 
by abnormal forces, by forces which had no roots in the separate races, 
and nothing was more certain than, when once this double pressure was 


removed, that Russia would resolve itself into its innumerable frac- 
tions and natural chaos succeed artificial unity. 

There was a still further centrifugal force. The small but influential 
industrial element inhabiting the cities— which, as in the case of the 
French Revolution, rapidly laid hands upon the whole fabric of the 
Revolution— was not itself affected by the issues of the World War, 
but, so far as its leaders at least were concerned, was animated by the 
principles and dominated by the passions of that Marxian socialism 
whose essential doctrine is class war waged internationally. It was 
Capitalism, not Germanism, that the mass of the men and women who 
possessed even a shadow of intellectual illumination believed to be the 
enemy. The autocracy and the army, with a declining zeal and intens- 
ity to be sure, had accepted the challenge and made war upon Germany, 
but this very fact discredited the war itself in the eyes of Russian social- 
ism. Moreover, other elements in the vast Russian population which 
had suffered from the iniquities, the oppression, the abuse of the 
bureaucracy which was the instrument of the Romanoff Dynasty, not 
only felt toward the Czar and his associates an inextinguishable hatred 
but were hostile to the war upon Germany itself because it had been 
made by the Czar and his government. 

If in the first moment of the Revolution there was — or if there seemed 
to be — a re-birth of national spirit, and the men who took office and held 
power were alike moved by the influence of liberal ideas of the sort the 
West describes as democratic, and stirred by this patriotic emotion 
comprehensible equally to the American, the Frenchman, and the 
Briton, this was but a brief and transitory phase. It did not represent 
the fact in Russia and it totally deceived the western Alliance which 
welcomed the Revolution because it removed that reproach — ever 
present, ever felt — incident to an alliance between the three great 
democracies of the west and a reactionary Czaristic Russia. America, 
on the brink of entrance into the World War, was profoundly influenced 
toward her final action by the performance in Russia. For the moment 
critical voices were silenced in Britain and in France. Yet there never 
was a grosser deception, nor a more terrible awakening. 



When the news of the Russian Revolution, with its relatively peace- 
ful opening act, reached London and Paris and Washington, there was a 
rejoicing difficult now to describe. In every Allied capital the passing 
of another tyranny was celebrated as a victory for human liberty by 
those who were soon to recognize that, whatever else the effect of the 
Russian Revolution might be, its immediate consequences threatened to 
ensure the triumph of German arms. There was an easy assumption 
that revolution in Russia would be the preliminary step to the entrance 
of Russia into that family of democratic nations whose institutions were 
on the whole of a similar sort, founded upon a common conception of 
social and economic principles. There was not the smallest suspicion 
that, when the smoke and dust of the first weeks and months of the 
Russian upheaval had passed away, the terrible fact would be discovered 
that those who dominated Russian affairs were animated by a spirit of 
hostility to Western democracy far more intense than their opposition 
to German autocracy. There was not a suspicion that when the 
Revolution found its man, as revolutions do, Lenin would preach a 
doctrine of class warfare and direct all the great latent forces of Russia, 
not against the German foe, but against that whole system of political 
and economic life which prevailed in the Western nations. 

The fact, as contrasted with the pleasant fiction long cherished in 
the West, was this: The war had found Russia ripe, not only for the 
overthrow of the autocracy and the elimination of the futile Czar, but 
ready to burst into a thousand fragments as the unassimilated races and 
tribes,relievedof the constraintof Russian imperial military power, under- 
took once more to take up their ancient pathways. Russia had become 
a geographical expression, a vast blot of colour upon the map, but it had 
never been a nation in the western sense; and now, like so many empires 
built by Asiatic conquerors whose swords enforced unity while they 
lived, it was ready to return to the chaos from which it had been called 
by a genius not long surviving to enforce his will. 

In addition, the war itself had brought to the Russian masses inde- 


scribable agonies. Millions of Russian soldiers had perished because of 
the corruption and the treason of the civil government. The vast 
resources of the Russian Empire had been inadequate not alone to muni- 
tion but to clothe and to feed the hosts collected at the call to the colours. 
The armies had been defeated; disasters in the field had followed one 
another with regular succession. The morale of the army had been 
weakened as the common soldier was called upon to face artillery and 
machine guns and offer himself as a consequence of the failure of his supe- 
riors and of his government to provide the necessary machinery of war. 
And great as was the suffering of the army, the misery behind the lines 
far surpassed it. All the machinery of national existence had broken 
down under the strain of the war; starvation reigned in provinces 
whose frontiers marched with the greatest wheat-producing regions of 
the world. In one section of the Russian Empire foodstuffs rotted, 
while, in another, women and children died of hunger. 

In all the nations at war the progressive degeneration of national 
life and national industry was taking place. A sense of exhaustion, 
due to supreme suffering in consequence of the prolongation of the 
contest, was making itself manifest in every combatant nation, but in 
the western countries — however unmistakable the decline, the wearing- 
out alike of the human and the mechanical instruments of production, 
of transportation — there was still a functioning. The decay moved with 
slow if certain pace. Highly organized countries with disciplined popula- 
tions submitted only slowly to the dislocation entailed by the conflict, 
but in Russia the organization was too elementary, the machinery in too 
woefully inefficient hands. Therefore that disease which was attacking 
the existence of the other peoples at war swept over the Russian Empire 
with the rapidity and the deadliness of some new scourge, while in the 
west it merely sapped the strength with the slow but steady march of a 
constitutional disease. 

If the men who for the moment controlled the destinies of Russia, 
when the Czar and his regime had fallen, proclaimed their will, and the 
will of the nation to be, that Russia should continue the struggle 
against the German until her own territories were liberated and 


she and her allies had abolished the German threat, this was but the 
expression of now unrepresentative if noble patriots. The millions of 
Russia desired peace. There was no national consciousness which 
moved them to continue in the struggle while Austrian troops held 
Bessarabia or German divisions were in Poland. The people of France 
might continue, and did continue, to endure the agonies of the World 
War because even those agonies seemed less intolerable than the perma- 
nent surrender of Flanders, Artois, Picardy, and northern Champagne 
with the consequent enslavement of three millions of French men and 
women. But no corresponding sense of national pride or national sym- 
pathy induced a similar willingness to endure pain on the part of Russia. 

The absence of a sense of nationality excluded the possibility of a real 
patriotic revival following the revolution, such as made the French 
Revolution one of the most splendid pages in the history of any people. 
What the Russian millions demanded was not national integrity but 
peace at any price, an ending of the now intolerable agonies incident 
to the struggle ; and if the price of such a cessation of suffering was the 
surrender of provinces remote and won by military conquests of the 
now-fallen Czardom, it was a matter of no concern to them. 

Nor were they more troubled by the fact that peace between Russia 
and Germany, a separate peace, meant the betrayal of the western 
Alliance, meant the possible victory of Germany, meant a supreme 
breach of national honour. France and Great Britain were not the 
allies of Russia, of the Russian people — in the eyes of those men who 
were rising to power. Rather they were the allies of that Czar and that 
autocracy to which the Russian people owed their centuries of suffering, 
owed their present misery. French gold had fortified the Romanoff 
power; British capital had supported the beginnings of an industrial 
system hateful to the men who were shortly to be the masters of the 
revolution. The obligations of Russia to the nations in the west were, 
in the eyes of these men, no national commitment but the pledges 
of a regime now banished. Moreover, since this was itself anathema, 
all its undertakings were suspect and the allies of the Czar were to be 
resjarded as the enemies of the Revolution. 


The first demand of the Revolution, when at last it found its voice, was 
peace. It was not concerned with the fate of France nor the fortunes 
of Britain. It was not influenced by appeals to the sense of national 
honour. It looked upon the western nations neither with sympathy nor 
friendliness. It regarded their appeals to Russia to stand firm in the 
fight against Germany as an invitation to Russians to pay a still further 
tax of blood and misery that the western Allies might realize imperialis- 
tic ambitions, and that capitalistic governments might fortify them- 
selves at home by conquests abroad. 

Become articulate, the Russian Revolution demanded that the west 
should lay aside every claim formulated in the progress of the war 
and now become an obstacle to peace. It renounced for Russia the 
possession of Constantinople and the acquisition of Turkish lands in 
Asia Minor. It demanded that France should surrender her aspirations 
to Alsace Lorraine. It proclaimed that Russia would accept a peace 
without annexation and without indemnity which would have left France 
and Belgium ruined by German devastation. Nor was it profoundly 
concerned If Germany achieved its ultimate objectives in the west. The 
millions of Russia desired peace at any cost. The men who rose to 
power in the Russian Revolution by promising the Russian millions 
peace were seeking a total overthrow of the economic and national sys- 
tems which prevailed in Europe and in the world. The gospel preached 
by Lenin was a gospel destructive quite as much of British and of Ameri- 
can governments and social orders as of German. American democracy 
was, in the eyes of Lenin, as evil a thing as Hohenzollern monarchy. 
Capitalism was the foe. Lenin was prepared to make peace with Ger- 
many, no matter how much it cost Russia in territory, that on such lands 
as remained he might organize Russia to become the agent of destruction 
directed against the governments and the systems of all civilized and 
industrialized nations. 

In such a situation there could be but one consequence. When 
those men — moderates, who were collectively possessed of all the knowl- 
edge, understanding, and sympathy with the democracies of the west 
and with western civilization existing in Russia — had enjoyed their 


brief hour of power and had fallen because they were not repre- 
sentative of a Russia which knew not patriotism, knew not nation- 
ality, and was dominated by a desire for peace; when they were 
succeeded by Kerensky — a fugitive figure, representative in his 
understanding of the masses but for ever chained by his compre- 
hension of the western situation — and he had equally failed; then 
at last power fell into the hands of a great man, prepared to give the 
Russian people that peace which they demanded that he might obtain 
the power that he sought to destroy the social order of the western world. 
With the fall of the first provisional government all chance of a Russian 
patriotic revival perished. With the fall of Kerensky the last bond be- 
tween Russia and her former western allies dissolved. When Lenin 
came there was no more a Russia. All that remained was a certain ma- 
chinery of government, hopelessly dislocated but still capable of a 
degree of motion, and this machinery was thereafter operated, with- 
out regard to the war, to serve the purposes of a man who conceived 
of overthrowing not alone German tyranny but also Allied democracy — 
who looked upon the German system of government and rulers and the 
Allied executives and parliaments as equally hateful, equally subversive 
of the principles he had preached and practised during his lifetime. 

Thenceforth Russia was in the hands of a man who saw the World 
War not as a conflict between two principles, one right and one wrong, 
but as a conflict between two sets of powers, each dominated by men 
and representative of principles which it was his mission to destroy. 
The more the war undermined and sapped the fabric of governments; 
the more the several peoples engaged in the conflict murmured and com- 
plained at the intolerable pangs of the struggle; the more confidently 
Lenin looked forward to that day when these several peoples should 
adopt his ideas, and Bolshevist anarchy and destruction which had 
seized upon Russia and was transforming that country into a wilderness 
and an economic ruin, should obtain equal sway in France, in Britain, 
and in the United States. 

All this was long hid from the Western world. In the first hours the 
west rejoiced that Russia had been converted to the religion of Western 


democracy, just as it had clung, through all the revelations of the 
war, to the equally puerile notion that the German people were the 
victims of a government which by force, and by force alone, prevented 
them from adopting the beneficent systems of democracy of their 
western neighbours. Mission after mission of eminent statesmen, rang- 
ing from Lord Milner to Arthur Henderson, from Elihu Root to Albert 
Thomas, visited Petrograd and returned with varying reports, were 
themselves bewildered by what they saw and heard, or even in a small 
but unmistakable degree impressed and influenced by the gospel which 
they heard preached. But the masses and the governments of the peo- 
ples of the west remained impervious to the truth. Not until Russia had 
made a separate peace and quit the firing line; not until they were 
aware not merely that Russia had deserted her old allies but that the men 
in control of Russian aflPairs were as hostile to the governments and states- 
men of the west as they were to those of Germany and Austria — that 
in fact a new force or a new disease was abroad in the world; did the 
western powers at last in any measure comprehend Russian events. 

In sum: between February and August the Russian Revolution 
ran the whole gamut from a protest of enlightened patriotism and mod- 
erate democracy to the anti-patriotic, anti-social Bolshevist fury of 
Lenin. In that period Russian unity was destroyed; such machinery 
of government and production as remained was abolished. The Rus- 
sian army was first disorganized from within and then — after a brief, 
successful offensive — revealed, fleeing from a field of victory, no longer a 
force or a factor in the war. Long before August arrived Russia had 
ceased to be an ally, had become a problem and even a peril. Thereafter 
it was to continue an ever-growing menace, the doctrines of its leaders 
undermining and destroying national unity in Allied countries, while, 
freed from Russian danger, Germany was to bring her vast hosts to 
Picardy, and Austria and Germany to transfer still other divisions to 
the Venetian front, so that while Allied capacity for resistance behind the 
line diminished, actual defeat upon the battlefield and new onrushes 
of German and Austrian troops were still further to test the already 
war-tried temper of the French, the Italian, and the British peoples. 



It remains now to trace rapidly the several steps in the Revolution. 
In January and February Russia was in the hands of the reactionary 
influences whose conspicuous representative was Protopopov. The 
assassination of Rasputin on December 30th, celebrated by the nation 
as a deliverance but viewed by the Czarina as a personal affliction, 
had been the signal for the loosing of the influences of reactionary 
tyranny. All through the first two months of the new year, while Pet- 
rograd had been filled with machine guns and with troops, one provoca- 
tion after another had been resorted to in the hope of driving a hungry 
and exasperated populace to throw itself upon the prepared weapons 
of the agents of reaction. When at last the Duma assembled on the 
27th of February, more than a month after the date set for its meeting, 
the atmosphere was tense, the signs of the coming storm were on all 
sides. Prior to the 8th of March there were bread riots. On this day 
there was a disturbance provoked by the Cossacks, which in the next 
day expanded to a real revolt. Almost spontaneously, with little sign 
of direction, the people of the Russian capital flowed into the streets; 
meetings of protest were held; and finally — sure concomitant of every 
revolution — the soldiers of tyranny fraternized with the people. Out of 
the fraternizing there developed a general and complete extermination 
of the police who had been the chosen tools of the bureaucracy and of 
tyranny for so many years. These wretched creatures were hunted 
down and slain wherever found. They were in fact almost the sole 
victims of the first phase of the Russian Revolution, which in every other 
aspect was orderly, and impressed the world with the absence of pre- 
cisely those circumstances which one associates with revolutions even 
in their initial phases. 

Between the 8th and 12th of March the Revolution had achieved 
complete success. The later date was marked by an assault upon the 
great prison fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul, comparable in many re- 
spects with that attack upon the Bastille which was the decisive act 
of the French Revolution. Ordered to fire upon the masses, even the 


chosen Guard troops fired upon their own officers, and before noon of 
March 12th the old Russian order had fallen. 

Meantime, the Duma held aloof. Messages were sent to the Czar 
warning him of the crisis. One message was ignored; another, an- 
swered by the futile statement that the feeble Nicholas was coming to 
the capital. He never reached Petrograd. On this March 12th the 
Duma named a provisional government of twelve of its members, while 
at the same moment a Committee of Workmen, Soldiers, and Sailors 
was formed — an executive body destined to supplant the Duma in due 
course of time. 

This First Provisional Government contained among others Rod- 
zianko, Prince Lvov, Miliukov, and Kerensky. Two days later such 
government as was left in Russia consisted of the twelve named by 
the Duma and the Council of Workmen and Soldiers Delegates — that 
Council of the Soviets, destined in a few months "to rival and even to sur- 
pass that Committee of Public Safety which, in the Terror of the French 
Revolution, established a record of violence till then unparalleled. ' 

Meantime the armies and their commanders, Russky and Brusiloff, 
had accepted the Revolution, and on March 15th even the Grand Duke 
Nicholas advised the Czar that he must abdicate. To this decision 
Nicholas bowed and on that day abdicated in favour of the Grand Duke 
Michael. On this same day the Duma announced a new government. 
Already there was a clash between the Soviets, who sought a republic, 
and the Duma, which still advocated a constitutional monarchy. 
One day later the Grand Duke Michael, in his turn, was forced to re- 
nounce the throne. The House of Romanoff had fallen, in seven days. 
Still another week and Nicholas Alexandrovitch Romanoff was a pris- 
oner at the Palace of Tsarkoe Selo, entering upon that long agony which 
was to end as tragically and even more sordidly than the similar ex- 
perience of Louis XVI. This phase of the drama was complete. 


The second act was marked by the effort of the Duma, through its 
provisional government, to carry on orderly administration, to reform 


Russia by degrees, to preserve Russia's association with the Western 
powers and to fulfil her obligations as a partner in the war against Ger- 
many. But while the Duma and the Provisional Government were seek- 
ing to ensure the peaceful evolution of Russia, the Soviets, assembling in 
congress, gave instant evidence of a totally different purpose. Re- 
nouncing for Russia all previous agreements by which Constantinople 
and other rewards were assured to the Czar, the Soviets demanded 
similar sacrifices from the western Allies as the sole condition on which 
Russia should continue in the war. Already in this initial assembly 
the voice of Lenin was heard preaching the gospel of class warfare, 
demanding not a continuation of the war against Germany but an expan- 
sion of the war to a crusade against all capitalistic governments, Allied 
and German alike, an appeal to the masses of the population of all the 
countries to rise against their own governments, and throwing off the 
bondage of nationalism and racial patriotism, to share in the common 
cause which had for its object the obliteration of national frontiers and 
the elimination of the bourgeoisie everyw^here. 

Lenin had long been the apostle of this gospel of class warfare and 
Marxian socialism. Exiled from Russia he had found asylum in 
Switzerland. When the Revolution came, German assistance had 
made possible his return to his own country, and, arrived at home, he 
served the German cause by assailing every influence in Russia which 
made for the continuation of Russia in the war against Germany. 
From the very outset of the later phase the Russian Revolution became a 
battle between Kerensky — himself a Socialist, too, but the champion of 
more moderate policies and of continued alliance with the western 
powers — and Lenin, a consistent and uncompromising advocate of the 
universal war against Capital, preceded by an immediate peace with 
Germany. Kerensky was compelled to urge the Russian people to new 
effort in a war which had become intolerable. Lenin promised imme- 
diate relief from this conflict. Kerensky appealed to the sense of duty; 
Lenin, to the selfishness and weakness of his fellow-countrymen. 

In all this period Kerensky sought on the one hand to persuade the 
western powers to modify their war purposes and bring their policies 


into accord with the Russian formula of peace without annexation and 
without indemnity, while he endeavoured to hold the Russian people 
fixed to their alliance with the west. It was an impossible task for a 
man whose sole qualifications lay in a brilliant imagination and an 
unrivalled eloquence. Kerensky was able to sway every audience 
which he addressed, and when he was an exile in England he captured 
hearers who did not even understand the language which he spoke, but he 
had not the power of organization nor the iron will which the situation 
required. His task was probably beyond human strength at best but it 
was beyond all question hopeless when his ultimate resource was words. 
Lenin's game was steadily played by the Central Powers. In April 
Austria made a proffer of peace and in the same month the calling of a 
Socialist conference at Stockholm was seized upon by Berlin to tempt 
the Russians and confuse the Allies. By the i6th of May the Pro- 
visional Government had broken down and the new government repre- 
sented an attempted coalition between the Duma and the Soviets, 
although Prince Lvov, who had headed the first government, still re- 
tained his post, and Kerensky exchanged the Ministry of Justice for 
that of War and Marine. In this time a first effort of Lenin to seize 
control of the Government failed. For a single hour it seemed as if 
Kerensky had at least measured up to his task and would be able to 
control with an iron hand the elements of disorder within while he di- 
rected Russian armies into conflict with the foes without. In this 
period, yielding to the ever-growing insistence of the western Allies, al- 
ready gravely compromised by Russian military quiescence, he agreed to 
an offensive, but the anarchy which had wrecked the domestic machinery 
had already permeated the army. The death penalty had been abol- 
ished ; a discipline severer and more terrible than thatwhich had prevailed 
in the German army now gave way to a method of control under which 
soldiers chose their own oflftcers and debated obedience to or rejection 
of their orders. 


We have now to examine the final Russian offensive, which in its 
brief hour of success aroused hopes among western nations which would 


not stir again until American millions had replaced Russian and the 
final German western offensive, the ''peace storm" of July, 191 8, had 
ended in decisive defeat. 

To understand the actual history of the Russian attack in Galicia 
it is necessary to recall certain facts familiar in 1916 but now forgotten. 
When in August Brusilojff's great offensive came to an end the Austrian 
armies in Galicia were standing in a wide semicircle about Lemberg 
and from forty to sixty miles east of that city. To the north, in Vol- 
hynia, the Russian advance had stopped along the line of the Stokhod 
River, some twenty miles east of the vital railroad centre of Kovel. 
Had the Russians reached Kovel a great Austro-German retreat from 
the Gulf of Riga to the Carpathians would have been inevitable. 

In Galicia the Austrians were standing behind the upper stream of 
the Styr, which flows northward out of Galicia; their centre was along the 
Zlota Lipa, which rises near the Styr but flows southward into the Dnie- 
ster, with their extreme right centre bent back north of the Dniester to 
the point where the Gnila Lipa enters it. South of the Dniester their line 
ran behind the Bystritza, just west of Stanislau, straight down to the 
Carpathians. They were actually in a temporary position, were on 
the point of drawing back their centre behind the Gnila Lipa, when the 
Russian offensive stopped. After the pause the Austrian and German 
troops held on. 

The main mission of the Austro-German forces in Galicia was to 
cover Lemberg. Originally they had stood along the line of the Strypa, 
which parallels the Zlota Lipa to the eastward. They had fallen back 
to the Zlota Lipa, and the Russians had succeeded in passing the lower 
stretch of this river, thus turning the Zlota Lipa position. Actually, 
the Austrians had left to them the Gnila Lipa position; that is, the 
position behind this river which rises in the hills east of Lemberg 
and flows fairly straight down to the Dniester, which it enters opposite 
Halicz. This is the natural covering position of an army defending 
Lemberg, itself an open town; it is the position from which the 
Austrians had defended the town in August, 1914, and when they were 
defeated here they evacuated Lemberg. 


The Bug River, rising in the hills that also see the birth of the Gnila 
Lipa and at one point coming within half a dozen miles of this stream, 
turns northward and flows across eastern Galicia into Russia and this 
makes a natural extension to thenorthward of theGnilaLipa position,and 
together the lines of the Bug and the Gnila Lipa constitute the last and 
best defensive position before Lemberg. South of the Dniester the 
Bystritza, and behind it the Lomnica, serve as extensions of this Gnila 
Lipa-Bug Line. 

In August, 19 1 6, the world believed that the Austro-Germans would 
be compelled to draw back to the Gnila Lipa position. But they stood; 
their centre still advanced along the Zlota Lipa; and it was against this 
centre, and about the town of Brzezany, that the first Russian attack 
of 19 17 was delivered on a wide front from north of the Lemberg- 
Brody railroad to the ground south of Brzezany. 

This attack met with local successes. The town of Koniuchy, 
northeast of Brzezany, was taken; Brzezany itself was threatened; some 
20,000 prisoners were captured, together with many guns. But these 
local successes were all that resulted. The Austrian line was 
reinforced and held on. Fresh Russian attacks were met by stiff 
resistance and brought heavy losses. The attack had begun on June 
30th. By July 4th it was beginning to flicker out and there was no 
longer immediate promise of any renewal of the achievement of 1914 or 
of 1916. 

The most that could be said for this first attack was that it had sur- 
prised the world by showing that Russia, apparently, was resolved to 
fight on; had revealed the Russian army as better prepared in artillery 
and other munitions than had been expected, and disclosed the soldiers 
as having a fighting spirit once more. 

But had it ended with the Brzezany episode the Russian offensive 
would have had little real military value, measured by actual achieve- 
ment. As it turned out this was only a beginning. After a few days' 
pause the Russians renewed the attack, this time south of the Dniester 
and along the Bystritza, west of Stanislau. Here their success was im- 
mediate and considerable. The Austrian lines were pierced and there 


began a drive momentarily quite like those of 1916. This victory was 

achieved by the army of Korniloff. 

Recall again the relation of the various rivers to Lemberg. The 
Austrians still held a portion of the Zlota Lipa line. They could still 
retire to the line of the Gnila Lipa, as far as pressure north of the Dnies- 
ter was concerned. But the Russians had passed both the Bystritza 
and the Lomnica, which are the natural extensions of the Gnila Lipa 
line south of the Dniester; they had crossed the Dniester from the south, 
opposite Halicz, which they had captured ; and were thus west of the 
Gnila Lipa, north of the Dniester. 

The situation south of the Dniester was perhaps more serious, for the 
Russians had passed both the Bystritza and the Lomnica, and having 
taken Kalusz were moving westward between the Dniester and the Car- 
pathian foothills, driving a wedge between the Austrians north of the 
Dniester and those to the south, and threatening to open a wide gap 
through which their troops would pour in from north and west and 
threaten Lemberg. The real test of the Russian success was now their 
ability to reach the city of Stryj, thirty-odd miles northwest of Lemberg 
and an important railroad junction. If they got to Stryj, then the 
evacuation of Lemberg would be well-nigh inevitable. 

It was possible that the passing of the river at Halicz might compel 
the abandonment of the Gnila Lipa River line by the Austrians and the 
eventual retirement west of Lemberg. It did in 1914, but it was less 
likely that this success would be decisive than that the fall of Lemberg 
would be determined by operations to the south of the Dniester, where 
there were more evidences of Austrian collapse. 

Before there could be any determination of this battle, the whole 
Russian line north of the Dniester before Tarnopol and northward to 
the Lemberg-Brody railroad suddenly collapsed. There was no con- 
siderable German attack; there was no great engagement, but a panic— 
a rout— ensued. German spies, German agents, anarchists, and war- 
weary, deluded soldiers united in the destruction of discipline, and 
the army which had taken Koniuchy and threatened Brzezany two 
weeks earlier was suddenly transformed into a fleeing horde, comparable 


to that army which set out from the battlefield of First Bull Run for 

And the effect of this collapse of the Russian centre in Galicia was 
to leave Korniloff's victorious army south of the Dniester in the air. It 
had no choice but to fall rapidly back for a hundred miles through 
Bukowina to the Russian boundary, surrendering all of Bukowina and all 
of Galicia held since the opening of the campaign of 19 16. When the re- 
arrangement was complete the Austrians once more could boast a soil 
practically freed of the invader and this had not been the case since 
the very opening days of the war. 

In men the Russians lost surprisingly few by this wretched per- 
formance. Official German figures placed the captures — up to mid- 
August, from Roumania to the Bug — at only 42,000 men and 257 guns. 
In their offensives in April the British and the French together had cap- 
tured over 5 5, 000 German prisoners and more than 400 guns. The 
Russians in their first two weeks this year, while the armies still fought, 
had taken 36,000 prisoners, and captures in Roumania brought the 
balance even for the two forces on the southeastern front. Compare 
this with 150,000 Austrian prisoners taken by the Russians after Lem- 
berg in 1914 or 120,000 prisoners after the capture of Lutsk in 1916. 
The loss of guns was more serious, but the real disaster was the destruc- 
tion of the cohesion of the Russian armies. 

At a critical moment the inevitable effect of the domestic agitations 
had been felt and Germany had been saved from deadly peril, the peril 
flowing from the opening of a joint attack in the east and in the west. 
Ludcndorff himself subsequently declared in a military conference in 
Berlin that had this Russian offensive coincided with the Anglo-French 
attacks before Arras and at the Craonne Plateau the consequences might 
have been fatal to Germany. Now she could concentrate her attention 
upon Belgium and Artois, for even if Russian armies could be reorgan- 
ized and restored before the end of the cam-paigning season it was be- 
yond possibility that they could conduct a new offensive 

In point of fact Russia had collapsed. If Korniloff , who had planned 
the victorious offensive which ended so ignominiously, could in associa- 


tion with Kerensky make one more effort to restore discipline in the 
army, this association was destined to Hve but a brief time, and while 
Bolshevist uprising in Petrograd accompanied mutiny and desertion 
on the field of victory, Russia was slipping inescapably into the bog of 
anarchy. The break between Korniloff and Kerensky, a few weeks 
later, was to shatter the last power of resistance in the Provisional 
Government, in which Lvov had already given place to Kerensky. 

Henceforth Russia is no more than a cauldron in which boil up all 
sorts of bubbles. It is no longer a nation or a state. It is no more 
capable of conducting war, of making peace, of manning the machinery 
of production and communication. Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian 
separatist movements destroy a physical unity already shaken by do- 
mestic anarchy. 

The fall of Russia well-nigh lost the war for the western Allies. 
Had the Germans refrained from their submarine attack, which en- 
listed the United States, it is inconceivable that victory could finally 
have escaped the Kaiser. With the failure of the Russian offensive 
the whole Allied campaign of 191 7 was doomed. The French had failed 
outright at the Craonne Plateau; the Italians, mounting with difficulty 
the Bainsizza Plateau, were condemned to find complete disaster after 
transient success ; British armies were already floundering in the morass 
of Flanders in their tragically abortive campaign; while, with ever- 
increasing insistence, demands for peace — formulated by the honest 
but weak and the corrupt but influential — sounded in Allied capitals 
and countries. 

In July, 1917, and in the succeeding months up to the Treaty of Brest- 
Litovsk we touch the dead low-water mark of Allied hopes. Allied pros- 
pects. Allied courage. Every calculation of victory had been predicated 
upon the participation of Russia. Again and again the western publics 
had been solaced for failure on their own front by promises of the 
arrival of the Russian steam roller in Berlin and Vienna. Such 
promises could be made no longer. The last illusion was disappearing;, 
even the American hope lost appeal in the light of Russian deception. 

Tliere is another side to the Russian Revolution. Th*s aext two years 


were to show that the Russian collapse had not merely imperilled Allied 
prospects of military triumph immediately and greatly but that the 
disease which had seized upon Russia was destined to invade the 
west. Germany, which had procured the return of Russian anarchists 
following the Revolution — which had profited greatly by the disorganiza- 
tion in Russia — the work, if not primarily of its agents, at least the 
result in no small degree of its manoeuvres ; Germany herself was to suffer 
from the scourge, and no western power was to go unscathed. Hence- 
forth, for the period of the war, for the period of the Armistice, when 
at last peace had been signed, Russia was to remain outside the circle 
of nations — outside the bonds of international association — suffering 
miseries unequalled in modern history, but, under the leadership of 
Lenin, despite indescribable weakness, to continue an immeasurable 
peril to the west — to Germany, as to France and Great Britain — a 
phenomenon as inexplicable to contemporary mankind as was the 
French Revolution a century and a quarter before. 




Grave as were the military circumstances for the western Allies 
even before Russia had collapsed, the naval prospects were infinitely 
worse. In April and May Germany was winning the war with the sub- 
marine. In the former month upward of a million tons of shipping had 
been sunk, and Admiral Sims, going to London to establish relations be- 
tween the American and Allied navies, was met by the appalling state- 
ment — made by Jellicoe and by civil officials alike — that, unless some new 
weapon or some new method could be discovered to deal with the sub- 
marine, and could be discovered promptly, then, not later than Novem- 
ber, Great Britain would be starved into surrender, the war lost, the 
German victory on land and on sea inescapable. Mr. Balfour, when he 
came to the United States immediately after American entrance into 
the war, brought a similar message, and delivered it at the moment the 
American military authorities were learning from Marshal Joffre that 
the Nivelle offensive had failed and that the immediate presence of 
American soldiers in Europe, and in large numbers, was necessary. 

We have now briefly to consider the submarine aspect of the war. 
It is plain that had the Germans, before the outbreak of the war, 
recognized the value of the weapon they possessed in the submarine; 
had they, instead of following the example of the British navy and 
embarking upon a pursuit race to overtake British sea power by the 
construction of capital ships, concentrated their energy and attention 
upon the construction of a really considerable submarine fleet; they 
might have won the war in the first three years, before the British navy 
had at last learned to cope with the new form of sea warfare. Nothing 
seems more clear than that the German submarine operations were the 



result of an appreciation, after the outbreak of hostilities, of the possi- 
bilities of this new arm directed against merchant shipping, rather than 
the consequence of marvellous prevision — ^just as the German mobile 
heavy artillery, which had been designed speedily to reduce French 
fortifications and open the way to swift victory, proved of incalculable 
value in unforeseen trench warfare, after having failed to procure the 
military decision which had been planned. 

When the Germans abandoned their first campaign — which had 
nearly brought the United States into the war in 191 5 and the first 
weeks of 1916 — they then possessed an insufficient undersea fleet 
to accomplish their purpose; but thereafter, and particularly after 
Jutland, they concentrated their energies upon the construction of 
submarines, and were able to complete not less than three a week. 
When they resumed their ruthless sinkings in February they were able, 
thanks to new construction, to keep not less than eight or ten undersea 
boats at work at all times, and — contrary to all the reports of that 
period, official and otherwise — their loss was inconsiderable and far too 
insignificant to defeat the campaign itself. 

Against a possible resumption of this campaign the British navy 
had neither fortified itself by the construction of destroyers — the 
sole type of craft capable of dealing with the submarine — nor had it 
formulated plans against such an emergency. Such destroyers as it had 
were almost all occupied in protecting the Grand Fleet. The few that 
were left for sea patrol were so ridiculously inadequate as to make 
hopeless the task assigned to them. Nor had the British Government 
foreseen the coming crisis and provisioned the British Isles in advance. 
In April, when the Germans put nearly a million tons of shipping under, 
Britain had six weeks of foodstufi^s on hand, so that a continuation of 
the rate of sinkings for that month made surrender by November ist 

It is essential to see the submarine element in the war accurately. 
The Germans did not risk involving the United States in the world 
conflict merely to make a hazardous gamble. They had calculated cor- 
rectly, that as the British navy was fighting the submarine in February, 


19 1 7, and as it continued to fight it for months thereafter, the 
success of the new campaign was mathematically certain. They 
assumed that they would sink more than a million tons a month — 
perhaps two millions. They calculated that three months of this 
campaign would bring Britain to her knees; British calculations differed 
only as they doubled the period of grace. The German saw victory 
before America could be a real participant. He refrained from any 
attack upon American shores and from any considerable violence to 
American shipping in the belief that the war would be over before 
America could much affect its course, and with the thought that, in such 
circumstances, there would not be in America any such permanent 
hostility, dangerous to the after-war prosperity and commerce of Ger- 
many, as now existed all over Europe. 

Conceivably, although the German hardly reckoned upon it, the 
submarine campaign might only prepare the way for one more western 
offensive. This was a possibility foreseen when Hindenburg devastated 
northern France and retired to his own front while German armies and 
German agents completed the demoralization of Russia. The mission 
of the western front was to hold fast until Russia had fallen and the 
submarine had either won the war, or so weakened British powers of 
resistance at home by the sure process of starvation, that an initial 
victory in the west, in 1918, would bring a collapse in Britain compar- 
able with that in Russia. 

It was the ever-mounting danger of the submarine that led the 
British to place their armies under the control of Nivelle, and welcome 
that alluring if disastrous strategy which envisaged a grandiose attack 
and the achievement of decisive military victory. It was the hope of 
the British and French governments alike, in the spring of 1917, that 
the Anglo-French armies might save the British navy. The Flanders 
offensive had, for its primary object, the sweeping of the Germans from 
the Belgian coast, and thus abolishing the main submarine base at 
Bruges, and laying hands on Zeebriigge and Ostend, the twin outlets 
of this hornet's nest. 



Admiral Sims has given the world a luminous description of the 
situation which he found when he reached London in the spring of 1917. 
For the moment Great Britain had lost, not the control of the seas by 
her navy, for the Grand Fleet still maintained a superiority vindicated 
at Jutland, but the use of the waters she dominated. Actually the 
British Isles were blockaded, and daily the harvest of submarine sinkings 
marched inexorably toward that point at which shipping would be 
so reduced that starvation would compel surrender. Such were the 
reports sent by Admiral Sims to the American Government. Such 
was the condition which confronted the Allies during all the period when 
their military efforts were failing and the collapse of Russia was result- 
ing in the transfer to the western front of German and Austrian divi- 
sions sufficient to check Allied attacks in 1917 and compel British, 
French, and Italian armies to resign the initiative and await the attacks 
of victorious German armies, while German submarines cut their lines 
of communication, interrupted their supplies, destroyed the cargoes of 
foodstuffs and raw material essential alike for the maintenance of the 
armies and the civil population, and for the manufacture of munitions 
and guns. 

It was only in June that the British Government at last, in a counsel 
of desperation, had recourse to the system of convoys, and even this 
ultimate expedient would have been impossible had it not been for the 
transfer to European waters of the Destroyer Fleet of the United States 
and a further contribution of a similar sort from the Japanese Navy. 
From February to September it was touch and go, and it was only in 
November that at last the convoy system, together with other 
methods, produced results which assured the Allies that — great and 
continuing as would be the injury of the submarine, difficult as would 
be the maintenance of sufficient shipping — the German could not win 
the war by this means alone. Slowly but surely the rate of sinkings 
fell; it was reduced by two thirds between April, 1917, and April, 1918. 
But once more the German victories in March and April of 191 8 induced a 











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crisis when the necessity for the transfer of two miUions of American 
troops to Europe suddenly removed an enormous tonnage from the 
service of supphes; in 1918, even more than in 1917, the British pubhc 
suffered from a lack of food, and only the most rigorous system of 
rationing actually prevented famine. From the sum.mer of 1917, 
onward, Great Britain was hungry, and even after the war had ended 
many months passed before the British or the French public could 
resume its former nourishment. 

All things considered, the submarine campaign of 19 17, in its early 
months, came nearer to winning the war for Germany than the first 
campaign to the Marne or the colossal March offensive of 191 8. For 
a period of months the British Government lost control of the sea for the 
first time in more than a century. The submarine success, unlike a vic- 
tory in the field, did not merely defeat or destroy an army; it attacked 
every individual in the nation. It brought Great Britain to the edge 
of starvation. It threatened British and French munition factories alike 
with the lack of the raw materials out of which armies were equipped and 

The gravity of the crisis was long hidden from the Allied publics. 
How near Germany was to victory by midsummer 19 17, as a result of 
her submarine campaign, was not appreciated at the time, and can 
hardly be understood now, since no visible evidence to indicate the 
crisis of that time exists. Never in all her long history had Great 
Britain been so near to ultimate ruin, and until America could come, 
Britain was the last stronghold of resistance. To understand the 
progress of political as well as military events; to understand why the 
morale of the domestic as well as the military fronts weakened danger- 
ously in 1917; to comprehend why the faint-hearted cried out for peace 
at any price, why treason flourished, why all through the summer and 
autumn back-stairs negotiations between the Allies and the Germans 
went forward in one fashion or another, it is necessary to grasp the 
actual achievements of the German submarine campaign, the success 
of which was carefully eliminated from the press and replaced by opti- 
mistic if mendacious appeals of statesmen designed to deceive the peoples 


of the Allied nations, and thus persuade them to continue in the 

The German submarine campaign, in the end, failed. Its failure 
damns it, precisely as Napoleon's failure in his Moscow campaign 
made that venture a landmark in failure for successive generations. 
Moreover, the failure involved Germany in war with the United States 
and brought American troops to France in time to supply the western 
Allies with the necessary numbers to regain the initiative and win 
decisive victory. Exactly as the incursion into Belgium roused the 
world and gave a moral impetus to the Allied cause, in neutral as well as 
in combatant nations, without enabling the German armies to reach 
Paris or win the war, resumption of ruthless submarine warfare in 
February, 191 7, without achieving its object, enlisted new enemies 
and ultimately ensured German defeat. Yet they were not mad, the 
Germans who risked contingencies that to human eyes seemed remote, 
in the pursuit of results which, if they seemed certain to German leaders 
in January — before the campaign was launched — appeared almost equally 
sure to British, French, and American statesmen, soldiers, and sailors 
in April and May — when the campaign was in full swing. 

Like the devastation of northern France and the Hindenburg re- 
treat, the use of the submarine for unrestricted sinking could only be 
the resort of a nation that was either desperate or certain of success. 
In 1917 the German was hardly desperate. He was by contrast still 
confident, not alone of victory but of swift triumph. By October, 
when conquest by the submarine arm alone had become impossible, his 
military prospects had so improved that he still had reason to believe 
that the submarine, plus the victorious armies now summoned from the 
Russian front, would gain the decision the forthcoming spring. But in 
using the submarine, as in transforming northern France into a desert, 
the Kaiser and his advisers invited terrible retribution if defeat should 
come. Nothing was more certain than that, if Germany lost the war, 
her shipping — one of the chief instruments by which the great develop- 
ment of German prosperity in world trade had been achieved — would 
be taken from her. Thus in 1917, on land and on sea, the German took 


irrevocable steps, whose consequences were to be written into the 
Treaty of Versailles two years later. He sank hospital ships, laden with 
the wounded of the battlefield, to summon Allied destroyers from 
submarine patrol to the protection of these vessels of mercy, precisely 
as he bombed hospitals and peaceful cities far behind the battle-front, 
to recall Allied airplanes from active service. He used all his weapons, 
and he exhausted the possibilities of all his machinery of destruction — 
not in savage rage, but in calculated ferocity. The submarine 
campaign was the ultimate expression in the World War of the mean- 
ing of the German will for victory. It came within an ace of winning 
the war. It would have won the war if the British navy, aided by 
American destroyer fleets, had not turned to the convoy system, 
impossible till then because of the lack of destroyers. This exposed 
the British navy as having failed, in the respite between 1916 and 1917, 
to devise adequate methods for meeting the submarine, and the British 
Government as having failed to provide in advance against a possible 
onset of famine. 

To analyze the various elements that contribute to making victory 
or defeat in a nation is almost impossible either during or after the war. 
Yet it seems hardly an exaggeration to say that in 1917, disastrous as 
were Allied defeats upon the battlefield, they alone would not explain 
the decline of Allied morale among the peoples engaged. It was the 
submarine campaign; it was the element of actual deprivation and 
proximate famine that gave secret strength to those successive peace 
off^ensives which so nearly gained the German his victory. The armies 
had failed, but of themselves they could still fight on; but the govern- 
ments and the peoples behind the armies were assailed by an enemy 
whose advance long seemed irresistible and whose attack unnerved and 
weakened the whole population. 

We shall see how at last, in 1918, the submarine campaign was de- 
feated — the peril well-nigh abolished. In 1917 it was only halted. It 
was not until autumn that there was at least a reasonable basis 
for belief that the submarine would not win the war, and in all 
the strain of military and political events during this long, grim 



period the influence of the submarine campaign must be recognized and 



The following figures show the total tonnage lost during the war 
owing to the German submarine campaign, as compiled from American 
official reports: 


August . 











October . 












October . 




62,495 tons 

























October . 












October . 


351,491 tons 









Total 12,768,099 


At the moment in which I am completing this volume there are 
being published two documents which must for the future have great 


value in any analysis of the last phase of the submarine conflict. One 
is the narrative of Admiral Sims of the American Navy, setting forth 
the story of the fight against the submarine, and the other is General 
Ludendorff 's account of the last two years of the war, which includes 
an explanation of the reasons which led the Germans to embark upon 
their fatal venture. These two documents are of unequal value be- 
cause, while the truthfulness of Sims is not to be questioned, Luden- 
dorff's book is plainly propaganda, designed to absolve the German 
military leaders from the responsibility of defeat. Nevertheless, it has 
real value. 

Moreover, setting the two narratives side by side one perceives first, 
what the German calculations were, from Ludendorff, and second, how 
nearly the calculations were correct, from Sims. 

The explanation of Ludendorff is probably one of the most cold- 
blooded statements which the war has produced. It shows no regard 
whatever for moral considerations. It discloses the German Govern- 
ment and the German Staff concerned solely with the question as to 
whether the use of the submarine would be more profitable, despite 
its effect upon neutrals, or not. Ludendorff explains that the cam- 
paign was not resolved upon until President Wilson's peace proposals 
of December, 1916, had failed and the success of German armies in 
Roumania had relieved the Central Powers of one source of anxiety and 
provided the necessary troops against the remote possibility that Hol- 
land and Denmark, and even more distant neutrals like Sweden and 
Norway, might enter the war as a consequence of a resumption of ruth- 
less sinkings. 

The most interesting single assertion of Ludendorff on the military 
side is that the German High Command saw the beginning of the year 
191 7 with grave anxiety, because they did not then suspect a Russian 
collapse such as took place, and he declares that since it was impossible 
to forecast the collapse of Russia, the Central Powers saw in the sub- 
marine the sole weapon which could avert defeat, and might produce 
victory. The German calculation was that the submarine would 
bring Britain to her knees in six months. Ludendorff himself doubled 


the period but accepted the statement of the naval authorities that the 
extent of the allied losses would preclude the passing of American 
troops to Europe in time or in numbers to affect the situation in 1918 
even if the submarine campaign proved less immediately successful 
than was hoped for. 

This amounts to a confession that if Germany had known of the 
forthcoming collapse of Russia in January, 191 7, she would not have 
resorted to the submarine weapon, thus inviting American entrance 
into the war, and, as the event proved, insuring German defeat. In 
July, 1914, German High Command calculated that in six weeks, by 
violating the neutrality of Belgium, it could dispose of France whether 
Great Britain entered the war or not, and therefore the profit would be 
out of all proportion to the loss even if Britain should enter. In Jan- 
uary, 19 1 7, the Germans calculated that they could win the war in 
twelve months if they resorted to the submarine weapon, and that, for 
twelve months at least, America would be unable to intervene effec- 
tively. Both calculations veiy nearly proved correct, but failure by a 
narrow margin in each case led to fatal consequences. German mili- 
tary leaders were correct in calculating that not more than five or six 
American divisions need be reckoned with in Europe during the first 
year of American participation in the war, just as they were correct in 
assuming that the British Expeditionary Army would be small and play 
a relatively minor part in the first six weeks in the 1914 campaign. But 
in both cases there is disclosed that amazing German psychology which 
led to the taking of unheard-of risks without making any allowance for 
the intellectual, and moral forces to be arrayed against them. 

Ludendorff says that in January, 1917, expecting a renewal of attack 
on all fronts, not yet perceiving the approach of Russian collapse, having 
failed to procure peace by negotiation on terms which would have per- 
petuated the European condition created by Germany's opening vic- 
tories, the Kaiser, the civil government, and the military leaders agreed 
upon a recourse to the submarine weapon without regard to the rights 
of neutrals, without concern for America, because it promised a deci- 
sion within six months in the opinion of German naval officers, within a 


year according to the more conservative judgment of Ludendorff him- 
self, and he concedes that the course would not have been adopted had 
German leaders perceived that Russia would soon collapse and the way- 
would be clear to seek a military decision in the west in 1918. 

As to Sims, he reports that when he reached London in April, after 
less than three months of unrestricted sinkings, he was bluntly told 
that Great Britain would have to give up the war by November if the 
submarine campaign were not checked and then he reported to Wash- 
ington: "Briefly stated, I consider that at the present moment we are 
losing the war." He tells us that after spending his first four days in 
London and collecting all possible data, he wrote a four-page cable 
despatch setting forth the situation in its full gravity, and when he 
submitted it to the American Ambassador, Mr. Page declared that it 
was not strong enough, and wrote a much stronger despatch of his own. 
Thus are revealed the calculations of Berlin and the conviction of Lon- 
don in the first stages of the submarine campaign of 1917. 



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a drawing h\ Louis Rafmakers 

A Lusitania survivor stated that when the ship sank a submarine rose to the surface: "The crew stood stohdly 
on the deck and surveyed the scene. I could distinguish the German flag, but it was impossible to see the number of 
the submarine, which disappeared after a few minutes." 


This medal was struck by the Germans to commemorate their navy's " glorious " achievement. One side shows 
Death selling tickets at the Cunard Line's ticket-window, under the motto " Business before Everything"; the other 
shows the ship engulfed by the waves. It is noteworthy that the date stamped on the medal is two days earlier 
than that of the actual occurrence. 

In drydock after her capture by the British 


By steering a zig-zag course the food ships greatly increased the difficulty of the submarine's aim. This device helped 
them to answer the heartfelt prayer of British children, "Ciive us this day our daily bread" 

A group of German submarines lying in their base at Wilhelmshaven 




The operations in Artois — following the Battle of Arras, and de- 
signed to aid the French on the Craonne Plateau by occupying German 
divisions — died out toward the end of May, after having been prolonged 
for rather more than a month beyond the time Sir Douglas Haig had 
fixed for this subsidiary operation. By June ist he was at last free to 
turn his attention toward that campaign which from the winter onward 
he had designed to be the principal British effort, in case Nivelle's 
offensive fell short of its far-reaching mission. 

The campaign which we are now to examine was the bloodiest, on 
the Allied side, of the western front, comparable with the German 
attack at Verdun, and, like that stupendous German effort, destined 
to fall short of any larger objective and to be followed by a resignation 
of all the ground purchased at such an enormous price in human life 
and human effort. For American readers the Third Battle of Ypres, 
the new campaign in Flanders, has a striking parallel in Grant's opera- 
tions in 1864 from the Rapidan to Cold Harbour and to Petersburg. 
The British army and the British public saw the opening of the campaign 
of 1917 with precisely the same confidence and hope with which the 
Northern public surveyed the beginning of Grant's first campaign with 
the Army of the Potomac. 

The conditions were in many respects similar. Three years of war 
had in both cases seen the transformation of a civilian population into 
well-equipped and well-trained armies. The disappointments, the fail- 
ures of three years of war had, on the whole, been without any disastrous 
consequences. The British army had suffered no considerable defeat. 

The Expeditionary Army, after it had at last found itself in the latter 



stages of the Battle of the Marne, had fought with distinction at the 
Aisne and won enduring glory at Ypres. 

The gas attack of 1915, which was the striking circumstance in the 
Second Battle of Ypres, had resulted in loss of ground but had been 
without other serious consequences. If the British offensives at Neuve- 
Chapelle, Festubert, and Loos in 191 5 and the far greater effort at the 
Somme in 1916 had resulted in no decisive victory ; if they had indeed in 
the earlier cases ended in decisive checks and inexpressible disappoint- 
ments, nevertheless, looking at the western front and marking the changes 
between November, 1914, and January, 19 17, there had been a forward 
push almost ever5rwhere along the British sector; the Somme had seen 
a considerable advance, and it had as one of its consequences a wide- 
swinging German retreat, a reoccupation of a thousand square miles 
of French territory, followed almost immediately by a brilliant success 
in the Battle of Arras. 

The British public might well feel, as did the public of the North, 
fifty-three years earlier, that at last their army had reached the point 
where victory was in its hands, and their commanders had received the 
training essential to success, while the political generals, the incompe- 
tents, the failures, had been eliminated. *'0n to Richmond" was the 
confident watchword of the North In the next-to-the-last campaign of 
the Civil War, precisely as British soldiers and British civilians now 
expressed their confidence in forecasts that the autumn of 1917 would see 
Belgium liberated and the Germans behind the Meuse, If not behind 
the Rhine. 

In the American case the high hopes of springtime faded in the 
terrible summer slaughter of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, and the 
crowning tragedy of Cold Harbour. More than half of the army that 
Grant led across the Rapidan at the outset of the campaign were casu- 
alties by the time Cold Harbour had been fought. In that period the 
terrible costs, the sterile gains, shook the confidence of the public in 
its army, and of the army In its general. Grant, who had been 
hailed as the saviour of the Republic in May, was denounced as a 
butcher in September, and his achievements at Vicksburg and Chatta- 


nooga were tarnished by his failures in northern Virginia. The army 
which he finally took into trenches south of Petersburg was an army that 
was fought out and incapable of a new offensive for many months. 

Fortunately for the Union cause, Grant's policy of attrition, his 
strategy of slaughter, was directed against an enemy whose last reserves 
were in the firing line. As a consequence, the very strategy which the 
North denounced in the autumn of 1864 demonstrated its efficacy in 
April of the following year. But had some change of circumstances 
wiped out the armies of Sherman and Thomas and permitted all the 
Southern armies of the West to flow to Lee's assistance, the closing act 
of Appomattox would not have occurred. Instead, Grant's opening 
attack in March, 1865, would have led to new repulses since it would 
have been directed against an enemy equal in numbers and resources. 

Precisely this thing was what now happened in Flanders. The army 
of Sir Douglas Haig, with the proud consciousness of recent successes, 
with the confident hope of immediate victory, set its face once more 
toward those fields on which British soldiers had in 1914 won enduring 
fame. On those fields, after one brief flash of brilliant success, they were 
checked, halted with tremendous casualties, condemned to contest the 
shell-wrecked earth foot by foot. Time, so long proclaimed as the ally of 
the western powers, fought steadily against them; week by week and 
month by month, fresh divisions from the German front entered the 
conflict in the face of the ever-wearying British divisions. 

To this circumstance were added two others. The weather, which 
had been unfriendly in the latter phases of the Somme, once more gave 
the Germans incalculable assistance. In the bogs and morasses, which 
extend over a large area about Ypres, the British armies floundered 
and suffered. German resistance was tenfold strengthened by the 
floods and the storms. One might speculate as to whether the British de- 
feat of the Third Battle of Ypres was due more to weather or to German 
arms. Conceivably in the first days of August, had the weather held, 
there might have been a real success. Thereafter, weather conditions 
were almost sufficient to explain the failure, and the British soldier might 
well claim that his offensive had been drowned rather than defeated. 


The second circumstance was the inefficiency disclosed in the gen- 
eral selected to conduct the army operations. The preliminary attack 
of June, under the direction of General Sir Herbert Plumer, was the 
high-water mark in technical efficiency on the British side throughout 
the war. In that opening battle Plumer displayed those qualities which 
presently earned for him, first the unchallenged title of the best battle 
commander in the British army and later, recognition as field marshal 
by his nation. When Plumer had struck the first blow with his Second 
Army it was Gough of the Fifth Army who was designated to direct 
the major attack, and this major attack failed. It failed so com- 
pletely and at such a cost that Haig was presently compelled to call upon 
Plumer again. When Plumer came there was an immediate change. 
He mastered the "elastic" defence of Von Arnim, who had faced the 
British at the Somme and now confronted them along the Lys. But 
the hour when real success was possible had passed. As for Gough, 
his failure should have resulted in his recall. Instead, he was continued 
in command of his Fifth Army until the supreme disaster of the follow- 
ing March destroyed it and at last resulted in his elimination from the 

Gough's failure, and the circumstances of that failure, shook the 
confidence of the soldiers in their High Command. They were sent 
against unbroken defences, as Nivelle had sent his troops against simi- 
lar obstacles on the Craonne Plateau. They failed in the larger sense, 
as Nivelle's men had failed, and their spirit was broken to a degree 
as was the spirit of the finest fighting divisions of France a few months 
before. Men murmured for the first time against the useless sacri- 
fice, as Grant's soldiers murmured even before Cold Harbour. This 
lack of confidence in commanders was also a factor in the disaster of 
March, 1918, while behind the army the British public daily became 
more impatient, more critical, more resentful, as each returning ship 
brought its terrible harvest from the battlefield and the official lists 
of casualties mounted higher and higher. 

Here, too, begins a break between the Government, the Ministry, 
and the Army. There is political interference, marked difference of 


opinion, leading to an insistence in the close of the year on an extension 
of the British front at the moment when there is denied to Sir Douglas 
Haig those reinforcements necessary to re-build his shattered divisions. 
The spring campaign of 1918 will find the British holding a long front 
with thin lines, while hundreds of thousands of troops are held in Eng- 
land, others scattered from Salonica to Jerusalem, and the confidence 
of the army itself is shaken. These are the facts which one must consider 
in watching the development of the Third Battle of Ypres and the 
second British campaign in Flanders. They are more important than 
the local successes or failures of the day-by-day fighting. 


The purpose of the campaign in Flanders in 1917 changed radi- 
cally during the progress of the battle. It was the conception of Sir 
Douglas Haig at the outset that a brusque attack, a great offensive, 
breaking out of the Ypres salient and flowing down the Lys Valley, 
would shatter the western flank of the German armies between Lille 
and the sea; compel an evacuation of the Belgian coast, and particu- 
larly of the Bruges-Zeebriigge-Ostend triangle, whence came the greater 
portion of the submarine scourge; and force a general German retirement 
at least behind the Scheldt, with a consequent liberation of the great 
French industrial towns of Lille, Roubaix, and Tourcoing. 

For the British the elimination of the submarine base of Bruges 
was of utmost importance. We have seen the extent to which the sub- 
marine attack had scored preliminary successes in March, in April, 
and in May. When Sir Douglas Haig began his offensive there was 
still more than a reasonable expectation that by winter the submarine 
would bring Britain to her knees. The liberation of French soil was 
bound to have a tremendous moral effect upon the people of France, 
but the expulsion of the Germans from the Belgian sea coast had become 
almost a matter of life and death for the British. 

In a sense Sir Douglas Haig took up that offensive begun by Sir 
John French in October, 1914, and speedily transformed into a desperate 
defensive when Antwerp fell and the Kaiser set out for Calais. An ad- 


vance of ten or fifteen miles down the Lys Valley westward toward 
Roulers and Courtrai would cut the main line of communication be- 
tween the coast and the German armies in France; a slight further 
advance would bring the railroad from Ghent to Bruges under the fire 
of the Allied long-range artillery, while the seizure of the crossings 
of the Lys at Menin and Courtrai would ensure the German evacu- 
ation of Lille and of their whole front southward to St. Quentin. 

Such, in substance, were the larger possibilities and purposes of Brit- 
ish strategy in 191 7. The British army, advancing out of the Ypres 
salient, transforming it into a great sally port, was first to penetrate 
between the German forces on the Belgian coast and in France, driv- 
ing a wedge which would compel a retreat from the coast and the sur- 
render of the submarine bases. So far it was an effort to do on land 
what the Navy had failed to do on water, namely, to suppress the sub- 
marine weapon. In addition it was designed, by cutting the anchorage 
of the western flank of the German armies from the sea to Switzerland, 
to open a turning, an enveloping movement around the new Western 
flank, compelling the Germans to retire until this flank again found 
safe anchorage upon the forts of Antwerp. Conforming to this retire- 
ment all the German armies in France would be compelled to withdraw 
until they stood at the French frontier. Nivelle had sought to break 
the German centre. Haig now undertook to turn the German flank. 

One year later exactly, this strategy was again put into operation, 
this time under the direction of Plumer in association with King Albert 
of Belgium, and in a few brief weeks supreme success was achieved. 
Advancing over the Passchendaele Ridge, victorious British and Bel- 
gian troops, presently reinforced by French and even by Americans, 
compelled, first the evacuation of Ostend, Bruges, and Zeebriigge; 
then the abandonment of Lifle; and, finally, a retreat to the line of the 
Scheldt. At the moment when the Armistice came, this line had been 
forced and British troops were in Mons. 

It is plain, then, that the strategy was sound, that the calculations 
were exact, and that, had British armies been able to accomplish in 
1917 what they did a year later, the results would have been what the 


British public and the British High Command looked forward to in 
1917. But the chance of success had practically disappeared before the 
battle opened. The Germans were not compelled to hold the Flanders 
front with a limited number of troops. On the contrary, they were able 
to bring division after division from the Russian front, with the result 
that not infrequently the troops that attacked were weary, while those 
that received the attack were fresh ; nor was there any limit to German 
numbers which allowed the British any decisive advantage. 

The supreme blunder of the Flanders campaign lay in undertaking it 
at all, after the events of June and July had demonstrated how com- 
pletely the Russian Revolution had eliminated Russian armies and trans- 
formed the military situation. To persist — in the face of preliminary 
checks and in the face of the inescapable fact that each day German re- 
sources and numbers were mounting — ^was a blunder equally great. The 
British army was put to a task that no army could accomplish. It was 
kept at the task under conditions both military and climatic which 
could only result in the depression of morale and in the multiplication 
of losses due alike to the enemy's fire and to weather. 

Haig and Sir William Robertson, following Grant's phrase, set out 
to "fight it out on this line if it took all summer"; but, unlike Grant, 
they were in the presence of an enemy who could replace men and mate- 
rial as rapidly as they themselves, so that to invoke attrition was as 
foolish as Mrs. Partington's celebrated attempt to dispose of the Atlan- 
tic with a mop. The ultimate failure led to the removal of Sir 
William Robertson and gravely compromised Haig. He survived both 
this decline in popularity and the subsequent further decline incident to 
his terrible defeats in the spring. His brilliant operation which began 
in August, 191 8, regained for him no small share of his lost laurels, as 
Grant revived his shrunken fame between Five Forks and Appomattox; 
but in both cases, although with unequal justice, the campaign of 
attrition led to personal unpopularity and national depression. 

As the struggle progressed, the objectives changed. The reduction 
of the Bruges submarine base, the approach to Ghent, the arrival at 
Roulers and Courtrai, became as remote possibilities as the taking of 


Cambrai and Douai in the Somme time. By October a British army 
which had set out to turn the western flank of the German armies 
in the west was painfully strugghng up the slopes of the Passchendaele 
Ridge. Its single purpose now was to finish the campaign in possession 
of that high ground to clear which had been its programme for the open- 
ing days of the offensive. 

This much was achieved. When winter came, by the anniversary 
of the repulse of the final German effort in 1914, British troops looked 
down upon all the broad stretch of the plain of Flanders exactly as, 
the year before, they had passed the crest of the ridge south of Bapaume. 
They had won the ground for which they had striven. They had driven 
the Germans from positions that had seemed impregnable. The achieve- 
ment of the British soldier was beyond praise, but it was a victory that 
yielded no fruits and opened up no horizons. Not only was it too late 
to push forward, but already the accession of German strength in the 
west had condemned the British, like the French, to the defensive, 
and only a few months after British, Canadian, and Australian troops 
had mounted gloriously to the crest of Passchendaele Ridge, they were 
compelled to evacuate it ignominiously and fall back into the old shell- 
cast area of the original salient exactly as the French a little later had 
to surrender in a single day the whole of the Craonne Plateau, won by 
months of effort and untold sacrifices. 

III. messines-"whitesheet" 

Before Sir Douglas Haig could launch his major offensive at the 
Ypres salient, a preliminary operation was necessary. The salient 
itself had been born as a consequence of an incomplete British turn- 
ing movement in October, 19 14, followed by an unsuccessful German 
enveloping thrust later in October and in November. To under- 
stand the situation it is necessary to glance again at the topography 
of the Ypres salient. Two ranges of hills— one coming from the west 
eastward, and the other from the north, southward — make a right angle 
due south of the town of Ypres, which stands in the flats. Still a third 
and lower ridge, proceeding from west to east, north of Ypres, gives the 



The left-hand black line shows the front of the Ypres Salient at the beginning of the Third 
Battle of Ypres. The right-hand line shows the ground gained in June when Plumer captured 
the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge, and in August and September in Gough's two attacks. The 
shaded portions show the high ground, practically all of which, north of the Menin Road from 
Gheluvelt to Passchendaele, was captured in the last stage of the offensive. 

impression, on the contour map, of three sides of a square enclosing 
Ypres itself. The southern ridge from west to east rises to the heights 
of Scherpenburg and Kemmel, memorable in the fighting of 1918, but 
until that time well behind the battle-line, and supplying the best British 
observation post in the whole salient. Where this Kemmel Ridge inter- 
sects the northern and the southern ridges there were situated the small 
towns of Messines and Wytschaete — the latter of which, in the argot of 


the "Tommy," was "Whitesheet." The northern side of the square 
takes its name from the town of Pilkem and appears in all the battle 
reports as the Pilkem Ridge. On November i, 1914, the Germans 
had advanced over the Messines-"Whitesheet" Ridge and driven the 
British and Indian Cavalry into the flats south and east of Ypres. . In 
April and May, 191 5, they had taken the Pilkem Ridge. They thus grip- 
ped the British in Ypres as one might hold an object between the thumb 
and the forefinger, the thumb representing the " Whitesheet" Ridge; the 
forefinger, the Pilkem Ridge; the object being Ypres. From the Pilkem 
Ridge the Germans looked down on Ypres itself, but from the "White- 
sheet" Ridge they looked behind Ypres and had under their vision all 
the roads by which British troops and British supplies approached the 
ruined city. Entering Ypres by daylight was a hazardous feat and auto- 
mobiles speeded over the road under shell fire, while even at night the 
highways were systematically "watered." 

Actually this German position has been accurately described as 
resembling a stadium from the benches of which an audience looks out 
upon a football game. Like the players the British were far down, 
but, unlike the football players, their operations were greeted, not by 
cheers, but by shells. Nothing could move by day into or out of Ypres 
without inviting shell fire. 

So bad was this position, the worst on the whole western front, that 
ever since November, 19 14, a bitter controversy had gone forward in the 
British army as to whether Ypres should be held or evacuated. To 
evacuate it and fall back to the Kemmel-Scherpenburg Ridge and the 
still higher summits of the same range to the westward would have 
been to surrender ground of little value, costing many casualties each 
week to hold, and it would have brought the Germans down in to the 
plain under direct observation as they now held the British. 

But as in the case of Verdun, the moral value outweighed the mili- 
tary. Because they had paid so much to hold Ypres, the British recog- 
nized the moral victory the Germans would win by laying hands upon 
the ashes of the old Belgian town of which there was nothing left intact 
save the lower walls of the old town jail. In addition, to surrender 


Ypres meant to abandon the last remnant of Belgian soil and thus 
enable the Germans to complete their conquest of King Albert's 

So, week after week and month after month the British had held 
on to Ypres. The "Wipers" salient was held and the expense in life, 
which was great, was borne by the successors of that Regular Army, 
the flower of which slept on the forward slopes of those hills now just 
within the German lines. In April and May, 1918, when the German 
victory to the south brought the enemy even to the summit of Kemmel 
and the salient became ten times as bad, the British still held on. 

But if there was to be an offensive out of the Ypres salient — if it were 
to be transformed into a sally-port — the first step must necessarily be 
the re-conquest of the "Whitesheet" Ridge, since no preparations 
within the salient could be made without German direct observation 
and except under direct German artillery fire as long as the Germans 
sat on the crest of the ridge marked by the ruined villages of Messines 
and Wytschaete. Therefore — precisely as Pershing, in the following 
year, before he advanced out of the Verdun salient in the great battle 
of the Meuse-Argonne, seized the St. Mihiel salient as a necessary pre- 
liminary—Sir Douglas Haig gave now his first attention to the Messines- 
*'Whitesheet" Ridge. 

Once more it is necessary to recall the fact that, in the level country 
of northern France and western Belgium, hills which elsewhere would 
hardly achieve a name are "mountains" and the merest swells deco- 
rated by the name of ridges. Messines Ridge at its highest point near 
Wytschaete was barely 200 feet high, while it was nowhere 150 feet above 
the walls of Ypres, some three miles due north. The British soldiers 
did not scale the heights nor even climb obstacles comparable with 
Vimy or with Craonne. They advanced over a gently rising slope, 
the upward pitch of which was hardly discernible to the eye from Kem- 
mel or from Scherpenburg. By contrast they advanced over a country 
which for nearly three years had been in German hands and on which 
the Germans had lavished all their wealth of material and expended 
aU their military ingenuity and skill in fortifications. If "Whitesheet" 


Ridge was not a natural obstacle of forbidding strength it had been 
transformed into an extraordinarily difficult military obstacle. 

The preparations for the attack had been under the immediate 
direction of General Plumer, whose Second Army had held the salient 
from the time of the Second Battle of Ypres onward. Plumer's Chief 
Intelligence Officer, Colonel (afterward General) Harrington to whom 
no small part of the credit for the achievement is due — had by skilful 
observation located all the German batteries, strong points, and "pill 
boxes." The position had been studied with every possible care; rail- 
roads had been built; roads had been pushed forward; material had 
been brought up; water had been piped with such great skill that 
eight days after the Messines-" Whitesheet " Ridge had fallen half a 
million gallons of water was daily reaching points which had been within 
the German lines at the opening of the attack. 

A striking circumstance of the Messines-" Whitesheet" affair, unique 
not only in previous warfare but in the World War as well, was the 
explosion of nineteen mines which gave the signal for the departure of 
the troops. Twenty-four of these mines had been constructed ; the work 
had begun as early as July, 191 5, and greatly extended after January, 
1916. A total of 8,000 yards of galleries were driven and over a million 
pounds of explosives were used in them. The Prime Minister of Great 
Britain, at his house in Downing Street, London, on the morning of 
June 7th, heard the boom of these mines when they were fired. 
Favoured for once with good weather in the days preceding the 
attack, and thanks to the skilful preparations and observations of 
Harrington, the British guns were able to take all the German works 
under their fire, precisely as, on the morning of attack, they were able 
to smother dugouts and trenches alike with their fire, which surpassed 
in intensity even the gigantic bombardment accompanying the attack 
at Vimy. 

At 3.10 on the morning of June 7th the nineteen mines were ex- 
ploded simultaneously, the British artillery opened, and the infantry left 
their trenches. English, Irish, Australians, and New Zealanders were 
represented in the shock troops, while Ulster and South-of-Ireland troops 


competed for the honour of being the first to reach their objectives, 
and Major William Redmond, brother of the leader of the Irish party 
in Parliament, was one of the distinguished victims of German fire. 

Two and a half hours after the British troops left their trenches, 
"Whitesheet" Ridge was in the hands of Ulster regiments; New Zea- 
land troops reached Messines by seven o'clock, and before noon Plu- 
mer's victorious troops were moving down the eastern slopes of the 
Messines-" Whitesheet" Ridge. In the afternoon they penetrated bat- 
tery positions and captured German field guns. Before sunset every 
single objective had been taken. The Ypres salient had been abol- 
ished, the eastern flank of Haig's forthcoming offensive had been estab- 
lished. On the previous day the enemy, as usual, stood on the "White- 
sheet" Ridge looking downward upon all the roads leading into Ypres. 
The following morning the British stood on the same ridge looking 
downward over the plain toward Lille, toward Tourcoing, toward the 
whole valley of the Lys. From " Plug Street " to Hill 60 the high ground 
was British; 7,200 prisoners, 67 guns, 94 trench mortars, and 294 
machine guns, were the harvest of material garnered in this battle, 
while the British losses were hardly more than double the total of prison- 
ers, counting less than 16,000 — an ultimate demonstration of the supreme 
skill with which the guns had been handled, while for once the Germans 
attempted no counter-attack. 

Plumer's feat at the "Whitesheet" Ridge must be compared with 
Petain's two offensives at Verdun in 1916, and with his later operations 
at Verdun and Malmaison in the year we are now examining. In that 
comparison the British achievement loses nothing. On the techni- 
cal side it would be difficult to imagine anything more perfect than this 
Messines-"Whitesheet" operation. It had no grandiose purpose. Its 
objectives were rigidly limited. There was no more thought of an 
effort to reach Lille than there was an idea to take Metz when Pershing 
abolished the St. Mihiel salient. The operation is not to be compared 
with the Somme or the later Flanders fighting to which it was the prelude. 
It was even less far-looking than the Vimy attack, but, within its limits, 
it was beyond praise; following the victory of the Third Army at Arras 


it thrilled the British pubHc, gave new confidence to the army, and 
aroused hopes and expectations, the withering of which was bound to 
bring grievous disappointment and dangerous depression. 


Having cleared his eastern flank, Haig planned to begin the main 
operation in Flanders early in July. But again unavoidable delays, in 
part at least due to conditions in the French army, compelled several 
postponements, and it was not until July 31st that he was able to begin. 
In this attack even the semblance of surprise was absent. The Germans 
knew long in advance where the blow was to fall and were able to make 
counter preparation. It was only after Cambrai and Riga that the ele- 
ment of surprise was restored. In this opening battle the British com- 
mander had under his direction and actually engaged three armies, whose 
positions from east to west were as follows: The French First Army, 
under Anthoine; the British Fifth Army, commanded by Gough; and 
the British Second Army, which, under Plumer's direction, had already 
captured the Messines Ridge while in later operations the Belgian army 
participated. The front on which he made his attack was some fifteen 
miles in extent, stretching from the Lys River east of Wytschaete to the 
Yser Canal at Steenstraat, some three or four miles north of Ypres. 

It is necessary now to look once more at the topography of this 
country which had became familiar to British and French publics as the 
scene of two desperate battles in 1914 and 1915. From the ruined city 
of Ypres to the north and the east a number of highways radiate like the 
spokes of a wheel. Two of them, one leading due north and the other 
practically straight east, form a right angle. Between the two arms of this 
angle lies the battlefield of Third "Wipers," while the roads themselves 
— the Pilkem to the north and the Menin to the east — were the central 
circumstance in the Second and the First Battle of Ypres, respectively. 
It was the Pilkem road to Ypres which was opened for hours in April, 
191 5, after the first German "poison-gas" attack had broken the French 
Colonial troops. The Menin road shares with the Albert-Bapaume 
highway at the Somme, and the Bar-le-Duc national route to Verdun, 


the sombre distinction of being one of the three bloodiest highways in 
history. Down this road toward the Lys Sir John French's first 
regiments had marched in October, 1914; and up this road, a few days 
later, from the valley had come German hosts, crowding on the way to 
Calais. The Pilkem Ridge, north of the town which gives it its name, 
reaches the southern fringe of the forest of Houthulst, the most con- 
siderable woodland in western Belgium, while the Menin road four 
miles out of Ypres and just west of Gheluvelt reaches the crest of the 
high ground and begins its descent to the Lys Valley. Houthulst 
Forest and the high ground near Gheluvelt were the two anchorages of 
the German position, which rested like an arch on these two abutments 
and between them curved inward following the high ground, with 
Passchendaele as the keystone of the arch. 

Between the Pilkem and the Menin roads three other highways lead 
northward and eastward. Just east of the Pilkem road is the Lange- 
marck highway, on which Sir Douglas Haig had met the Germans in 
the 1914 battle. East of the Langemarck road is that of Poetcappelte, 
also the scene of desperate fighting in October, 1914. Eastward again 
is the Zonnebeke highway which intersects the Passchendaele- 
Gheluvelt road just east of Zonnebeke. This last road extends 
from the Menin road at Gheluvelt to the Poelcappelle road at West- 
roosebeke along the crest of that Passchendaele Ridge which was 
now to become the chief objective of the new battle of Flanders. It 
also marks fairly accurately the limit of British advance. It was the 
purpose of British strategy, advancing on a front between the Pilkem 
and the Menin roads, to break the German arch between the Houthulst 
Forest and the high ground at Gheluvelt, and, driving northward 
through Roulers, reach Ghent. The distance to be covered was less than 
that which the Allies had gained on the Somme front as a result of the 
Battle of the Somme and the subsequent German retreat, but the shorter 
advance would suffice to compel the Germans to abandon the Belgian 

The first blow, delivered on July ist, was designed to penetrate the 
first, second, and — in places — the third series of German defences. Its 


general front was marked, for the French army, by the town of Bix- 
schoote— rather more than a mile from their starting place at the Yser 
Canal at Steenstraat in the low ground touching the inundated districts 
surrounding Dixmude — and for the British, by the western bank of the 
little muddy brook flowing north across their front from the high 
ground on the Menin road just north of Westhoek and crossing the 
Langemarck road half a mile south of Langemarck, the St. Julien road at 
St. Julien, and the Zonnebeke road just east of Verlorenhoek. The objec- 
tives along the Menin road were Hooge and the tangle of woodlands and 
ruins to which the British soldier had given such picturesque names as 
Shrewsbury Forest, Stirling Castle, Clapham Junction, Inverness Copse, 
Glencorse Wood. The muddy brook, so important a detail in the battle 
despite its insignificance, is known along its course as the Hannebeek, 
Steenbeck, St. Jansbeek, and finally in the French sector as Martje 

At 3.50 on the morning of July 31st, after a long period of artillery 
preparation, the first phase in the major offensive developed. The 
chief work in this stage was to be performed by Cough's Fifth Army, 
which was in the centre. It was the mission of the French on the right 
and of Plumer on the left, to keep pace with the progress of Cough in 
the centre, and by their pressure upon the Germans, lessen the resisting 
power that Von Arnim could exert against Cough. The French share 
was the more interesting, minor as it was, because their objective was 
the ground lost by French Colonials in April, 191 5, as a result of the 
gas attack. 

The attack was, on the whole, a striking success. The French 
speedily reached all their objectives, and thereafter passed the Httle 
brook which comes down from Pilkem, and took Bixschoote. The 
British took and passed Pilkem; entered — but were unable to hold — St. 
Julien, although they captured it finally three days later; passed 
through Verlorenhoek and reached Frezenberg on the Zonnebeke road, 
while they took Hooge and reached "Clapham Junction" on the Menin 

At the end of the first day, therefore, the Fifth Army had carried 


This egg of a German mine-laying submarine was smashed by a rifle bullet, fired from the 
quarter-deck of an Allied destroyer 


A striking silhouette showing the forepart of an airship and two members of the crew. 1 he U-boats feared air- 
craft no less than destroyers, for the airmen could spy out a submarine from afar and quietly let fall a bomb upon her, 
with little or no danger to themselves. 


As she passed over a spot where a submarine had submerged, this destroyer evidently hurled depth charges to star- 
board and port from the "Y" howitzer on her stern 


This picture was taken from the fire-control station on the foremast of a battleship, as the King of England 
was reviewing the victorious Anglo-American fleet. After the review he inspected cur New York and decorated our 
Rear-Admiral Rodman 


all of the German first system between the Menin road and the Zonne- 
beke road. North of the Zonnebeke road they had also taken the Ger- 
man second system as far as St. Julien. North of St. Julien on the 
Poelcappelle road they and the French had passed the German second 
line, the British being close to Langemarck, the French in Bixschoote, 
while the British Second Army south of the Menin road had fulfilled its 
mission perfectly. The British alone took 6, 100 prisoners and 2,500 guns 
while the French also took prisoners. 

It had been the purpose of Haig to follow up the preliminary success 
at once and push the Germans ofi^ the Pilkem Ridge, thus depriving them 
of this second line of observation, as they had already been deprived of 
the first on *'Whitesheet" Ridge in June, by a prompt general attack. 
Unhappily the weather now changed and there began that long period of 
almost incessant rains which was as fatal to the hopes and prospects of 
the British army in Flanders as the early onset of winter in Russia had 
been to the Napoleonic army a little more than a century before. Of 
the consequences of this rain Sir Douglas Haig said in his official report: 

The weather had been threatening throughout the day [of July 31], and had 
rendered the work of our aeroplanes very difficult from the commencement of the 
battle. During the afternoon, while fighting was still in progress, rain began, and fell 
steadily all night. Thereafter, for four days, the rain continued without cessation, 
and for several days afterward the weather remained stormy and unsettled. The 
low-lying, clayey soil, torn by shells and sodden with rain, turned to a succession of 
vast muddy pools. The valleys of the choked and overflowing streams were speedily 
transformed into long stretches of bog, impassable except by a few well-defined tracks, 
which became marks for the enemy's artillery. To leave these tracks was to risk 
death by drowning, and in the course of the subsequent fighting on several occasions 
both men and pack animals were lost in this way. In these conditions operations of 
any magnitude became impossible, and the resumption of our offensive was necessarily 
postponed until a period of fine weather should allow the ground to recover. 

As had been the case in the Arras battle, this unavoidable delay in the development 
of our offensive was of the greatest service to the enemy. Valuable time was lost, the 
troops opposed to us were able to recover from the disorganization produced by our 
first attack, and the enemy was given the opportunity to bring up reinforcements. 

Meantime two local offensives, one by the Germans and one by the 
British, attracted attention without materially changing the general 
situation. From 1914 onward the Allies had maintained a bridge- 

JCAJ-Eof miles 




The solid black line indicates the front in September. The broken line in the 
upper right-hand corner shows the Dutch frontier. One of the chief objectives of 
this campaii^n was to drive a wedge between the German submarine bases at 
Zcebriigge, Ostend, and Bruges and the German positions in France and thus 
compel an evacuation of the Belgian coast and the sulMnarinc nests. 



head beyond the Yser north of NIeuport and looking toward Ostend 
and the dunes that front the sea. On the morning of July loth, almost 
immediately after the British had taken over this sector from the French, 
the German suddenly attacked on this two-mile front, destroyed two 
British battalions, and took the northern half of the bridge-head. His 
success in the southern half was less complete but to all intents and 
purposes this Lombartzyde affair abolished any menace at his extreme 
northern flank, while it scored for him a brilliant if relatively slight 

To counterbalance this, on the 15th of August, the Canadians — who 
had already taken Vimy Ridge — moved up again over the barren plateau 
which had seen the costly failure of Loos; mounted the gradual slope 
to the summit of Hill 70, taken and lost by the Scottish on September 
25, 1915; and consolidated their position looking down into the doomed 
coal town of Lens — already partially destroyed by the Germans at the 
Vimy time and now destined to become the most conspicuous of the 
many mournful ruined cities of northern France. One thousand 
prisoners and possession of one of the most valuable observation points 
along the British front were the gains of this brilliant little affair. 


On the the i6th of August a slight improvement In the weather 
enabled Halg to deal his second blow. Meantime St. Julien, on the 
Poelcappelle road, and Westhoek, above the Menin road, had fallen. 
In this second phase the Allied objectives included the bridge-head of 
Drie Grachten on the Martje Vaart for the French, the town of Lange- 
marck and thence southward to the German third line, which crossed the 
Menin road just east of Gheluvelt. 

In this attack Gough's Fifth Army, which again bore the brunt of the 
contest, failed almost completely. On the north, Langemarck was 
taken and held, but southward from the Poelcappelle to the Menin 
roads the gains were Insignificant and the losses terrific. Von Arnlm's 
system of "elastic" defence sufficed to break the force of British 
attack, while German reserves, pouring in at the critical moment, 


compelled the British to surrender practically all their gains south of 
St. Julien. Two thousand one hundred prisoners and thirty guns, with 
Langemarck on the British front and Drie Grachten on the French, 
were insignificant rewards for tremendous efforts and long casualty 
lists. The consequences of this failure were the revision of the method of 
British attack and the extension of the front of Plumer's Second Army 
so that thenceforth the major work fell on this army and its commander, 
whose new front now comprised practically all the major objectives, 
including the Passchendaele Ridge. Gough had failed and should have 
been recalled. Instead, he was permitted to continue — in a sub- 
ordinate role. 

Again it is essential to recognize the element of time. The Flanders 
offensive — which was to have begun in the first days of July and, before 
the middle of the month, to have ended in the clearing out of the Ger- 
mans from all the high ground from the Houthulst Forest to the southern 
end of the **Whitesheet" Ridge— had by mid-August only reached the 
western slopes of the main Passchendaele Ridge and still fell short of 
the forest of Houthulst. 


Following the attack of the 17th of August the weather turned bad 
again and it was not until September 20th that a new thrust was pos- 
sible. On this day, under Plumer's direction, the British succeeded 
where in August they had failed. Before the skilful methods of the 
commander of the British Second Army the German's "elastic" defence 
crumbled. British artillery was trained, first, to deal with the "pill 
boxes," machine-gun nests and strong points, and second, to abolish the 
peril of German counter-attacks. Three thousand prisoners and the 
possession of that high ground along the Menin road west of Gheluvelt — 
which was one foundation of the German defensive arch — were taken, 
while desperate fighting on the following days in Polygon Woods at 
last yielded to the Australians the forward slopes of the final crest of 
Passchendaele Ridge itself. 

On the4th of October anew blowbroughttheBritishintoPoelcappelle, 


through Zonnebeke, and to the outskirts of Gheluvelt, while the Austral- 
ians, crossing the Gheluvelt-Passchendaele road at Broodseinde on the 
Zonnebeke road actually mounted the crest of the final ridge itself. Sub- 
sequent attacks stretching through the whole of this month brought the 
British and the French to the edge of Houthulst Forest, to the north of 
Pilkem and to the outskirtsof Passchendaele itself. Finally, on November 
6th, Passchendaele fell — a new achievement for Canada, whose sons 
had already planted their maple-leaf standard on Vimy Ridge and Hill 
70. Four days later the capture of Goudberg Spur north of Passchen- 
daele completed the mastery of the ridge and ended the Third Battle of 

Meantime, however, the Italian disaster at Caporetto had called 
British troops and General Plumer to the Venetian front. The Flanders 
success could therefore have no morrow. The British had won the ridge ; 
they had taken Passchendaele, an "island in a sea of mud"; but an ex- 
ploitation of their success — an advance down the valley of the Lys, the 
expulsion of the German troops from the Belgian coast — these things were 
no longer possible. Twenty-four thousand prisoners, 74 guns, 941 machine 
guns, and 138 trench mortars were captured by the British in three and a 
half months of fighting, and the smallness of these captures in men and 
even more so in guns is perhaps the best evidence alike of the stubbornness 
and skill of the German resistance and of the wholly limited character 
of British triumph. 

Such, in its larger aspects, was the Third Battle of "Wipers." In it 
the British regained practically all of the ground lost in the two earlier 
battles. They took possession of positions which were in fact the keys 
to the Belgian coast and to the German front in Belgium. If, in the 
following spring, they could have attacked from the lines thus wrested 
from the foe, a German retreat would have been inevitable. When 
they were able in September of the following year to advance over 
Passchendaele Ridge, exactly the things that Haig had hoped to accom- 
plish in the previous year were achieved, but unhappily with the opening 
of the campaign of 1918 the initiative passed to the Germans, and the 
successes of Ludendorff at the Somme and at the Lys in the following 


March and April were to result in the entire negation of the hard-won 
British gain in the preceding campaign. 

But for the Russian Revolution — perhaps in spite of the Russian 
Revolution — had the weather been the ally of the British rather than 
of the Germans, a far greater success might have resulted. As it was, 
the British had gained a position of great importance which they were 
subsequently unable to make use of, and the colossal losses which they 
had suffered had weakened the spirit of the army and shaken the 
confidence of the British public. Whatever one may say of the Somme 
there can be no real dispute of the fact that, despite the slight battle- 
field gain, the Third Battle of Ypres was, from all the larger strategic 
aspects of the war, a German victory which had consequences of utmost 
gravity in the following year. The German had held British and 
French armies off during the period necessary to realize the advantages 
gained by Russian collapse — henceforth for six months the superiority 
in numbers on the western front would be his — would remain his until 
America arrived.^/ 





On November 20th, while the Flanders offensive was expiring in mud 
and misery, the joy bells of London were set in motion by a military 
success which opened one of the most extraordinary conflicts of the war. 
The Battle of Cambrai must, for Americans, not in its tactical circum- 
stances but in its course, suggest that Civil War struggle known both 
as Shiloh and as Pittsburgh Landing. In that fight the army of Albert 
Sidney Johnston totally surprised Grant's force, and pushed forward until 
it became a matter of the closest calculation whether the Confederates 
would drive the Union forces into the river before night fell, or the Union 
forces would just hold out. 

In the Battle of Cambrai, by the most successful single surprise at- 
tack up to that moment on the western front, the British broke through 
three of the four German defence systems, penetrated the fourth, and 
very nearly reached the open country beyond. A little more luck and 
the British cavalry would have been in Cambrai, but as the Union troops 
stood at Shiloh until night, when reinforcements arrived, and then turned 
and drove the Confederates from the field of victory, so the Germans 
held on and, receiving reinforcements, organized their counter-offensive 
with skill and deliberation, drove the British from every position of 
importance which they had captured, and in addition — within a week 
after they had themselves been the surprised — surprised and overran a 
long section of the British front. 

Cambrai is important, however, not because of the outcome of the 
battle that was fought within sight of it, but because in that battle two 
methods of offensive were both effectively tried out and these two meth- 
ods were both to be applied the following year and to revolutionize the 



character of the war : in the case of Germany to win stupendous successes 
which just fell short of a decision, and, in the case of the Allies, to turn 
the tide, after four years of strain and disaster. Different as were both 
methods of attack, each of them achieved the same result by restoring 
the element of surprise. 

The three years which extended from the First Battle of Ypres to the 
fight before Cambrai are marked by many efforts to bring off a surprise 
attack, some of which, like the German gas attack at Ypres and their 
artillery avalanche at Verdun, scored partial successes. At Verdun the 
Germans actually got through all the permanent lines of French defence, 
but on a front too narrow to enable them to exploit their gains before 
French reserves arrived. At the Second Battle of Ypres the German 
progress distanced the expectations of the victors by so much that they 
were unprepared to take advantage of the opportunity during the hours 
when the Pilkem road to Ypres was open. At the Somme there was still 
an effort at a surprise, but the German was not taken unawares. In 
the Third Battle of Ypres no surprise was even contemplated. It had 
been accepted as axiomatic that the very vastness of the preparations 
necessary for commencing all but strictly local offensives precluded 
concealment, and German and British newspapers, with equal frankness, 
indicated that the British effort of 1917 would be in Flanders. 

The elimination of the element of surprise had abolished any real 
hope of penetration to the extent of a "break through" on the western 
front, and the very belief that no surprise was possible was the founda- 
tion of the widespread conviction that the war would end with no great 
change in the position of the opposing lines. One set of staff officers 
after another had wrestled with the problem of restoring the element of 
surprise — of bringing off a surprise sufficiently great to enable large 
forces to break through all the lines in a given sector and begin that 
march to victory which would follow the shattering of the enemy's 
systems of defence. At the Somme the British had introduced the 
tank, but the tank had achieved only local and restricted success. By 
moving their field artillery forward the Germans were able to bring off 
many direct hits, disabling the new engines, while by mines they were 


similarly successful. Moreover, a tank was able to operate to advan- 
tage on relatively level ground only, and, once a battlefield had been 
torn up by the tremendous cannonades which were a detail in contem- 
porary warfare, the tank became ineffective. The very size of the first 
tanks had been a further handicap, alike because of the target they of- 
fered the enemy guns, and the unwieldiness they displayed in operation. 

At the Somme, despite local success in penetrating uncut wire and 
reducing machine-gun nests in ruined villages, in their first day, the 
tanks had fallen far short of the expectations their appearance had raised. 
In Flanders a year later they had proven a total failure, as a result of the 
character of the country, but in the Battle of Cambral, in which tanks 
were tried again — with the foregone conclusion that a further failure 
would send them to the scrap heap — they demonstrated possibilities 
which had been unsuspected. In the first place, their field of operation 
was practically virgin territory, which had seen no considerable fighting 
and little artillery destruction. It was level country, but with sufl[i- 
cient elevation to escape the bogs and morasses of Flanders. In ad- 
dition the tanks were used in huge numbers and handled with consum- 
mate skill. As a result, the Battle of Cambral demonstrated that the 
tank would take the place of the long artillery preparation, which in 
itself could only be made after such an enormous concentration of guns 
and munitions as inevitably betrayed to the enemy the direction of the 
coming attack. The tanks themselves could be brought up secretly in 
the night; they could be launched without warning, and they could be 
counted upon to cut the enemy's wires and smash his strong points far 
mor esuccessfully than the old-fashioned artillery preparation, while the 
enemy would have no hint of what was coming. 

Only the size of the tank proved a handicap. Already this had been 
perceived, and the French and the British — but particularly the French 
— were engaged in constructing In large numbers that "whippet" tank 
which was to play such an important role in the offensives of the follow- 
ing year. Thus while the tank attack at Cambral, despite its initial 
success, just missed making possible complete victory, It disclosed pos- 
sibilities which led to the reorganization of Allied offensive tactics. 


based upon a coordination of the infantry with the tanks, which in turn 
led straight to the completely successful surprise attacks of the French 
and Americans on July i8th, and of the British on August 8th in the 
191 8 battles of the Second Marne and the Third Somme — battles which 
together wrecked all German hopes of victory and at last prepared the 
way for the liberation of France and the defeat of Germany. 

By contrast the German surprise tactics relied rather upon human 
than mechanical means. At Riga, in September, Von Hutier had 
completely overwhelmed the Russians by suddenly throwing against 
the rapidly disintegrating Slav forces large bodies of troops secretly 
assembled. The method of bringing these troops to the operative 
front was extremely ingenious. They were concentrated three or 
four days' march in rear of the front — so far back that, though their 
presence might be signalled by air observers, there was nothing to show 
where they would be put in. They were then moved up by night, con- 
cealed in villages and forests during the day, so that they arrived on the 
battlefield without having awakened the enemy's suspicions, and then 
they were put in, after a brief artillery preparation deriving its efficacy 
from the use of gas and smoke shells, which deluged the back areas, 
paralyzed the hostile artillery, and prevented the rapid approach of 

Successful at Riga the Hutier tactics were then employed against 
the Italians at Caporetto, where they brought off one of the greatest 
successes of the war. They were then tried against the British in the 
final phase of Cambrai, where they transformed what had been a con- 
siderable British victory into a sterile venture, and finally, in the fol- 
lowing year— in March in Picardy, in April in Flanders, and in May on 
the Chemin-des-Dames — they resulted in hitherto unparalleled suc- 
cesses, which almost won the war. 

Thus, while its results were unimportant, the Battle of Cambrai Is 
of utmost interest on the military side because in it were employed two 
offensive methods new in themselves, each of which restored the ele- 
ment of surprise without which victory was impossible, and the dead- 
lock of trench warfare destined to be permanent. And yet, oddly 


enough, neither side sufficiently recognized the threat In the new enemy 
tactics to prepare against it. Since the Germans possessed the initia- 
tive at the opening of the next campaign they were able to employ their 
method first, and the circumstances of the British disaster of March 21st, 
on ground not far distant from the battlefield of Cambrai itself, ex- 
actly recalled their experience of November, 1917. 


British strategy at Cambrai was based upon the following calcula- 
tions. The operation In Flanders had been drowned. It was no longer 
possible to move about Ypres, and the armies engaged In the conflict on 
the British side were exhausted by their efforts and shaken by their 
losses. Nevertheless, it was essential to do something before the cam- 
paign closed, if only to prevent the Germans from sending troops to that 
Italian front on which there had now occurred the disaster of Caporetto, 
which threatened to put Italy out of the war. 

Sir Douglas Halg, and all Allied military authorities, had recognized 
that, as a result of the Russian collapse, the Germans would be able to 
pass to the offensive in the following year. But It seemed possible to 
strike one more blow, achieve a local success which might restore Allied 
morale, aid the Italians by diverting German divisions, and not Im- 
possibly improve the front on which the Allies would have to meet the 
storm that was soon to break. 

Such an offensive could have no far-looking objectives. Sir Douglas 
Halg lacked the reserves to begin a new operation of the magnitude of 
either the Somme or of Flanders, while the season of the year precluded 
any long continuation of the battle. In point of fact, he lacked the 
troops necessary to venture upon any offensive. Such forces as he was 
able to muster were, as the events proved. Incapable of exploiting a 
really great gain when it was made; were Insufficient to continue the 
battle when the apparent approach of decisive victory again tempted 
the Commander-in-Chief to pursue the engagement; and were unable, 
in the last phase, to prevent the Germans in their turn from surprising 
British divisions, breaking the old British front, and coming within an acj 


of achieving as great a success as the British themselves missed 
by an equally small margin. The Battle of Cambrai, then, be- 
longs to that considerable number of gambles of which GaUipoli 
and the first dash to Bagdad were even more unfortunate examples. 
Like them it had its brilliant opening phase, which aroused hopes in- 
capable of realization, and in the end brought a depression dangerous in 
the extreme. 

The country selected by Sir Douglas Haig for this offensive was a 
seven-mile front mainly included between two great national highways : 
the Amiens-Cambrai road coming up from Albert across the battle- 
field of the Somme and from Bapaume to Cambrai across the country 
devastated by the great German retreat, and the Peronne-Cambrai road 
coming up from the south and joining the St. Quentin road at the Scheldt 
Canal, a few miles south of Cambrai. This country is level with low 
swells, affording wide views. On the Bapaume road, where the British 
attack began, it is possible to see Cambrai, with its spires and chimneys, 
some eight miles away, with Bourlon Woods, one of the main circum- 
stances of the battle, to the west of it. In the same way, standing on the 
Peronne road, one has an equally far-swinging view, although Cambrai it- 
self is hidden behind the low hills north of the Scheldt Canal. The gen- 
erally level nature of the country offered an admirable field of operations 
for the tanks. Nor were there any such elaborate systems of de- 
fences based upon natural obstacles as the British armies had met on 
Vimy Ridge and the French on the Craonne Plateau. The only con- 
siderable obstacle was the double barrier of the Scheldt River and the 
Scheldt Canal, which crossed the route of the British advance diagonally 
but behind three of the four German defensive systems. The Canal 
du Nord at the other end of the battlefield, while more considerable, was 
successfully turned. 

It was the purpose of Haig, using the British Third Army — which 
Allenby had led to victory at Arras, and Sir Julian Byng, who had com- 
manded the Canadians in the Vimy attack, now directed — to surprise 
the Germans in positions between the Bapaume and Peronne roads, 
break through their various systems of defence, push across the Scheldt 



3/e/r/sH risONT bbfoke rue attack. 

mill L/MIT or BfSlT/SH ADVANCE.- 

■■■ oosrr/o/v AFTCje Gb/sman couA/re/e arFCf/stvE. 


Canal, take Bourlon Woods on the west and the high ground beyond the 
Scheldt Canal on the east. 

The capture of this high ground behind the Scheldt Canal would so 
establish the British flank as to render it secure against German counter- 
attacks, while the possession of Bourlon would give Byng a position be- 
hind the Hindenburg Line, facing Arras, comparable with that the Ger- 
mans occupied with respect of Ypres as long as they held the Messines- 


"Whitesheet" Ridge. Cambrai itself might fall but would certainly 
be at the mercy of British guns once Bourlon Woods, which dominated 
it, were taken, and the Germans would lose effective possession of one of 
the most vital railroad centres along the whole western front. In Haig's 
plan he calculated that the British would have forty-eight hours, gained 
by their surprise, before the Germans could concentrate reserves in suffi- 
cient numbers. In that time, and mainly in the first twenty-four hours, 
he hoped to seize Bourlon, cross the Scheldt Canal, and establish his 
flank on the heights to the north and to the east of this barrier, and, 
through the gap which he had opened in the German lines, pour in his 
cavalry exactly as Nivelle had expected to exploit his victory on the 
Craonne Plateau by launching his cavalry toward Laon and La Fere. 
A retreat of the Germans from all the stretch of the Hindenburg Line 
from Lens to Cambrai would thus be inevitable. 

But the whole strategy of the British commander depended, first, 
upon a complete surprise; second, on a swift passage of the Scheldt and 
conquest of the high ground above it; and third, on an equally prompt 
occupation of Bourlon Woods. Unless the close of the first forty-eight 
hours brought these things, together with the effective breaking of all of 
the German systems of defence and the successful penetration of the 
cavalry, it was inevitable that the Germans, who had more divisions 
available, would be able to smother the British resistance. 


At 5 o'clock on the morning of November 20th the British guns 
opened on a 20-mile front from Bullecourt, which had been at the south- 
west extremity of the Battle of Arras, to Epehy in the St. Quentin sector. 
The artillery fire was of the briefest duration, of the sort subsequently 
described as a "crash" bombardment and a famihar circumstance in 
later offensives. A little more than an hour after the brief bombard- 
ment, British tanks, followed by British infantry, left their trenches on 
the front from just north of the Bapaume road south of the town of 
Moeuvres, which is on the Canal du Nord and was held by the Germans, 
to the village of Gonnelieu, just south of the Peronne road, which was 


held by the British. The distance between these points was rather more 
than six miles. 

The surprise was complete. Favoured by mist and helped by smoke 
the tanks reached the advance line of the Germans before they were dis- 
covered, and overran it without difficulty. There then began an ex- 
traordinary forward sweep hardly paralleled before on the western 
front. The German troops bolted, the German defence collapsed, and 
all through the morning of November 20th the British had every reason 
to believe that the long-anticipated "break-through" had at last arrived. 
All through that morning the infantry continued to press forward. By 
noon Anneux, just south of the Bapaume road and almost halfway be- 
tween the British front and Cambrai, had been taken. In the centre 
the British had reached the town of Flesquieres, while to the south Ribe- 
court had been taken and Marcoing approached. Still farther to the 
south the British had advanced along the Peronne road beyond the point 
where it is intersected by the St. Quentin highway. During the after- 
noon the gains were expanded, but along with much progress there came 
certain disappointments. Largely owing to the courage of a German 
artillery officer, who, single-handed, worked his guns in Flesquieres, the 
British tank attack was long checked and many tanks put out of opera- 
tion, while the Germans were able to destroy several of the important 
bridges across the Scheldt Canal from Masnieres to Crevecoeur. The 
result of the resistance at Flesquieres and the failure to get the bridges 
intact had fatal consequences. The British were unable on this first 
day to establish their right flank above the Scheldt Canal or overrun the 
fourth and final German positions. They were equally unable to reach 
Bourlon Woods. They had advanced four and a half miles in places; 
they had captured many thousands of prisoners and over a hundred 
guns, but the great cavalry operation had been impossible owing to the 
destruction of the bridges, and on the morning of the 21st the British 
found themselves in a salient quite as narrow as that which had persisted 
so long at Ypres. The enemy was still in Bourlon Woods and on the 
heights abou" Crevecoeur occupying vantage points entirely comparable 
with those held by the Germans about Yprcs on the Pilkem and "White- 


sheet " ridges before Plumer's June battle. Moreover, twenty-four hours 
of the forty-eight in which the surprise ensured superiority in numbers 
to the assailants had now passed and already German reserves were be- 
ginning to arrive. On November 21st the battle was resumed. This 
time a brief success carried the British into Bourlon Woods through the 
village of Fontaine-Notre-Dame, three miles from the centre of Cambrai 
itself, but it did not enable them to establish their right flank by the 
occupation of Rumilly and Crevecoeur which from the beginning had 
been recognized as essential. 

By night of the 21st the forty-eight hours of grace had expired. No 
further profit could be derived as a consequence of the surprise. The 
German reserves were arriving from all directions and would at no dis- 
tant date outnumber the British. Only the now weary troops of the 
Third Army were available, since proffered French reserves were to have 
been used only in case of the maximum gain which had been foreseen 
but not realized. As the situation now stood, the British must either 
go forward or back. They had thrust their neck into a vise, the jaws 
of which were represented by Bourlon Woods and the high ground about 
Crevecoeur, and they must either break at least one of the jaws or retire 
before the vise closed. 

Sir Douglas Haig chose to risk a further attempt to advance, defend- 
ing himself subsequently by the following summary of the situation : 

. . . It was not possible, however, to let matters stand as they were. The 
positions captured by us north of Flesquieres were completely commanded by 
the Bourlon Ridge, and unless this ridge were gained it would be impossible to 
hold them, except at excessive cost. If I decided not to go on, a withdrawal 
to the Flesquieres Ridge would be necessary, and would have to be carried out 
at once. 

On the other hand, the enemy showed certain signs of an intention to with- 
draw. Craters had been formed at road junctions, and troops could be seen 
ready to move eastward. The possession of Bourlon Ridge would enable our 
troops to obtain observation over the ground to the north, which sloped gently 
down to the Sensee River. The enemy's defensive lines south of the Scarpe 
and Sensee rivers would thereby be turned, his communications exposed to the 
observed fire of our artillery, and his positions in this sector jeopardized. In 
short, so great was the importance of the ridge to the enemy that its loss would 


•♦ ^. 

'A close one which held us up a bit' 

Copyright by H'fitern Kcapaper L nion 

- ^:' •* «^. 

General Allenbv's entry into Jerusalem, December ii, 191 7- "Then the city was broken up and all ^^^ /nen of war 
fled, and went forth out of the city by night." Seven times in its long history has Jerusalem tallen, ^'^'o'-^'^^^f ";'^f [; 
Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans. Arabs, Christians, and Turks have held it. Before us latest capitulation it 
had been out of Christian hands for nearly seven centuries. 


This Arab sheik vohiblv protests his innocence with oriental plenitude of word and gesture, but his British captor 
pays no heed at all and stands so stolidly that only proof of the authenticity of the photograph convinced us that he was 
not a stuffed lay figure. 

M o 


probably cause the abandonment by the Germans of their carefully prepared 
defence systems for a considerable distance to the north of it. 

The successive days of constant marching and fighting had placed a very 
severe strain upon the endurance of the troops, and, before a further advance 
could be undertaken, some time would have to be spent in resting and reHeving 
them. This need for delay was regrettable, as the enemy's forces were in- 
creasing, and fresh German divisions were known to be arriving, but, with the 
limited number of troops at my command, it was unavoidable. 

It was to be remembered, however, that the hostile reinforcements coming 
up at this stage could at first be no more than enough to replace the enemy's 
losses: and although the right of our advance had definitely been stayed, the 
enemy had not yet developed such strength about Bourlon as it seemed might 
not be overcome by the numbers at my disposal. As has already been pointed 
out, on the Cambrai side of the battlefield I had only aimed at securing a de- 
fensive flank to enable the advance to be pushed northward and northwestward, 
and this part of my task had been to a great extent achieved. 

An additional and very important argument in favour of proceeding with 
my attack was supplied by the situation in Italy, upon which a continuance of 
pressure on the Cambrai front might reasonably be expected to exercise an 
important effect, no matter what measure of success attended my efforts. 
Moreover, two divisions previously under orders for Italy had on this day been 
placed at my disposal, and with this accession of strength, the prospect of secur- 
ing Bourlon seemed good. 

After weighing these various considerations, therefore, I decided to con- 
tinue the operations to gain the Bourlon position. 

The 22nd November was spent in organizing the captured ground, in carry- 
ing out certain reliefs, and in giving other troops the rest they greatly needed. 
Soon after midday the enemy regained Fontaine-Notre-Dame; but, with our 
troops already on the outskirts of Bourlon Wood, and Cantaing held by us, it 
was thought that the re-capture of Fontaine should not prove very difficult. 
The necessary arrangements for renewing the attack were therefore pushed on, 
and our plans were extended to include the recapture of Fontaine-Notre-Dame. 

Meantime, early in the night of the 22nd November, a battalion of the 
Queen's Westminsters stormed a commanding tactical point in the Hindenburg 
Line west of Moeuvres known as Tadpole Copse, the possession of which would 
be of value in connection with the left flank of the Bourlon position when the 
latter had been secured. 

That this decision to go on was unwise, every subsequent circum- 
stance seems to indicate. Haig had now taken 10,500 prisoners, nearly 
150 guns, and his losses were still inconsiderable by comparison with 


those of the Germans. He grossly underestimated German resources 
and reserves and he unmistakably exaggerated the further fighting 
strength of certain units in the Third Army, at least one division of which 
had been practically annihilated in Flanders, and now, with green troops, 
was in position in a vital sector. 

Having made the decision Haig put the Third Army at work again 
and in the following days acquired and despite certain fluctuations, 
maintained, a firm hold on Bourlon Woods, but he was not able to make 
any considerable change or improvement along his right flank nor did 
this brief tenure in Bourlon Woods lead to any German retirement on 
the Arras front. Continuing their counter-attacks on Bourlon the Ger- 
mans hung on elsewhere. 

Meantime, the news of the success at Cambrai, reaching Britain not 
long after the crushing tidings of Italian disaster and the not-less-mani- 
fest evidence of failure in Flanders, roused widespread enthusiasm and 
for the first time in the war the bells of St. Paul's were rung. English 
and Allied publics continued to look hopefully ahead to the arrival of 
British troops in Cambrai long after Cambrai had become as far re- 
moved from British reach as Berlin itself. 

Meantime, once the temporary disarray incident to the surprise was 
over, the enemy — under the command of that General Marwitz, who, 
as a cavalry leader, had already checked the British at the decisive mo- 
ment at the Mame and a year later was unsuccessfully to strive to check 
the Americans in the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne — took his meas- 
ures. His strategy was simple, the strategy invariably employed in 
dealing with an enemy salient. He sought to pinch it out by attacks 
from the sides similar to those successfully made by Pershing at St. 
Mihiel, and he hoped, by breaking in the sides behind the nose of the 
salient, to capture large numbers of British troops and guns, as Pershing 
captured German soldiers and guns at St. Mihiel in September, 1918. 

To accomplish this task he assembled an overwhelming force se- 
cretly, the actual arrival of which in battle was the first clear evidence 
to the Allies of the extent to which the Russian collapse had released 
German divisions for western service. These troops were brought in 


by the Hutier method so successfully that while the British knew a 
counter-attack was coming, and knew, as every soldier would know, 
where the blow must fall, they were in the end totally surprised along 
a vital section of the front. On November 30th, ten days after the 
British attack, sixteen fresh German divisions were thrown against the 
British, the main masses being used on the north and south sides of 
the salient the British advance had created, that is against Bourlon 
Woods, and against that portion of the British lines where the new front 
of the salient rejoined the old front. 

It is the attack on this latter sector which is more interesting, as it 
was more successful. Preceded by a bombardment of gas and smoke 
shells, aided by the fogs of morning, and carried out by overwhelming 
masses of shock troops, several details of this attack recall with un- 
fortunate exactitude the circumstances of that far vaster and more dis- 
astrous assault on a forty-mile front on March 2ist of the next year. 

Before the British were aware of the peril, German infantry had over- 
run their lines. The division immediately assailed — ^which had been cut 
to pieces in Flanders and was now occupying a supposedly quiet sec- 
tor training its replacements — gave way, opening a wide gap in the 
British front through which the victorious German troops pressed 
rapidly forward, occupying the villages of Gonnelieu, Villers-Guislain 
and Gouzeaucourt on the Peronne road itself. In these first morning 
hours it seemed inevitable that the Germans would be able to advance 
behind the whole Cambrai salient and make a vast capture in men and 

While the Germans on the southern side of the salient were thus mak- 
ing their successful advance, following their astonishing surprise, other 
German divisions were pounding with terrific energy on the northern 
side of the salient about Bourlon Woods, and thence eastward and south- 
ward along the whole salient. Fortunately for the British no such col- 
lapse took place on their left and centre as had resulted through the 
German advance on their right. By afternoon the Guards Division, 
which was in reserve, together with certain cavalry units, had been 
pushed into action and had re-captured Gouzeaucourt and reestablished 


the imperilled flank. The Germans had no longer any real chance of 
bringing off a huge success. 

Nevertheless, there was no further possibility of holding the Cambrai 
salient or maintaining a grip on the all-important position of Bourlon 
Woods. The effort to transform the local and considerable momentary 
success into a permanent advantage had not only failed but had invited 
a German counter-thrust which had resulted in gains by the Germans 
both in prisoners and guns totally counterbalancing the original British 
profit. Moreover, such elation as had been excited by the initial suc- 
cess inevitably gave way now to a depression the more intense because 
this failure coincided with equally depressing situations elsewhere. 

Such, in its brief form, was the Battle of Cambrai. *'The Cambrai 
Fright" as Ludendorff later described the tank surprise. The British, 
when they had with skill and success re-organized their line, were still able 
to point to a certain number of square miles of territory permanently 
gained and to the possession of the ruins of a few villages which had been 
inside of the German lines when the attack of November 20th opened. 
They had released some hundreds of French inhabitants of these villages. 
They had for a moment threatened to achieve a complete rupture of the 
German front, but actually in casualties and prisoners the gains of the 
two armies were at least even, while to the man in the street it seemed 
that the British had completely missed a great opportunity — ^while the 
Germans had extricated themselves from a dangerous position with 
consummate skill and turned temporary defeat into incontestable suc- 

Cambrai, then, was no counterweight for the Flanders failure. 
It contributed nothing to restore the confidence of Allied publics, shaken 
alike by the Italian disaster and the Russian collapse; and, what was of 
even greater importance, the successful employment by the Germans of 
their new Hutier tactics did not open the eyes of the British to the perils 
this new method had for their own troops, untrained to defensive warfare. 
Finally there was discoverable, in the collapse of a British division, 
symptoms of a decline in morale and in fighting capacity not hitherto 
disclosed in all the terrible tests of more than three years. Cambrai 


should have been a warning. However much Sir Douglas Haig and his 
associate commanders may have blundered in risking the offensive with 
inadequate resources, in persisting in it when all real chance of further 
gain had vanished, the real indictment must be found in the fact that 
from this failure, from the German success, they were unable to derive 
lessons which, if learned, might have prevented, four months later, what 
was to prove the greatest military disaster in all British history, for what 
happened to a division on November 30th happened to a whole army on 
March 21st. 


As the year closed British success in a far distant field served in some 
small degree to relieve the depression arising from the unbroken list of 
losses and failures elsewhere. On Tuesday, December i ith, Sir Edmund 
AUenby, who at the opening of the year had commanded the British 
Third Army at Arras, entered Jerusalem after a brief but brilliant 
campaign which was to prove but the prelude to that far greater success 
in the following year. This later triumph would in its turn drive the Turk 
out of Syria as well as Palestine, destroy three of his armies, and after 
long centuries avenge the failures of the Crusaders, while for the victor 
it would earn the reward of promotion to the rank of field marshal. 

When Allenby came to the Holy Land the British forces, under Gen- 
eral Murray, had suffered a severe check at Gaza on the edge of the 
Egyptian frontier and all further advance seemed forbidden, but under 
Allenby's direction a railroad had been pushed across the desert from 
the Suez Canal, the waters of the Nile had been piped into the wastes 
of Palestine, not only quenching the thirst of thousands of British sol- 
diers, but, in the minds of the superstitious Turk, now presaging defeat^ 
since there was a legend that the Turks would stay in Jerusalem until 
the waters of the Nile arrived in Palestine. By the last of October 
Allenby was ready. His first operations cleared Beersheba and his 
advance thereafter followed the sea coast and the Hebron road. By 
November i6th he had occupied Jaffa, the port of Jerusalem, and by 
November 21st his troops looked down on the Holy City from the west. 
On December 9th other British troops, following the Hebron road, were 


north and east of the city and across the Jericho road. All German ef- 
forts to prevent the disaster arrived at nothing. Falkenhayn, the 
engineer of the Verdun offensive, visited the front and returned con- 
vinced that nothing could be done. Finally, on December 9th, on the 
day of the festival celebrating the recapture of the Temple by Judas 
Maccabeus in 165 b. c, the Turkish garrison of Jerusalem capitulated. 
Two days later, on foot, through the Jaffa Gate. Allenby entered the 

In the subsequent weeks, the British advance pushed forward 
until the new front was well beyond the range of the city and there the 
campaign paused, while the British began those preparations which, in 
the following autumn, were to lead to one of the most amazing victories 
in military history won on the Plain of Armageddon. Thus two British 
successes, both against the Turk, one of which carried Bagdad and the 
other resulted in the capture of Jerusalem, supplied bright spots in the 
darkness of this year of unmistakable depression, and disclosed two Brit- 
ish generals whose achievements in the eastern theatre won enduring 
glory and were rivalled in British armies on the western front only by 
those of Sir Herbert Plumer. Maude, Allenby, and Plumer were 
thenceforth recognized as the great British army commanders of the war, 
and but for Maude's untimely death it is hardly doubtful that he would 
have been called to higher command on the western front. 

In his report of military operations for the year 191 7 Sir Douglas 
Haig announced that British armies had captured 114,544 prisoners, 
of which 73,131 were taken on the French front, and 761 guns, 530 of 
which were taken in France, while the losses in prisoners were 28,279 
and in guns 166, practically all on the French front. This was a 
better showing in men captured than in the previous year but worse 
in guns, most of which were lost at Cambrai. These figures were, 
however, to seem insignificant as compared with the German and Allied 
captures in the coming campaign. 




On October 24th Italy was overtaken by the first of that series of 
military disasters which destroyed, successively, an Italian, a British, 
and a French army; in each case resulted in far-swinging advance on the 
part of the enemy, and placed the whole military establishment of the 
nation assailed in gravest jeopardy. 

Two years after the great disaster of Caporetto an Italian military 
commission reported that there had been three causes for the collapse 
of the Italian Second Army. These causes were: first, the failure of 
Cadorna and his subordinate generals to provide necessary reserves and 
adequate second and third positions; second, the successful progress of 
enemy and socialistic propaganda in the Italian army, and third, the 
new German tactics. 

The destruction of the British Fifth Army in March of the following 
year was to recall in many details the Caporetto disaster, while the Brit- 
ish and French collapse on the Chemin-des-Dames in May was to re- 
produce still others. In the case of the British there was no propaganda 
but there was an army wearied by its exertions and strained by its losses 
in Flanders, without adequate reserves and with insufficient support 
lines. In the case of the French and the British on the Chemin-des- 
Dames there was again no propaganda, while there were an infinite num- 
ber of support and secondary defence systems and two considerable 
rivers behind to serve as defence lines. 

As a consequence of these later experiences of the armies of Italy's 
allies, there has been a revision of the judgment passed upon Cadorna 
and the Italian troops at the time. The fact seems to be that the Ger- 
mans had now devised a system of offensive — used at Riga and sub- 



sequently employed at Cambrai — which was destined to bring them vic- 
tories and to prove irresistible until a successful answer was discovered 
and developed by General Gouraud and by him employed to break the 
last German offensive of the war on July 15, 19 18, in Champagne. Per- 
haps the best analysis of this German method was supplied by Gouraud 
himself in an interview which he gave to the press after his great victory. 
In this — having pointed out that, with slight modifications, the tactics 
which had failed against him were precisely those that succeeded at 
Caporetto against the Italians, in Picardy against the British, and on 
the Chemin-des-Dames against the British and French — he said: 

The Von Hutier system broke the trench warfare deadlock in the German 
favour by two factors: First, the element of surprise — that is, development of 
unexpected strength both of men and guns at a given point — and secondly, by 
neutralizing the land — or trench — defences by a brief bombardment of tremen- 
dous volume, followed by a smoke screen against which the defenders that es- 
caped destruction were virtually powerless. 

Beginning usually four hours before the zero hour, fixed around dawn, the 
enemy would open fire with four or five times as many guns as the defender 
thought he possessed in that sector. During the preceding weeks they had 
been "registering" on every worth-while objective, but taking care to space 
the registering shots so as to conceal their great strength. The bombardment 
would contain a fixed proportion of gas and high explosive calculated to render 
the defence positions untenable for a considerable depth. During the final 
hour smoke shells, at the rate of about two to one, would be added. Then at 
the zero hour the infantry, masked and lightly equipped, would charge forward 
at full speed through the gas and smoke, literally swamping the defenders and 
often penetrating right to the artillery positions before the isolated groups in 
the front-line defences realized that they were surrounded. 

General Gouraud also pointed out at this time that the infantry 
divisions employed in these operations had been carefully trained in 
readiness, and brought up at the last moment by forced marches at 
night, during which every precaution was taken, and taken successfully 
in all cases, to avoid detection by airplanes. Not until the Battle of 
Champagne was the element of surprise eliminated but on this occasion 
Gouraud not only knew where the attack was coming, but the precise 
hour of the very morning on which it would be launched. For the at- 


tack upon the Italians, in late October, preparations had been made over 
a long period. Not only were German troops sent to the Italian front 
for the first time during the war but the whole Austrian military forces 
were placed directly under the German General Staff, and Ludendorff 
himself assumed charge of operations. 

As a consequence of the Italian local successes through the spring 
and summer, the Italians occupied in October a situation satisfying if 
they were going to continue an offensive but perilous in the extreme if, 
as was now the case, they were to be attacked. Their Third Army con- 
tinued to hold the positions between the Adriatic and the foot of the hills 
above Gorizia — positions which had in the main been held for a long 
period of time and were properly organized alike for defence and for 
further offensive operations. Far different was the situation of the 
Second Army. In the operations against the Bainsizza Plateau it had 

O 10 20 SO «"> 50 
fRONTI ERS •="• 


Solid black shows territory occupied by the Austrians on the day following Caporetto. 
The white arrow indicates the point at which the Germans broke through and their line of ad- 
vance through Cividale to Udine cutting off the retreat of the Italians. 


pushed across the deep canyon of the Isonzo, cHmbed up to the mountain 
rim of the Bainsizza Plateau itself, and then attempted to envelop Monte 
San Gabriele which was the final barrier to a forward advance to Trieste. 
This fighting for Monte San Gabriele had as completely exhausted the 
Second Army as the Flanders operations had used up the off^ensive quali- 
ties of the British troops. Along with this exhaustion, due to too greatly 
prolonged strain, was a decline in morale resulting from the use made of 
the Pope's recent Peace Note by German, socialist, and clerical propa- 
gandists, the generally bad economic condition of Italy; and the growing 
unrest in the civil population. 

Thus the Second Army, on the morning of October 24th, was an 
army already shaken in spirit, weakened by losses, fought-out in a 
campaign in which too much had been asked of it, and it occupied a 
perilous position with its centre and one flank thrown across an unford- 
able river, having at its rear only such communications as it had been 
possible to construct during battle, while the northern flank, parts of which 
were on opposite sides of the river, was composed of second- and third- 
line troops without adequate reserves or sufficient second-line defences. 

A glance at the map discloses the full extent of the peril. Could 
the Germans break the northern flank of the Second Army and seize 
the crossings of the Isonzo at Caporetto, they would have a straight 
road to Udine and it might be possible for them, pressing southward to 
and through this town, to cut off all of the Italian Second Army as well 
as the Third and achieve that colossal Sedan which they had sought 
in France in the opening days of the war. 

Moreover, in choosing their time for this attack, the Germans followed 
asystem which by this time had become famihar. In 191 5 they had closed 
a year of alternating success and failure by crushing Serbia and opening 
the road to the Golden Horn. They had terminated the campaign of 
the following year by entering Bukharest and crushing Roumania. It 
was of utmost importance to them to end the campaign of 1917 by a 
shining success which would serve alike to depress the morale of their 
enemies, raise the spirits of their own civil population, and supply the 
basis for further propaganda and pacifist operations. 


The position occupied by the Italian Second Army, on the Bainsizza 
Plateau, was a pronounced and perilous salient. Now, as at Cambrai, 
the Germans undertook to "pinch out" this Bainsizza salient by a 
surprise attack. In the case of Cambrai they attacked from both 
sides of the British salient and were successful on only one. In 
the case of Bainsizza they attacked on only one side, but with 
extraordinary success. The operation which followed is perhaps most 
closely reminiscent of that at the Dunajec. In April, 1915, the main 
Russian armies were across the Carpathians about the Dukla Pass and 
were pushing onward into Hungary, while their flanks were covered by 
the armies of Dimitrieff^ along the Dunajec River and of Lechitsky on 
the crest of the Carpathians south and west of the Dukla. When Mac- 
kensen attacked Dimitrieff and destroyed his army the position of the 
main Russian masses under Ivanoff was critical; there were some days 
before it was clear whether the Russians would escape or suffer a Sedan. 
They got away, but they left prisoners, guns, and flags in German pos- 
session, and so great was the dislocation of their front that they were 
unable to make a successful stand until early autumn; and in point of 
fact neither the army nor the Government ever recovered from the ef- 
fects of the disaster. 

Now the German blow of October, 19 17, was similar to the thrust at 
the Dunajec in May, 1915. It was levelled at that portion of the Italian 
forces guarding the flank of the Second Army on both sides of the Isonzo 
from Tolmino to Flitsch, and particularly at those troops occupying the 
bridge-head of Caporetto on the road to Udine. Once this force had 
been crushed the Germans would be able to advance southwestward 
upon Udine by the Cividale Valley, and a few hours after the Italian 
lines collapsed they were actually nearer to Cadorna's headquarters in 
this town than much of the Italian Second and all of the Third Army, 
and were approaching the line of communications by which the Second 
and Third armies must retire. Favoured again by mist, by driving 
rain, and even by snow in the upper mountains, six German divisions 
under Otto von Below fell upon the flank of the ItaHan Second Army, 
after a brief bombardment on the whole extent of their front from Zaga 


on the north to the edge of the Bainsizza Plateau. The attack was im- 
mediately successful, the surprise was complete. Certain units made no 
resistance whatever, some even laid down their arms in advance of the 
arrival of the assailants, and in the briefest possible time the left or 
north flank of the Second Army had ceased to exist. In a subsequent 
official statement Cadorna himself charged those responsible, officers 
and men alike, with treason. This declaration was softened by the 
substitution of the term "insufficient resistance" for the allegation of 
treason, but otherwise the statement was permitted to issue and was as 
follows : 

The violence of the attack and an insufficient resistance on the part of cer- 
tain units of the Second Army have permitted the Austro-German forces to 
break through our defence on the left wing of the Julian sector. The valiant 
behaviour of the other troops did not suffice to prevent the enemy from pene- 
trating to the sacred soil of our fatherland. Our line retires according to plan. 
The depots and munition stores of the territory evacuated have all been de- 
stroyed. The splendid courage of our soldiers in so many famous battles 
fought and won during the two and a half years of war encourages the High 
Command to hope that on this occasion the Army, to which is entrusted the 
honour and the safety of Italy, will know how to do its duty. 


The consequences of the collapse of the left flank of the Second Army 
were of utmost gravity. Below's German troops were now behind the 
Second Army, sweeping over the Julian Alps across its rear to Udine. 
In the following days this army broke up, ceased to exist. Its artillery, 
its vast stores of munitions, by far the greater part of its troops — offi- 
cers and men alike — ^were captured. The fate of the Second Army was 
sealed once Below had passed the Isonzo at Caporetto and the Italian 
troops had failed to react on their own side of the river. The destruc- 
tion of the Second Army was more complete than that of Gough's British 
Fifth Army in the offensive of March 21st of the following year. Its 
resistance was incomparably less determined, yet in both cases, although 
with different preliminary resistance, an army collapsed and left a great 
gap on a whole front through which the enemy poured in. 


The single problem that remained after the tirst few hours following 
the Caporetto disaster was whether the Italian Third Army, commanded 
by the Duke of Aosta and occupying the Isonzo front from Gorizia to 
the sea, would be able to get back before it was enveloped by the Ger- 
man armies coming from the north and cutting its roads and railroads. 
Could it make such a retreat and escape envelopment there was a chance 
that the Italians might be able to rally at the Tagliamento, on the east 
side of which the Austrians had temporarily held up Napoleon in his 
great campaign of 1797. 

By the narrowest possible margin the Italian Third Army succeeded 
in passing the Tagliamento in advance of the German and Austrian 
troops which were seeking to envelop it, but it only escaped by sacri- 
ficing all of its material and most of its artillery. But precisely as in the 
Dunajec time the Russians were able to halt but not to hold at the line 
of the San, the Italians rallied but were unable to remain at the Taglia- 
mento. On October 29th the enemy was in Udine; on October 31st he 
had reached the Tagliamento, and three days later he passed the river 
north of the Treviso-Udine railroad. 

The next position on which an Italian stand was possible was behind 
the Livenza, a smaller river which parallels the Tagliamento, but the 
fighting at this stream was less considerable than at the Tagliamento. 
By November 6th the enemy was across this river, still following the 
Treviso-Udine railroad, and by November 9th he was on the east bank 
of the Piave, the last position from which the Italians could cover Venice. 
By this time they had evacuated not merely all of the Venetian plain 
east of the Piave but all of the upper valley of this stream from Feltre to 
Cadore including the eastern slopes of the Dolomites, familiar to all 
alpinists. The Fourth Army had been brought back from the Carnic 
and Cadore fronts which it had held with such great distinction from 
the outset of the war, and the Italian front now stood from Lago di 
Garda along the mountains, followed by the old frontier as far as the 
Piave, at the point where it leaves the mountains, and thence behind 
that stream to the sea hardly twenty miles east of Venice. If the Ital- 
ians were turned or forced out of the Piave position they would have 


to go behind the Adige, abandoning Venice, Viccnza, and Padua to the 
enemy, bringing the Austrians and Germans close to the forts of Verona 
and surrendering to the Austrians practically all of the province of 


Moreover, the Italian situation behind the Piave, while strong in the 
plain where the river offered a considerable barrier to direct advance, 
was weak on the hills, as had been disclosed in the Austrian offensive 
of 1916 when the Italians had been driven off the Asiago Plateau and 
the Austrians had almost reached the plain. On their north flank the 
Italians were now open to an attack down the Astico and Brenta valleys 
which, if successful, would have precisely the same peril for them as 
the recent German advance down the Cividale Valley. In other words, 
it was impossible for the Italians to stand at the Piave if their troops 
to the north failed to hold the foothills of the Alps between the Adige 
and the Piave, and if they were unable to hold the Piave line they would 
have to give up Venice and go back of the Adige and the Po, while any 
disaster in the hills would infallibly ruin all the remaining Italian armies, 
carry the victors to Milan, and force the Italians to make a separate 
peace. Already French troops, commanded by Fayolle — Petain's ablest 
lieutenant, who had fought with the British at the Somme — ^were on 
their way to the Italian front, and the British, after momentary hesita- 
tion, ^were sending Plumer with other troops; but considerable time 
must elapse before this aid could arrive and in this time Italy must still 
rely upon herself. Unless she could save herself, no aid from her 
allies could be of any value. In the immediate presence of Foch, how- 
ever, she found assistance, and the great French soldier now appeared 
upon an Italian field of disaster and played something of that role which 
four months later he was to play in the presence of a British disaster even 
more perilous to the whole Allied cause. 

Fortunately Italy measured up to the supreme test. The country rose 
behind the army; the whole national spirit of the people was touched; 
"defeatism" gave way to patriotism; political intrigues collapsed; the 
nation from the king to the peasant echoed Petain's immortal words at 
Verdun — "They shall not pass" — ^whlch proved the watchword of vie- 



The three arrows indicate the valleys by which the Austro-Germans attempted to descend 
to the plain behind the Italian front. The severest fighting was at Mt. Grappa and on the 
Asiaso Plateau. 

tory at the Piave as it had at the Meuse. Through December the Aus- 
trians, with gradually decUning German aid, strove to transform a vic- 
tory into one more decisive battle of the world. The main attacks were 
delivered not on the Piave front but in the mountains, although the 
Austrians succeeded in crossing at several places notably in the 
lagoons nearest to Venice. They gained ground but they fell short of 
their objectives, and snow and winter came together with French and 
British troops, while the Italian lines still stood fast at the Piave. 
The greatest victory on the western front during the whole war — ^with 
the possible exception of Ludendorff's supreme success in March of the 


next year — had no morrow. In the following year the Italians were to 
endure and defeat one more offensive at the Piave, and then at last, 
passing to the offensive, see the Austrian armies dissolve before them 
between the Piave and the Isonzo in that same country which had 
beheld the heroic and successful retreat of the Italian Third Army. 

But if the German victory at Caporetto missed decisive results by a 
narrow margin its moral effect was tremendous. While the Italian 
armies were still struggling to escape destruction, the British offensive 
in Flanders came to its mournful end. Cambrai was won, and lost, and 
the French armies, despite successful local offensives, were still under the 
shadow of the Aisne defeat. 

Moreover, Russia in this same time finally vanished as a factor in the 
war and the realization was brought home to the Allied publics of Britain, 
France, and Italy, not only that their campaign of 1917 had been a fail- 
ure, but, provided with a new system of attack and enabled to bring 
all their best troops from the east to the west, the Germans now pos- 
sessed the initiative, and the sole chance of winning the war rested hence- 
forth upon the size of American armies to be sent to Europe and the 
rapidity with which they would arrive. 

Almost on the same day that the Italian Second Army had 
collapsed, the first American contingent had appeared on the French 
front facing Alsace-Lorraine, but American forces in Europe were still 
insignificant, and if the submarine menace had been countered to a 
degree it did not yet seem possible that ships could be found to move 
to Europe those millions of American troops without which victory was 
impossible and defeat might yet become inevitable. As a consequence 
of Caporetto, Cadorna joined the considerable number of generals— Al- 
lied, German, and Austrian alike — ^whose failures had led to their disap- 
pearance from active command. He was succeeded by General Diaz, 
one of his ablest lieutenants, whose victory in the Second Battle of the 
Piave the following summer marked the turn of the tide in Allied for- 

Even more important was the first step taken toward unification 
of command on the Allied side as a direct consequence of the successive 


Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the 
Allied ft)rces, receives his marshal's baton 
from the hands of Raymond Poincare, 
President of the French Republic, while 
Premier Clemenceau looks on. After the 
ceremony the Marshal is saluted by the 
President in true Gallic fashion. 


failures of the several armies under divided leadership. It was a halting 
step. It produced only that Versailles Conference which in fact was 
little more than an abstraction, since it had no actual authority. Out 
of the Versailles Conference four months later Foch emerged as gen- 
eralissimo of all the Allied armies, and in the final campaign Italian 
troops fought in France as British troops shared Italian success in Vene- 
tia. But if this first step toward unified command carried with it the 
promise of victory in the future, at the moment when it was made it was 
an insignificant circumstance in the minds of the Allied publics, which 
saw in Caporetto an unparalleled disaster, which had cost the Italians 
250,000 prisoners, more than 2,000 guns, most of their military mate- 
rial — the whole accumulation of two and a half years — and enriched 
the Austrians not merely by these military prizes, but by considerable 
foodstuff^s as well, and enabled them to occupy more than 2,000 square 
miles of Italian soil, while depriving the Italians of almost every foot of 
Italia Irredenta which had been gained in three campaigns and at ap- 
palling sacrifice. 

III. petain's achievement 

While the British army was failing in Flanders, the Italian army 
going to disaster at Caporetto, the Russian army dissolving, what was 
the position of the French? When Petain had succeeded Nivelle in 
May he took over an army shaken in morale, no longer responsive to 
that discipline which for more than three years had been a circumstance 
alike in heroic defence and in splendid ofi^ence. 

Following his accession to the High Command, Petain promptly 
informed his British allies that they could expect from the French noth- 
ing in the way of offensive operation for at least two months to come. 
In fact, it was not until August, when the Flanders offensive had already 
touched approximate failure, that the first French blow could be de- 

Meantime, the immediate task of Petain was hardly less considerable 
than that which confronted him when he was called to save the com- 
promised situation at Verdun. He had to restore the confidence of the 
soldiers in their commanders. He had to satisfy certain of their legiti- 


mate demands. He had in many cases to find new generals and await 
the construction of new staffs. All of these things he did with con- 
summate success. The French army which entered the campaign of 
191 8 was incomparably superior to the British. If it was no longer cap- 
able of such efforts as had marked the French forces in 19 14 and 191 5 
it was to demonstrate in the crucial hours of March and April the old 
Verdun capacity for holding and in the counter-offensive of July to 
disclose at least a flash of that elan which had made the French infantry 
famous for centuries. 

The first military problem faced by Retain was left over from the 
abortive Nivelle operation on the Chemin-des-Dames. When the 
French abandoned the offensive here the Germans seized it and eagerly 
sought to take advantage of the temporary disorganization within the 
French ranks. All through June and July the German showered terrific 
attacks along the whole of the Chemin-des-Dames position and particu- 
larly on the eastern half from Heurtebrise Farm to Craonne. Just 
above the little ruined village of Craonne, the eastern end of the 
Craonne Plateau culminates in two relatively narrow level plateaux, 
while the ridge itself, seen either from the north, the east, or the south, 
assumes a dominating character reminiscent of Douaumont, and one of 
the most impressive landmarks of the whole front. 

The French had cleared this eastern end with its two little plateaux 
of Californie and Casemates in the May attacks. Now the Germans 
sought, by repeated assaults, coming up the steep slopes out of the 
marshy valley of the Ailette, to regain those crests which in all the Ger- 
man military reports are known as the "Winterberg" — the same crests 
from which the Kaiser on May 27th, of the following year, surveyed a 
field of victory. Time and again they mounted to the attack, effected 
a lodgment, lingered for a few hours, and were driven off. Eight weeks 
of almost continuous fighting gained them no permanent hold any- 
where along the lines the French had established in the April offensive. 
Any hope that deflection in French morale would open the way to a 
victory such as was subsequently achieved at Caporetto proved illusory. 
If the French veterans would no longer attack impregnable positions, 


would no longer consent to be led against unbroken wire and unde- 
stroyed machine-gun nests, they still retained the spirit and the 
strength necessary to convince their German opponents of the folly of 
similar ventures. The fighting of this June and July, largely filling the 
press of the time, had no permanent value. 

While the French lines thus held at Craonne, Petain reorganized his 
armies. Late July saw a French army despatched to the Flanders 
front to share with the British in the Third Battle of Ypres and perform 
there a useful if subsidiary service wholly comparable with that per- 
formed by the French armies in the Battle of the Somme. But it was 
not until August 20th that Petain was at last ready, and his first blow 
coincided almost exactly with that second phase of the British opera- 

5r mil-Els 



•HiG-HvyAys hVt'iv-Wooos 


The shaded portion shows the ground captured by the Germans between February and 
July, 1916. The circle indicates the area of the entrenched camp of Verdun. The broken line 
marked the front attained by the French after Petain's successful offensive in August, 191 7. 


tions at Ypres which resulted in the capture of Langemarck but was 
nevertheless, over most of the front, a failure which doomed the whole 

For his first operation Petain chose the Verdun front, where he had 
achieved enduring fame in defence and subsequently demonstrated his 
supreme ability in the organization of a local offensive by those two at- 
tacks, one of which wrested Douaumont and Vaux from the Germans 
and the other released Verdun from the fatal German embrace which 
for many months had threatened it with strangulation. At the close 
of these two offensives Verdun was unblocked. Practically all the vital 
positions on the heights of the Meuse were retaken, but the Germans 
still clung to Hill 304 and Dead Man's Hill on the western bank, the 
fruits of their second attack in 19 16. Possession of these western hills 
would give the Allies ground from which they might in the future oper- 
ate out of the Verdun salient, as the British were now attacking out of 
the Ypres salient. Actually the Petain offensive of August, 191 7, made 
possible the American attack of September and October a year later, 
which carried the victorious American troops to Sedan and cut the 
vital German railroad lines connecting Metz with Lille and the Alsace- 
Lorraine front with that of Belgium. From the ground that Petain 
took from the Germans in the third and fourth weeks of August Persh- 
ing's armies advanced to their successful opening attack on September 
26, 1918. 

At 4 o'clock on the morning of August 20th the French troops on 
both banks of the Meuse left their trenches, supported by a tremendous 
artillery fire, and almost without resistance seized the Cote de Talou 
in the bend of the Meuse on the east bank, from which the Germans had 
direct observation up the Meuse Valley to Verdun, Hills 344 and 240 
north of the line estabHshed in December of the previous year, and on 
this front occupied all the ground from which they had retired on the 
second day of the First Battle of Verdun, including the town of Samo- 
gneux on the Meuse itself. On the west bank the progress was less 
considerable. Dead Man's Hill was taken, but 304 held out. Two 
days later it fell and the French line was restored all the way westward 


from the river south of the Httle Forges Brook, across which Pershing's 
troops moved to battle thirteen months later. In the first action 8,000 
prisoners were captured, while the number was increased to 10,000 in 
the next few days. Subsequent German counter-offensives led to noth- 
ing. The French position at Verdun was now completely reestablished 
within sight of the line on which the German flood of February, 1916, 
had broken, and Verdun, having been for three years a bulwark against 
German attack, was now to be the sally port from which America 
emerged in the final campaign of the war. 

While the victory at Verdun was primarily due to Petain it reflected 
credit upon the new commander of the Verdun army, Guillaumat, who 
had succeeded Nivelle and was presently to replace Sarrail at Salonica 
and plan that victorious operation executed by Franchet d'Esperey 
after Guillaumat had returned to Paris to participate brilliantly in the 
last phase of the war. Guillaumat at Verdun, Gouraud in Champagne, 
De Maistre at the Chemin-des-Dames, were three of the new names 
which were to be heard with increasing frequency in the next few 
months, together with those of Fayolle and of Mangin, who, despite 
disgrace due to his share of the Nivelle failure, was to return as an army 
commander to the same field in 19 18 and achieve a still greater reputa- 

Two months after the Verdun operation, at the precise moment when 
the Italians were collapsing at Caporetto, Petain launched his second 
blow. This time he selected the front on which Nivelle had failed in 
the spring. He sought no grandiose objective. His purpose was lim- 
ited to clearing that western end of the Craonne Plateau on either side 
of the Soissons-Laon road which, in German hands, imperilled the whole 
French position on the Craonne Plateau and was in fact a wedge driven 
into the centre of the entire Allied front. The key to this position was 
the high ground just off the Laon road, the ground occupied by the 
dismantled fort of Malmaison, which looked across the Ailette Valley 
squarely at the spires and walls of Laon. On this position Nivelle's 
great offensive had broken with tremendous casualties. It was one of 
the strongest sectors on the whole German front, recalling in its im- 



mediate circumstances the crest of that Pozieres Ridge held for so long 
by the Germans in the Battle of the Somme. On the west the German 
lines touched the Ailette and ran along the Vauxillon Plateau to the 
ridge where once the mill of Laffaux had stood. This point was "the 
Laffaux Corner" of Ludendorff and other German commentators. 
Thence they followed the high ground south of the Chemin-des-Dames 
eastward for several miles. The position had been fortified with utmost 
skill and care before the attack of April i6th. In the succeeding months 
its fortifications had been still more largely increased. Nevertheless, on 
the 23rd of October — after a six-day bombardment, which succeeded 

where Nivelle's had failed, 
smashed and wrecked the Ger- 
man defences and shook the mo- 
rale of the German forces — the 
French left their trenches on an 
eight-mile front and in a few 
hours had cleared the Germans 
from all the high ground and 
taken possession of Fort Malmai- 
son itself. The following day there 
were further local advances, as a 
result of which, on November 2nd, 


The solid black indicates 
the territory occupied by the 
Anglo-French armies at the 
close of the campaign. The 
white line, the front at the open- 
ing of the year. 


the Germans evacuated all the ground still held by them on the south 
bank of the Ailette and for the first time since August, 1914, all of the 
Craonne Plateau was in French hands. More than 11,000 prisoners 
and 200 guns were captured, and the effect was a real if small counter- 
weight to the Italian disaster which gave the French armies and the 
French people still further confidence in Petain and won for De Maistre, 
who commanded the army actually engaged, a place among the success- 
ful generals of the war. 

The German victory on this ground in May of the following year 
robbed the 1917 victory of all its permanent value and much of its 
real importance. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant and a final example 
of a successful employment of the tactics which aimed at local objectives 
and restricted successes. It was in a sense the perfection of the strategy 
which Joffre had described as "nibbling" two years before, but it did 
not and could not produce decisive results and it gave way to the new 
strategy in which the element of surprise was restored both on the Ger- 
man and on the Allied side. As Cambrai is significant as disclosing the 
methods of restoring surprise and achieving at least a measure of a break 
through, Malmaison is worthy of note as the final appearance of that 
earlier method which for three years achieved the most considerable 
successes on the western front. By his defence at Craonne in June and 
July and by his victorious attacks in August and October, Petain 
demonstrated that the French army was not yet conquered and by 
the opening of the next campaign would be able to make new and 
great contributions to the common cause. This, after all, was the real 
significance of the French operations between May and the end of the 




1864 AND 1917 

In the political even more than in the military events of 1917 stu- 
dents of American history will find a parallel in the year 1864. In 
the earlier year the prolongation of the Civil War, the long postpone- 
ment of victory, the never-ending cycle of bright hopes in the spring and 
disappointments in the summer and autumn, had produced an atmos- 
phere out of which there came many direct and indirect demands for 
peace, and more than one effort to compromise the difficulties which 
war had so far failed to settle. 

The year 1864 was a year in which the courage of the weaker failed; 
faint-hearts, feeble spirits, counselled and even clamoured for an end 
to the struggle which had now resulted in the slaughter of a large frac- 
tion of the best manhood of America. Horace Greeley could demand 
peace at any price; President Lincoln himself, clearly as he saw the 
impossibility of compromise, was forced by public agitation to consent 
to that abortive Fortress Monroe conference which half a century later 
finds its counterpart in the mission of Smuts to Switzerland, in the 
activities of the British Minister at the Vatican, while in 1917, as all 
through this period of the Civil War, there were back-stairs negotia- 
tions, intrigues, manoeuvres, important at the time, forgotten afterward, 
and buried now in the vast accumulation of official and unofficial papers 
defying the patience of later generations to examine. 

In 1917, as in 1864, there arrived one of those hours in which the 
spirit of nations and of men began to falter — in which the clear vision, 
the gallant challenge to death and privation which marked the opening 
period of the war, had begun to give way. The very best of the man- 
hood of France and of Britain, the spirits which knew no thought of 



surrender or of compromise, were buried in all the mournful graves 
which stretched from the North Sea to Switzerland. There was a 
decline in morale everywhere. Human nature itself began to revolt 
against the protraction of an agony daily becoming more intolerable and 
daily seeming more utterly beyond remedy. 

The similar period in the Civil War commands little attention and 
less comment now. Those Americans who know the military history 
of the great struggle are infinitely less well acquainted with the grimmer 
and less attractive phase which reveals human nature on its weaker side 
precisely as the battlefield discloses it in its most splendid phase. By 
common consent, when war has ended, men of all nations combine to 
dismiss from memory and from history those circumstances which de- 
tract from the glory of the unselfish sacrifice. Thus it is that, although 
only two years have passed since 1917, the record of the intrigues, the 
falterings, the weakness, is already blurred and will in no long time dis- 
appear almost completely, and later generations will think of the men 
and women who lived and dared and suff^ered in the period of the World 
War rather as demigods than as human beings. We shall have one 
more legend which, by doing utmost violence to the facts, vindicates 
anew the claim of fallible human nature to possession of those qualities 
with which the ancient Greeks decorated their gods in Homeric legend. 

But if one is to understand igiyonthe military side it is essential to 
know it from the political angle. The intrigue, the treachery, the 
treason of this year, these circumstances are inextricably linked with 
the deeds on the battlefield. Treason behind the lines, domestic dis- 
order, sufi^ering of the civil population, selfishness on the part of the 
politicians, these things went far to explain the collapse of the Italian 
army at Caporetto, while, before the French tried and failed at Craonne, 
Caillaux had forecast a surrender peace for his country in which he 
should play the role of the supreme dastard. And as the year closed. 
Lord Lansdowne, former Secretary for Foreign Affairs — under whose 
direction Anglo-French association had hardened into military under- 
standing, under whose immediate direction France had been encouraged 
in the Tangier time to challenge Germany — uttered a document, which, 


however moderate in tone and reasonable in character, could have and 
did have no other meaning than to urge that Great Britain should make 
a negotiated peace with her great enemy, while that enemy was still 
victorious on the battlefield and confident in the possession of a con- 
tinental empire greater than that of Napoleon. In the very opening 
weeks of the year President Wilson had spoken of "peace without vic- 
tory," and when the President of the United States had so modified his 
views as to lead his nation into the World War these earlier sentiments 
remained to give courage to those weaker if not less honest spirits for 
whom the supreme tragedy of the war had become so intolerable that 
peace at any price — the "white peace" of contemporary euphemism — • 
seemed preferable to war under any circumstances. The voices of 
selfishness, in class and in mass, alike, were joined with those of cow- 
ardice and treachery. All over the world there was beginning a dim 
perception that the destruction incident to the struggle had gone so 
far that there was now little chance of restoring much that had seemed 
an essential part of orderly government and methodical existence. As 
revolution in Russia more and more fiercely flamed up and the forces 
of anarchy attacked institutions and obliterated systems, there spread a 
growing consciousness, a mounting apprehension, that while armies still 
faced each other in the trench deadlock, Bolshevism might conquer 
Western civilization as it had mastered Russia, and civilization itself 
would disappear. 

Day by day it became clear that the war had strained human insti- 
tutions, governmental systems, the endurance of men and women them- 
selves, so much that even peace when it came could not bring that im- 
mediate or possibly that eventual restoration of the world of 1914 to 
which the peoples of the nations at war had hitherto looked forward 

There was an ever-increasing appreciation of the fact that, whatever 
the issues of the war, there was now little reason to question the old 
German assertion that civilization itself was committing suicide and, 
that, without the settlement of those questions which had provoked 
the war, the nations in arms were becoming bankrupt — were more and 


more sacrificing not merely the flower, but the larger fraction of their 
male population. Hunger, misery, forebodings of actual starvation, 
these were in the minds of millions. The submarine at sea, the bombing 
airplane in the clouds, the ceaseless roar of the artillery, all combined to 
break the morale of the civil populations quite as much as it attacked 
the military resources of the nation. 

All of this the German turned to his own advantage, while Bol- 
shevism, which he encouraged and fostered, destroyed Russia as a mili- 
tary force; and as a nation, at the precise moment when Bolshevist 
leaders were uttering words which were interpreted by western dream- 
ers and idealists as a new gospel, as a further revelation comparable 
with the doctrines of the French Revolution, German politicians and 
leaders gave lying echoes to those principles and those utterances. 
** Peace without annexation and without indemnity," demanded by 
Russia, which had renounced every Romanoff claim, was now cham- 
pioned in the German Reichstag by politicians who never for a single 
moment contemplated the evacuation of Belgium, the surrender of 
Poland, or even the restoration of the invaded districts of France. And 
In this period there was faltering in the statesmanship of all the Allied 
countries. In Britain those Liberal elements which had opposed British 
entrance into the war at all, now acting in the name of humanity, urged 
a settlement which could not come except by the surrender of Britain's 
allies to Germany. Lloyd George himself publicly suggested that 
Germany might find compensation in Russia with Allied consent, while 
Smuts and other British representatives journeyed to Switzerland 
and Spain and elsewhere in vain efforts to find In secret conference with 
the enemy some basis for negotiated peace which would leave to the 
Allies a degree of security, if only a small fraction of honour. 

In France there was even more faltering. There was even more 
treachery. Between the spring and the winter the Republic had four 
cabinets. In that time treason flourished openly, peace was preached 
almost publicly. German agents passed through Paris, French news- 
papers were purchased by German gold, and the trail of intrigue led 
from the banks of the Seine to those of the Hudson and La Plata. 


Defeatism flourished; cowardice, disguising itself as liberalism and as 
humanity, now appeared from the dark corners in which it had hidden. 
France was at the point of moral collapse when in despair she turned to 
Clemenceau, finding once more — as so frequently in her long history — a 
supremely great spirit who was to lead her out of despair, through 
fortitude, to victory. 

But of the three European allies the plight of Italy was worst. 
On the economic side her condition was incomparably inferior to that of 
her two associates. The German submarine campaign in the Mediter- 
ranean deprived her of the coal, the raw materials, and the food essen- 
tial alike to her industry, her war making, and the existence of her pop- 
ulation. The old breach between the Clerical party and the Mon- 
archy reasserted itself and the appeal of the Pope to the belligerents 
to make peace was seized upon by at least a section of the Clerical ele- 
ment to undermine the morale of the army. Moreover, socialism and 
anarchy responded in Italy even more than in France to the pronounce- 
ments of Bolshevism in Russia. In losing Russia the Allies were not 
merely deprived of millions of soldiers, whose departure permitted Ger- 
many to move innumerable divisions to the western front; almost more 
deadly was the effect of Bolshevist propaganda. It was a madness 
which could not have assailed the minds of men and women had the 
way not been prepared by the endless torture of the war. But to those 
in despair it held out a promise of relief as unreal as the mirage that 
thirsty travellers see in the desert, but to be pursued with the same 
frantic zeal. 

In this period the appeal of President Wilson for peace at the open- 
ing of the year; the bid of Socialism, advocated in Russia, propagated by 
Germany, expressed in the Stockholm Conference; the appeal of the 
Pope; and, finally, the counsel of Conservative selfishness voiced by 
Lord Lansdowne, combined to unite the most diverse elements and the 
most inimical classes. Mankind was attacked at once on the side of 
humanity and of selfishness, of reason and of passion. The peace offen- 
sive broke lines hitherto unshaken. It is almost impossible to exag- 
gerate the degree to which the whole Allied cause was imperilled in this 


time and by these various factors. Not even the military defeats of the 
next year — which once more put Paris in jeopardy and again seemed 
destined to open a road to the Channel — were actually as deadly men- 
aces as those other dangers which filled 1917. 

And yet, since in the main these perils attacked the spirit — since 
they were in their very nature imponderable, not to be disclosed by 
battle maps, not to be explained by the citation of debates in the 
Reichstag, or Parliament, of speeches in the market place — since the 
whole phenomenon was, after all, a product of the emotions, the passions, 
the agonies of the hour — it is almost impossible even now to describe or 
to preserve the facts which made up the inner history of 191 7. 

Yet, out of the turmoil and welter there does emerge the one clear 
and unmistakable truth. The belligerent world was rapidly approach- 
ing the moment of complete exhaustion. The bonds of discipline, of 
government, of civilization itself, were loosening. Conditions hardly 
paralleled since the days of the Thirty Years' War were appearing in 
western Europe, and men and women everywhere, aghast at the abyss 
which was opening at their feet, turned to the thought of peace without 
victory, without decision, even without honour, as holding out the 
single promise that the world could be saved from that chaos into which 
Russia had already disappeared and toward which the rest of the world 
was drifting headlong. 

The circumstances of the political history in this period are of rela- 
tively minor importance. All the scheming and the treachery of the 
selfish, the seduced, the corrupt, led to nothing. All the back-stairs 
negotiations, the secret exchanges, the international conclaves, arrived 
nowhere. The appeal of the Pope, like the proposal of the President, 
did not shorten the war by a single hour. In the end the struggle went 
forward because the German — perceiving his public as yet less shaken 
behind the firing line and his army not only more successful than the 
opposing armies but now in a position which held out the promise of 
speedy and supreme victory — declined to abate by one degree those 
claims, or moderate in one particular those ambitions which he had held 
when he set out to achieve world power. Had Germany been wise, clear- 


sighted, possessed of a statesman like Bismarck, she could have made a 
peace in 1917 which would have left her far forward on that imperial road 
which she had deliberately entered three years before. But her mood was 
the mood of Napoleon in 1 8 1 3 . The blindness, the overweening self-con- 
fidence, which made that great soldier refuse the advice of friends, dis- 
regard the warnings of statesmen, invite the ruin which overtook him, 
now afflicted the German war lords. By contrast, despite all the weak- 
ness, there was still left in Allied manhood the strength for one final 
struggle. Western civilization was in its last ditch, but when the Treaty 
of Brest-Litovsk revealed that all the smooth and appealing words so 
recently and frequently in German mouths had meant nothing, and that 
still, as always, the choice was slavery or resistance, western Europe 
rallied; and there was left to it just sufficient strength to hold the line 
until American millions should transform the whole situation and demon- 
strate that German victory was henceforth and forever impossible. 


The summer of 19 17 was marked by the first direct break in the 
political solidarity of Germany. Before the British failure in Flanders, 
in advance of the Italian disaster, and while Russia was still maintaining 
armies in the field, there was in the Reichstag a sudden outburst which 
for a moment seemed to promise that the German people and a con- 
trolling faction of German statesmen would be able to throw off the 
control of the military and the Junker elements. All through the sum- 
mer debates in the Reichstag, changes in the Chancellorship, a multipli- 
city of circumstances combined to create the impression that Germany 
was at last ready to abandon the old ideas and the old ideals which had 
provoked the war — prepared to renounce those ambitions which made a 
peace of understanding impossible — and there was a widespread belief 
among the Allied publics that the war might be terminated by negotia- 
tion rather than by battle, since Germany was at last yielding to more 
liberal ideas and the control of German affairs was passing from the 
hands of the soldiers to those of reasonable statesmen. 

In July, Erzberger, one of the leaders of the Roman CathoUc party. 


precipitated a political crisis by a sudden attack upon the Government 
for its failure alike in the diplomatic field and in the department of 
domestic afi^airs. Bethmann-Hollweg's halting efforts to answer the 
charge were of no avail. The Emperor himself, after a conversation 
with the military chiefs, issued a decree granting immediate and 
equal suffrage to Prussia, a step recalling concessions of a similar sort 
made by one of his predecessors in the face of similar conditions and 
thereafter repudiated when the conditions changed. The Emperor's 
concessions roused violent protest from the Prussian Junkers, but, so 
far from satisfying the Reichstag element, now in revolt, it merely pro- 
voked a demand on the part of Erzberger and his associates for a state- 
ment of the war aims of Germany. 

As a consequence of his failure to check the political uprising Beth- 
mann-Hollweg resigned and disappeared. He was not a great men. The 
distance between him and Bismarck was incalculable Yet the circum- 
stances of his position had made him one of the most conspicuous figures^ 
throughout the conflict. His declaration that the invasion of Belgium 
was wrong created a profound sensation in the world. That, left to 
himself, he would have followed a wiser course seems at least possible, 
but in fact the critical decisions were made by the military element and 
he was compelled to defend policies which he did not originate and of 
which he frequently did not approve. It is not impossible, therefore, 
that time will deal more gently with the first German War Chancellor 
than did contemporary criticism. 

The departure of Bethmann-Hollweg did not silence the political 
tumult. On the contrary, it encouraged still further uproar, which cul- 
minated on July 19th in a declaration adopted by a decisive majority 
in the Reichstag advocating peace, endorsing a peace of conciliation, 
and adopting the Russian phrase of *'No annexation and no indemnity." 
This action made a great stir over the world. It made a profound im- 
pression upon Liberal and Radical elements in Great Britain, France, 
and the United States. Germany seemed to be yielding to democratic 
ideas. The influence of Russian revolution upon Hohenzollern poli- 
cies seemed only less great than upon those of the Romanoffs. In- 


fluenced by military failures, affected by the growing conviction that 
military decision was impossible, many elements in the Allied publics 
welcomed the events in the Reichstag as a sign and a promise. 

Unfortunately, whatever may have been the sincerity and the reality 
of this movement in Germany at the outset, any chance of success was 
speedily destroyed by the complete transformation of the military sit- 
uation. Had German armies continued unsuccessful, threatened alike on 
the east and the west; had Russia endured a potential enemy, it is con- 
ceivable that the beginning made in the Reichstag might have been fol- 
lowed by still further progress toward a liberation of the German people 
from the control of the soldiers — a deliverance accomplished by Ger- 
mans alone. But while this protest was still in its initial stage Russia 
collapsed and ceased to be a factor in the war, and the military party 
was able again to point to the possibility that, with Russia out, decisive 
victory, with all its unlimited rewards, might be achieved. 

With this change in the circumstances the military party resumed 
its control, but resuming its control it undertook to use what had hap- 
pened as propaganda. In other words, it made the ideas and the prin- 
ciples which had been voiced in the Reichstag the cover for its own 
campaign. It did not repudiate what had been said; rather it sought at 
one time to delude Allied publics with the impression that Germany 
had become liberal, and prepared the way for the old-fashioned military 
decision with all its attendant circumstances of forcible annexations and 
enormous indemnities. 

The Pope's appeal for peace came at a fortunate moment to supply 
the German leaders with new material. The Kaiser had selected as his 
new Chancellor an old bureaucrat. Dr. George Michaelis — an unknown 
man of no particular ability, responsive only to the old autocracy — and 
the new Foreign Secretary, Kuhlmann, an adroit and skilful intriguer, 
undertook to deceive the world by new protestations of German fidelity 
to ideas acceptable to the western Allies, momentarily advocated by the 
Reichstag and now abandoned when the promise of victory had re- 
appeared. Kuhlmann endeavoured, not without success, to foment 
unrest and division in Allied countries by using publicly that formula 


ihis emarkable painting of a bursting shell is the work of Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, who received 
lonourable discharge from the British army, with the Mons star, in 1916. The following year he was appointed 
:ial A \ist with the British Armies. 



Above — ^A bomb-throwing attachment for the rifle, used by Serbian troops. 
Below — ^A rifle-thrown bomb barrage on the Serbian front. 


Allied aviators have managed to set fire to this German's observation balloon. So he has hooked on his parachute 
harness and jumped clear. The parachute is just breaking away from the balloon. The aviator who took this photo- 
graph does not know whether the balloonist reached the ground in safety or not. 


German shell breaking near a British battery. One of the "Nissen huts," invented by Lt. Col. Peter Norman Nissen, 

may be seen at the left 

These stretcher-bearing Tommies seem rather heedless of Fritz's shooting, though his shells are bursting not far away 


Lawrence Scanlon, an American aviator, lost control of his machine 500 feet above the French aviation school at 
Avord. It crashed down through the roof of this building and when Scanlon scrambled unaided out from among the 
debris, he was astonished to find that he was without a scratch. 

These French troops are going forward as their artillery prepares the way 


which he and his associates had privately rejected and were, at Brest- 
Litovsk a few months later, to repudiate altogether. 

German diplomatic, German political leadership, having been 
forced to submit momentarily to a revolt in the Reichstag, predicated 
upon liberal ideas, now endeavoured to make the fact of this revolt pro- 
duce disarray in Allied countries and cover that period in which Ger- 
many was making the necessary preparations for the great Ludendorff 
offensive of the next year. How successful she was the Italian disaster 
at Caporetto presently disclosed. Thus the German conducted a new 
peace offensive pending the time when he should be ready to make 
one more stupendous bid for military conquest, and used as ammunition 
the precise words urging peace and conciliation which his own fellow- 
countrymen had uttered in the Reichstag in July. The Devil was no 
longer sick, but well he still retained the monk's garb. 

All through the late summer and autumn these manoeuvres went on. 
Kuhlmann's deliberate effort to create a "peace atmosphere" was 
echoed and seconded by peace speeches of Count Czernin, the Austrian 
Prime Minister. In October a naval mutiny was seized upon in the 
Reichstag as a pretext to refuse to vote a war credit. But before 
October had ended Caporetto had been won; the last semblance of 
sincerity in the protestations of German liberals had vanished. The 
Kaiser now called Count Hertling to replace MIchaelis, and Hertling 
was frankly and unmistakably the tool of the military party. More- 
over, the military situation was such that he was now able to resume 
where Bethmann-Hollweg had left off. The movement for peace In 
Germany had collapsed in the presence of a promise of victory. The 
words spoken in the Reichstag In July of 191 7 and the terms written into 
the Peace of Brest-LItovsk in February, 1918, measure the distance be- 
tween the two states of mind. 

Had the German movement of July continued, had the spirit which 
it had expressed prevailed, nothing seems more certain now than that a 
negotiated peace would have followed. The mass of facts which are to- 
day becoming public property indicate how willing Allied statesmen 
were to listen to any reasonable overtures coming from Berlin. General 


Smuts journeyed to Switzerland; the British Minister to the Vatican 
received, if he did not make, preHminary proposals. No Allied govern- 
ment could have continued had its people been convinced that it had 
rejected a sincere or moderate German proposal of peace. That Bis- 
marck would have seized the opportunity to assure for Germany reason- 
able profit for her great sacrifices cannot be doubted, but such Allied 
interrogations as were made, directed inevitably at ascertaining Ger- 
many's position on the all-important question of the liberation of Bel- 
gium, were met by evasive or defiant answers. Germany was not 
willing to give any assurances that she would evacuate Belgium and her 
refusal destroyed all chance of a negotiated peace. 

Napoleon after Dresden and before Leipzig made a similar blunder, 
with consequences which were less disastrous on the whole to his coun- 
try but equally fatal to himself. He chose to fight — and lost his throne. 
The Kaiser and his advisers now decided to risk all on a similar venture 
and their decision took the Kaiser to Amerongen as Napoleon's decision 
carried him to St. Helena. Germany, all through this fateful summer, 
remained faithful to the Bernhardi gospel of "World power, or downfall." 

The explanation for the success of the military party in Germany in 
repulsing a peace movement in their own country before they skilfully 
turned it to their own use abroad must be found in the circumstances of 
the Russian Revolution. Had Kerensky been able to prevail upon 
revolutionary Russia to continue in the trenches Germany might have 
consented to a negotiated peace by the end of 19 17, but the collapse of 
Russia served to reanimate all the old appetites and all the early ambi- 
tions of the German people. The postponement of victory for three 
years led to the incipient German revolt of July just as similar and even 
greater disappointments had led to larger protests in Allied nations. But 
the new promise that plunder and power could be had silenced all pro- 
tests. Even though sinking into anarchy herself Russia did a final 
and incalculable injury to Germany. Her helplessness invited Ger- 
mans to a new revelation of their purpose, and this revelation led 
straight to that Armistice of November 11, 1918, which deprived Ger- 
many not merely of the fruits of her earlier victories in the World War 


but of her conquests in all the wars of aggression since Frederick the 
Great started Prussia on her predatory pathway. 


Following the declaration that war existed between the Imperial 
German Government and the United States, the Austrian representa- 
tive in the United States — who was acting in place of Dr. Dumba until 
Count Tarnowski, Dr. Dumba's successor, arrived — demanded his 
passports. Diplomatic relations with Austria were thus severed al- 
though actual war was not recognized to exist until December 7th. 
So far as the United States was concerned then, Austria continued in a 
relation which was neither war nor peace and supplied an opportunity 
for various peace manoeuvres. In point of fact, the Austrian Govern- 
ment not merely "played up" to the German peace campaign, but 
various gestures were made, the most famous of which — a letter of the 
new Emperor to his brother-in-law Prince Sixtus, under the date of 
March 31, 1917 — contained the startling statement: "I beg you to 
convey secretly and unofficially to Poincare, President of the French 
Republic, that I shall support by every means, and using of my per- 
sonal influence with my Allies, the French just claim regarding Alsace- 
Lorraine.*' The publication of this letter a year later by Clemenceau, 
following a debate carried on between the statesmen of the warring 
countries, produced a real sensation and was followed by the resignation 
of Count Czernin. 

It may be assumed that this letter was an unmistakable evidence 
that the Austrian Emperor and the Austrian Court were eager for 
peace. This fact was common knowledge all through the summer and 
autumn of 19 17. It was the explanation of several conferences in 
Switzerland, conferences in which both British and French representa- 
tives sought a common ground on which to base real peace negotiations. 
Unquestionably Austria was sinking. The complete collapse of the 
Dual Monarchy in the autumn of 191 8 was the result of too long and 
too great a strain, which shattered the relatively slender bonds uniting 
the several races and populations of the Hapsburg Empire. Badly 


organized, lacking alike the German genius for organization and the 
German solidarity, Austria-Hungary suffered infinitely more during 
the war, and in 191 7 the approach of a collapse was revealed by many 
circumstances. That the young emperor, eager to save his throne, had 
earnestly and honestly struggled to free himself from German control, 
seemed unmistakable. It was this situation which led to the transfer 
of German troops to the Italian front, and the victory of Caporetto, 
following the collapse of Russia, gave Austria a respite and for the 
moment served to save the Empire from impending ruin. It is worthy 
of note that all through this period the Allies, who in the early days of 
the war had formulated a programme which amounted to nothing less 
than dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire, more or less publicly re- 
nounced this ambitious prospectus. Like Germany, Austria could 
have saved herself by making peace any time in 1917. 

Like Germany, moreover, Austria made many preliminary move- 
ments in that direction. She was prepared to, and she did renounce 
for herself any war gains. The destruction of Russia had eliminated 
the great menace which for a generation had hung over the Monarchy. 
Russia had disappeared, Serbia had been crushed, Italy had been checked 
and v/as presently defeated. Peace on the basis of the status quo ante 
would have given that security which Austria had long sought. The 
defeats of Serbia, Roumania, Russia, and finally of Italy, combined to 
achieve the real war ends of the Hapsburg Empire. Unhappily for her, 
despite many efi^orts — some of which were revealed in public statements 
which made a stir all over the world — Austria-Hungary could not regain 
her freedom of action. Compelled to share German successes, which 
were now without profit for herself, she was equally compelled in the 
end to share in a ruin which for herself was complete. 

IV. THE pope's appeal 

The most significant of the various Austrian efforts in the direction 
of peace was disclosed in that series of political operations in which the 
Austrian Parliament, the Roman Catholic party of the Centre in Ger- 
many, and various Roman Catholic elements all over the world, rallied 


to the support of that peace proposal made by the Pope himself on the 
15th of August. 

The appeal of the Holy Father to the several warring nations sug- 
gested in many respects that document which President Wilson had 
uttered a little more than six months before. Like the President, the 
Pope in the nature of things was compelled to address both sets of con- 
testants in words which were equally courteous and similarly devoid of 
content which might indicate sympathy with one set of contestants as 
contrasted with the other. He was obliged, like the President, to deal 
only in generalities, and since the President's note to the belligerents 
had been frankly only a preliminary, Mr. Wilson had been able to escape 
the necessity faced by the Pope of suggesting some basis for settlement. 
The basis suggested by the Holy Father — the only basis which could be 
suggested, given the circumstances of the conflict — included the waiving 
of all claims for indemnity and "entire and reciprocal condonation." 
Belgium was to be evacuated; her independence restored. German 
colonies were to be returned to her and she was to restore the occupied 
districts of France. The vexed questions of which Alsace-Lorraine 
and Italia Irredenta were the most conspicuous examples, were to be 
referred to peaceful negotiators, while similar disposition of the prob- 
lems of the Balkans, of Poland, and of Turkey was suggested. 

The rejection of this Papal appeal by Great Britain, by France, by 
Italy, was a foregone conclusion. "Reciprocal condonation" was in 
itself nothing more than a confession of equal guilt and responsibility 
for the war by the Allies, who had been attacked. For three years Ger- 
many had conducted a war of aggression in the manner of a barbarian. 
She had attacked her neighbours without justification. She had taken 
their territory, enslaved their peoples. She had assailed neutrals as well 
as belligerents. She had defied every convention, she had outraged 
every doctrine of humanity. Moreover — in effect, though not in intent 
— the Pope's peace message now asked of these Allied peoples who had 
been the victims of Germany's iniquities that they should condone the 
crime, confess to guilt not less great, and put aside all hope of German 


This spelled moral ruin and economic destruction. In substance it 
denied to the small peoples that liberty the western powers had prom- 
ised. It perpetuated the Austrian and German rule over subject na- 
tionalities. It continued the European anarchy out of which the World 
War had come. Above all, it continued in power the men, the parties, 
and the principles which had precipitated the struggle. As a conse- 
quence, to listen to the words of the Pope — which were inspired by the 
same desire to end the conflict, by the same concern for humanity and 
civilization as those of the President half a year before — was not merely 
to resign the war itself, but to submit to these very evils against which 
the Allies had been fighting for three years. It was not merely to 
betray the future but it was also to abandon those who had died to pre- 
vent that which would be established if peace on the Pope's terms should 
now arrive. 

It was fitting, therefore, in view of his own gesture, that Mr. Wilson 
should make answer for all nations at war against Germany, and his 
response was in fact adopted by all the Allied governments and chan- 
celleries. On August 27th the President's answer was sent. That 
response, which was signed by Mr. Lansing, was as follows: 

In acknowledgment of the communication of your Holiness to the belliger- 
ent peoples, dated August i, 1917, the President of the United States requests 
me to transmit the following reply: 

Every heart that has not been blinded and hardened by this terrible war 
must be touched by this moving appeal of his Holiness the Pope, must feel the 
dignity and force of the humane and generous motives which prompted it, and 
must fervently wish that we might take the path of peace he so persuasively 
points out. But it would be folly to take it if it does not in fact lead to the goal 
he proposes. Our response must be based upon the stern facts, and upon 
nothing else. It is not a mere cessation of arms he desires; it is a stable and 
enduring peace. This agony must not be gone through with again, and it 
must be a matter of very sober judgment what will insure us against it. 

His Holiness in substance proposes that we return to the status quo ante 
helium and that then there be a general condonation, disarmament, and a con- 
cert of nations based upon an acceptance of the principle of arbitration; that 
by a similar concert freedom of the seas be established; and that the territorial 
claims of France and Italy, the perplexing problems of the Balkan States, and 
the restitution of Poland be left to such conciliatory adjustments as may be 


possible in the new temper of such a peace, due regard being paid to the aspira- 
tions of the peoples whose poUtical fortunes and affiUations will be involved. 

It is manifest that no part of this programme can be successfully carried 
out unless the restitution of the status quo ante furnishes a firm and satisfactory 
basis for it. The object of this war is to deliver the free peoples of the world 
from the menace and the actual power of a vast military establishment, con- 
trolled by an irresponsible government, which, having secretly planned to 
dominate the world, proceeded to carry the plan out without regard either to 
the sacred obligations of treaty or the long-established practices and long- 
cherished principles of international action and honour; which chose its own 
time for the war; delivered its blow fiercely and suddenly; stopped at no bar- 
rier, either of law or of mercy; swept a whole continent within the tide of blood 
— not the blood of soldiers only, but the blood of innocent women and children 
also and of the helpless poor; and now stands balked, but not defeated, the 
enemy of four-fifths of the world. 

This power is not the German people. It is the ruthless master of the 
German people. It is no business of ours how that great people came under 
its control or submitted with temporary zest to the domination of its purpose; 
but it is our business to see to it that the history of the rest of the world is no 
longer left to its handling. 

To deal with such a power by way of peace upon the plan proposed by his 
Holiness the Pope would, so far as we can see, involve a recuperation of its 
strength and a renewal of its policy; would make it necessary to create a per- 
manent hostile combination of nations against the German people, who are 
Its instruments; and would result in abandoning the new-born Russia to the 
intrigue, the manifold subtle interference, and the certain counter-revolution 
which would be attempted by all the malign influences to which the German 
Government has of late accustomed the world. 

Can peace be based upon a restitution of its power or upon any word of 
honour it could pledge in a treaty of settlement and accommodation } 

Responsible statesmen must now everywhere see, if they never saw before, 
that no peace can rest securely upon political or economic restrictions meant 
to benefit some nations and cripple or embarrass others, upon vindictive action 
of any sort, or any kind of revenge or deliberate injury. The American people 
have suffered intolerable wrongs at the hands of the Imperial German Govern- 
ment, but they desire no reprisal upon the German people, who have them- 
selves suffered all things in this war, which they did not choose. They believe 
that peace should rest upon the rights of peoples, not the rights of govern- 
ments — the rights of peoples, great or small, weak or powerful — their equal 
right to freedom and security and self-government and to a participation, upon 
fair terms, in the economic opportunities of the world — the German people, of 
course, included — if they will accept equality and not seek domination. 


The test, therefore, of every plan of peace is this: Is it based upon the 
faith of all the peoples involved, or merely upon the word of an ambitious and 
intriguing government on the one hand and of a group of free peoples on the 
other? This is a test which goes to the root of the matter; and it is the test 
which must be applied. 

The purposes of the United States in this war are known to the whole 
world — to every people to whom the truth has been permitted to come. They 
do not need to be stated again. We seek no material advantage of any kind. 
We believe that the intolerable wrongs done in this war by the furious and brutal 
power of the Imperial German Government ought to be repaired, but not at the 
expense of the sovereignty of any people — rather a vindication of the sover- 
eignty both of those that are weak and of those that are strong. Punitive 
damage, the dismemberment of empires, the establishment of selfish and ex- 
clusive economic leagues, we deem inexpedient, and in the end worse than futile, 
no proper basis for a peace of any kind, least of all for an enduring peace. 
That must be based upon justice and fairness and the common rights of man- 

We cannot take the word of the present rulers of Germany as a guarantee 
of anything that is to endure unless explicitly supported by such conclusive 
evidence of the will and purpose of the German people themselves as the other 
peoples of the world would be justified in accepting. Without such guar- 
antees treaties of settlement, agreements for disarmament, covenants to set 
up arbitration in the place of force, territorial adjustments, reconstitutions of 
small nations, if made with the German Government, no man. no nation, could 
now depend on. 

We must await some new evidence of the purposes of the great peoples of 
the Central Powers. God grant it may be given soon and in a way to restore 
the confidence of all peoples everywhere in the faith of nations and the possi- 
bility of a covenanted peace. 

Robert Lansing. 

Thus ended the second of the memorable attempts to restore peace. 
The Pope had failed as the President had failed before him. Precisely 
as the President's words were used by German agents and German prop- 
agandists, both the words and the fact of the Pope's appeal were em- 
ployed all over the world in Allied countries and most effectively in 
Italy to serve Germany. The bitterness of temporary emotions not 
unnaturally led to the charge that the Pope had himself been a party to 
German and Austrian intrigue and the charge was sustained by the 
evidence that his words had been employed effectively to aid the Ger- 


man cause. But the same charge was made on the same basis and with 
no less justice when President Wilson had made his proposal. In- 
dubitably the Pope helped Germany and Austria momentarily, as did 
the President. The object of the Pope and the President alike was to 
restore peace, and both may perhaps be fairly acquitted of any par- 
tisan sympathy to which their words and actions were turned. 


While the President in December and January and the Pope in 
the following August sought to restore peace, a third and hardly less 
significant effort was made by socialism. The Russian Revolution 
presented to the various socialist, labour, and radical elements of the 
warring countries an opportunity to speak which had long been denied 
them. Socialism itself had temporarily disappeared as a world power 
and as an international influence, when, in the first days of the war, the 
masses of the peoples of the several nations cast aside all political align- 
ments and rallied to the support of their respective governments. 
The theory that the mass of French and of German workingmen would 
refuse to fire upon each other when war came was instantly disclosed 
to be moonshine. The millions of the various countries demonstrated 
that they were Frenchmen, Germans, or Italians, before they were 
socialists, and newer political doctrines were submerged in the flood of 
secular patriotism. 

From this revelation socialism did not recover until that moment 
when the failure of governments to procure victory or restore peace 
finally led alike to a decline of the governments in prestige and a move- 
ment away from the political systems these governments represented. 
The Russian Revolution roused socialism all over the world and it be- 
came henceforth a dangerous and a potent factor. It, too, demanded 
peace. It, too, worked for peace, and in Allied countries, where political 
liberty was far more firmly established than in Germany, it was able to 
do infinite harm to the governments which were conducting the struggle. 

The first manifestation that socialism had recognized the new op- 
portunity came in April when a call was issued from The Hague for a 


socialist conference at Stockholm. The conference itself, from a rela- 
tively unimportant gathering, was transformed to a centre of world 
interest through the demand of the Russian revolutionary leaders 
that it should be made something approximating a peace conference; 
that the representatives of socialist parties and of the masses of the 
European populations should send to the Swedish capital delegates who 
were in fact to decide the rights and wrongs of the war itself and there- 
after to bring about a restoration of peace. In all this the German hand 
was patiently disclosed cooperating with the Russian revolutionist. 

Socialism in France and Italy, Labour in Great Britain and the 
United States, divided over the wisdom or folly of sending representa- 
tives to Stockholm. Conservative instinct ever3rwhere in Allied coun- 
tries was against such a course, but largely owing to the influence of 
Arthur Henderson in Great Britain and Albert Thomas in France — both 
of whom had been in Russia, both of whom had been impressed by the 
Russian Revolution and by the gravity of that situation which Russian 
defection would produce — advocated the sending of representatives to 

Henderson represented Labour in the British Cabinet, Albert Thomas 
was the successor of Jaures as the leader of the French socialists and 
was also a cabinet minister. The urgings of both these men, each of 
whom believed that tactical advantage would be gained by going to 
Stockholm and presenting the Allied cause, aroused debate, but the 
Ribot Cabinet refused to permit French socialists to go. The 
British Ministry refused and then changed its mind, but, after the 
Cabinet had acquiesced, the British Seamen's and Firemen's Union, 
having the submarine issue in mind, refused to man ships to carry the 

Still the Stockholm Conference went on. Presently Henderson, 
finding it impossible to convince the British Cabinet, resigned. Albert 
Thomas similarly left the French Chamber. Germany, on the con- 
tary, sent Scheidemann, and Scheidemann turned to German profit 
such opportunities as he could find. 

The Stockholm Conference, of itself, accomplished nothing of im- 


portance. Indirectly, however, it contributed materially to breaking up 
the union of the socialists and radicals in France, Britain, and the United 
States with members of the other political parties, all of whom had 
hitherto been closely associated in the effort to win the war. As a 
contribution to Germany's campaign to break down the morale of the 
Allied countries, as a circumstance in the peace offensive, it was success- 
ful. A break between the radical and socialist portions of the American, 
British, and French publics and the rest of the nation was achieved. 
This break did infinite harm. It was followed by a flood of so-called 
liberal and progressive utterances and writings which assailed the Allied 
governments at home, accused them of blundering and of offences 
similar to those which had been charged against the German Govern- 
ment. It built up a body of suspicion that Allied governments were 
responsible for the prolongation of the war. It cast doubt upon the 
sincerity of purpose and the justice of the war aims of the various 
nations in arms against Germany. 

The same division continued after the war had terminated in the 
Armistice. It reached new heights of denunciation when the terms 
of the Peace of Versailles were at last presented to the world. This 
was not mainly, perhaps not largely, a consequence of the struggle over 
the Stockholm Conference. That was, after all, only an incident. The 
fact was that three years of war had produced a profound change in all 
the nations engaged, and that only in Germany — and there solely because 
of a sudden return of the prospect of victory — was the Government 
capable of preserving union or preventing discussions, which, however 
honestly intended, unmistakably contributed to break down the will, not 
alone for victory, but the will to continue and to escape defeat. 

Henceforth, ever growing in numbers and in vehemence, one faction 
in each of the Allied countries insisted that the Allies should restate 
their war aims and demanded that a restatement should include an 
acceptation of the Russian formula of peace without annexations or 
indemnities. This faction denounced their own governments and 
ministries as reactionary, imperialistic, Prussian; insisted that peace 
without victory — "a white peace" following Mr. Wilson's phrase, which 


the President had now discarded — was the only possible solution of the 
world conflict which would make peace for the future permanent. 

The Russian Revolution became for this group a symbol of democ- 
racy and of progress, which the excesses of Lenin and Trotsky and the 
terrible tragedies of the Revolution were unable to destroy. The Allied 
course toward Russia was consistently denounced. The feeble and 
futile efforts of Allied governments to support the elements of order 
and to restrain the forces of anarchy in the Slav nation were assailed 
without limit as examples of an effort to restore the Romanoff regime. 

The summer and autumn of 191 7, then, sees the development of a 
totally new frame of mind. Many men intellectually and morally 
prominent in their communities and in their countries now openly and 
definitively broke with the doctrine that all personal opinions must be 
laid aside — all independence including that of thought itself must be 
sacrificed — in the name of national unity and to the end of achieving mili- 
tary victory. This group was largely made up of pacifists and of extreme 
radicals, to whom nationalism itself was hateful. Within its ranks trai- 
tors and cowards found safe intellectual asylum and did infinite harm to 
the Allied cause. But recognizing these circumstances it is still impos- 
sible to dismiss this ferment of 1917 summarily, if only because it exerted 
great influence thenceforth, during the war and after the war, during 
the peace negotiations and thereafter endured as a living force. 

The majority of the Allied publics continued, though not without 
some perplexity and hesitation, to support their governments, to stand 
fast to the belief that unconditional peace was the only possible end of 
a war with Germany. In no small degree the Germans themselves were 
responsible for this. Circumstances in Allied countries, the progress of 
events and of thought in the world, everything combined to give the 
Germans an opportunity to make a profitable peace in 19 17. Their 
own peace offensive, their use of the Pope's appeal, of the President's 
note, of the socialist upheaval, cleared the way for precisely this out- 
come. Fortunately for mankind the German General Staff, the Kaiser 
and his generals, in the supreme crisis were incapable of laying aside 
the dream of a complete military victory. The reaction from the Peace 


of Brest-LItovsk temporarily checked and even silenced the voices that 
were heard in 1917 with ever-increasing willingness by Allied publics. 
Liberalism and radicalism were compelled to stand aside once more as 
they had in the opening days of the war in the presence of Prussianism 
displaying the old spirit in a new revelation. But the moment the Ger- 
man had lost the war, before even the Allied victory had become abso- 
lute, these voices were raised again and have been heard ever since in 
growing volume. 


More interesting, and in a sense more signijficant, since they produced 
the supremely great war minister of the conflict, were the political dis- 
turbances in France in 1917. Before the year had yet begun, the weak- 
ness of the Briand Ministry was unmistakable. Briand himself had 
been a useful factor in the general Allied cause. He was not a man of 
deep principles or of profound convictions; least of all was he a statesman 
of the energy or the force of Clemenceau. Like Lloyd George he had 
been in many camps. He was a clever, adroit politician, a man of per- 
sonal charm and political instinct, not without patriotic emotion, but 
beyond all else a politician. He had staked his fortunes in the previous 
year on the success of Joffre. In many ways his support of the first 
French Commander-in-Chief was creditable to him. The intrigues di- 
rected against the victor of the Marne both by jealous generals and 
by even more jealous politicians — whose efforts to interfere in military 
affairs encountered an absolute obstacle at Chantilly — had largely 
failed through the constancy of Briand's support. Unfortunately, 
criticism of Joffre was not exclusively due to meaner and baser motives. 
On the whole, his later course had been a failure, beginning with the ter- 
rible costly ventures which he described as " nibbling." At Les Eparges, 
in Champagne and in Alsace in 191 5, Joffre had sacrificed great numbers 
of French soldiers for insignificant gains. Verdun in 1916 had been a 
tremendous blow to his remaining prestige and there was necessary a 
great victory at the Somme to save him. Briand gambled on that vic- 
tory and lost. He then, after many hesitations, finally consented to 


the substitution of Nivelle for Joffre, a compromise which avoided bitter 
assaults from the friends of Joffre, but satisfied neither the nation nor 
the army. The wrangles in Greece, in which it was felt Briand had shown 
too great tenderness to the Greek Royal Family, were equally injurious 
to the Premier. 

The truth was that in the winter of 1916-17 the Briand Ministry, 
from a variety of causes, was sinking. Briand was tired, and not unwill- 
ing to go in advance of some event which might preclude a subsequent 
recall. Accordingly there was little surprise when, on March 17th, 
as a consequence of a sharp quarrel between General Lyautey and the 
French Chamber, Briand resigned. Lyautey, as Governor-General of 
Morocco, had won and held for France a vast empire and revealed 
himself as the greatest pro-consul in all French history. He had been 
brought to Paris as Minister of War following Joffre's resignation, but his 
imperious methods, his unfamiliarity and impatience with politics and 
politicians had led to one incident after another, and finally to a resigna- 
tion several times before threatened. 

Briand was followed by Ribot, an old man, a notable figure in 
French politics, a conspicuous member of the Briand Cabinet, but not 
a man of the force necessary for the situation. He was faced at once 
by the consequences of the failure of the French offensive at the Aisne, 
followed almost immediately by an epidemic of strikes, and culminating 
in that socialist revolt which grew out of his refusal to permit French 
socialists to go to Stockholm. As domestic disorder increased, as cam- 
paigns of treasons and defeatism developed, RIbot more and more showed 
himself incapable of dealing firmly with mounting perils. As a con- 
sequence there was little surprise when, in September, RIbot resigned and 
President Poincare called upon M. Paul Palnleve to form a Ministry. 
Painleve is one of the interesting figures of the war. He and Henri 
Poincare, the President's brother, were the greatest mathematicians of 
their generation in France. Painleve had enjoyed a distinguished 
career as a professor. He was a man of high character and of great 
intellect. As Minister of Inventions and as Minister of War in the 
Briand and Ribot cabinets respectively he had rendered great service to 


France. Two momentous decisions, one to remove Nivelle and the 
other to dispose of King Constantine, were due ahnost exclusively to 

But on the political side Painleve was weak precisely where Lloyd 
George and Briand were strong. Unlike both of them he was a poor 
speaker. Unlike both of them he was incapable of building up a follow- 
ing in Parliament. He had no dexterity in intrigue or manipulation. 
Men did not follow him even when they respected him. He was a 
singularly noble type, rare in the politics of any country. He had cour- 
age; his honesty was beyond question; but he could not make friends 
as could Briand or Lloyd George, nor could he kill his enemies as did 

The result was inevitable. French conditions were approaching a 
crisis. In a sense the political situation of France was desperate, and 
Painleve — ^with all his honesty, with all his earnestness, with all his 
great ability in certain directions — was not the man to face the storm. 
Accordingly, on November i6th, he was succeeded by Clemenceau. The 
decision of Poincare to call Clemenceau was interesting. In the Ver- 
sailles sessions at which Poincare had been elected President of the 
French Republic, his most determined enemy had been Clemenceau, 
who saw in Poincare a peril to the Republic. In addition to violent 
opposition in the sessions themselves Clemenceau had finally made a 
personal appeal, which was in itself almost a menace, to Poincare to 
refuse the election. At all times Clemenceau in his newspaper had been 
a savage critic of the President. Yet there was left to Poincare no real 
choice. He had to go to Clemenceau or recognize that the war was lost. 

The coming of Clemenceau is one of the great moments of the war. 
He was the last hope of France, and the measure of his service is not to be 
found in France alone. This old man, ']6 years of age when he took 
office, had been in the rough-and-tumble of political fights ever since the 
days when, as a boy, he was sent into exile by the Third Empire. He 
was one of those who, at Bordeaux, protested against the cession of Alsace- 
Lorraine. He went through the Commune with all its terrible expe- 
riences. Several times in his political career he had been dismissed as 


finished, notably in the time of the Panama scandal, but it had never 
been possible to eliminate a man who combined so many of those qual- 
ities which the French admire. 

As a journalist Clemenceau wielded the deadliest pen in France. 
All through the war Paris had waited for the publication of his news- 
paper — frequently interrupted by the Censor — to read the brilliant, 
fatally caustic phrases of the man who was known to his fellow country- 
men as "The Tiger." In politics and in political life he had destroyed 
one ministry after another by the sheer force of his attack and the fatal 
exactness of his phrases. He made enemies where most politicians 
endeavoured to make friends, and then compelled his enemies to do 
his bidding by the sheer terror which he inspired. 

For three years Clemenceau had been regarded as impossible in 
France because no man could calculate what direction his phrases would 
take. His criticism of allies might easily be more severe than his de- 
nunciation of enemies. His fondness for the perfect phrase frequently 
led him into excesses which might have fatal effect for the whole French 
cause In a world crisis. It was always Inconceivable that France would 
appeal to Clemenceau In advance of an ultimate crisis, but that crisis 
had now come. 

Moreover, all through the war Clemenceau's voice had been the 
one clear note. From the first moment when masses of French re- 
serves arrived In advance of equipment, in the period of Inefhclent 
hospital administration, in the days of military failure, Clemenceau 
had never hesitated to tell the truth. As chairman of the Military 
Committee of the Senate he had visited every front. The common sol- 
dier was known to him in the trenches, and with the passion of an old 
man, near the end of a great career, his mind turned upon the salvation 
of his country. Whatever his faults, his limitations, his weaknesses on 
the human side; whatever his past, Clemenceau In the years of the war 
has concentrated himself upon the battle and dedicated himself to the 
winning of the victory. 

In the summer of 191 7, in the early autumn when treason flourished, 
when defeatism was rampant in France and out of It, this marvellous 

Erench infantry starting on a raid 


Beyond this village was an ammunition dump. This was the first of a series of explosions which soon shattered tht 

whole village 

Some captured ground on the British front 


old man day by day thundered his denunciations. France knew that if 
he became Prime Minister such mistakes as he would make would not 
be in the direction of caution, compromise, hesitation. Reluctantly, 
unwillingly, but ineluctably, Poincare, the French nation — like the 
commander putting in his last reserves — turned to Clemenceau; and 
with his coming we enter into one more of those far-shining hours of 
French history which have meant so much to all mankind. 

The achievement of Clemenceau was spiritual before it was material. 
The army at the front felt, when Clemenceau went to the Quai d'Orsay, 
that there was no more of weakness and faltering behind it. In fact, 
in the months that followed, the soldiers in the trenches saw more of the 
French Premier than did the people in the streets of Paris. Day after 
day he came to the Chamber with the dust of Champagne or Artois still 
on his clothes. To every criticism, to every effort to renew discussions 
as to war issues, peace terms, he returned the single answer: *'I make 
war." ''Victory" — he told the French people at the very moment of 
approximate despair — "belongs to him who lasts through the final 
quarter of an hour." And the world knew, the French knew, that 
Clemenceau might die but that he would not surrender. It is im- 
possible to estimate the extent to which this one man transformed the 
situation. Facing treason at home he sent a former prime minister of 
France, Caillaux — still the master of the greatest single following in the 
Chamber — to prison. Malvy, who had been in a dozen cabinets and 
who possessed enormous political influence, he sent into exile. Bolo 
Pasha, and smaller men whose guilt was unmistakable, he sent to the 
firing squad. Sarrail, a political general whose influence in the Chamber 
had been sufficiently great to save him from the consequences of a dozen 
intrigues, Clemenceau promptly recalled from Salonica and retired to 
private life. Of a sudden a clear, strong wind — like that mistral which 
descends the Rhone Valley — rushed through French political life. 
France called to Clemenceau and Clemenceau responded with an appeal 
which the French people could understand and obey. 

Nor did Clemenceau merely work at home. From November until 
April he fought the British to procure that unity of command which 


was at last achieved after the March disaster, and, by bringing Foch into 
complete control of Allied armies, first avoided final defeat, and then 
achieved supreme victory. The energy of this old man is beyond de- 
scription. He had the physical characteristics of Roosevelt in his most 
vigorous days. His presence in the Government was almost as valuable 
as that of Napoleon had been to his armies on the battlefield. He 
came to power at the most desperate moment in the war. Almost 
exactly a year later he was able to announce to the French Chamber 
that the enemy had been beaten, that victory was achieved, and Alsace- 
Lorraine restored to France. Then France gave to him the title by 
which he will perhaps be best remembered, that of " Father of Victory." 
As a youth Clemenceau had been associated with Gambetta in that 
despairing resistance of France after Sedan and Gravelotte. He had 
signed the Bordeaux memorial against the cession of a foot of French soil 
or a stone of a French fortress. He was almost the sole survivor of that 
group. Every illusion, every human affection, every dream, save one, 
had been burned up. A cynical, world-weary old man, his love of his 
country, his devotion to France, still remained. In war, and in the 
peace-making that followed war, he had but a single thought. He 
brushed aside impatiently all those aspirations and theories which were 
based upon the re-making of the world just as he swept aside all the whis- 
perings and whimperings of those who advocated a "white peace" when 
he took office. His whole life was dedicated to a single object. Perhaps 
he would have been more fortunate to have died when the bullet of an 
assassin reached him in the early days of the Peace Conference. Con- 
ceivably he lived too long after the realization of the end he had sought. 
But no Frenchman in all the long history of the race deserved better of 
his country than the statesman who, in November, 1917, took into his 
firm hands the control of tha?t ship of state whose destruction seemed 


America had entered the war in April. Following the arrival at the 
great decision the country gave evidence of a unity of purpose and of 
thought as amazing as had been the spectacle of its apparent disunion in 


the period preceding entrance into the conflict. Of a sudden a single 
national purpose was disclosed in every branch of life and in the most 
varied and mutually hostile elements of society. When the war was de- 
clared soldiers appeared along the railroads guarding the bridges and 
tunnels, reproducing a familiar circumstance of Europe at war. Meas- 
ures were taken to guard against that uprising of German-Americans 
long forecast and widely feared, but there was neither revolt nor dis- 
order. The very spirit in which the United States entered the war over- 
awed those elements which might have caused trouble. The German- 
American press became silent. German intrigue went underground. 
In political life there was only one party and one purpose. 

The progress of military preparations belongs to another volume, in 
which America's campaign will be discussed. On the political side the 
utterances of the President and the revelation of German intrigue pro- 
vide the main interest. American missions visited Russia, and Elihu 
Root, a former Secretary of State, sought, in the Russian capital, to 
contribute to limiting the extent of anarchy. The mission was a failure. 
Nor was the American public able then or later to understand the Rus- 
sian phenomenon. The message which the President sent to Russia 
might have produced some effect had it been reform rather than peace 
that Russia sought. As it was, like all other Allied missions, that from 
America spoke to deaf ears. The Russian offensive began and failed 
while our representatives were still in Russia, and their return was not 
unaccompanied by danger. 

The President's response to the Pope's note evoked nation-wide ap- 
proval, and this approval was heightened by the fact that there was 
published at the same time a German document, henceforth memor- 
able, namely an intercepted despatch from Count Luxburg, the German 
representative at Buenos Aires to his own government sent through the 
medium of the Swedish Legation. Argentina at that time was going 
through a political crisis, partly occasioned by the Government's at- 
titude in the matter of the German submarine campaign. The mes- 
sage in question contained the following sentence: "As regards Argen- 
tine steamships I reconmiend either compelling them to turn back, sink- 


ing them without leaving a trace (spurlos versenkt), or letting them 
through. They are quite small." 

*' Spurlos versenkt" became, thenceforth a characterization of German 
methods, and the American people found in this example of duplicity and 
essential violence further proof of the meaning of German procedure 
which had already been partially disclosed to them in the Zimmermann 
Note. There followed a long series of disclosures of a similar character 
affecting the United States more directly but they were in truth only 
new appeals to the converted. The mass of the American people had 
made up their minds on the German subject. 

As a consequence, the political history of the United States during 
the first year of the war between the declaration and the peace of 
Brest-Litovsk is merely the history of a nation setting itself resolutely 
to the unfamiliar task of creating armies, reorganizing its resources, 
harnessing its gigantic strength for the new task. Memorable because 
of its later bearing upon the peace negotiations but notable at the 
time merely as a statement of America's view of the bases of peace 
and the President's conception of a League of Nations, was a declara- 
tion of Mr. Wilson on January 8th and known thereafter as the Fourteen 
Points. These Fourteen Points were as follows : 

1. Open covenants of peace and no secret diplomacy in the future. 

2. Absolute freedom of navigation in peace and war outside territorial 
waters, except when seas may be closed by international action. 

3. Removal as far as possible of all economic barriers. 

4. Adequate guarantees for the reduction of national armaments. 

5. An absolutely impartial adjustment of colonial claims, the interests of 
the peoples concerned having equal weight with the claims of the government 
whose title is to be determined. 

6. All Russian territory to be evacuated, and Russia given full oppor- 
tunity for self-development, the Powers aiding. 

7. Complete restoration of Belgium in full and free sovereignty. 

8. All French territory freed, and the wrong done by Prussia in 1871, in 
the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, righted. 

9. Readjustment of Italian frontiers on lines of nationality. 

10. Peoples of Austria-Hungary accorded an opportunity of autonomous 


11. Roumania, Serbia, and Montenegro evacuated; Serbia given access 
to the sea; and relations of Balkan States settled on lines of allegiance and 

12. Non-Turkish nationalities in the Ottoman Empire assured of autono- 
mous development, and the Dardanelles to be permanently free to all ships. 

13. An independent Polish State. 

14. A general association of the nations must be formed under specific 
covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political inde- 
pendence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. 

German and Austrian efforts to twist these and succeeding declara- 
tions of the President to their own uses failed completely since almost 
immediately Germany, by her terms of peace imposed upon Russia 
at Brest-Litovsk, showed her real self and demonstrated how impossible 
peace on any basis was in advance of German defeat. 

The true significance of the Fourteen Points was lost upon the 
American and Allied publics alike at the moment. The world was at 
war and had its eyes fixed upon those material issues out of which the 
war had grown. It did not comprehend, nor could it comprehend, that 
the President of the United States in his utterance was placing emphasis 
not upon Alsace-Lorraine, the Trentino, and the liberation of subject 
peoples, but upon the formation of a league of nations. It did 
not understand that for him all else was minor and subsidiary; failure 
to understand had strange consequences a year later, but at the moment, 
with only the material aspects of the declaration in mind the people of 
France, Great Britain, and Italy, quite as much as the United States, 
hailed this speech and, by their very enthusiasm, contributed to con- 
vincing Mr. Wilson that his hearers found in a league of nations the 
same promise which he had there discovered. 


BREST-LITOYSK— Conclusion 


It remains now to trace the last phases of the Russian episode so far 
as it immediately concerns the World War. The domestic circum- 
stances of this supreme catastrophe must await that future time when 
they may be intelligible to a historian able to deal dispassionately with 
the complete record. For the western Allies, for the men and women 
who were giving their best in life and treasure, the Russian defection 
became immediately and remained an act of treason, not early to be 
forgiven and not at all to be understood. 

We have seen how the collapse of the Russian military power in July 
had for its consequence the appearance of German reserves in Flanders 
and at Cambrai in sufficient numbers to defeat the British offensives. 
We have similarly seen that the arrival of German divisions on the 
Venetian front precipitated an Italian disaster at Caporetto which only 
by a narrow margin missed putting Italy out of the war. 

In the same fashion, the Russian Revolution had on the political side 
at one time divided the Allied publics, set in motion domestic protests 
and rebellion against Allied policy, and destroyed an incipient German 
movement toward a peace of understanding; thus democracy in Allied 
countries was weakened, in the Central Powers crushed, Allied military 
power was checked on the French front and broken on the Italian front: 
such were the outward circumstances of the Russian Revolution. 

In this same time there persisted a total misapprehension in the west 
as to the purposes of the Russian revolutionists themselves. For the 
west the supreme concern was to pursue the war to victory. For Russia 
the sole and overshadowing interest was to achieve peace without delay. 
The west appealed to Russia to continue in the battle. Russia appealed 



to the west to lay down its arms. The truth, long hid from the west, was 
that Russia was already out of the war, that no Russian statesman or 
leader was capable of reanimating the Russian spirit. The Lvov Min- 
istry, which was moderate and liberal, had failed because it endeavoured 
to preserve Russian faith with the west. Kerensky was doomed from 
the beginning because, while he understood conditions better, he lacked 
the iron necessary to become a dictator and, short of a dictatorship, 
there was no remedy left. 

In July Russian armies had fled a field of victory in Galicia. Frantic 
and gallant efforts of Korniloff, the new Russian commander, to rally 
his broken armies, failed. In August a great national Congress at Mos- 
cow listened to Kerensky and Korniloff, to all that remained of the voice 
of reason and patriotism, with little enthusiasm and no permanent 

In early September a new German offensive resulted in the fall of 
Riga. This offensive was memorable on the military side as the first 
appearance of that Hutier tactic which reappeared at Caporetto and 
Cambrai and then burst forth in deadly menace in the German attacks 
of 19 1 8. The fall of Riga was for the Allies final proof of that fact that 
Russia, in Kerensky's hands, could not help itself or them. For the enemy 
Riga was the last detail in Mittel Europa. The German ante-bellum 
maps, outlining the German place in the sun of Europe, had stretched 
from Antwerp to Riga, and the fall of the latter city carried with it a death 
warrant to new German democratic movements. In addition, it restored 
German influence in those Baltic Provinces where the Teutonic knights 
had once ruled and where the German minority still preserved the legend 
of Prussian return. The whole pan-German conception was galvanized 
once more by a victory which, on the military side, was cheaply won and 
of no greater permanent consequences than the capture of Antwerp three 
years earlier. 

The fall of Riga had immediate consequences in Russia. Korniloff, 
seeing his armies slipping from him, military discipline collapsing, con- 
ceived that the sole chance now remaining lay in a dictatorship. His 
supporters claimed that Kerensky consented to such a solution and 


agreed to associate himself with such a dictatorship. Kerensky and 
his friends maintained that no such consent was ever given, but the fact is 
unmistakable that Korniloff now set out to proclaim a military dictator- 
ship and that in the west he found support among the governments and 
the military leaders who saw in him the sole chance of keeping Russia 
in the war. It was at least with the tacit consent of the western govern- 
ments that Korniloff set out for Petrograd. 

But the decay of the army and of the nation had gone too far to leave 
either the discipline or the patriotism necessary to rally to authority 
in this critical hour. Russian sentiment mobilized against Korniloff. 
Kerensky, if he had made any promises, repudiated them and threw 
himself into the arms of the Bolsheviki, into the arms of the extreme 
Left. Hitherto he had sought to unite the moderates on both sides. In 
this impossible task he had failed. Now, called upon to decide between 
the two, he threw himself at the feet of those who had been his opponents 
at all times hitherto and now for the moment supported him only because 
they saw the ruin both of Kerensky and the national cause within their 

Proclaiming himself Commander-in-Chief of the Russian armies 
and denouncing Korniloff as a traitor, Kerensky now enlisted a force 
of Red Guards, arrested Korniloff, evicted such patriotic moderates as 
had hitherto been his associates, and proclaimed Russia to be a Republic. 

Meantime, the German armies continued slowly and deliberately 
to exploit their success at Riga. Seizing the islands of the Baltic and 
the ports in the Baltic Provinces they menaced Petrograd itself, and 
on the 19th of October the Russian Government fled to Moscow. Three 
weeks later, on the 7th of November, the extreme radicals, under the lead 
of Lenin and Trotsky, seized Petrograd, gained control of the Govern- 
ment itself, and laid hands upon the control of the bleeding body of 
Russia. Kerensky was a fugitive, and the last remaining chance of 
orderly reform in Russia was eliminated. 

The two men who now gained mastery upon Russian power were sin- 
gularly unlike. Lenin must remain one of the great figures of his time. 
In exile, proscribed, subject to every known oppression, he had pre- 


served his ideal, which was to reorganize Russia and then the world on 
the Marxian doctrine of class warfare, giving to the proletariat supreme 
control, abolishing national boundaries, and associating the working- 
men of the world in an international federation. 

A great man Lenin was, if only because of the fixity with which he 
pursued his purpose. Unlike his associate Trotsky, his personal char- 
acter was above reproach. Unlike Kerensky accession to great power 
did not turn his head or lead him away from his principles. If Russia as 
a nation perished, if the whole world system of order was torn to pieces, 
he was unconcerned so long as there was left to himself the chance of 
applying his principles. He saw, in the destruction of order in the 
world, the necessary first step in the direction of that order which he 
was seeking to establish. He was a narrow-minded, intense fanatic, a 
visionary, prepared to sacrifice human life without limit, prepared to use 
force without measure to attain his object. But he was consistent, 
however insane, and he was faithful to his principles, mad as they were. 

Trotsky, on the other hand, was a politician in spirit. He shared 
Lenin's purposes, but he was ready to compromise, manoeuvre, manipu- 
late. He was one of the many revolutionists who had found asylum 
in America and had slipped back to Russia with the coming of the Revo- 
lution. In the United States his reputation had not been of the best 
and he carried away from that country a hostility to the economic system 
quite as intense as he had cherished for the Russian governmental system. 

The policy of Lenin and Trotsky was simple. They had to do two 
things to insure a continuation of power and they were prepared to do 
these two things promptly. These were: first, to destroy the Russian 
army that there might be no renaissance of national spirit, no military 
dictatorship such as Korniloff had conceived of, and, second, to conclude 
peace with Germany. These two things accomplished, Russia was in 
their hands as completely as a chloroformed patient is helpless under 
the knife of a surgeon. Thereafter they were free to undertake such 
experiments as they chose. To gain this freedom they were prepared 
to pay whatever price was necessary, although they did not perceive 
in advance how great the German price would be. 


Having captured Petrograd on November yth, and in the following 
fortnight consolidated their power, Lenin and Trotsky on November 
2 1 St, proposed an immediate armistice, and matched this venture in 
foreign politics by the abolition of private property in the domestic 
field. Meantime, the destruction of the army was assured by the trans- 
fer of the command to an ensign, Krylenko, on December yth. One of 
the loyal old generals was assassinated; headquarters were abolished; 
the military and diplomatic secrets of Russia, including the various 
treaties with Russia's western Allies, were published, to the supreme de- 
light of the Germans. 


Finally, in mid-December, Lenin and Trotsky concluded an armistice 
with the Germans, which provided for a p^ace Conference at Brest- 
Litovsk. This Conference opened its sessions on December 22nd in 
the presence of representatives of all the Central Powers and of Russia. 
Russia's allies had in the meantime protested against an armistice which 
was a clear violation of the treaty of September 5, 1914, between Russia, 
France, and Great Britain — subsequently signed by Italy — which had 
pledged all four to make no separate peace. As for Roumania, when 
the Russian armies had collapsed in Galicia, her own troops, reorganized 
by a French general, had made a gallant but hopeless stand, and now 
Roumania, too, was compelled on December 6th to join in the truce. On 
this same date Trotsky, Commissioner of Foreign Affairs to the Bolshe- 
vist Government, invited Russia's allies to define their peace terms and 
solemnly stated that if they refused, the responsibility for the prolonga- 
tion of the war must be borne by them. This, too, was playing the 
German game with a vengeance. When the Brest-Litovsk Conference 
assembled, Russia, through Trotsky, presented her basis for world peace 
to a Germany now completely under the domination of the military 
element, already making preparations for her great western offensive, 
designed to crush France and England before America could arrive, and 
enable Germany to dominate the world. The basis of peace was to be 
the already famous Russian programme of no annexations and no in- 


demnities; subject nationalities were to determine their allegiance by 
referendum; territories taken in the course of the war were to be restored; 
armies of occupation withdrawn; all belligerents were to unite in provid- 
ing for the compensation of the sufferers of the war; colonies were to be 
restored, and economic boycotts after the war prohibited. 

The Germans were of course unwilling to agree that there should be 
no forcible appropriation of territory, that armies of occupation should 
be promptly withdrawn, and complete political independence thus be 
restored to the Belgians, the Poles, and the Serbians, or that the right 
of self-determination should be conceded to German Poles or Austrian 
Latins and Slavs. But the opportunity for manoeuvre was obvious, 
and Kuhlmann, who represented Germany with great skill and adroit- 
ness, at once seized the opportunity. On Christmas Day Germany 
and her allies, through the Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Czernin, 
announced that Germany was prepared to agree to Russian terms, pro- 
vided Germany's enemies, who had been Russia's allies, would agree 
to the same terms and associate themselves with the Brest-Litovsk Con- 
ference, which now took a recess until January 4th pending a response. 

The trick was plain. Germany had not the smallest intention of 
agreeing to the Russian terms, but for her own purpose, both with re- 
spect of the German people, the Russian Revolutionists, and the Allied 
publics, it was important to place the responsibility for a failure upon 
the Allied governments. The Allies could not agree to terms such as 
these without abandoning the war. They knew, moreover, that Ger- 
many had no intention of evacuating Belgium or Poland, because in the 
secret negotiations and exchanges of views which had taken place during 
the war Germany had at all times declined to give any indication of her 
future attitude toward Belgium. They were compelled, therefore, to 
accept the situation which had been created and decline to make answer, 
notwithstanding the consequences. 

Meantime, Germany gave a foretaste of her real purposes on Decem- 
ber 28th when she responded to the Russian peace terms with the hypo- 
critical assertion that neither she nor her allies proposed to appropriate 
any territory by force, but the right of self-determination had already 


been exercised by the people of Poland, Lithuania, Courland, and por- 
tions of Esthonia and Livonia; while General Hoffman, a little later 
speaking for the military element which was becoming impatient at 
the farce of Brest, informed the Russians that German High Command, 
for reasons of its own, was compelled to decline to evacuate Courland, 
Lithuania, Riga, and the Baltic Islands, while the Polish question was 
deliberately excluded. 

In this situation Trotsky and Lenin sought for a moment to escape 
the inevitable by a public appeal to the masses of the German people, 
whom they seemed to believe would rise against their government. 
Passionate denunciations of the German course were uttered by Trotsky, 
but the Russian military power had now been completely abolished. 
Russia was helpless and words had no appeal to the German masses, who 
now at last saw the age-long Russian menace on the point of disappear- 
ance and perceived victory and plunder within their grasp. Moreover, 
disorder and anarchy were spreading all over the vast Russian Empire. 
Separatist movements were on foot in a dozen border regions, Finland 
and the Ukraine were seeking independence with German assistance. 
In Ukrainia, Bolshevist doctrine found no lodgment and the peasant pro- 
prietor turned to the Central Powers as the lesser of two evils, and 
asked Berlin and Vienna to protect them against Trotsky and Lenin. 
In Esthonia, Livonia, Lithuania, and Courland similar movements were 
discovered. Everywhere the elements of order, forced to choose be- 
tween the German and anarchy, inevitably set their faces toward Berlin, 
and on February 9th Ukrainia formally made peace with the Central 
Powers and German and Austrian armies were assigned to the congenial 
task of protecting the granary of Russia from Bolshevism. Thus at a 
single stroke Russia was deprived of more than 30,000,000 people of 
her southern provinces from the Pripet Marshes to the Black Sea, while 
the Central Powers acquired, through alliance and by occupation, 
resources in foodstuff and minerals which, could they be made available 
in time, would once for all defeat the blockade of sea power. The value 
of the Ukraine was disclosed a few months later when in October, 
with defeat and even collapse threatening in the west, the German 



High Command steadfastly declined to withdraw German divisions 
and thus surrender Ukrainian food supplies and other contri- 

The separate Treaty with Ukrainia was the death blow to the Lenin- 
Trotsky policy. For nearly two months the sessions at Brest-Litovsk 
had been prolonged by the interminable protests, denunciations, and 
temporary withdrawals of the Russians. Germany had endured these 
delays with complacency because in this time the last semblance of Rus- 
sian military power was disappearing. But now the end was in sight. 


The solid black shows the territory occupied by the Central Powers after the fall of Riga 
and before the capture of Jerusalem. This is the celebrated war map frequently menrioned by 
Bethmann-HoUweg and other German statesmen as the basis of Germany's peace claims. 


The day after the Peace with Ukrainia was signed Trotsky quit Brest- 
Litovsk announcing that he would refuse to sign the German peace but 
that the war was over. He refused to recognize German peace condi- 
tions but announced to the whole world, "At to-day's session" 
[that is February loth] "the President of the Russian delegation an- 
nounced that Russia abstains from signing the actual treaty of peace 
but declares that she considers the state of war with Germany is termi- 
nated and has issued the order for the complete demobilization of the 
Russian armies on all fronts." 

But Germany was by no means contented to let the situation rest 
here, and on February i6th announced a resumption of hostilities. 
On February 19th German armies were again in motion, while 
Russian armies fled before them. Appeals from Lenin and Trotsky 
were of no avail. German armies flowed on toward Petrograd 
until at last, on Sunday, March 3rd, Russia signed the Treaty of 
Brest-Litovsk, while Roumania, now completely abandoned, signed 
an armistice two weeks later and a definitive treaty at Bukharest on 
March 26th. 

So ended the war on the eastern front. Less than three weeks before 
Ludendorff launched his great offensive Germany at last found herself 
with her hands free. From the Baltic to the Black Sea the Russian and 
Roumanian fronts had been abolished, while far beyond the limits of 
the old firing lines German and Austrian armies advanced at will, oc- 
cupying Kieff and Odessa and commandeering for their own purposes 
such provisions and war material as they chose. 


While the settlement of Brest-Litovsk was expressed in three sepa- 
rate treaties — with Ukrainia, with Russia, and with Roumania, they con- 
stitute a unit, and can best be examined together. The purposes 
achieved in the three documents were these: (i) to deprive Russia of all 
of her western accessions since the time of the period of Peter the Great, 
and to build up between the Slav mass and Germany a series of states 
dependent upon Germany and bearing the same relation to her as those 


creations of Napoleon on the eastern bank of the Rhine a little more 
than a century before;' (2) to divide what remained of Russia in such 
fashion as to preclude any reappearance of Russia as a great and men- 
acing neighbour; (3) to place all of what had been Russia, and partic- 
ularly what was left outside the German sphere of influence, in complete 
economic subjection to Germany; (4) to foment and encourage differ- 
ences between the various border tribes, making them mutually hostile 
and thus incapable of union. 

The treaty with Ukrainia defined the boundaries of the new state 
which included all of Russia extending from the Austrian boundary to 
the lands of the Don Cossacks and from the Pripet Marshes to the Black 
Sea including the Crimean Peninsula and the great port of Odessa, 
while from the old Polish estate there was taken a portion of the prov- 
vince of Cholm, thus perpetuating a feud between the Poles and the 
Ukrainians. Germany and Austria obtained the right of free transit 
across the new Ukrainian State and agreed to defend it against the 

The treaty with Russia abolished Russian control in Poland, the 
Courland, Lithuania, and the two Baltic provinces of Livonia and 
Esthonia, whose future condition was to be determined by Austria and 
by Germany. Russian delegates agreed not merely to evacuate the 
portion of the Turkish Empire which her troops had occupied as a result 
of successes in the war, but also to return to Turkey Batoum and Kars 
and the balance of the territory taken as a result of the successful Russo- 
Turkish war in the last century. Russia agreed to make peace with 
Ukrainia, evacute that country, and also to withdraw from Finland and 
the Baltic provinces. The economic provisions of the Ukrainian treaty 
contained a stipulation for a colossal payment of foodstuffs, while the 
economic provisions of the treaty with Russia went even further. The 
policy here was obvious. Germany had, by her course in the war, lost 
her markets among Allied countries and she sought to make good this 
loss by creating a monopoly in the vast Russian territories. 

Finally the Treaty of Bukharest with Roumania complemented 
and completed those with the Russians and the Ukrainians. This 


treaty compelled the cession of the whole of the Dobrudja to Bulgaria, 
thus depriving Roumania of access to the sea; provided for ''rectifica- 
tions'* of the Austro-Roumanian frontier, which gave the Hapsburg 
Monarchy control of the passes leading into Russia and possession of 
the Petroseny coal mines; for the demobilization of the Roumanian 
army under the direction of Germany; for the free passage of troops 
of the Central Powers across Roumanian frontiers; for the occupation 
of the Roumanian railroads, a monopoly in the export of wheat, and the 
control of the oil wells of the kingdom. So far as Roumania was con- 
cerned she received, as a sop, possession of certain small areas in the 
Russian province of Bessarabia, which, with a measure of consent of 
the Central Powers, was presently stretched to the occupation of the 
whole of this Russian province. 

By the terms of this settlement Russia actually lost 55,000,000 of 
people. Two states immediately hostile to her, Finland and Ukrainia, 
were erected on her own soil; the Baltic Provinces, which represent the 
conquests of Peter the Great, the window of the Slav giving on western 
Europe, together with Poland, were taken, while the Bolshevist hope of 
using what remained to them of Russia as a headquarters from which 
to utter propaganda directed at the German masses, was abolished by a 
provision in the treaty pledging the Lenin-Trotsky Government to ab- 
stain from all such manoeuvres. Russia was deprived of all her conquests 
of 250 years, her unity was shattered, while on the eastern frontiers of 
Germany and Austria, and of the Mittel Europa that the German had 
now created, there was sketched a series of helpless states extending from 
Finland to Roumania, all of them promptly occupied by German and 
Austrian armies, all of them transformed into economic and military 
creatures of the Central Powers, and many of them arrayed against 
each other by skilfully manipulated boundary decisions. 

Since Napoleon's Peace of Tilsit, Europe had seen nothing to com- 
pare with the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. It upset the balance of power 
in Europe. It abolished the Russian state. It opened the granaries 
of Russia and of Roumania, the mines, the railroads, and the rivers to 
immediate German use and to subsequent exploitation when economic 


war succeeded the military operations. Save for the helpless Army of 
the Orient interned in Salonica, there was nothing left in the east, while 
the consequences of Caporetto had abolished for Austria the long-stand- 
ing menace of Italian attack. German mastery of the Continent of 
Europe, with a subsequent sweep into Asia and even into Africa, was 
assured if only time were left to organize the victory and perpetuate 
the system which had been created. Between Germany and the realiza- 
tion of her colossal dream in its fullest extent there now interposed only 
the British and the French armies, shaken by the disasters and failures 
of 191 7 and sustained largely by the hope of the ultimate arrival of 
American millions. Freed as it seemed for ever from the eastern dan- 
ger, the German people were now invited to turn westward and witness 
the triumphant progress of their armies, swollen by accessions from the 
eastern front thus abolished. No people in all European history ever 
looked out upon more alluring prospects of immediate conquest and 
permanent triumph than had the German people in March of 191 8. 

The termination of the negotiations at Brest-Litovsk marks the end 
of one more period in the World War. Once more, as in each of the 
preceding acts. Allied expectations and hopes had been brought to 
nothing and now at last Germany had achieved a success which could 
not be denied or mistaken. If her submarine attack in the west had 
by a narrow margin failed and was no longer a deadly peril, her mili- 
tary successes in the east had created an even deadlier menace. 

Moreover, the last lingering hope that democracy could triumph in 
Germany, that the war could be ended by negotiations based upon 
mutual understanding, the final hope that reason and the dictates of 
civilization might penetrate the German darkness, had vanished. 

In the paragraphs of the Brest-Litovsk treaties the world, after 
momentary hesitations, doubts, self-questionings, saw Germany again as 
she had been seen in the opening moments of the war, sweeping through 
Belgium and carrying fire and sword to the gates of Paris — as she had 
been revealed in the Lusitania Massacre, in the horrors of the Great 
Retreat of the preceding spring. The mass of reasonable men and 
women in the western nations were now forced to face the truth, to 


recognize that only by the sword could there be a settlement, that 
compromise was impossible, that the essentially Prussian spirit, 
however much it had hidden itself in the spring and summer, in the 
smooth words of Reichstag debates, no longer even cared to hide itself. 
There was no longer a question of attacking this Germany. There 
was no longer an immediate possibility of depriving her of any portion 
of the vast booty newly acquired or liberating any of the fresh con- 
quered captives. In their western trenches the Allied armies had now 
only to await the storm they knew was coming, a storm the extent of 
which they did not calculate, the fury of which they under-estimated, 
nor had they long to wait, for the ink upon the treaties of Brest-Litovsk 
was hardly dry before Ludendorff began his march and the guns be- 
tween the Oise and the Scarpe announced the opening of the final act 
in the World War. Having lived through the moral crisis of the war 
in 1917 the Allies had now to survive the military crisis, which, if 
briefer, was to prove not less terrible. 

Mr. Simonds's History of the Progress 
OF THE War Will Be Carried For- 
ward IN the Succeeding Volume. 


























Nearly three years ago, at the moment of the German attack upon Verdun, 
a London friend of mine furnished me with a letter of introduction to M. 
Georges Clemenceau, then holding no other political position than a member 
of the French Senate, but since become the President of the Council, the leader 
of the French nation, and the saviour alike of France and of the Allied cause. 
But even in the Verdun period he was, as he has been for at least a quarter of a 
century, the most interesting of French public men and, through his news- 
paper, he was the single outspoken critic of the Alhes' mistakes and the cham- 
pion of vigorous and concerted action against the common enemy. 

At the moment when I was in Paris no man ventured even to hint that 
Clemenceau might succeed to the post then held by Briand. His vigour and 
his energy were ever5rwhere conceded, but there was a general lack of confi- 
dence growing out of the incidents in the statesman's long history of political 
battle. He was in that now-forgotten time a lonely if splendid figure. France 
was not yet face to face with defeat, as was the case two years later; the 
Verdun episode, which was to remove JofFre and bring about the ultimate 
fall of Briand, was only beginning; and the war, although already seeming 
long, had not yet come to appear interminable. 

So great has been the transformation since 1916, so complete the triumph 
of Clemenceau, that I have thought that my notes of my interview of that 
time, reveahng as they do the great man, already consciously measuring 
himself for the task which was to come, might now be of suflScient interest to 
warrant publication. To them I add only the further explanation that I 
came to Paris from London bringing a letter of introduction, which I had been 
assured in the British capital would open the way for me. 

Accordingly, when I reached Paris, a few days later, I sent to Senator Cle- 
menceau a letter which contained the necessary message. Two hours later 
I received an invitation to call upon the Senator at his home, No. 8 Rue Frank- 
lin, the next morning at eleven o'clock. 

Rue Franklin is that relatively obscure street which starts somewhat gran- 

*Copyright, 1919, by the McClure Newspaper Syndicate. 



diosely at the Trocadero, to end in the maze of streets which come out of 
Passy, once the home of Benjamin Frankhn. Clemenceau's house, guarded 
by the inevitable courtyard and blank wall, extends southward to the next 
street and gives a broad opening for sunlight from the south; and it was in 
his study, illuminated by the March sun, which in Paris means spring, that 
Clemenceau received me. Before I went to him, my French friends had 
warned me. One is always warned of Clemenceau. "He will tell you that 
'The Germans are still at Noyon'," was one admonition, citing the sentence 
that almost daily appeared in Clemenceau's newspaper, L'Homme Enchaine, 
until at last the Germans left Noyon and Clemenceau came to power. "He 
will criticize America, he will say something terrible; he alvv^ays does: beware!" 
This was an even more frequent warning. In point of fact, he did neither, but 
this is anticipating. 

Leading me down a long and dusty hallway, an old sergeant ushered me 
into Clemenceau's study, the room of which I had heard so much, and there- 
seated at the wonderful desk, which is a part of the stage properties of political 
Paris — sat Clemenceau. For the moment the desk seemed even more re- 
markable than its owner. It was a huge circular desk, shaped like the em- 
placement of a heavy gun, with long sides stretching backward as if to protect 
the gunner from flank fire. And as he rose from his chair to greet me, Clemen- 
ceau seemed almost like one of the short howitzers rising to the discharge. 

I had expected to see an old man, for Senator Clemenceau is well past the 
seventy mark; instead, I saw a man whose first motions suggested the energy 
and force of fifty. I had expected to see a stern, even bitter face; but instead 
it was the smiling face of one who welcomed a friendly guest. The first im- 
pression was of energy, the second of courtesy. 

When I had sat down he retook his place at the desk, at the gun-emplace- 
ment, for the figure is more than a figure. From behind that breastwork he 
daily bombarded Paris, France, ministries and generals, with those articles 
which had overset many ministries and were, in a later time, to overset the 
last, before he came back to power. 

And as he sat down again, M. Clemenceau placed upon his bald head one 
of the famihar soldier's fatigue caps, well pushed back on his forehead, and it 
gave him a most amazing appearance. The enemies of Clemenceau — and he 
has spent a hfe-time collecting them — will tell you that he is a Mongolian, that 
he represents the survival of some ancient Tartar invader of prehistoric France. 
This is probably a mere legend and yet, unmistakably, there is about the man 
the suggestion of the Oriental — something about the high cheekbones, the 
deep-set eyes with their enormous gray eyebrows, which suggests, not the 
Oriental we know in America, outside of Washington, but the Oriental of 
high rank and equally unmistakable intelligence. 

Yet in spite of cap and desk, and almost fantastic appearance, it was still 


a kindly and vigorous old man, with hardly a trace of the burden of years, 
who welcomed the invading American. 

"I knew America once, I knew it well," he said; then, with a touch of 
mock sadness, "but that was long ago, too long ago. For you see I am an 
old man." Then for a moment he gossiped about the New York which he had 
known, the New York of Dana and of Greeley, whom he had visited in the 
days following the end of the Civil War when he himself was in exile, an in- 
structor of French, I believe, in a girls' school in a Connecticut suburb. 

"But you come to talk about the war, about France," he said, after a 

"Well, I am not going to tell you what France is doing, I am not going to 
praise France. You must look around for yourself, you must see it for your- 
self, you must feel it for yourself." 

Then, after a moment, he went on with quickening tone — 

"There have been times in the past" — and he waved his hands toward 
the busy street beyond the lattice window — "there have been times when I 
have despaired of my country, when I have been afraid of the future for my 
countrymen; but now, now, look at them, look at France." 

Then he repeated details of the Verdun episode, of the tragic opening day 
about Douaumont which all Paris was then repeating, but which I shall not 
repeat here. 

"We need a man; we need a general; we need a wan," he said with sullen 

"And Joffre?" I asked, recalling the name of the man who then still com- 
manded, but whose sun was sinking rapidly. 

"I have nothing against him," he said, sharply, "nothing; but he is not the 
man, he is not the man," 

"And Foch.?" I inquired, naming my own hero. 

But Foch did not arrest his attention. 

"What of Petain, then ?" I ventured, naming the man just coming to world 
notice as the defender of Verdun who was to succeed to the rank and power of 
JofFre before Clemenceau himself became premier. 

"Perhaps; I do not know him," he replied, "but we must have a man." 

"What of Kitchener?" I queried, naming the man who then commanded 
the British armies and was at the moment in Paris. The question roused 
Ciemenceau. All of a sudden his whole demeanour changed; he leaned over 
the emplacement for all the world like a big gun in action. 

"Kitchener," he said with extreme deUberation but in a tone of unmistak- 
able ice. "Kitchener is a symbol." 

"A symbol?" I asked, a little puzzled. 

"Yes, a symbol. A symbol is a man about whom some people still be- 
lieve what was never true." 


Here at last was the "Tiger," the Clemenceau of the legend. This was 
the man who a few months before had said of Viviani (then Premier): "He 
has spoken; he speaks; he will speak;" and Viviani had fallen together with a 
whole cabinet of eloquence. 

The conversation drifted to politics. 

"What of the Opposition?" I asked. "The Opposition, in the Chambre." 

"Opposition?" He puzzled over that for a moment and then said with 
calmness: "But I am the Opposition." 

It was the famous phrase of Louis XIV, " L'etat, c'est mot;" but it was 
repeated without the smallest note of personal vainglory; it was not a boast, 
it was a simple statement of fact. 

"I am the Opposition," he repeated, "and it is an opposition to the conduct 
of the war, to the mistakes; it is an opposition which wants things done better, 
that is all." 

"But those who want peace?" I asked. 

"Who are they?" he queried. 

"What would happen, then," I asked, trying a flank movement, "what 
would happen if some one should advocate peace now, peace without Alsace- 
Lorraine — a German peace?" 

He reflected for a moment and then said, with a softness of voice which 
was hardly deceptive. 

"If any one should advocate peace now, a German peace, I think he would 
be shot — but it would be done decently — oh, very decently." The words 
came to my mind later, when Bolo Pasha, prosecuted by the Clemenceau 
Government, faced a firing squad, for seeking a German peace. 

"And Caillaux?" I asked — mentioning the name that then, as always, 
has been the nightmare in the minds of those vdio love France and hope to 
see her victorious and herself; the man of whom Clemenceau had said: "He 
thinks himself Napoleon." 

"No," he said, with a calm smile, "I do not fear him." 

"Will he come back?" I asked. 

"I do not think so," he responded; and again his words had new meaning, 
when Caillaux was jailed to await in prison that trial for treason which Clemen- 
ceau directed. 

The talk drifted to the Bulgarian disaster of the previous autumn, and the 
mistakes and failures of Allied diplomacy in the Balkans. 

"Bulgaria was a case of money," he said, thoughtfully, "a case of money, 
and I think, if I had been in power, I should have bought." 

"And Greece?" 

But he would not talk of Greece. He had been for years one of the great 
friends of the Hellenic Kingdom and the desertion of Greece was to him, 
patently, in the nature of a personal sorrow. 


**0h, the unhappy Serbs," he continued, "and we, we French have had to 
reequip their army. Yes, we have sent to them the uniforms — the equip- 
ment at Corfu. Invaded France has done that, please remember that." 
And his eyes hghted again. 

"But you must go to Verdun," he said, "you must see our soldiers as they 
are. I go, I go everywhere, I see them all; and you must go and then you can 
go back to America and tell your countrymen what France is like, what it is. 
You must see it for yourself, certainly you must see our soldiers." 

The conversation became general and for the next few moments he talked 
of many things, with the same characteristic energy, impatience, frankness — 
energy in laying forth the dangers, impatience of the fools and the blunderers — 
which filled his columns in that epoch, and made the arrival of each edition 
of his paper an event almost as considerable as the communique; frankness, for 
it is the terrible frankness of the man which has created the Clemenceau of 
the legends. 

As he led me to the door, at the close of the audience, I was again struck 
with the energy and force of the man. In an odd way he reminded me of 
Colonel Roosevelt, a smaller man, lacking in height and weight by comparison, 
but yet unmistakably burly and getting over the ground with that same' vigor- 
ous forward thrust, which is familiar to all who have seen Colonel Roosevelt 
in action. 

At the door he reminded me again of America, "You will see everything 
and you will go back and tell the Americans. They must understand. I 
know if they understand it will be all right. As for me, I have always Hked 
America, I knew it once — but that was very long ago, yes, as I told you, I am 
an old man." 

Looking backward now, after three years, and trying to recall the faces 
and the words of the men I have met in the public Hfe of Britain and France — 
Lloyd George, Balfour, Poincare, Painleve — I find that even now my recollec- 
tion of Clemenceau is the clearest. Alone of all these men, there was about 
him a sense of force, of power, a sort of fearlessness alike of phrase and of 
form. What the man felt, you would be sure he would say, he would say it 
whether it hurt himself or another, whether it destroyed a ministry or merely 
labelled an opponent. 

Again, I recall the touch of a Roosevelt, a much polished Roosevelt, a 
master of the phrase and of the manner which the Colonel had not. This man 
wields a rapier, not a broadsword; he strikes but once, where the Colonel 
battered and pounded until at last he destroyed his foe, sometimes by mere 
bruising. But in energy, in carelessness, the men are alike; and Clemenceau 
is Uke no other man I have ever met in the public Ufe of the three countries. 

And when I came back to my French friends and told them of Clemenceau, 
of the Clemenceau I had met, they laughed at me a Httle incredulously, as at 


one who had insisted on preserving his gods, despite having encountered the 
fact. And when I asked them, if he would "come back," they one and all 
said: "Impossible. Clemenceau is finished; do you not know what he said 
of , of .^ No, decidedly he is too dangerous; he is terrible. It is im- 

But Clemenceau did "come back." The man who said to me, "I am the 
Opposition," later became the Government. The man who told me that the 
politician who talked peace — "surrender peace, German peace" — ^would be 
shot "decently," made good his words. And in the lonely and dangerous 
eminence he now occupies, he has, at the least, the best wishes of all those in 
Britain and in America who care most for France and desire most to see her 
come unspoiled and restored from her terrible struggle. 

For the final terrible year of war Clemenceau was the incarnation of the 
Will to Live, in France. In a sense this old man, the Connecticut school 
teacher of the period when the Civil War was just over in America, was the 
final hope for France. Viviani, he of the words; Briand, who once more tired 
under a great task; Painleve, the scholar, incredibly active, but inescapably 
didactic— they all failed; and when the enemy was again at Noyon, and still 
within range of Rheims, when pessimists came from France bringing words 
of evil, I thought always of this man, Clemenceau, as he sat behind his gun- 
emplacement two years before, shaking the cap he had borrowed from some 
poilu — who was glad, I doubt not, to lend it — and saying: 

"Once I had doubts about France, once I feared for my countrymen; but 
now — is it not wonderful, is it not unbelievable .f"' 

There are men in whom you believe, once you have seen them. I do not 
think men would trust Clemenceau as they did Roosevelt; his following will 
never be made up of those who personally admire or love him. But the thing 
you must feel about the man is that he will fight it out, he has fought it out, 
in'French politics for nearly half a century. His enemies have passed; he it is 
who has survived. And as he was the first premier in France to make un- 
hesitating answer to Germany, the first since 1870, so he deserved and achieved 
victory — as a man who has no fear and has never yet surrendered. 

To-day men all over the world are reading with joy of the return of France 
to her "lost provinces" — of French generals in Colmar, in Miihlhausen, in 
Metz, in Strassburg. To-day the glory of the achievement belongs to the 
soldiers; they have earned it and they should enjoy it. And to-morrow and 
for all other days the fame of Foch will endure, as the conqueror of the Ger- 
man military machine, the man who broke the mighty, if evil, tradition of the 
Prussian war lords. 

But without Clemenceau, Foch could not have triumphed. Without Foch, 
Retain could not have reorganized the French army following the military 
defeat and the moral weakening of 1917. When France turned to Clemen- 


ceau, all other hope was gone. He came heralded by evil forecasts of a brief 
ministry and a complete and disastrous failure. He came when treason was 
abroad and defeatist propaganda general. After he came there was a period 
of mihtary disaster and a growing sense of impending defeat. 

Who can forget the bitter weeks when day after day Clemenceau appeared 
in the Chambre still covered with the mud and dust of Flanders, of Picardy, 
of the lie de France, bringing news of defeats only narrowly prevented from 
becoming disasters.? Who will forget it, who knows, the other appearances 
of this man of seventy-seven on the battle lines, under the heaviest fire, in- 
viting death men said then ? He brought to the army the immediate personal 
assurance of the support of the civil government; he brought to the civil 
population, to the legislators, the unconquerable spirit of the army. 

There was a day when all changed and the Senate and the Chambre alike 
greeted with an applause which had no dissent the leader returning from res- 
cued Lille, bringing the assurance that Metz and Strassburg would soon be 
redeemed. One more triumph was his. Men had debated about the fashion 
in which Alsace-Lorraine would be restored to France. Clemenceau settled 
all that by having written in the armistice the provision that Alsace and Lor- 
raine should be reckoned with all other occupied districts, with those of 1914 
and 1915. 

Thus he made good his ancient protest, for he was the last survivor of the 
Deputies who in 1871 had protested against the cession of the provinces, de- 
nied the right of the legislature to make such a surrender, proclaiming it illegal 
and unjustifiable. In the language of the armistice he made good his protest 
of 1871 — the provinces were returned as French soil. 

Rarely in human history has it been given to any man to represent his 
country at a supreme hour in its history, and so to represent it that his own 
personality and figure became the expression of a nation, which itself was the 
object of world admiration. Such was and is the achievement of Georges 




The moment you entered British "G. H. Q." you felt that you had estab- 
Hshed a contact with something significant. I do not mean that there was the 
sHghtest tension, but whether it was the play of the imagination or not, you ack- 
nowledged an authority that you had never felt before. It was the uncon- 
scious tribute you paid to the personality that dominated the place. ' 

The desks, maps, and eternal telephone were in sharp contrast with the 
ancient furniture and works of art that still remained in the house. The old 
family portraits looked down solemnly upon you from the walls. They heard 
and saw strange things those strenuous days — nothing stranger than the spec- 
tacle of the once-detested English in the role of defender of the invaded and 
beloved France. 

I sat chatting with a young staff officer in one of the small anterooms that 
led off from the main hall. His telephone bell rang incessantly. During a 
lull the door at my right opened and remained open after a militar^^ secretary 
had passed out. 

I looked through the doorway and saw a tall, lithe, well-knit man with 
the insignia of a field-marshal on his shoulder-straps. He sat at a plain, 
flat-topped desk earnestly studying a report. In a moment he straightened 
up, pushed a button, and my companion said: 

"The Commander-in-Chief will see you now." 

I found myself in a presence that, even without the slightest clue to its 
profession, would have unconsciously impressed itself as military. Dignity, 
distinction, and a gracious reserve mingle in his bearing. I have rarely seen 
a masculine face so handsome and yet so strong. His hair and moustache are 
fair, and his clear, almost steely blue eyes search you, but not unkindly. His 
chest is broad and deep, yet scarcely broad enough for the rows of service 
and order ribbons that plant a mass of colour against the background of khaki. 

The many years of cavalry training stick out all over him. You see it 
in the long, shapely lines of his legs, and in the rounded calves encased in 
perfectly polished boots with their jingle of silver spurs. He stands easily 
and gracefully, and walks with that rangy, swinging stride so common, oddly 
enough, to men who ride much. He was a famous fox-hunter in his student 

*Courtesy of Author and the Ridgway Company. 



days at Oxford, and never, save in times of utmost crisis, does he forego his 
daily gallop. To him the motor is a business vehicle never meant for sport 
or pleasure. In brief, Sir Douglas Haig is the literal personification of the 
phrase "every inch a soldier." 

I had seen most of the chiefs of the Allied armies in the World War. It is no 
depreciation of any of them to say that the former Commander-in-Chief of the 
British Army is the best-groomed and most soldierly looking of them all. He 
has none of the purely paternal quality which impresses you the moment you 
see Joffre; he is smarter and more alert in appearance than Nivelle. Amid all 
the racking burden of a super-responsibility, he remained a cheerful, interested 
human being, who could forget in the distraction of lay discussion the agonies 
that lurked almost within gunshot of his residence. 

The room which was then the Capitol of British military sovereignty in 
France was a conventional drawing-room which, like the rest of the house, main- 
tained practically every detail of the original furnishing. But it was a soldiers' 
workshop, nevertheless, and with all the working tools. 

Chief among them was an immense relief map of the whole Somme region. 
It rested on a large table just behind the Field-Marshal's desk. Over this inert 
and unresponsive mass of gray-and-green clay, crisscrossed with red lines, he 
had pondered through many a wakeful hour. On it was written the whole 
triumphant story of that great advance which registered a new glory for British 
arms. I could not help thinking as I sat there before a blazing fire what a 
great place in history that simple room would have. 

We spoke of many things that winter day in France: of America, of world 
politics, of the spiritual aftermath of the war — strange contrast that it was to 
the business of slaughter that raged around us. His voice is low and deep — 
almost musical. He is as sparing of words as he is of men. In his conver- 
sation he reminds me of some of those great American captains of capital, 
men hke Rogers, Ryan, and Harriman, who, like himself, believed in action 
and not speech; men, too, who minimized the value of their own utterances, 
and who, when drawn out of the shell of their taciturnity, disclosed views of 
force and originality. 

Like many men of great reserve, the Field-Marshal would rather face the 
jaws of death than an interviewer. Indeed, you might count on the fingers 
of one hand the number of times that he has actually talked for publication, 
and then have some to spare. 

Yet this quiet man, at whose command the very earth trembled with passion 
and noise, is very human. One of the ironies of the war is that the most in- 
human of professions was directed by the most human of men! 

He asked me what I thought of the work of the armies in the field. I 
told him that after their efficiency, morale, and splendid team-work, one 
of the things that impressed me most was the youth that I saw everywhere 


a rosy, almost radiant youth that walked into death so bhthe and 

unafraid ! 

"Ah," he said, with thrilUng enthusiasm, "war to-day is a young man's 
game. It is a war of youth and it takes youth to win." 

I spoke of the many men who had risen from the ranks. It seemed to 
strike a responsive chord, for he said swiftly: 

"Yes, it is very true. Every man in this war has his chance. Efficiency 
counts above all other things. One cannot afford to have friends." 

I was with Sir Douglas Haig in those momentous days when America 
broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, and when those of us temporarily 
exiled abroad realized that the time had at last come when we would actively 
take our place in the Hne-up of the Great Cause. It naturally led to the sub- 
ject of what war had done for the overseas people — and this meant those 
gallant sons of empire who had heeded the call of the mother lioness and had 
left bush and range and field to fight in far-off lands. 

The Commander-in-Chief's face kindled with pride as he said: "War, 
harsh as it is, is also the great maker of men. Take the Australian, for ex- 
ample. Every one knows that he is as proud as he is undisciplined. Yet war 
has made him a trained and disciplined soldier, and more than that, a world 
citizen. The same is true of the Canadian, the South African, and the New 
Zealander, indeed all those intrepid men who have sacrificed so much for 
principle and for honour. They will go back to their homes better equipped 
and better organized for the task of peace." 

Most people know that Haig is a Fifer, but what most people do not know 
is the very illuminating fact that from his boyhood he aspired to be a soldier. 
This ambition took definite form at Oxford, where he was a student at Brase- 
nose College. He was never the "hail-fellow-well-met" sort of person. 
Reserve was his hall-mark. But he was always an outdoor man; he invar- 
iably rode a big gray horse every afternoon, and he spent all his leisure time 

In those days to be an officer was more of a luxury than a real profession in 
England. The country had so adapted itself to the buying of commissions 
that when a man regarded the Army as a definite career he became marked. 
As a matter of fact, as Haig galloped through the streets of Oxford and across 
the lovely countryside that lies adjacent he was often pointed out. His 
colleagues would say: "There goes young Haig. He's going to be a soldier." 
Little did they dream that the fair-haired boy who sat so erect in his saddle 
would lead one of the greatest armies in the annals of military endeavour and 
that he would be the inspiration that made soldiering a sacred calhng. 

Then, as now. Sir Douglas gave the impression of a great store of latent 
energy — of reserved vitality. Few were ever deceived by his quietness into 
thinking that he was apathetic. 



Copyright by Broun Brothers 


For several months the Germans were fooled by old liners, camouflaged by British carpenters into the semblance of 

modern warships 

French Ojhcial-Crjmmhtt-e on Public Infnnnaiion 

Making curtains of foliage which were used to conceal and disguise transportation routes for food and ammunition 

Ihis flimsy canopy of vines for a lonp time concealed from enemy observers a much travelled route along the river Oise 


It made a good target for German aviators and drew their fire from the real guns which were concealed near by 

Copyright by Commiltce on Public Injornu 

Woven through fine wire, it created the illusion of an unbroken stretch of grassy meadow 














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Cleverly constructed within the hollow of a shell-torn tree. It was left behind by the Germans on ground 

captured by Canadians 


'1 his military observer's tree-climbing costume seems startiingly conspicuous, but it concealed him absolutely in his 
usual environment of wind-tossed foliage, with its alternation of sunlight and shadow 

Common "chicken-wire" was exceedingly useful in the construction of these grassy mats and curtains 

If f\ }':y:r 

Copyright hv U'e'lern Nf.ffpaper Union 


Without camouflage for his head this man's Hfe would not h- been w h n^^^^^ 

emerging into his present position by imperceptible degrees he was able to gather mucn vaiuaoie 
vey it safely to his commanding officer. 


His first military experience was in the cavalry, which he has always loved, 
and his initial promotion came from gallant service on the hot sands of the 
Sudan. In the South African War he took first rank as a cavalry leader. He 
had so many narrow escapes from death that he came to be known as "Lucky 

As you analyze the Haig personality, you find that he has an amazing 
insight — a real gift of constructive forecast. His appraisal of the German 
menace will illustrate. More than twenty years ago he went to Germany 
for a visit. As a result of that journey he wrote a long letter to Sir Evelyn 
Wood that, in the light of the subsequent bloody events, is little short of 
uncanny. A friend who saw that letter has summed it up as "one of practical 
insight, mastery of detail, shrewd prophecy, and earnest warning." The 
future Commander-in-Chief of the British armies in France was convinced 
then of the inevitableness of a conflict with the Kaiser, and he felt strongly 
the urgent need of preparedness for that struggle which he knew would uproot 
all Europe. 

But his warnings, like those of his great colleague Lord Roberts in England, 
and those of General Leonard Wood in America, fell on deaf and unheeding 
ears. I cite this episode merely to show that Haig, like many another prophet, 
was without honour in his own land, and also that he has the quality of vision 
which is the indispensable attribute of every leader of men. 

He had ample opportunity to impress his executive ability as Chief of 
Staff in India, and he had just begun to execute some of his striking ideas of 
training as commander at Aldershot (England's great military camp) when the 
World War broke. He was in at the beginning, and he remained on the fir- 
ing line to the end. In the rack and agony of those first fighting months he 
saw the hideous harvest that unpreparedness reaps. 

Of those two heroic Army Corps — the famous "First Seven Divisions'* — 
that Lord French took to the rescue in France in that historic August of 1914 
(the intrepid array, by the way, that the Kaiser called "the contemptible 
little English army"), Haig commanded the First, which included much of 
the cavalry. 

From Mons to Ypres he was in the thick of battle, never depressed, never 
elated, his courage and example acting like a talisman of strength on tired 
and war-worn troopers who fought valiantly against odds the like of which 
had hardly been recorded since Thermopylae. It was such a continuous tale 
of heroism, in which the humblest Tommy had his full share, that it is difficult 
to extract a single incident. 

Out of all that welter of work and fight let us take one story which, almost 
more than any other, reveals the grit and stamina that are Sir Douglas Haig's. 
It was at the first battle of Ypres, when that immortal thin line of British 
khaki, bent but not broken, stemmed the mighty German avalanche and 


blocked the passage to the sea. Outnumbered more than ten to one in some 
places, it fought with that desperate and dogged tenacity which has always 
been the inheritance of the British soldier. Every impromptu trench was a 
Valhalla of English gallantry. Deeds that in other wars would have stood out 
conspicuously were here merged into an endless succession of deathless glory. 

Lord French, the Commander-in-Chief, had been down to the front line. 
"We can't hold out much longer," said a colonel. "It is impossible." 

*T only want men who can do the impossible," replied Lord French. "You 
must hold." And the line held. 

To the right of Ypres things were going badly. The deluge of German shell 
was well-nigh unbearable. Even the most heroic courage could not prevail 
against such an uneven balance of strength. The cry was for men, and 3^et 
every man was engaged. 

It was on that memorable day — forever unique in the history of British 
arms — that cooks, servants, and orderHes went up into the firing-Hne, and the 
man who exchanged the frying-pan for the rifle achieved a record of bravery 
as imperishable as his comrade long trained to fight. Still the Hnes shook 
under that mighty Teutonic assault. It seemed more than human endurance 
could possibly stand. 

Meanwhile, Sir Douglas Haig had been ordered into the shambles with the 
First Corps. They manned the bloody breach and won for all time to come 
the title of the Iron Brigade, even as Haig himself in other and equally stren- 
uous days had gained the sobriquet of "Ironside." The old metal rang true. 

Now came the event which bound the silent Fifer to his men with bands 
of steel. For twenty-four hours the furies of battle had raged. The German 
bombardment was now a hideous storm of dripping death. The Prussian 
Guard rose like magic legions out of the ground. They had just broken 
through one British line and.small parties of khakied troops were in retreat. 

Suddenly down the Menin road, with Ypres silhouetted behind like a 
mystic city shrouded with smoke, rode Haig — trim, well-groomed, serene, sit- 
ting his horse erect and unafraid, and with an escort of his own Seventeenth 
Lancers as perfectly turned out as on peace parade. Overhead was the in- 
cessant shriek of shells, and all around carnage reigned. A thrill of sponta- 
neous admiration swept those tired and battered troops; for the spectacle 
they beheld was as unlike war as night is unlike day. 

The effect of that calm and confident presence acted like a cooling draught 
on a parched tongue. It galvanized the waning strength in the gory trenches; 
the retreat became an advance, and the broken line was restored. Haig had 
turned the tide. 

I have seen that Menin road down which Haig rode with his unuttered 
message of faith. Two years had passed, but it was still the highway of death, 
for shrapnel rained all around. It was accessible to the civiUau only if he was 


willing to take his own risk. How much more deadly was it on that day when 
the blue-eyed man who later ruled the British armies in France gave that amaz- 
ing evidence of his disregard of danger ! I thought of it then, and again on that 
winter day when I sat talking with him amid the comparative ease and com- 
fort of General Headquarters. I spoke of it as one of the superb acts of 
the war. 

The Field-Marshal merely shrugged his shoulders and said, "It was nothing." 

A few days after the event that I have just described Haig had one of his 
close calls from death. A German shell burst in the midst of his head- 
quarters, and nearly every one of his staff-officers was killed or maimed. The 
Field-Marshal was out on a tour of inspection at the time. "Lucky Haig" 

When Haig became Commander-in-Chief of the British armies in France 
it seemed the logical goal of a long, stalwat't preparation — an inevftable thing. 
For deep down under the Haig character, and incidentally behind his dis- 
tinguished achievement, are two shining qualities — patience and persever- 
ance. He has never hesitated to do what we in America call "spade-work." 
It is sometimes prosaic, but it is usually effective. 

Contradictory as it may seem when you consider his Scotch ancestry, 
there must somewhere be a touch of the Oriental in Sir Douglas Haig. I mean, 
of course, that phase of his character which finds expression in persistent and 
methodical preparedness. His whole career is literally a dramatization of an 
ancient Moslem proverb which reads, "Patience is the key to Paradise." 

Take the Somme offensive. Nothing could express the Haig idea better. 
For months everybody knew that the *'Big Push" was booked. There were 
many times during the lull that preceded the advance when men less cautious 
would have loosed the dogs of war that tugged so hard at the leash. But 
the Field-Marshal, with that super-patience, waited until the last and most 
minute detail was ready. Then he shot his bolt and it went home. It was 
a triumph of the readiness which is the basic principle of the Haig creed. 

What is known as the "Haig nibble" is another conspicuous example of 
his technique. In this war the open engagement was the rare exception. After 
the first few months it developed into a trial by trench — a wearing-down 
process. "Attrition" is what the experts called it. Nothing "could suit the 
Field-Marshal's temperament better. A method of campaign that would 
discourage most commanders and lead them to indiscretion made it possible for 
him to push steadily if stolidly on. 

Since the Commander-in-Chief himself was the incarnation of systematic 
labour, it followed that the daily procedure of that modest establishment which 
he ruled "somewhere in France" was efficient and effective. Taking its cue 
from the top, it let nothing disturb the tenor of its way. Triumph or dis- 
aster were treated just the same. The unflinching discipline which bound the 


head of the armies to his closest colleagues made possible a consistent and un- 
wavering progress of the war. 

Every morning at nine o'clock the Field-Marshal was at his desk, and from 
that time until the lunch-gong sounded he was in conference with the heads of 
those various branches of the service whose efforts comprised the total of war 
operations. Uponhisdesk were heaped the reports of everything that happened 
the night before. A raid on forty yards of trench many miles away might reveal 
information of utmost importance to the whole army. Thus the office be- 
came a clearing-house of information, and out of it emerged the news, grave 
or cheering, that was flashed to a waiting world, and likewise those more signifi- 
cant commands whose execution made history. 

The process of assembling and assimilating all the news of that extended 
front was reduced to a very simple science. This was because each army unit 
had its own headquarters — a replica in every detail of the general estabHsh- 
ment. The difference between these lesser headquarters and the chief's 
was that at the former was handled, in addition to actual fighting and flying, 
the terrific task of providing food and ammunition, ambulance and hospital 
relief, remounts and renewal of rank and personnel. 

But all this was so admirably organized that no matter what the stress of 
storm or struggle, the food was always at the distribution-point, ammunition was 
constantly piled up at gun or trench, tender hands were ever ready and on the 
spot to succor the wounded or bury the slain. There was even, among many 
other details, a traffic police as competent as the blue-coat on Broadway or 
Fifth Avenue in New York. It was the absolute infallibility of this system that 
stamped itself as the supreme miracle of the war. 

The mystery of close and continuous contact between the Allied armies 
was easily explained. It was accomplished by means of what is known as a 
liaison officer or group of officers. They are precisely what this French word 
means — a connection. There was a French mission or liaison with all high 
British commands, and vice versa. Through this medium all communication 
was made, and all news of operations transmitted. It was swift, simple, and 

So, too, with that monster agency of devastation — the modern battle. 
Go behind the scenes and you find that, like every other detail of the war, it 
was merely a matter of systematic, calculated detail. It was like a super-selling 
campaign conducted by the best organized business concern in the world. 

In former days, when wars were decided by a single heroic engagement, 
armies stood on their arms for hours before battle while the commander rode 
up and down the lines giving the men cheer and encouragement. To-day 
the commander who tried that trick would last about two consecutive seconds, 
because the long arm of artillery which has annihilated distance would also 
wipe him out. 


Instead, the Commander-in-Chief remains many miles behind the front, 
bound to it by every means that instant communication devises. He has 
before him photographs of every inch of enemy ground, taken by aviators. 
The wonderful thing about this battle planning is that by means of these 
aerial pictures it is possible to keep the panorama of battle-ground up to the 
very minute. In winter, for example, a fall of snow will greatly alter the whole 
situation. But the aerial photographer gets around this by making a series of 
pictures that show the enemy trenches before, during, and after the snowfall. 

The plan of a great campaign like the Somme is built out of months of 
preparation and conference. The Commander-in-Chief decides on the general 
scheme, while the specific tasks are assigned for execution to the various army 
commanders. In other words, every chief and the men under him have a 
particular job to do, and it is up to them to do it. The total of these jobs, 
some of them requiring months of solid effort, comprises the offensive. War 
nowadays is a series of so-called offensives enlisting millions of men and rang- 
ing over hundreds of miles of front. It is devoid of thrill; you never see a 
flag; it is literally the hardest kind of plain, every-day toil. 

As you watched the organization of the British armies in France unfold, 
you became more and more impressed with their kinship with Big Business 
as we know it in America. Like Andrew Carnegie, Sir Douglas Haig leaned 
on experts. He assumed that a man who had devoted a large part of his life 
to a specific task knew all about it, and was to be trusted. He had gathered 
about him, therefore, a group of keen, alert, and Hve-minded advisers. Some 
of them served their apprenticeship in other wars; others had been swiftly 
seasoned in the present struggle. They represented the very flower of service 
and experience. It was a remarkable company — these men who moved so 
noiselessly, who worked so loyally, who kept incessant vigil with war. 

There was still another link with business. In many large commercial 
establishments in the United States you find a so-called Suggestion Box. 
Into it the humblest employee may drop a suggestion for the improvement of 
the business. It ranges from a plan for a more methodical arrangement of 
office stationery to a whole new system of time and labour-saving machinery. 
In many cases prizes are oflPered for the best suggestions made during the year. 

There was no such box at General Headquarters, but its informal substitute 
was the meal-table, where both civilian and soldier had free play, not only to 
inquire about the branch of service in which they were most interested, but to 
make any suggestion that might be born of observation. No recommendation 
was too modest or too far-fetched to have the serious and courteous consid- 
eration of the kindly man who sat at the head of the table. 

Nor was all the talk of shop. War was subordinated to the less ravaging 
things that were happening out in the busy world, where there is no rumble 
of guns, no clash of armed men, and where life is not one bombardment after 


another. And sometimes, too, there was talk of those haunts and homes across 
the sea where brave hearts yearned and where the agony of war suspense was no 
less searching than at the fighting front. They also served who waited alone. 

Into every detail of daily life at General Headquarters the Field-Marshal's 
character was impressed. After lunch, for example, he spent an hour alone, 
and in this period of meditation the whole fateful panorama of the war passed 
before him. When it was over the wires spluttered and the fierce life of the 
coming night — the Army did not begin to fight until most people go to sleep — 
was ordained. 

This finished, the brief period of respite began. Rain or shine, his favourite 
horse was brought up to the door and he went for a ride, usually accompanied 
by one or two young stafF-officers. I have seen the Field-Marshal galloping 
along those smooth French roads, head up, eyes ahead — a memorable figure 
of grace and motion. He rides like those latter-day centaurs — the Australian 
ranger and the American cowboy. He seems part of his horse. 

Home from the ride, there were more conferences, then dinner with its 
lighter but always instructive talk, and its relief from the strain of work. 

To Sir Douglas Haig belongs the unique distinction of having been the 
only Allied Commander-in-Chief, appointed early in the war, who retained 
his command from the time it was bestowed upon him until the signing of 
the Armistice. Throughout those closing months when the dogger became 
the dogged he kept the British armies hot on the heels of the retreating Ger- 
mans. He was in at the death-throes of Prussian militarism. 

He returned home in triumph, and a grateful King and country showed their 
appreciation of his eminent services by making him Earl Haig of Bemersyde, 
and by a gift of £100,000. But he will always be Sir Douglas Haig to the 
British Army, and I have ventured to retain the famihar designation in this 
article. It is characteristic of the man that he preferred the aloofness and 
privacy of his own house and a quiet game of golf to the blare and gayety 
of a round of receptions. At his own request he was relieved of the com- 
mand in France and became Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces, which 
means that he is at the head of all the troops in the British Isles. 

Both as Man and as Soldier "Sir Douglas Haig" is the embodiment of quiet 
dignity and unassuming efficiency. 



MAY 23, 1915— NOVEMBER 4, 1918 

(Director Italian Bureau of Public Information) 

On May 23, 191 5, Italian and Austrian troops came together in a skirmish 
at the Forcellina di Montozzo, the pass between Ponte di Legno in Val 
Camonica and Pejo in Val Noce. An Austrian patrol crossed the Italian fron- 
tier but was driven back over the border by Italian Alpine Chasseurs. There- 
upon, Lieut. -General Cadorna, Chief of the Italian General Staff, started for 
the front, and Italy had definitely taken her stand with the Allied nations 
against her former allies of the Triple Alliance. 

So began the war that, of all wars fought on all fronts during the fateful 
years from 1914 to 1918, was militarily the most conclusive, technically the 
most difficult, politically the most purposeful, artistically the most picturesque. 
Italy entered the arena through an act of conscious and prepossessing national 
will, with a clear and definite end in view: under the leadership of her soldiers, 
her statesmen, and her poets, she fought among the clouds of her Alps and in 
the storms of her seas till the purpose was achieved through the most brilliant 
victory ever recorded in history. All this she did with her forces alone, except 
for the supplies which w^ere furnished to her by her allies because nature had 
withheld them from her; and if the loneliness in which Italy was left with her 
war was on occasions cause for dissatisfaction and chafing, it is no cause for 
regret now, because it adds greatly to the legitimate pride in her accom- 

To appreciate fully the exertions of the Italian army it is necessary to 
study the handicap under which it fought. Following the war of 1866, Italy 
had found herself imprisoned behind artificial boundaries imposed by Austria, 
which in 191 5 made it necessary for her to w^age war on a front of nearly 800 
kilometres. That means a front longer than the line then held by the French, 
American, British, and Belgian forces combined. Italy's natural boundaries 
were in Austrian hands. She was hemmed in by precipitous mountain ranges, 
vchich the enemy had transformed into a formidable intrenched camp. Austria 
held all tactical positions, which controlled the principal gates leading into 
Lombardy and the Venetian provinces. 

On the sea, her position was equally unfortunate. Austria, dominating 



the eastern coast of the Adriatic, held the powerful naval bases of Pola, Sebe- 
nico and Cattaro, from which the Austrian fleet could attack the flat, helpless, 
and harbourless Italian coast. 

Under such conditions, Italy faced the hardest problems of the World 
Campaign. From the beginning she must attack a foe hidden behind forti- 
fications immensely superior to her own. She could advance only across 
mountainous country without roads or other means of communication, while 
the enemy's frontier was a complete network of highways. 

The Italian war may be very easily divided into a number of clearly de- 
fined ** moments," which will be briefly described in the following pages. Epi- 
sodes of individual interest must necessarily be sacrificed in this description to 
the necessity of presenting a general view of the subject: but the greatness 
of the enterprise will probably appear in bolder relief through such a broad 
treatment of the main lines of action. 


In order to deal with the natural difficulties of the war theatre, the Italian 
Command decided on bold offensive tactics. The line was a continuous suc- 
cession of deep salients. When General Cadorna selected the section from 
Tarvis to the sea as his front of first attack, he found himself threatened in the 
rear by the Trentino salient, particularly that part of it between the Carnic 
Alps and Lake Garda. It became necessary, therefore, both to besiege the 
Trentino fortress and to attack on the Isonzo front. In both cases Cadorna's 
troops advanced from the lower lands toward rugged mountains, many of them 
from two thousand to three thousand metres high and covered with glaciers 
and perpetual snow. 

The winter of 191 5 found the Italian troops fighting everywhere on Aus- 
trian soil, well consolidated in the mountains, and across the Isonzo River on 
the eastern front, with a footing on the fearful Carso Plateau. The Austrians 
lost 30,000 prisoners and much valuable material in this first period. 

Though military operations stopped in the winter, the cold months of 
the bad season were usefully employed to organize the defence of the mountain- 
ous regions occupied and also to develop the war industries behind the front. 
This work revealed extraordinary organizing powers and resourcefulness in the 
Italian army and in the Italian people. 

A great part of the transport work was carried on by pack horses and mules 
and often by the soldiers themselves, before the roads were built. After the 
roads were completed and the famous telejeriche spanned the valleys and 
abysses with their cables and hanging cars, communication was much more 
speedy. The size of the undertaking may be appreciated from the fact that, 
to a single army corps on the northern mountain line, composed of between 
30,000 and 40,000 men, there were transported, among other things: 300,000 


pieces of lumber, 280,000 blankets and as many shirts and pairs of woollen 
stockings, 80,000 fur coats, 60,000 fur chest protectors, and 10,000 fur-lined 
sleeping bags. Supplies on this scale were sent in the same manner to many 
hundreds of thousands of men who were fighting in the high mountain zone. 

The spring of 1916 passed in attacks against the Carso Plateau, with grad- 
ual but slow advances. It is a question, from the military point of view, whether 
it would not have been more satisfactory to allow the enemy to descend into 
the Venetian plains and fight him there: events proved that it is impossible — 
at least, it has not been accomplished — for an army to cross a lofty mountain 
range that is well defended; events proved also that the fate of Austria was 
to be sealed in the Venetian plains. But, doubtless, political considerations 
prevented the adoption of such a ruthless military plan. 

In addition to completing the work of closing Italy's gateways to the in- 
vaders, the important military event, which closed the campaign of 191 5 and 
opened that of 1916 was the occupation of southern Albania and the establish- 
ing of a military base on Vallona Bay, through which was made possible the 
titanic and dramatic task of rescuing the fleeing remnants of the Serbian army 
and transporting them to Italy. 


In May, 191 6, the Austrians started a grand offensive from the Adige to the 
Brenta with half a million men. They made some initial gains against the 
Italian centre on the Asiago or Sette Comuni Plateau. But they were unable 
to shake the Italian wings and were halted before reaching the plains. Cadorna 
massed his forces in front of the narrow passes through which the Austrians 
had hoped to force an entrance and they found themselves hemmed in be- 
tween high mountains with no means of transport from the rear to the front. 
Then Cadorna applied the pincers and forced a hasty retreat which caused 
the Austrians a serious reverse and at least 100,000 men in killed, wounded, 
and prisoners. 

Italy's victory was again a triumph of organization. In less than two weeks 
she had been able to transport to the threatened zone 500,000 men, 75,000 
horses and mules, and 15,000 artillery caissons full of munitions and provisions 
of all sorts. Moreover, she was forced, by the arid nature of the country in 
which she fought, to transport one million and a quarter gallons of water for the 
use of troops and animals. 



The final stopping of the Austrian offensive was immediately countered by 
an Italian offensive on the eastern front, which led, inside of a month and a 
half, to the occupation of Gorizia — one of the best-protected fortresses of 


Europe, always declared impregnable — and of a great part of the Carso 

Between August 4th and 9th, Cadorna's army captured Monte Sabotino 
and Gorizia. Next fell the lines of the Vertoiba, the terrible Monte San 
Michele and all that tract of the Carso Plateau which reaches beyond the 
Vallone. The Italian line consohdated at Opacchiasella and Nadi Loghen. 
Before winter Cadorna had extended his progress on the Carso as far as Dosso 
Faiti to the north, and to the sea east of Monfalcone to the south, and had 
thus estabhshed his forces on the Avancarso or Gorizian Carso Plateau. 


The winter of 1916-17, very severe, again stopped operations. Starting 
its attacks in the spring of 1917, the Italian army gradually advanced beyond 
Gorizia and the Avancarso, until, by August, it had captured all the positions 
on the Bainsizza Plateau and on Monte Santo as far as the Chiapovano Valley 
and begun a flank attack on the Ternova positions and frontal and flanking 
attack against the positions north of Gorizia. On the Carso it took the first 
Austrian line, and the right wing at the same time made a spirited attack on 
Monte Hermada, the key position to the road to Trieste. 

This attack on the right received valuable assistance from Italian and 
British monitors and from floating batteries in the Gulf of Pirano and the 
mouth of the Isonzo. The Austrian Hne was completely routed and forced 
back in confusion to Ternova and toward the Idria Valley. In this last great 
offensive Cadorna had taken from the enemy over 31,000 prisoners (including 
558 officers), 145 cannon, and vast quantities of other supplies. He had de- 
feated the best of the Austro-Hungarian troops after drawing off large rein- 
forcements from the Russian and Roumanian fronts. 


Thus in over two years of conflict Italy's army had maintained an unbroken 
record of glorious achievements. Its size and effectiveness were steadily in- 
creasing. The extraordinary development of the nation's industries had pro- 
vided an abundance of ammunition and other suppHes. Its air fleet was 
supreme over that of the foe. 

Then came the disaster that, for some anxious weeks, kept the whole world 
in a state of extreme tension: it brought to the Allies the realization of a truth 
which men vainly had been trying to impress upon them — namely, that the 
Italian front was not a secondary theatre of war, but a vital spot in the long 
line of common defence and offence; it brought to the enemy a fleeting vision 
of final victory; it brought to Italy hours of great moral and material trial. 


which she stood with Spartan firmness; it laid, indirectly, the foundations 
for the decisive triumph by forcing the war into those regions where a con- 
clusive battle could be fought — and won by the stronger of the two adversaries. 

We shall not try here to investigate the causes of the disaster — some of 
which were political — like the deft German propaganda behind the lines; and 
some were military, due probably to an excess of confidence engendered by 
the long period of continuous success. Of primary importance to the Italian 
front was the collapse of Russia, whose treaty of peace with Germany signed 
at Brest-Litovsk suddenly released 2,000,000 Teutonic soldiers for use on 
other fronts. Italy was the first to feel the effects of this sudden concentration 
of the strength of her foe. The report of the Commission chosen to inves- 
tigate the disaster was published in August, 1919; and it clearly and dispas- 
sionately discusses the events of those days, placing the responsibility partly 
on defeatist propaganda and partly on the High Command. 

The fact is that the enemy, strongly reinforced and led by German troops, 
using the bridge-head of Santa Lucia as a starting point of the attack — the 
only point that it had been able to maintain on the right bank of the Isonzo — 
and skillfully seizing the opportunity offered by a thick fog, broke through the 
Italian lines on the 24th of October and, over the low pass leading to Cividale, 
made directly for Udine. 

General Cadorna saw at once that, under the conditions created, resistance 
was impossible, and ordered a general retreat to the Piave with brief halts on 
the Tagliamento, on the Livenza, and on the Monticano. Be it said to the 
credit of those of the troops that had temporarily been misled by enemy prop- 
aganda that they quickly saw their mistake. The whole retreat was carried 
out in orderly fashion. Every branch of the service gave proof of magnificent 
courage. When they reached the Piave on November nth, they took their 
stand and from that time forth resisted all the assaults of a foe drunk with the 
intoxication accompanying a quick advance and reinforced by troops con- 
stantly transferred thither from the Russian front, 

A legend has been formed around the Italian retreat, which in fairness to all 
concerned we must strive to destroy: that the arrival of British and French 
reinforcements stopped the invasion and saved northern Italy. As a matter 
of fact, not one foreign soldier appeared on the line of the Piave, where — this 
was the plan of General Cadorna — the Italian army made its final stand. 
General Foch had advised a further retreat at least to the line of the Adige: 
and, as he insisted during the Conference of Rapallo that the line of the Piave 
could not be held, it was finally agreed that oncoming British and French 
reinforcements would be held back along the line of the Mincio — even behind 
the Adige — to prepare the defence there. But the Italian Army never stirred 
from the Piave and the Allied troops, when everything seemed secure, were 
gradually moved up to it. 


As for the American troops, it is by now well known that the one American 
regiment which was sent to the Italian front did not reach there before July, 
1918. And it might also be said here, that, if my information is correct, the 
American Government planned and had ordered the sending of much larger 
contingents to Italy: the plan was, however, blocked by General Foch. This 
action of General Foch, as well as his position at the time of Caporetto, should 
not, however, be judged as casting any reflection upon him: they were the 
natural and logical consequence of the "western" theory, of which the Marshal 
was one of the most firmly convinced supporters. 

At this point General Diaz was called to replace General Cadorna in the 
field, while the latter entered the Entente's General Staff at Versailles. 


Things moved quietly, on the surface, along the Italian front, for the next 
six months, while the Austrians were preparing the last onslaught, and the 
Italian army, well informed as to what was going on behind the enemy lines, 
was preparing to resist. The formidable new offensive was opened along the 
whole line on June 15th, and so thorough was the preparation and so abundant 
were the means of attack, that during the first days the Austrians succeeded 
in crossing the Piave at many places and occupying the hilly region of the 
Montello; their attack from the plateau of Asiago, carried on with the same 
general plan as in the first big offensive, failed, however, like the first one. 

Great again was the suspense in the Allied world, but it did not last long. 
Inside of a week the offensive had been stopped; by July 6th, the last of the 
Austrian soldiers had been forced again across the Piave; and the region of the 
Delta of the Piave, from which the menace to Venice was always present, 
had been cleared entirely. 

The losses sustained by the Austrians were calculated at no fewer than 
from 270,000 to 300,000 men, of whom 20,000 were prisoners and over 50,000 


Another period of quiet followed, unnecessarily long perhaps, but here 
again the opposition of the "westerners," supported by the High Command, 
was at work. Finally, unable longer to withstand the pressure of public 
opinion, the Italian Government decided on their own responsibility to attack 
the enemy. 

Fifty-one Italian divisions, three British, two French, a contingent of 
Czecho-Slovaks, and one regiment of Americans, composed the army under 
the orders of General Armando Diaz, Chief-of-Staff of the Italian army. 

On the night from the 24th to the 25th of October, General Diaz gave the 


order to begin the series of military operations, which, in the succeeding days, 
extended from the Brenta to the sea. This battle not only hberated the in- 
vaded Italian territory, but caused the complete rout of the formidable 
Austrian army, stronger than the Italian by nearly ten divisions. The con- 
quering army of Italy captured more than three quarters of a million pris- 
oners, six thousand guns, and a booty valued at many billions of lire, including 
two hundred and fifty thousand horses and twelve thousand motor cars. 

The troops of the Italian Fourth and Sixth armies started the attack 
on the Monte Grappa region and on the Asiago Plateau. At the same time 
the Tenth Army, with which was incorporated the British Fourteenth Corps 
under General Lord Cavan, occupied some of the islands of the Piave, notably 
Grave di Papadopoli. 

This happened on October 25th. On the following day, the newly formed 
Italian Twelfth Army began to operate astride the Piave, while the Italian 
Eighth Army drew up on its right to cross the river. During the night, the 
ItaUan engineer corps had feverishly worked to construct bridges on the 
river under the incessant and murderous fire of the Austrian artillery. 

The crossing of the Piave was accompHshed under great dijERculties by the 
Italian troops and by two British divisions under General Babington, As 
soon as the river was crossed, the Italians and British assembled on the left 
bank and attacked the enemy with extreme violence, penetrating his defences 
and throwing him back eastward. 

Meanwhile, the Italian Fourth Army continued its pressure on the Grappa 
region and the Sixth Army occupied Asiago. Across the Piave the Twelfth 
Army pushed on north on Valdobbiadene. Meanwhile, the Italian Eleventh 
and Eighteenth Army corps prolonged the line of the British Fourteenth 
Army corps and established a secure footing on the left bank of the river. 

The resistance of the Austrians was not weak, indeed, on the first days. 
Provided with immense quantities of artillery of big caHbre and machine guns, 
well supplied with ammunition, occupying positions that were very strong, 
they offered a powerful resistance, and the Italian losses were correspondingly 

Still, the masterly plan of General Diaz, who by bringing strong pressure 
to bear across the Piave, in the direction of Vittorio Veneto, aimed at the 
separation of the Austrian armies of the mountains from those of the plains, 
succeeded brilHantly. In four days the separation was accomplished and a 
broad, encircling movement of the separated bodies was pushed with such ra- 
pidity that the Italian troops reached Trento in a week, and the Austrians were 
all along the line incapable either of organizing a retreat or of saving any part 
of their equipment. The case is known of many Austrian aviation fields, 
where the Austrian aviators landed full of confidence, only to find themselves 
received by the Italian occupants. 


This inability to retreat is the best proof that the Austrian command was 
absolutely sure that the ItaHan attack would be futile and that no preparation 
for the worst had even been contemplated. Only the Armistice of November 
4th saved the battered remnants of the Austrian army — or perhaps, even more 
than the Armistice was the desire of the ItaUan Command not to be further 
encumbered w4th masses of surrendering troops, already so thick that move- 
ments were impossible along the roads for miles and miles; it actually happened 
that, in some districts, sentries had to be posted all along certain roads to 
notify the fleeing enemy soldiers that no more prisoners were wanted! 

Thus, on the anniversary of the retreat from Caporetto, was v^^on the most 
sensational and spectacular of all battles of the war — the battle that 
carried the flag of Italy to Trento and Trieste. The capitulation of Germany 
followed that of Austria one week later, and the claim the Italian military 
authorities maintained for three years, that the Italian front was the place to 
ejid the war, was abundantly proved by the facts. 

The Armistice put Italy in possession of the Italian provinces still under 
Austrian control and also of a safe and natural mountain frontier. The com- 
pletion of Italian unity was accomplished. 


Even more than for the army, it was the lot for the navy — as for all Allied 
navies — to spend most of its time in the fatiguing, dreary, and monotonous, 
but highly important — nay, all-important — ^work of patrolling and watching. 
The navy must protect transports and coast towns against insidious attacks of 
the enemy submarines and above-water fleets. The work was very successful, 
even though little of it, in the very nature of things, ma}^ be known to the non- 
technical outsider. But a few episodes have distinguished the Italian sailors, 
giving them first place among all sailors for initiative and audacity. 

One was the saving of the Serbian army after its disastrous retreat through 
Albania, in the winter of 1915-16. The task of rescuing the Serbian army and 
other refugees from Serbia and Montenegro was a stupendous one, involving 
not only the occupation of southern Albania and the creation of a naval base 
in Valona Bay but the transformation of Brindisi on the opposite Italian shore 
into a first-class military depot in an incredibly short space of time. The 
crossing of the open Adriatic, beset by enemy submarines and mines, in the 
midst of winter was pecuUarly dangerous and diflicult. Nevertheless, it was 
accomplished without the loss of a single life. Between December, 1915, and 
February, 1916, 300,000 refugees were transported to Italian soil, including 
160,000 soldiers of the Serbian army, besides horses, stores, and baggage. 

Four times did the Italian fleet enter the Austrian naval base of Durazzo, 
in Albania. The last time, on October 2, 191 8, helped by twelve American 
submarine chasers and British and French light craft, it penetrated the harbour 


through the mine fields, destroyed all the fortifications, and sank four trans- 
ports, one torpedo boat, two destroyers, and two submarines, retiring without 
serious damage. 

Among individual exploits, the following have become famous: 

On May 28, 1916, a small torpedo boat, commanded by Lieut. Nazario 
Sauro, a native of Istria, entered the port of Trieste, sank a big steamer, and 
retreated safely. 

On the night of October 9-10, 1917, Commander Luigi Rizzo entered the 
harbour of Trieste, sank the Austrian pre-dreadnought PFien, and put the 
Budapest, another ship of the 5,000 tons class, out of commission. 

On May 14, 191 8, Commander Pellegrini penetrated the port of Pola with 
only three men and succeeded in torpedoing and sinking the first of the large 
battleships of Austria, the Prinz Eugen. Commander Pellegrini was made 

But it was on June 10, 191 8, that Commander Rizzo accomplished what 
was without doubt the most brilhantly successful action of any of the Allied 
navies in the war. With only two Italian motor boats, with a crew of sixteen 
men and not more than four torpedoes, Rizzo cut through a fleet of ten de- 
stroyers convoying two dreadnoughts of the Viribus Unitis class (20,000 tons), 
each with 24 big guns of 305 millimeters, and sent one to the bottom — the 
Szent Istvan—vfh\c\v was seen to sink before his eyes, while the other was se- 
riously damaged. 

Rizzo's exploit left only two of these ships afloat, and of these the Viribus 
Unitis was sunk in the port of Pola during the final stupendous effort 
of Italy against her enemy, when, the day before the signing of the ar- 
mistice, Lieut.-Col. Rossetti and Dr. Paolucci had themselves towed into 
the harbour by a special small craft designed by themselves, sank a transport 
by torpedoing it, sank the Viribus Unitis by exploding a mine under it, and 
were taken prisoners — for about 24 hours! It was a most original and dra- 
matic little incident of naval warfare. The fourth Austrian dreadnought, the 
Admiral Tegethoff, that had been damaged in Rizzo's raid and then repaired, 
was surrendered to Italy, with the rest of the navy, according to the terms 
of the armistice. 


ItaHan military airplanes and seaplanes kept the enemy constantly harassed 
by their bombing raids. Among the most notable of these was the bombard- 
ment of Cattaro and the "literary" bombardment of Vienna by Gabriele 
D'Annunzio. It was this poet-flyer who first conducted ItaHan planes over- 
seas to attack enemy territory, when on August 7, 191 5, 200 kilos of high ex- 
plosives were dropped on the mihtary works at Trieste. Pola was bombarded 
nine times with the loss of only two ItaHan machines. 


Among other raids accomplished by ItaUan aviators were the one which de- 
stroyed the railroad centre of Divaccia (June i6, 191 5), the one which damaged 
another military establishment in Trieste (July 17th), the one which destroyed 
the station of Gragnan and the next railroad of Trieste-Monfalcone (July i6th) 
and the one which struck the mihtary works at San Polaj and at Nabresina 
(July 22nd). 

The performances of the Italian aviation corps in October, 1917, formed a 
large part of the silver lining to the dark cloud of the Caporetto disaster. 
Italy literally swept the enemy from the sky, overcoming not only the Austrian 
aviators, but the crack aces of the German army who were sent against her. 
The final holding of the Teutonic army on the Piave must be attributed in no 
small measure to the achievement of Italy's aviators. 


Italy has performed her part in the conflict under the heaviest of handicaps. 
In entering the war on the side of the Allies, she threw off economic and po- 
litical shackles of thirty years' duration. She had to face alluring bribes and 
powerful threats, diplomatic machinations without and insidious intrigue with- 
in. Prince Von Biilow reminded her of alleged wrongs done her by France and 
tried to convince her that if she remained true to the Triple Alliance, she would 
regain Nice, Corsica, Tunis, and Malta and thus secure supremacy in the 
Mediterranean. As a final sop, just before she broke with her old alhes, Aus- 
tria offered the relinquishment of the greater part of the Trentino, the read- 
justment of the eastern frontier in favour of Italy, the proclamation of Trieste 
as a free city, the possible surrender of the islands of the Dalmatian Archipel- 
ago, and the withdrawal of Austria from Albanian affairs with recognition of 
Italian sovereignty in Valona. 

But to her everlasting credit, she turned a deaf ear to these representations 
and took her stand for world democracy. In her fight Italy has called to the 
colours a little fewer than 5,500,000 men and has suffered a loss of almost 
1,500,000 of them. Of that loss nearly 350,000 died in battle, and 100,000 
from disease. Over 550,000 are totally incapacitated, either by bUndness, 
loss of Hmb, or tuberculosis. At the moment of the last thrust, the strength of 
the Italian army was 4,025,000, including the class of men born in 1900, who 
had been called to the colours recently. 

In spite of difficulties and privations Italy did not forget her mission of 
civilization: she reclaimed Albania with one hand while fighting the enemy 
with the other. 

Italy's task of reclaiming southern Albania which began at that time is one 
of the most remarkable pieces of reconstruction work on record. She found a 
country absolutely devoid of railroads, highways, telegraphs, schools, hos- 
pitals and modern sanitation, inhabited by an impoverished and war-stricken 


people. All these lacks she has supplied. She has abolished the fevers that 
infested the coastal swamps. She has connected the cities with highways, 
railroads, and telegraphs. She has equipped those cities with waterworks, 
sewers, and hospitals. She has established schools throughout the region. She 
has fed the population and is gradually placing it on a self-supporting basis. 
The military purpose of this occupation and reconstruction of Albania, aside 
from the salvaging of the remnant of Serbia's military power, was the building 
and protecting of that great mihtary highway to the Balkan front, north of 
Salonica, which has since played such an important part in the war. 

And now Italy can undertake the huge work of reconstruction, which Hes 
before her, conscious of the immense service she has rendered the world by 
saving the Allied cause, at the opening of the war through her neutrality, and 
later by entering the war; happy in the realization of a national unity, which 
was a dream of Dante and remained a dream of patriots for centuries; proud 
at having discovered herself, her power, her staying virtues, through the trial 
of fire, of success, and of reverse. 

Light will seem the burden of some fifteen billions spent in the war; light 
the sacrifices of Hfe and Hmb; Hght the grave tasks ahead, in the satisfaction 
of the good work done in the tasks that are behind. 



(Author of "The Eclipse of Russia," "Russian Characteristics," etc., etc.) 

From the outset of their history, the scene of which was the south with 
Kieff as its capital, the Russian people appear to have been mentally and 
morally as well equipped for the political life-struggle as any race in Europe. 
But circumstance played the part of the malignant fairy in the tale, turned 
their gifts to curses, and condemned the possessors to a cycle of terrible ordeals 
through which they are still passing. The epoch in which the Russians made 
their entry into European history and the place where their life-drama opened, 
were superlatively unfavorable to spiritual and political development. The 
Middle Age was at its darkest; Byzantium was in an advanced stage of decay; 
the flat country of the southern steppes presented no natural barriers to invas- 
ion; and imperceptible forces were at work which ultimately shut off^ the nas- 
cent community from the progressive ideas of the West while leaving them 
defenceless against the inroads of barbaric hordes from the East. Abandoned 
to themselves, powerless to break the force of the Mongol tide, or to evolve a 
substitute for the germs of progress which could then be had only in the 
countries of the Latin Church, they wasted their energies, lagged behind in the 
race of civilization, and became a classic example of arrested development. 

Christianity came to Russia from the tainted source of Byzance and what 
the Slav converts brought back from there was less a religion than a ritual. 
Happily their own highest instincts coincided with some of the Gospel teach- 
ings and stamped their psyche with an impress at once noble and indelible- 
Examples are: their innate fellow-feeling for the suffering and the unfortunate, 
their forgiving disposition, and their pessimistic outlook on Hfe. Undoubtedly 
the new Evangel more than once assuaged their lot and shed a cheerful if fitful 
glimmer upon the gray monotony of their lives, but, if what historians tell us 
of the early Russians be true, it left the pith of the national character un- 
changed. The divine spark which kindled a glow of fervour in the breasts of 
saintly individuals here and there fell upon none of the potential energies of 
the race which had to work out its destinies under crippling disadvantages. 
But even so, the Russian people contrived in the fullness of time not only to 
play a leading role in world politics but also to make special and valuable con- 
tributions to the moral equipment of advancing humanity. 



The Church adopted as its language the unformed tongue of the people 
and drew from the benighted masses its ministers, who, with no liturgical in- 
centive to learn the language of ancient Rome, had therefore no access to the 
accumulated stores of experience and the springs of new ideas which were 
reached by all the nations of the Latin rite. And from that Jay to this the 
peoples of Russia and of all the Orient have suffered grievously -from this 
privation. Their severance from the West was pushed to its furthest extreme 
when in 1054 the Eastern and the Western Churches were sundered from 
each other by a schism big with disastrous consequences to all concerned. 
For the mutual animosity which this quarrel perpetuated and intensified 
became in time one of the deciding causes of the fall of Constantinople and of 
its calamitous politico-social sequel. 

Those were some of the disadvantages traceable partly to time influences. 
Among the momentous consequences of the geographical situation was the 
Tartar invasion which opened a dismal parenthesis in Russian history, set a 
mark of political inferiority on the people, drove a large number of Slavs north- 
ward, and thrust a wedge between the Little Russians or Ukrainians and the 
Great Russians — the latter a blend of the Slav and Finnish races, who now form 
about 48 per cent, of the entire population. From the Thirteenth to the Six- 
teenth centuries the conquering hordes maintained their hold on the country, 
suppressing, checking, or modifying some of the outward manifestations of the 
racial psyche. It was during this dark period of enthralment that the Rus- 
sians acquired those negative traits — distrust, cunning, and duphcity — the uni- 
versal weapons against brute force — ^which characterize all enslaved peoples. 

In those troublous times, the rallying centre and defence, alike for the 
native princes and the people, was the Orthodox Church, which kept alive 
racial traditions, national aspirations, and hopes of emancipation. Grad- 
ually the words Russian and Orthodox came to be synonymous as connoting 
the aggregate of characteristics that distinguished the tributary from the con- 
quering race. Then it was that the Church, by drawing and welding together 
all that was best in the various elements of the community and by tempting 
generous ambitions with lofty motives, took upon itself the leading role and 
rendered the greatest service to the nation. It nerved the arm of the princes 
to deal the blow that delivered the country from the Tartar yoke. But having 
achieved this feat and enhanced it later by helping to save Russia from the 
domination of the Poles and the Swedes, it sank quickly and definitively to the 
level of a governmental department. It was of this Church that its official 
champion and lay head, the well-known Pobiedonostseff, wrote at the close 
of the Nineteenth Century : "They tell us that our nation is ignorant, its relig- 
ious faith permeated with superstition and tainted with vicious habits, and that 
our clergy is rude, benighted, lazy, grovelling, and well-nigh devoid of influence 
on the people. Well, in all that there is much truth," 


One of the suitors for the hand of Queen Elizabeth of England was the 
Czar, Ivan the Terrible, who by ruthlessly breaking the ascendency of the 
Boyars, strengthened the central power of Great Russia and laid the founda- 
tions of Czarism to which the recent World War has given the coup de grace. 
There is little doubt that the sustained unity of the Russian people, their rapid 
expansion to the north, south, and east, and their vast political influence in 
Europe and Asia were among the achievements to the credit of the Czarist 
regime. That the autocratic system, despite the evils in its train, connoted 
at the time a step forward for the nation which was floundering in a slough of 
chaos and barbarism, will not be gainsaid by those who are versed in Russian 
history. For that was the epoch when the Czar on his wedding day was wont 
to make his hair sticky with honey and on the morrow to wash and steam him- 
self in the bath together with his consort and then to take his dinner there; 
when the men wedded women on whom they never set eyes until after the 
marriage ceremony; when husbands pawned or sold their wives to their cred- 
itors; and when for making the sign of the cross in unorthodox fashion pious 
individuals of both sexes were burned in wooden sheds or buried alive. 

Even Peter, commonly regarded as the Russian Moses, who led his people 
from the slough of despond to the promised land, had all the coarse roots of his 
country and his epoch clinging to him while he was grafting beneficent reforms 
on the nation. It was in his reign that serfdom, until then merely an economic 
arrangement for the purpose of securing adequate agricultural labour^ was 
transformed into slavery and it became lawful to buy and sell landless peasants 
in the same way as chattels, and that revolting punishments were enacted alike 
against criminals, misdemeanants, and malcontents. 

On the other hand, it was Czarism that saved the Russian people from the 
evils of western feudalism, from the yoke of the Poles and the Swedes, and from 
some of the natural eff'ects of that lack of cohesiveness which is one of the 
marked traits of the national character. By introducing the system of uni- 
versal state service, Peter made every Russian male a conscious unit of a 
single community. He deprived the nobles of most of their hereditary privi- 
leges, transforming them into a class of public servants, and found employ- 
ment for them by increasing the army and augmenting the number of adminis- 
trative posts. In this primitive way the entire population was so to say 
mobilized and welded into an organic whole. That was the principal service 
for which the nation is indebted to autocracy. The price paid for it by the 
country was the sway, at first tolerable and helpful, then arbitrary, rapacious, 
and unbearable, of the class of state servants which gradually developed into an 
omnipotent bureaucracy. 

Germany was the country from which Peter derived many of his models 
and it was Germany also that supplied him with most of his assistants. Hence 
the Germans and German Baits came to occupy the most lucrative places in the 


administration, the army, the navy, the high schools, and made their influence 
felt to the uttermost ends of the empire. Catherine, herself a German, was 
struck with the incongruity of this policy before its bitterest fruits had come to 
maturity and vainly endeavoured to alter it. She wrote in her Memoirs: 
"Russia has far too many Germans, beginning with myself." Thus it was a 
Russian Czar who strove to change Russians into Germans and a German 
Czaritsa who sought to change them back into Russians. 

But the system endured. Foreigners have always played a dispropor- 
tionately large part in the destinies of Russia. No important movement has 
been originated there without their initiative or cooperation. It is hardly an 
exaggeration to say that the Russian and the foreigner are correlates. It has 
never been otherwise. As far back as one can trace their history, it was ever 
so. A Russian annalist of the Thirteenth Century wrote that the Slavs of the 
flat country, disgusted with the chaos and strife that were ruining them, des- 
patched envoys to the Scandinavians with a request to come and settle 
among them. "Our land," the messenger said, "is vast but there is no order 
therein." And the Scandinavians went and dwelt in Novgorod, KiefF, and 
other parts of the country. Under their influence some shadowy imitations of 
Western institutions sprang up and likewise trade and commerce which, 
however, were mainly in the hands of Western strangers. From those days 
to these the foreigner has been the moving spirit there for good and for evil. 
The all-important class of the "Intelligentsia" — long mistakenly identified with 
the Russian people — the men who sowed the seeds of revolt, pressing into its 
service science, art, literature, the bar, the schools, the universities, the zem- 
stvos; in a word, every institution that difi^erentiated the Russia of the Nine- 
teenth and Twentieth centuries from the Russia of the Fourteenth was the 
offspring of the union of Western, mainly German, modes of thought with the 
anarchist temperament of the Russian race. Thus the foreigner supplied the 
leaven to the inert mass of the Russian people from the twilight of history 
until the country's recent relapse into primeval chaos, and even the organiza- 
tion and execution of this last and bloodiest revolution on record were in a 
large measure the handiwork of foreigners. 

Peter's civil servants were the continuators of his reform policy. As the 
frontiers of the empire were moved farther apart, their number rose in pro- 
portion until finally they became a vast army, differing from a caste only in the 
circumstance that certain outsiders were eligible for membership. It was 
they who finally came to wield autocratic power while the Czar's real function 
was to save them from responsibility. At last one of the pillars of Czarism, the 
celebrated publicist Katkoff, describing this degeneration of the system, wrote 
in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century: "Science? There was none; 
there was a bureaucracy. Right of possessing property.? There was none; 
there was a bureaucracy. Law and tribunals? There were no tribunals; 


there was a bureaucracy. Church? There was no church government; 
there was a bureaucracy. Administration? There was no administration; 
there were at one and the same time a steady, organized abuse of power and 
also its abdication to the detriment of the interests aUke of the crown and the 

Such in broad outline is the history of that bureaucracy which lay Hke a 
tremendous load on the shoulders of Russia, not only hindering all movement 
forward but gradually crushing the very source of movement and of national 
life. It contained no element of evolution. Therefore it could not endure. 
The army hke the bureaucracy resembled the spirit evoked by the magician's 
disciple who, having forgotten the spell that would have exorcised the demon, 
nearly perished in the flood he let loose. The Czarist state, incapable of 
refining itself into a progressive organism, had to expand territorially, and it 
was the army that removed the boundaries ever farther eastward until all 
Asia seemed within measurable distance of acknowledging the sway of the 
White Czar. But the poison carried its antidote. The foreign elements 
became powerful solvents of the system. Military service also grew to be a 
potent agency for revolutionary propaganda. It brought men of the remotest 
provinces together, imbued them with a sentiment of solidarity, exposed them 
to the action of professional agitators, and sent them back to their villages to 
spread the germs of a wild kind of communism which was ever congenial to the 
Russian temperament. It shook the drowsy mooshik out of his lethargy, woke 
him to an inchoate sense of the dignity of human nature, and dispelled his 
conception of his lot as an immutable part of the eternal ordering of things. 
But none of those who schemed and toiled and suffered to overturn the autoc- 
racy imagined that the beneficiary would be the peasant whose character and 
aims some of the leaders idealized, others belittled, but all misunderstood. 

The character of the Russian peasant is a curious and seemingly incon- 
gruous mixture of qualities and defects. One finds exquisite tenderness com- 
bined with frenzied ruthlessness, a sceptical frame of mind side by side with a 
superlative degree of credulity, a yearning after truth, and an ingrained ten- 
dency to unveracity. Highly endowed by nature, the masses had been denied 
all opportunity for mental and moral growth and the economic and financial 
policy of the Czarist governments had thrown serious obstacles in the way 
even of their physical development. Every form of the Czarist regime had 
treated them as an inferior class of mortals fit at most for hard drudgery. It 
is a curious fact that the idea of private property had not yet been assimi- 
lated by millions of peasants in the year 1905 although they displayed a 
passionate greed of land as well as a tendency toward the broadest communism. 

One is tempted to believe that in every individual peasant there are at 
least two wholly distinct personalities, each one impressible to a different set of 
motives, one dormant but ever ready to start into life and supplant the other, 


as soon as the secret chord is touched to which it is responsible. Something 
analogous may be said of the Russian State ever since it entered the com- 
munity of nations: its policy consisted of European words and Asiatic deeds. 
It could not well be different. For the new age demanded root reforms which 
would have been fatal to Czarism. The number and different degrees of culture 
of the nationalities which were held together by the autocracy forbade demo- 
cratic innovations. Hence the high-sounding European phrases that usurped 
their place while Czarism continued its Asiatic labours. These tactics are thus 
described by a Russian writer: "We have been spending the last copper coins 
of the viooshik to enable ourselves to indulge in Quixotism. While we ourselves 
are bereft of the slightest trace of civil liberty, we never tire of shedding Rus- 
sian blood for the liberty of others. While at home we are plunged in schisms 
and incredulity, we have been ruining ourselves in order to plant the cross on 
the Mosque of St. Sophia. And for centuries we have not ceased to fight for 
the emancipation of the Greeks, Roumanians, Serbs, and Bulgars, all of whom 
turn their backs upon us, preferring to enter into communion with human cul- 
ture rather than with our peculiar idiosyncrasies." 

The Czardom was a conglomerate of peoples, tribes, and tongues — there 
are well over a hundred languages used in Russia — loosely bound together by 
a cord of three strands: the army, the bureaucracy, and the Church in its ca- 
pacity of governmental department. As the Russian race never enjoyed the 
cultural opportunities possessed and utilized by several of the conquered 
peoples— such as the Germans, the Finns, the Poles, the Armenians, the Jews 
— it never succeeded in assimilating these foreign elements. Indeed the prin- 
cipal method employed by the Government for Russianizing them was fitful 
persecution, whereby they became more firmly attached than ever to their 
national traditions, churches, and languages. This inequality, which could 
not be removed without destroying the state-system, was a standing barrier 
to progress. For it hindered the adoption of such democratic reforms as the 
Government after sanguinary wars and under the domination of fear felt 
occasionally moved to bestow, and it left the system more and more of an 
anachronism. Western institutions would have provided the Jews, the Armen- 
ians, the Poles, and the Baltic Germans with a powerful lever which would 
have reversed their relations to the Russians and given them ascendancy in 
the empire. Thus the welfare of the state and indeed its viability depended 
upon the maintenance of the status quo and therefore mainly upon the possession 
of force and the efficient protection of the country from the Western democratic 
tide, wave after wave of which was continuously dashing against the frontier 
and occasionally irrigating and fertihzing the soil. 

Thus latter-day Czarism, especially since the coming to the throne of Nic- 
olas II, reposed, not, as the world used to be told, upon the affection of the 
people for their Little Father but upon the army, the bureaucracy, and the 


Church as integral parts of the bureaucracy. As long as these institutions 
discharged their functions tolerably, the complex system was capable of hold- 
ing together — and no longer. But the inrush of the democratic tide no break- 
water could long keep out. Nicolas I, in the first half of the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury, discerned this danger and wrote : " I dislike the habit of sending Russians 
abroad. The young men come back with a critical spirit which makes them 
find fault, not perhaps unreasonably, with the institutions of their own coun- 
try." But in time the salt lost his saltness and such institutions as the army 
and the navy diffused the fault-finding spirit and trained fervent apostles of 
the revolution. 

To sum up: One of the marked characteristics of the Slav race has been 
an ingrained centrifugal tendency which keeps the individuals apart, robs their 
whole society of organic unity, and lends colour to the saying that where 
three Slavs come together there are four different parties. It is hardly an 
exaggeration to assert that in the ethnic soil of the eastern Slavs, the first 
fruit of this lack of cohesiveness — anarchism — is indigenous. Certainly Rus- 
sia as we contemplate it in the light of history is a striking example of it. 
The sentiment of national unity, latent it may be for ages, never appears to 
have embodied itself in tangible forms except in response to the potent stimu- 
lus of some tremendous crisis. Nor can it be gainsaid that unity was first 
created by religious faith acting upon the individual in conjunction with a 
strong government putting pressure upon the entire community. Orthodoxy 
and autocracy may thus be regarded as the mainsprings of Russian political 
life, the sources whence the state derived its vitality. Hence relative order 
under a strong centralized government alternating with a crude kind of com- 
munism under a weak regime represent the systole and diastole of the state 
organism. So long as the princes of the House of Rurik held the reins of power 
with a firm grasp, the community throve and moved forward; and when their 
hold loosened it sank into anarchist confusion. The same phenomenon, re- 
peated at the opening of the Seventeenth Century and again in the year 1917, is 
at the bottom of all Russia's troubles of to-day. Collective action is paralyzed. 

But the present chaos differs largely from that of previous epochs in some 
essential respects. For one thing, the cement that formerly held the nation to- 
gether has to a noteworthy extent crumbled to bits. Czarism is dead and 
orthodoxy is floating away on the revolutionary storm wind. Nor could it be 
otherwise, for the natural fluidity of the race was for years deliberately utilized 
as the basis of a conscious method by workers in every field of science, art, 
and pedagogy. Thus Russian literature, which is a reflex from the soul of the 
nation, gives us a faithful presentment of the inborn instincts and tendencies 
of the race, and therefore of its revolt against tradition and wont and against 
the social ordering based on these. And its effect is largely dissolvent. But 
dehberate effort pushed it much farther in the same direction. Owing to the 


impetus given by literary criticism, literature like art and education was forced 
into the service of the revolutionary movement. Novelists were compelled 
to become propagandists of the corrosive tendencies in vogue or else, hke my 
friend LeskofF, they were ostracized. A classic example of these literary in- 
fluences is provided by Count Leo Tolstoy, some of whose later writings are 
frankly "Bolshevist." On the other hand, the spread of sectarianism under- 
mined the peasant's confidence in the clergy and the Church. In particular, 
the rationalist sects, which were diffused all over the country, sapped the 
people's respect not only for Orthodoxy but also for the state regime that up- 
held it. Thus religion as well as the nationalities must be added to the army 
and the democratic spirit of the age, when one enumerates the permanent forces 
that militated against the Czarist state. 

But there was more. For some years individual socialist propagandists 
had been preparing the ground for the great upheaval when, in the year 1898, 
a social-democratic labour party was organized for all Russia. Its adherents 
were many and its progress rapid. University students, engineers, officers, doc- 
tors, schoolmasters, and civil servants embraced and propagated its teachings, 
which differed little from ordinary communism. Despite the crimes of some 
of its members and the fierce repression practised by the authorities, neither 
the Russian Government nor those of other European states gauged aright 
the significance of the movement. Indeed so far as I know only two men dis- 
cerned its trend : Count Witte and Lenin. It was largely owing to his clear- 
ness of vision that the Bolshevist leader secured his opportunity, adjusted his 
means, and made his mark. He founded a party which, although representing a 
very small minority in the country, is and may continue to be disproportion- 
ately influential because of its proselytizing methods and also because of the 
large number of dissenters who are ready to toy with it temporarily for their 
own ends. 

The correlates of this powerful communist movement were the shortsight- 
edness and folly of the Czarist Government. It had received a grave warning 
after the Manchurian Campaign when the rebellion came within an ace of 
culminating in a revolution. But after the World War began there was not 
a man in the Czar's environment who could give helpful advice or take it. 
And when the army was beaten, when the decimated officers' corps was filled 
with university students of socialist-revolutionary tendencies, when the 
peasants were tempted by the offer of free land, the sluice gates of anarchy burst 
open and Russia was submerged by the flood which swept away the leading intel- 
lectuals and left the enigmatical masses in possession of power. Dostoieffsky 
wrote: "The Nihilists appeared among us because we are all NihiHsts. The 
dismay of our sages was comical as was their keenness to ascertain whence the 
NihiHsts had come. The answer is simple: they came from nowhere. They 
have always been with us, in us, and about us." 



In August, 1914, when the Central European Powers made their premedi- 
tated attack upon the peace and Uberty of the world, Canada was preparing to 
celebrate a century of peaceful intercourse with her only near neighbour. Her 
people were absorbed in the development of their immense territory and re- 
sources. There had been pubHc warnings, necessarily in guarded terms and 
not greatly heeded, as to the German purpose and menace. Canada had no 
military obhgations; and the part which she should take in the "War was en- 
tirely within the determination of her Parliament. Her permanent military 
force numbered about three thousand men; while the mihtia, trained and 
organized only for defence, constituted a force of about sixty thousand. 

During the startling events which culminated in the declaration of war, 
there was never a moment's hesitation on the part of the Canadian people or 
their - government. Within forty-eight hours of that declaration, formal 
authority was given for the mobilization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. 
Twenty thousand volunteers were asked for; within two weeks more than 
thirty thousand came. Throughout August they continued to come, some 
of them tramping on foot hundreds of miles to enhst. With remarkable expedi- 
tion a camp for mobilization and training was established at Valcartier, near 
the City of Quebec, and on October 3rd a convoy of ships carrying the first 
Canadian contingent of about thirty-three thousand men left Gaspe Bay for 
England. After a further period of training on Salisbury Plain, the Force 
embarked for France and landed at St. Nazaire on the ilth February, 191 5. 
Within a few weeks they were in the front-Hne trenches near Ypres, and at the 
end of April came the great test in which they made good at once and for ever 
their standing among the armies of the world. 

On the evening of April 22nd, the Germans, with characteristic and bar- 
barous disregard of recognized conventions, made their first attack with poison 
gas. Its effects were so terrible that the French colonial troops on the left of 
the Canadian Division were compelled to retire. The Canadian line was bent 
back here and there, but the men stubbornly held their ground, although un- 
protected against the horrible effects of the gas, and in the face of vastly su- 
perior numbers. For six days and nights the battle raged until, with the ar- 



rival from time to time of reinforcements, the attack was broken, and the Ger- 
mans found their anticipated onrush to Calais barred by troops who eight 
months before were practically without military training or experience. The 
ground was held at a terrible cost, for during those six days eight thousand 
Canadians went down; but from the breaking up of that attack until the morn- 
ing of Armistice Day, when the Canadians drove them out of Mons, the Ger- 
mans never forgot the quality of the Canadian forces. Further contingents 
arrived and the record established at Ypres was maintained at Festubert and 
Givenchy. In the middle of September the Canadian Second Division reached 
France and the Canadian Army Corps was formed. The Corps was com- 
pleted by the arrival of the Third Division early in 1916 and of the Fourth 
Division in August of that year. From that time until the Armistice, the 
Canadian Corps bore its full share in the operations on the British sector of 
the western front. 

The autumn and winter of 191 5 were a time of hard digging in the trenches, 
broken occasionally by raids, a form of enterprise in which the initiative and 
resourcefulness of the Canadians made them conspicuous from the first. 
During the spring months there was bitter fighting at St. Eloi, Sanctuary Wood, 
Hooge, and elsewhere; but better days came in September and the following 
months, when all four divisions of the Canadian Corps shared in the successes 
of the Battle of the Somme. The fighting of 1917 opened gloriously with the 
storming of Vimy Ridge, which was soon followed by the taking of Arleux 
and Fresnoy and, late in the year, by the hard-fought but successful attacks 
at Lens and Passchendaele. 

During the early months of 1918, the Canadian Corps, which had been 
under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie since the summer 
of 1917, prepared elaborate and formidable defences of Vimy Ridge which 
they had captured and which they then held. It was their ardent hope that 
the Germans might be tempted to attack; but the blow fell elsewhere. The 
confidence imposed in the Canadians may be realized from the fact that for 
nearly four weeks, from early April until early May, 1918, the four Canadian 
divisions held thirty-five thousand yards of front, or nearly one fifth of the total 
front then held by the British Army. During the early summer months they 
were taken out of the line for a time and an opportunity was thus afforded for 
necessary training in open warfare which apparently was imminent. Later 
on there came the opportunity to strike. In the attack which relieved Amiens, 
the Canadian Corps formed the spear-head and thrust deeply to an extreme 
penetration of fourteen miles, capturing more than nine thousand prisoners 
at a cost of little more than eleven thousand casualties. 

This victory early in August was the commencement of great achievements 
with which the last hundred days of the war were crowded. During a portion 
of that period two splendid British divisions fought with the Canadian Corps 


under the command of Sir Arthur Currie; during another portion they had the 
assistance of one British division. As soon as the Canadians had broken the 
Queant-Drocourt line early in September, the famous Hindenburg Line was 
outflanked and became useless. Pressing on they took, in succession, Cambrai, 
Denain, Valenciennes, and finally, on Armistice Day, they captured Mons. 
In these operations the Bourlon Wood was captured and held for the first 
time. Mont Huoy, the key to Valenciennes, was stormed and the hold main- 
tained. The brigade which accomplished this task took prisoners exceeding 
its own numbers. From the eleventh of October to the tenth of November 
the Canadian Corps advanced fifty-two miles, and there was hardly a day in 
which they did not make a substantial advance. Between the eighth of 
August and the eleventh of November, they captured nearly 32,000 prisoners, 
623 heavy and field guns, 2,900 machine guns, and 3 50 trench mortars. They 
liberated 500 square miles of territory, including 228 cities, towns, and villages. 
Between the eighth of August and the eleventh of October, with the aid of 
the British divisions that I have mentioned, they engaged and defeated no 
less 'than forty-seven German divisions. Doubtless some of these had been 
considerably depleted but many of them were at full strength and very 

The Canadian cavalry formed a brigade which was, during most of the 
war, separated from the Canadian Corps, excepting in the Second Battle 
of Amiens in August, 191 8. Its distinguished actions include Equancourt and 
Guyancourt early in 1917, Villers-Guislains at the end of that year, Bois 
Moreuil and Rifle Wood during the German offensive in 191 8, and the taking 
of Le Cateau in the last stage of the fighting. 

The forces already mentioned do not exhaust the contribution of Canada. 
Canadian detachments, more particularly from the Medical Corps and the 
Railway troops, were attached to each of the five British armies and were serving 
on the lines of communication. The Medical Corps was early in the field and, 
at the time of the Armistice, had estabhshed and was maintaining some thirty 
hospitals In France and England In addition to casualty-clearing stations and 
field ambulances. The importance of the work of the Canadian Railway 
troops may be summed up In the statement that they were responsible for the 
whole of the construction of light railways and of 60 per cent, of the standard- 
gauge railways In the area occupied by the British forces. The Canadian 
Forestry Corps was estabhshed at eleven places in France and many places 
in England, with their own hospitals and workshops, engaged in cutting down 
timber and in erecting and operating saw-mills. 

Canadians also saw service on other fronts: In Palestine, Macedonia, and 
Russia. Many Canadians, too, joined dlff"erent branches of the Imperial 
British forces. Nearly 13,000 served with the Royal Air Force and its pre- 
decessors, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. More 


than 5,000 obtained commissions or did duty with the Motor Transport Corps 
or the Waterways and Docks Service. 

The courage and determination of the Canadian troops may be measured 
by the toll of losses which they paid. Of a total number of 418,052 in the 
Canadian Expeditionary Force, some 57,000 lost their lives and nearly 156,000 
were wounded. Sixty-three of them won the Victoria Cross — the highest re- 
ward of British valour — and about 16,000 other decorations and honours 
were awarded to members of the force. 

In addition to the men enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 
many thousands of military and naval reservists, resident in Canada, returned 
early in the war to the countries from which they had emigrated. Taking 
these into account, as well as those engaged in naval operations, it is a reason- 
able estimate that 500,000 Canadian citizens served in the war. Of these 
nearly 200,000 were men born in the British Isles. 

At sea Canada was even less ready for war than on land. Two cruisers — 
one of 11,000 tons, the other of 3,600 tons, used in the training of personnel — 
comprised the naval fighting force of the Dominion, and these immediately 
set out on patrol service. Two submarines, which were purchased in the 
United States and taken over only a few hours before the British declaration 
of war, had no opportunities for action with the enemy but rendered most val- 
uable service in assisting to guard the western coast while a powerful German 
squadron was at large in the Pacific. 

The chief work of the Dominion naval forces consisted of patrolling, mine- 
sweeping, and the protection of fishing fleets oflF the Atlantic coast. Many 
small vessels were taken into service for these purposes and others were built 
and manned with crews of Naval Volunteers. In the area patrolled by this 
force only one large vessel was lost by enemy attack. 

Though Canada could send no ships to share the work of the British navy, 
many volunteers went from the Dominion to join various branches of the 
naval service. 

There were in the Dominion only a few yards in which ships of ocean-going 
size could be built. By the construction of new yards and the enlargement of 
others, an output of both steel and wooden ships was achieved, which made a 
substantial contribution toward meeting the world's losses of shipping through 
submarine warfare. 

Special machinery of government has been created to deal with the re- 
establishment in civil life of all persons who have served in the war and of their 
dependents. It has been realized that in one aspect the conditions of war 
continue until all who have taken part in it are, so far as practicable, settled in 
their homes and provided with suitable work. Pensions, on a scale higher than 
in other Allied countries, are paid to the dependents of all men who have 
lost their lives and to those who suffer from disabilities arising from their ser- 


vice. The pension, in any of the last-named cases, continues as long as the dis- 
abiUty, without regard to the pensioner's occupation or earning power. Men 
are trained for new occupations suited to their condition and all who have 
served are assisted in finding employment. For those who wish to engage in 
agriculture, arrangements have been made by which they can acquire land 
and equipment on easy terms, and can be taught to farm their land profitably. 

The contribution of Canada to the enormous quantity of ammunition 
needed in modern warfare deserves mention; and it has received generous 
recognition in the report of the British War Cabinet for 1917. It must be 
borne in mind that the production of munitions was a new industry in Canada; 
moreover, it was supposed that basic steel, the only kind produced in the coun- 
try, was not suitable for the manufacture of shells. When its suitabilit}^ had 
been determined by experiment in Canada, the output of shells soon attained 
large proportions. During the four years preceding the Armistice more than 
65,000,000 shells of various sizes and many million pounds of explosives had 
been produced and dispatched to the front. The Air Force also drew import- 
ant supplies from the Dominion; not only were airplanes built and sent over- 
seas, but enormous quantities of lumber for airplane construction were pro- 
vided for British factories. 

The great output of war materials was not without its effect on agriculture, 
the primary industry of Canada. The immense yield of all crops in the har- 
vest of 191 5 enabled us to do our full share in the provision of food for our 
Allies; but, with the increase of the fighting forces and with the heavy demand 
for the production of munitions, the supply of necessary labour for the farms 
became a difficult and serious problem. The matter received effective atten- 
tion; additional agricultural machinery was secured through administrative 
arrangements, and large numbers of women and boys were recruited to replace 
men whom war had called away from the land. Our farmers may be proud 
of the fact that, in spite of their labour difficulties, the area put under cultiva- 
tion has not been reduced but progressively increased during the war. The 
acreage of the principal cereal crops in 1918 was some 18 per cent, greater than 
the corresponding acreage in 1917, which, in its turn, had been the largest ever 
recorded in the Dominion. 

The women of Canada, if they have had fewer opportunities of service than 
their sisters in countries nearer to the theatre of war, have a notable record of 
war work in many different branches of national effort. More than 3,000 
have served as nurses, of whom 39 have lost their lives on duty, and nearly 200 
have been awarded decorations. Munition factories have employed as many 
as 30,000 women, and the air service another thousand. In agriculture, in 
banks and commercial establishments, in the Civil Service, women have come 
to the front not only to replace men who have gone on active service but to 
carry on the additional work which the war has entailed. 


It remains to speak of an important, if less glorious, part of the country's 
effort, the financial burden of the war. Canada was, before the outbreak of 
war, a borrowing country. The development of the country's immense natu- 
ral resources had created demands on capital which, as it seemed, could be 
met only by loans from other countries. With the outbreak of hostilities the 
financial situation was changed throughout the world. The needs of the Brit- 
ish Government for war purposes caused the immediate closing of the London 
market to external loans, and the people of Canada were called upon to provide 
for their own capital needs as well as their own share in the cost of war. The 
result has been remarkable. The domestic loans raised in Canada since the 
beginning of 191 5 have amounted to ^1,436,000,000, which is more than four 
times the amount of the net debt of the Dominion before the war and is equiva- 
lent to more than ^180 per head of the population. 

All sections of the people, in all parts of the country, have shared in pro- 
ducing this result. The first war loan, in 191 5, had nearly 25,000 subscribers; 
the number has increased with each subsequent loan up to the fifth and latest, 
in 191 8, to which more than 1,000,000 persons subscribed, the population of 
the country being, roundly, 8,000,000. 

A sum approximating ^100,000,000 has been raised by voluntary subscrip- 
tion in Canada for the benefit of our soldiers and their dependents and of the 
suffering populations of Allied countries. The more important of the organ- 
izations engaged in this work are: The Patriotic Fund, which cares for the 
dependents of soldiers and sailors; The Red Cross Society, which, besides provid- 
ing aid to the sick and wounded, has arranged the despatch of food and nec- 
essaries to prisoners in the hands of the enemy; The Young Men's Christian 
Association, which has given comfort, instruction, and entertainment to men 
at the front, in camps and hospitals, and on ships and trains. 

Naturally the financial burdens imposed upon the people of Canada by the 
war are very heavy but they are relatively inconsiderable compared with the 
resources of the country. Increased taxation has been imposed to meet the 
need of larger revenues; but, in seeking new sources and devising new methods, 
the government has endeavoured to avoid measures which would deter intend- 
ing immigrants or drive away capital, for Canada needs both. 

During the war there have been differences of opinion between sections of 
our population as to the extent to which Canada should devote her 
effort to the Allied cause. We had as httle material interest in the outcome of 
the struggle as any country in the world; but the great majority of the people, 
conceiving the cause to be supreme, counted no effort too great. These dif- 
ferences of opinion will not leave any abiding division among our people. A 
new spirit of national self-consciousness has been awakened which will more 
and more inspire all the communities of our country. With fearless eye and 
firm heart, a strong, earnest, and united Canada looks forth upon her future. 



Prime Minister of Australia 

The qualities displayed by the Australians in the war were characteristic 
of a youthful democracy nurtured in a wide and generous country, and ani- 
mated by pride of race and an intense local nationalism. Australians are 
still physical pioneers, and they carried into the struggle all the enthusiasm, 
the daring, the wholesomeness, and comradeship that distinguish a young 
people who have carved out their homes from the native bush. All the offi- 
cers and men in the Australian force were pioneers or the children of pioneers 
of an isolated land, and from this fact came the remarkable physique, the 
bold initiative, the pugnacious, relentless offensiveness, the love of individual 
adventure, the impatience of merely ceremonial discipline, and at the same 
time the unswerving devotion to trusted leadership in battle, which made the 
"Digger" a marked man in the war. Very young in his knowledge of the 
world, and yet strangely wise because of his close knowledge of nature and his 
instinct for natural, essential things, he was equally at home upon barren 
Gallipoli, or in ancient Palestine, or about the great camps in France. He was 
at once one of the simplest and most lovable, the most casual, and yet the best 
disciplined and most terrible of the fighters who came into the great conflict. 

The relative magnitude of Australia's effort is only appreciated when it is 
recalled that the first white settlers landed at Port Jackson in 1788, and that 
seventy-five years ago there were less than half a million people in the coun- 
try. The troops engaged in the war had to travel 12,000 miles by sea. In 
1914, the population was about five millions, and of these 420,600 enlisted for 
service. Exclusive of those who took part in the capture and occupation 
of the Pacific Islands, 337,000 were sent overseas. The feature of the force 
was the very large proportion who were combatants, and the extent to which 
they were engaged in heavy fighting is shown by the fact that no less than 
57,800 officers and men were killed, and a further 150,000 wounded. A sig- 
nificant point of the losses was that "prisoners of war and missing" numbered 
only 4,064. The AustraHan was not a pleasant man to capture. 

The Australian Imperial Force was in a large measure self-contained. At 
the outset most of the Staff was supphed by the British Army, but as the war 
continued the British officers gave way almost entirely to young Australians 



who had proved their fitness upon active service. Lieutenant-General 
Monash, in command of the AustraHan Corps in France during the great ad- 
vance on the Somme in 191 8, was an AustraHan; so was Lieutenant-General 
White, Chief-of-StafF to General Birdwood with the British Fifth Army; whilst 
to Lieutenant-General Chauvel, who commanded the Desert Mounted Corps 
in Palestine, a force made up in part of Australians and New Zealanders and in 
part of Indians and British yeomanry, fell the most important and most active 
cavalry command in the whole war. The Australian force was very rich in 
leadership, and by a fearless process of weeding out, and a truly democratic 
system of promotion, it reached an exceptionally high standard in its officers. 
The Australian defence system before the war aimed at completeness, and the 
Commonwealth was the only British Dominion to employ its own navy and 
flying corps. The artillery included both field pieces and heavies. 

Before Britain actually declared war, the AustraHan Government offered 
to place its navy, a small but a modern and highly efficient unit, and 20,000 
men at the disposal of the Imperial authorities. On the outbreak of hos- 
tilities, recruiting commenced spontaneously in every part of the country 
from the large coastal cities to the isolated settlements of the interior and the 
lonely North, where men frequently rode many hundreds of miles to offer their 
services. The first enterprise was to seize in September, 1914, the German 
Island colonies in the southwest Pacific. This was accomplished by a small 
volunteer force, quite raw but very keen, acting in cooperation with the Aus- 
tralian navy. German New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the German 
Solent, Nauru, the Marshalls, the CaroHnes and the Pellew Islands, surren- 
dered to the AustraHans, and German New Guinea and the adjoining islands 
have since remained under Commonwealth administration. 

In November, 1914, the AustraHan First Division, 20,000 strong, sailed for 
Egypt, where they completed their training prior to the gallant adventure at 
GalHpoH. They were joined in Egypt by further battalions from Australia, 
which were used with New Zealanders to complete a second composite division, 
and the two divisions became the famous Australian and New Zealand Army 
Corps, or the "Anzacs," as they are now known to the world. Moving from 
Egypt with an unknown objective, they upset all military traditions by their 
brilliant landing at Anzac Cove on April 25, 191 5. Here the Australian at 
once demonstrated those qualities which have since brought him renown as a 
fighter. As each Httle unit reached the shore, it dashed at the cliffs, careless 
of a heavy fire from enemy rifles, machine guns, and field pieces in concealed 
positions; and from then until nightfall each soldier fought an individual little 
war as he pushed on across the Peninsula. Many of the men overran, lost 
touch, became isolated, and in /lasefield's words: "died as they had lived, 
owning no master upon this earth." But the crossing of GalHpoH upon that 
first day was an impossible task for the slight force engaged. The Turks were 


greatly superior in numbers, and held all the high ground. Throwing a cordon 
round the Australians, they compelled them to dig in, and rival trenches were 
established. Although the Austrahans and New Zealanders never afterward 
lost a yard of their ground, despite many heavy Turkish attacks, they were 
unable at any time decisively to exploit their initial victory. Within three 
days of their landing the Australian casualties amounted to fifty per cent, of 

Notwithstanding these heavy initial losses, the force at Anzac Cove was 
deemed so secure that on May 8th the Second Australian Brigade was sent 
to Cape Hellas at the foot of the Peninsula, where a heroic attempt was made 
to capture the village of Krithia. Here again the young Commonwealth 
soldiers displayed that fine dash itnd indifference to heavy casualties which 
afterward won them so much military admiration in France. Their hopeless 
charge at Krithia was sustained to within a few yards of the objective, although 
no less than 75 per cent, of the men were shot down. Six months before, 
these men had been citizens, but already their morale could not have been sur- 
passed by any army of veterans. The position at Anzac was held from April 
25th to December i8th. The opposing trenches were at many places within 
bombing distance, and at times only five yards apart. Many Turkish attacks 
were thrown back with great slaughter. In August a great assault upon the 
enemy position was launched from Anzac Cove in cooperation with the un- 
lucky British landing at Suvla Bay. The Austrahan task was to hold the 
enemy strongly by frontal attacks whilst the British came ashore; and it was 
carried out with tragic recklessness in the face of devastating machine gun and 
rifle fire at point-blank range. At one place five or six hundred men of the 
8th Light Horse Regiment attempted in three successive waves to storm the 
Turkish trenches. The three waves went over at intervals of a few minutes 
with perfect steadiness, although practically every man who had gone before 
had been shot down as he left the parapet. Only eighty of these Light Horse- 
men survived. 

The evacuation was a masterly piece of cool work by all ranks, and the 
forces then returned to Egypt for reinforcements and further training. Early 
in 1916 the infantry and artillery were sent to France, while the Light Horse 
Regiments, which afterward grew to five brigades, remained to play a leading 
part in the destruction of the Turkish forces in Palestine, The fighting on the 
Peninsula had been close, cramped, and intensive, but there had not been the 
terrific artillery ordeal which had already become commonplace in France, 
and the behaviour of the Australians under the conditions of the Western 
front was watched with much interest. After a brief introduction to the 
trenches, at relatively quiet parts of the line, they were thrown, four divisions 
strong, into the supreme test of the Somme. There, on their first dash, they 
made themselves renowned in Europe by the capture of Pozieres, at which 


point they were the spearhead of the British offensive. In the weeks which 
followed the capture of the straggUng French village they demonstrated, under 
artillery punishment of perhaps unprecedented savagery in the war up to that 
time, their capacity to endure against frightful losses. The little village area 
of Pozieres cost Australia more than 30,000 casualties. The attack on Le 
Moquet Farm was another fine feat of the Somme, and on such a scale were 
Australian losses at this time, that on one day a single division lost between 
7,000 and 8,000 men. 

After wintering in the mud and an introduction to the notorious Ypres 
salient, the Australians were prominent in the advance which followed the 
first German retreat through Bapaume. Meanwhile, they had been reinforced 
by the Third Division, which gave them a total strength of five divisions in 
France and almost two divisions of cavalry in Palestine. Pushing on after 
the retiring Germans, they fought magnificently in the first attack on the 
Hindenburg Line, and were the first troops to pierce it. A few battalions 
reached the formidable enemy defences, but both flanks were bare, and they 
were lost almost to a man. In a second general assault on May 3, 1917, the 
Australians again won alone into the Hindenburg defences and despite fourteen 
days of counter-attacks and the most fierce concentrated bombardment, and 
although both flanks were in the air, they maintained and consoUdated their 
position. A little later, they took a prominent part in the brilliant local vic- 
tory at Messines. 

It was ever their lot to fight where the battle was thickest, and after a brief 
rest in the summer they were thrown into the advance northeast from Ypres 
toward Passchendaele. There the bombardment on both sides was more 
violent and destructive than in any previous battle and, although the Austral- 
ians had a formidable sector containing many fortified and apparently impreg- 
nable woods, they made definite progress on each advance. But they won 
their ground only at very heavy loss. In less than a month their casualties 
exceeded 30,000 including 4,800 dead. The first three pushes were made in 
good weather but then came the rain, and the rate of progress could not be 

At the commencement of this fighting the Australians had reached perhaps 
their maximum strength as a fighting force and had five divisions in France 
with over 20,000 in each division. (In addition, they had the equivalent 
of a division in Palestine; light horse, camel corps, infantry, and small de- 
tachments in Mesopotamia; more than four flying squadrons; and the vessels 
of the Australian navy with a total personnel of some 9,000 men, which during 
the whole war cooperated with and worked under the control of the British 
navy). All battalions were complete; the men were perfectly trained, and in 
wonderful physical condition. The battle left them a mere ghost of an army. 

During the 1917-18 winter they enjoyed relative quiet in the Hne; and, if 


reduced in numbers, they were perhaps higher than ever before in confidence 
and aggressive spirit when the sudden call came in March, 191 8, to hurry south 
and meet the German flood toward Amiens and Paris, which had followed the 
overthrow of the British Fifth Army. After a sustained forced movement the 
Australians were flung in against the advance guard of the triumphant and 
apparently irresistible German armies. The issue was never in doubt. The 
Australians swept eagerly forward through the broken fugitive remnants of 
the Fifth Army. Battle was joined; the Germans were arrested; and the 
advance which seemed until then to promise them complete victory in France 
came to an absolute end. It is not claimed that the Australians alone saved 
Amiens and France, but the significance of their achievement is expressed by 
General Sir WiUiam Rawlinson's tribute: "During the summer of 1918," he 
wrote, "the safety of Amiens has been principally due to the Australians' de- 
termination and valour." 

The whole force had been ordered south, but the First Division was re- 
called because the enemy, in his push westward toward the Channel, had 
broken the sector from which the AustraHans had just been withdrawn. This 
division met a seemingly victorious German division advancing in column of 
fours, and in a smashing attack practically destroyed it and put down a barrier 
which proved unshakeable. Meanwhile, the fighting before Amiens became 
extremely intensive. Villars-Bretonneaux was held against constant attacks 
but was finally lost by other troops which temporarily took over the line from 
the Australians, and its recapture at night in April by two AustraUan brigades 
was one of the finest feats on the Western front. Throughout the spring and 
summer the AustraHan divisions ceaselessly harassed the Germans. Despite 
their four years of constant warfare, the sadly thinned battalions were inspired 
by an almost superhuman spirit of individual aggressiveness. Confident of 
their personal superiority over the enemy, they engaged in numberless haz- 
ardous little raids and sporting enterprises, and treated the German's outposts 
and front-line troops so harshly that his morale became seriously afiTected. 
Monument Wood, Villers-sur-Ancre, and Hamel in the south, and Merris in 
the north yielded brilHant minor victories during this period. 

The Australian Imperial Force was in superb fighting trim when the great 
AlHed offensive began on August 8th. On the first day when, with the 
Canadians, the five divisions of Australians formed the spearhead of the Brit- 
ish opening attack, the Australians captured 104 guns and many thousands of 
prisoners in the course of a ten-mile advance. Pressing on irresistibly through 
Vanvillers, Lihons, Ethenheim, Proyart, Bray, and Barleux, at the end of 
August they crowned their successes by the sensational capture of Mont St. 
Quentin. This position was considered impregnable unless assailed by a 
force overwhelmingly superior to the defenders; but the AustraHans, by 
what Sir Douglas Haig described as a "most gallant achievement," out- 


flanked and seized it with but slight losses. On September 2nd, they captured 

Fighting on, they broke through the enemy outposts of the Hindenburg 
Line near Templeux and Hohion, and on September 30th, breached the main 
hne by the capture of Joncourt, Estrees, and Bomy. The force was now ex- 
tremely attenuated and exhausted, but still it played a fine part a few days 
later in the battle of Beaurevoir and the capture of Montbrehain, This was 
the Australian infantry's last effort in France before being withdrawn from the 
active operations of the war. The artillery remained until the very day of the 
Armistice. At no time had they fought with greater dash and to better pur- 
pose than in these concluding stages. Between August 9th and October 5th, 
they took 23,000 prisoners and 330 guns; recaptured 116 towns and villages; 
and drove the enemy from 251 square miles of French soil. No less than 
thirty enemy divisions were opposed to them during this advance, many 
of them two or three times; and six of these divisions were handled so severely 
that immediately afterward they were permanently broken up. The Austral- 
ian losses were heavy. From August to October they had lost 3,144 in killed 
and their total casualties exceeded 21,000. The performance of the veterans 
after three and a half years of terrible fighting was a worthy upholding of the 
great standard set by the unschooled recruits at Gallipoli in April, 191 5. 
Throughout the war the Australians fought as volunteers. Conscription was 
twice put — in 1916 and 1917 — to the Australian people by referendum and 
twice rejected. Had the war been continued, the Commonwealth force might 
have been embarrassed for reinforcements, but by the dramatic conclusion in 
191 8 AustraHa was enabled to maintain a volunteer force which, relative to 
her population, compared satisfactorily with the numbers put into the field 
by the other British Dominions. 

Australia's share in the destruction of Turkey deserves far more attention 
than it can be given in this brief survey. The flower of the Turkish armies 
was destroyed on Gallipoli. When the AustraHan infantry came to France 
the AustraUan light horse remained in Egypt and, with the New Zealanders, 
comprised the galloping advance-guard of the British Army throughout the 
campaign, which restored Sinai Peninsula to Britain and led on to the con- 
quest of Palestine and Syria. This force was pecuHarly AustraHan. Re- 
cruited in the main from the countryside, and mounted upon AustraHan horses, 
it was distinguished by perfect natural horsemanship, deadly rifle shooting, a 
remarkable "eye for country," and a delightful love of personal adventure. 
Its men had also served upon Gallipoli, and were masters of trench warfare 
and clever sniping. The critical battle of Romani in August, 1917, which 
marked the end of the Turkish ofi'ensive against the Suez Canal and Egypt, 
was won almost entirely by the steadiness and subsequent dash of the First 
and Second Light Horse brigades — fighting dismounted in the dark against 


overwhelming odds. The Anzac Mounted Division, made up of two brigades 
of Austrahans and one brigade of New Zealanders, may fairly claim to have 
been the hardest worked and most successful cavalry division in the war. 
This fine unit, by hazardous night raids, followed by bitter dismounted fight- 
ing, captured the Turkish garrisons at Magdhaba and Rafa. After the long 
hold-up on the Gaza-Beersheeba line, it was the Fourth Australian Light Horse 
Brigade which galloped over the Turkish trenches at Beersheeba— one of the 
most dazzling and victorious pieces of sheer blujBF in all the four and a half 
years' fighting. Australians participated in the capture of Jerusalem; they 
were the first troops into the squalid modern village of Jericho; their engineers 
threw the first Allied bridge across the Jordan; at Jenin on the Esdraelon Plain 
two regiments of the Third Light Horse Brigade galloped down and captured 
7,000 Turks and suffered only two casualties, and the same brigade were the 
first AHied troops to enter Damascus. During General Allenby's last great 
advance, when the big British Army captured 75,000 Turkish, German, and 
Austrian prisoners, no less than 36,000 of these were taken by the hard-riding, 
brilliant Australian cavalrymen. An interesting and picturesque feature of 
this wonderful Holy Land campaign was the Imperial Camel Brigade, five 
eighths Australians, which by its constant successful campaigning became 
known throughout the Near East as the "Fighting Camels." 

Australia's deeds in the war were something more than a creditable relative 
contribution; they were marked by an exceptional number of performances 
which will ever rank among the finest feats in military annals. 


(The Devastated Regions of France, in January, 1919) 

Paris, January 21: Through the courtesy of the British Government 
I have come to the Peace Conference by way of the war zone. To travel 
directly from America, always at peace, to Paris, now resuming much of her 
ante-war activity and become again a real capital, is to forget almost entirely 
the four and a half years of agony that separate Europe and the rest of the 
world from July, 1914, and thus to ehminate many of the vital questions re- 
maining to be settled. It is otherwise if one journeys by Ypres, by Vimy 
Ridge, by the Somme battlefields — by the regions where, five years ago, 
hundreds of thousands of people Hved and laboured amidst smiling fields and 
in pleasant towns — regions in which two million dead now sleep, and sleep in 
the midst of a desolation beyond human words to describe. 

I have seen battlefields in the hour of conflict, but in that time amidst the 
desolation and destruction there was still a sense of human energy which 
had become almost superhuman in its fury. The forces of destruction were 
themselves vital amidst all the waste which they created, but far more terrify- 
ing and terrible is the battlefield when the living are gone, when upon hun- 
dreds and thousands of square miles of territory there rests the blight of war. 
It is in the dead cities and even more in the dead villages of northern France 
that one must seek evidence of what this German thing has meant, must seek 
some estimate of that vast account which remains to be settled. 

The German has gone. He has vanished out of the trenches, out of the 
ruins of the region he has wasted. His conquerors have gone after him, but 
the real inhabitants have not yet begun to return. As a consequence, from 
Ypres to the border of the Oise above Noyon, more than a hundred miles in 
longitude, and from a dozen to fifty miles in latitude, there exists the most 
appalHng desert of which the mind can conceive: A few German prisoners 
cleaning debris from the more important highways, a few British soldiers stand- 
ing guard over material, and for the rest in a land where three millions of 
French and Belgians lived five years ago, just nothing. Villages, forests, the 
fruit trees, and the garden shrubs, like the buildings, all gone. 

How, then, are the peace-makers at Paris to set in motion the machinery, 

•Copyright, 1919, by the McClure Newspaper Syndicate. 



itself all to be made, which will bring the old inhabitants back to the German 
desert which, Hke the Great American Desert of the last century, separates 
two smiling regions? How are the millions of little people with their flocks 
and their farm implements to be returned? How are the Germans, who did 
this thing, to undo it? In Paris one talks of the League of Nations and the 
right of self-determination, but on the Hindenburg Line one thinks of some- 
thing more specific, more tangible. 

On the Hindenburg Line I found a French woman who had come to look 
for the first time at what had been her home, the village in which she had been 
born and her people time out of mind; I found her exhausted beside the road, 
after the thirty-mile walk, her face again turned toward her place of exile. 
And this is what for her, for her children, her friends, and neighbours the 
Hindenburg Line was. My readers will recall how often I have written of this 
great system of defence, stretching from the Scarpe to the Somme; they will 
have visualized it as a fortification, as a system of intricate field works, with 
forts. In a certain sense this was exact; in another it was totally false. Here 
is what this French woman found in the very heart of the Hindenburg Line 
facing Queant — ^where the famous switch-line began, facing Bullecourt, where 
once the Australians were slaughtered. Surrounded on all sides by places 
whose names were in all the war news a few months ago, immediately before 
her was her own village. Of it there remained a few masses of riven masonry, 
endless heaps of brick and dust, formless masses of ruins, themselves half 
burled in ashes. Where the village church had stood a squat German dugout 
arose in stark ugliness, the single existing structure that had form. Looking 
north, east, south, or west from the gentle eminence on which the village stood, 
she looked out upon a land torn by shell-fire until it resembled a skeleton 
rather than the flesh. Along every swell in the slopes actually behind it, 
crumbling dugouts, ugly holes in the ground slowly sinking under the action 
of the rains, separated from each other by endless rows of barbed wire, sown 
everywhere with little crosses, themselves half fallen, where dead men were 
buried at hazard. 

This was her own country. And beyond the nearer view, curve on curve, 
the land swelled away in all directions, a monotonous waste without a tree, 
without a single surviving habitation, without any obstacle to interrupt the 
vision — not a desert with clean sand, but a waste in which everything spoke 
of decay following death. For nearly twenty miles in either direction this 
desert extended. Eastward against the horizon was the skeleton of Bourlon 
Woods, where the first battle of Cambrai was won and lost in 1917. West- 
ward was Arras, behind the slope, the city of a thousand bombardments, gone 
now to dust and ashes in the main. Here where there had been smiling vil- 
lages, fertile fields, and happy people was nothing but a desolation tragic be- 
yond expression. 


And all this was not the wreck of battles. It was nothing of the sort. In 
January, 1917, Hindenburg had said, "We shall retreat twenty miles, wasting 
the country to create a desert in front of us; thus we shall escape an Allied 
attack, while we settle with Russia"; and with German thoroughness the thing 
was done. The people were marched off to Belgium to be fed by American 
rehef missions, or to die. The villages were destroyed, the roads mined, every 
living thing was cut down, every inanimate thing was blown up. So the Ger- 
man desert was created, and so it remains, sown now with millions of un- 
exploded shells, the debris of late battles, with helmets and hand grenades, a 
region where every heap of ruins is a deadly peril, where the plough must re- 
open furrows among live shells. 

Yet by contrast there was the French woman, and she said quite simply, 
"Are we coming back? Of course we are coming back; as soon as the gov- 
ernment will give us the barracks in which to live. We must get to work on 
our fields again. Yes, it will require courage to do this work, but we have 
courage. We must do it for the young; is it not so?" And that, as I said, is 
the problem, not of the French Government alone, but of the Paris Conference. 
Somehow these thousands and hundreds of thousands of women and men who 
have courage must be brought back to these fields. Somehow the German 
who created the desert deHberately, wantonly, viciously, must be made to 
abolish it, to excavate the shells, to supply the labour and the material, to fur- 
nish the new homes with what they stole from the old before they wrecked 
them, to return the machinery which they carted to Germany, to supply a 
beginning, for they took everything moveable and destroyed everything that 
was immoveable. 

There is still another problem. You will find it at Lens, if you follow in the 
footsteps of the Canadians over Vimy Ridge to the flat lands below. Here 
were the coal mines of France surrounded by a score of little cities, model 
cities, with their well-ordered brick homes — cities of which Lens was but the 
most considerable. A hundred thousand people hved in these cities, lived in 
a degree of comfort which was unmistakeable, and year by year brought up 
from the ground some fifteen million tons of coal, the greater share of the 
French supply, and the very foundation of French industry. 

And of all these little cities are left only vast heaps of splintered beams and 
smashed bricks. Mile on mile in all directions not a house stands. Into the 
mines the Germans turned the floods. Such machinery as they could not 
remove they smashed. Each house was treated to dynamite. The industry 
of destruction was unbelievable. City blocks were reduced to dust, and straw 
mattresses fallen by the wayside were picked clean of the straw. It was as 
if the contract had called for utter ruin, and the German's Hfe had depended 
upon the completeness of the destruction. 

In the centre of Lens a returned citizen was searching amidst the ruins of 


his store for a well, down which he had lowered valuable papers, and he could 
not find the well; even so small and well-defined an objective was beyond his 
resources; destruction was too complete. And the story of Lens was this: 
When the German found he could not stay, he resolved that France should 
still be dependent upon Germany for coal, that she should still be crippled 
for an endless time. So systematically he destroyed the mines, the machin- 
ery, the dwelling houses; he took the furniture. I do not know how words can 
describe the monstrous, the amazing miracle of destruction he accomplished 
in the Lens district. 

He is gone now. But the problem remains. He wasted the fields that the 
peasants might not return. He destroyed the cities and the mines that the 
industrial population might not come back, that this region and this portion 
of France might die; and now when his peasants are returning to their undis- 
turbed farms, to their undamaged industrial centres and their intact factories, 
the people of northern France are still exiles. 

I hope my American friends will think of the German desert which occupies 
so much of northern France when the Peace Conference begins its work. If 
the French ask the possession of the Saar coal district, once theirs and stolen 
by the German in 1814, to replace the ruined coal fields of Artois and Flanders, 
I trust that the Americans will not see in this demand French imperialism, but 
the effort of France to resume the business of life in spite of the German effort 
permanently to destroy French industries. And in the same sense, if there is 
discussion of compelling Germany to supply labour to remove the shells, plough 
the fields, and open the roads, I hope that the Americans will think that the 
French are not seeking revenge, but a way to repair the most brutal of all in- 
juries and permit their exiles to return home again; the exiles who, like the 
French woman at Croisilles, have courage but have lost everything else. 

And in the Paris Conference there is to be talk of the responsibility, not 
alone for the acts of war after the contest itself came, but for the causing of 
the war. If only one could translate into words that had a meaning the fact 
of the dead and deserted battlefields, that shell-torn region one looks down 
upon from Kemmel and from Scharpenburg, the region that was once the 
Ypres salient ! At least half a million men died there. A few sleep in graves, 
but for the most part they and their graves have been ground up in the never- 
ending pound of ceaseless bombardments. 

A year ago every ridge, every slope, every heap of dust and ashes had its 
military value and an historic meaning. Men died by the thousands to ad- 
vance a few hundred yards; but now all the hills and ruins have been as it 
were demonetized. They have no further value. The German lost them; 
the British advanced beyond; the war has gone and peace cannot return. 
Half a million dead remain, but nothing for which they fought to the end is 
worth a second thought, nothing in the material facts. And the Hindenburg 


Line, the Somme battlefields, it is the same thing in both cases. A milHon 
and a half of dead sleep between the Yser and the Somme, but in the lands 
they died to hold no living thing stays save a few prisoners and their guards. 
The trenches disintegrate in the rain, the barbed wire rusts in the brown of the 
landscape, the snake grass is beginning to bury everything. 

And for all this someone must pay, not as a matter of punishment, that 
is another question; but someone must pay in order that this part of the 
German plan may not prevail; that this much of civilization may not perish; 
that this corner of France may not die. In Flanders, Artois, Picardy, you get 
the full measure of the German fury of destruction. A more terrible force 
one cannot imagine. It has wasted provinces and destroyed cities. Nothing 
has been too small or too great to elude Germany run amuck. The passion 
that is almost elemental in its magnitude of destructive force at one moment 
seems guided by microscopic vision at the next. One must see what the 
Germans did to understand something of what Germany was and may be 
again when a few decades have passed. 

I have dwelt upon these circumstances at this time because it seems to me 
that Americans must understand in some measure the mood and temper of 
France to-day. It is the tragedy which has not been abolished by the Armis- 
tice, it is the ruin which no formula of words and sentiments can abolish. 
The men who planned and guided this thing are in the main alive and un- 
punished. At least a million French women and children are still practically 
homeless. Years must pass before the open wound which stretches from 
Belgium to Switzerland can be healed, if at all, and it will remain an open 
wound forever in the side of France if France and not the Germans have 
to carry the burden. And yet, save for the French in Paris and out of it, one 
feels a certain tendency to forget this German desert. The German is sing- 
ing a new tune now. His humility is as complete as his arrogance was a year 
ago. The French woman told me how her German master made her work in 
the fields close up to the firing line, growing potatoes, and then allowed her 
two a day to live on; yet the German now imperiously demands that we feed 
him while his victims remain without all that which they must have if they are 
to begin life again. 

Over in Germany the Germans are feeding our soldiers with words and with 
provisions, carrying on a monstrous propaganda with something of the success 
they had in a similar work in America not so long ago. In Paris the Peace 
Conference reports concentrate upon the Adric :ic problem, the Polish read- 
justments, while the question of the Kingdom of the Hedjaz threatens to 
shorten the lives of statesmen and diplomats alike. 

But by automobile one may almost in a moment reach the old German line, 
and it is hardly three hours to the German-made desert of the Somme. These 
deserts present the problems I have mentioned, problems of restitution, repa- 


ration, and restoration. As it stands, the German has lost the war, but 
before he lost the war he ruined half of northern France, and if he does not 
repay his factories will profit, his labourers gain, and glory will be to the victor 
but the dividends to the vanquished, who only fought while victory seemed 
possible and grounded his arms when the battle approached his factories and 

It is not a hymn of hate that I am trying to sing. There is no longer any 
room for emotion. The war is over, the futility of the German methods 
carried a final judgment; but either the German must pay or the French and 
Belgian people stagger under the burden of his terrible destruction while the 
German, escaping the burden, recuperates for a new adventure. He expects 
to escape. A year ago he was starving millions; to-day he openly demands 
that the world feed him. His propaganda is everywhere at work, in Paris 
and out of it, and such a small part of the non-military part of the world as 
thinks of the German desert knows it as it exists, that one fears that the world 
will forget. To-day I talked with an American journalist flaming with fury 
because in some fashion his precious comment was delayed or lost in transit, 
to the great injury of the freedom of the press. I talked with a British colonel, 
keen to erect a new Hedjaz Kingdom under the sympathetic eye of America. 
The frontiers of Poland move with the tides; a new map of Asia Minor is made 
each hour; and the islands of the iEgean change hands every moment; but in 
the midst of all this diplomatic discussion, the mingling of idealism and real- 
ism, international romance and high finance, I find myself constantly thinking 
of the ruined cities, of the wasted fields, and the forlorn graves of the north. 
Shall we forget them all in Paris, and if we do shall we not invite the German 
to come again, however lofty a structure we raise in the name of the League of 


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y of the world war.