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Title: What Germany Thinks
The War as Germans see it
Author: Thomas F. A. Smith
Release Date: November 21, 2003 [EBook #10166]
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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WHAT GERMANY THINKS ***
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, David King, and the Online Distributed
WHAT GERMANY THINKS
OR THE WAR AS GERMANS SEE IT
By Thomas F.A. Smith, Ph.D.
Late English Lecturer in the University of Erlangen
Author of "The Soul of Germany: A Twelve Years' Study of the People from
I--THE CAUSES OF THE WAR
II--ON THE LEASH
III--THE DOGS LET LOOSE
V--WARS AND RUMOURS OF WARS
VI--THE DEBACLE OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS
VII--"NECESSITY KNOWS NO LAW"
IX--THE NEUTRALITY OF BELGIUM AND
GERMANY'S ANNEXATION PROPAGANDA
X--SAIGNER A BLANC
XI--THE INTELLECTUALS AND THE WAR
XII--THE LITERATURE OF HATE
XIII--"MAN TO MAN AND STEEL TO STEEL"
WHAT GERMANY THINKS
THE CAUSES OF THE WAR
In many quarters of the world, especially in certain sections of the
British public, people believed that the German nation was led blindly
into the World War by an unscrupulous military clique. Now, however,
there is ample evidence to prove that the entire nation was thoroughly
well informed of the course which events were taking, and also warned as
to the catastrophe to which the national course was certainly leading.
Even to-day, after more than twelve months of devastating warfare, there
is no unity of opinion in Germany as to who caused the war. Some writers
accuse France, others England, while many lay the guilt at Russia's
door. They are only unanimous in charging one or other, or all the
powers, of the Triple Entente. We shall see that every power now at war,
with the exception of Germany and Italy, has been held responsible for
Armageddon, but apparently it has not yet occurred to Germans that the
bearer of guilt for this year's bloodshed--is Germany alone!
It is true that the conflict between Austria and Serbia forms the
starting point. Whether or not Serbia was seriously in the wrong is a
matter of opinion, but it is generally held that Austria dealt with her
neighbour with too much heat and too little discretion. Austria kindled
the flames of war, but it was Germany's mission to seize a blazing torch
and set Europe alight.
When the text of Austria's ultimatum became known, a very serious mood
came over Germany. There was not a man who did not realize that a great
European War loomed on the horizon. A well-organized, healthy public
opinion could at that period have brought the governments of the
Germanic Powers to recognize their responsibility. Had the German Press
been unanimous, it might have stopped the avalanche. But there were two
currents of opinion, the one approving, the other condemning Austria for
having thrown down the gauntlet to Serbia and above all to Russia.
One paper exulted over the statement that every sentence in Austria's
ultimatum "was a whip-lash across Serbia's face;" a phrase expressing so
aptly the great mass of popular opinion. This expression met with
unstinted approval, for it corresponded with German ideals and standards
in dealing with an opponent. Yet there was no lack of warnings, and very
grave ones too. A glance at German newspapers will suffice to prove this
On July 24th, 1914, Krupp's organ, the _Rheinisch-Westfaelische Zeitung_,
contained the following: "The Austro-Hungarian ultimatum is nothing but
a pretext for war, but this time a dangerous one. It seems that we are
standing on the verge of an Austro-Serbian war. It is possible, very
possible, that we shall have to extinguish East-European conflagrations
with our arms, either because of our treaties or from the compulsion of
events. But it is a scandal if the Imperial Government (Berlin) has not
required that such a final offer should be submitted to it for approval
before its presentation to Serbia. To-day nothing remains for us but to
declare: 'We are not bound by any alliance to support wars let loose by
the Hapsburg policy of conquest.'"
The _Post_ wrote on the same date: "Is that a note? No! it is an
ultimatum of the sharpest kind. Within twenty-four hours Austria demands
an answer. A reply? No! but an absolute submission, the utter and
complete humiliation of Serbia. On former occasions we have (and with
justice) made fun of Austria's lack of energy. Now we have a proof of
energy which terrifies us. This 'note' represents about the very
uttermost which can be said to any government, and such things are only
said when the sender of the 'note' has absolutely determined upon war."
The principal organ of Germany's largest political party, the Social
Democrats, contained a still more emphatic protest on July 25th. A
telegram from the Belgrade correspondent of the _Vorwaerts_ runs: "Since
the presentation of Austria's note, public opinion has become
exceedingly serious, although the city is still very calm. The general
view held is that Austria's ultimatum is unacceptable for a sovereign
State. In Belgrade no one doubts that Russia will stand by Serbia.
Everyone is certain that in consequence of Austria's excessively sharp
tone, Russia will not remain inactive should Austria resort to armed
force. The populace is prepared for war."
In view of the subsequent attitude of Germany's Social Democrats, an
official proclamation, published in all their seventy-seven daily papers
on July 25th, is of supreme importance. At that date they had apparently
no doubt whatever as to the guilty party. The change of front in the
Reichstag on August 4th would seem in the light of this proclamation, as
nothing other than a betrayal of conscience. Further, the split which
has arisen in their ranks during the war leads to the supposition that
Liebknecht, Kautsky and Bernstein have been troubled by the inward
This is the full text of the proclamation as it appeared in the
"An Appeal! The Balkan plains are still steaming with the blood of
thousands of murdered; the ruins of desolate towns and devastated
villages are still smoking after the Balkan War; hungry, workless men,
widowed women and orphan children are still wandering through the
land, and yet again Austria's Imperialism unchains the War Fury to
bring death and destruction over all Europe.
"Even if we condemn the doings of the Greater-Serbian Nationalists,
still the wicked war-provocation of the Austro-Hungarian Government
calls forth the most stinging protest. The demands made by this
government are so brutal, that in the history of the world their like
has never been presented to an independent State, and they can only be
calculated to provoke war.
"Germany's proletariat, conscious of its mission, raises herewith, in
the name of humanity and civilization, the most fervent protest
against this criminal action of the war party (_Kriegshetzer_). It
(the Social Democratic Party) demands imperatively that the German
Government should exercise all its influence on the Austrian
Government to preserve peace, and in case this infamous war cannot be
prevented then to abstain from any warlike interference. No single
drop of blood of a single German soldier may be sacrificed to gratify
the lust for power of the Austrian autocracy, the Imperial
"Comrades! we call upon you to give expression to the working-classes'
unshakable will for peace in mass meetings. This is a serious moment,
more solemn than any in the last few decades. There is danger in
delay. A world war threatens us. The ruling classes who enslave,
despise and exploit you in times of peace desire now to misuse you as
cannon-fodder. From all sides the cry must ring in the ears of those
in authority: We don't want war! Down with war!
"Long live international brotherhood!
"Berlin, July 25th, 1914.
"_The Leaders of the Party_."
Two days later the _Leipziger Tageblatt_ announced that the Public
Prosecutor had commenced proceedings against the editors of _Vorwaerts_
for having distributed the above appeal in pamphlet form in the streets
of Berlin. From this fact we may conclude that the charges thrown out by
the Social Democratic Party were by no means congenial to the plans of
the German Government.
The Liberal _Berliner Tageblatt_ (July 24th), gave its unreserved
support to Austria's action. "The Austrian Government has voiced its
demands in a calm and serious tone which contains nothing offensive to
the Serbian monarchy. Everyone who has considered the results of the
inquiry into the tragedy of Serajewo, and the burrowing of Serbian
propagandists in Austria, must give his absolute sanction to the
latter's demands. Much as every right-thinking man must desire that
peace should be preserved, still he must admit that Austria could not
have acted otherwise."
Even the _Vossische Zeitung_, the organ of army circles, was more
conservative in its judgment. In the issue for July 24th a leading
article runs: "It cannot be denied that nearly every point raised by
Austria in her note is an encroachment on Serbia's sovereign rights.
Austria appears as the policeman, who undertakes to create order in
Serbia, because the Serbian Government, according to Austria's claim, is
unable to hold in check those 'subversive elements' within its
frontiers, which disturb Austria's peace. But only in this manner can
Austria protect herself against the criminals who are sent from Serbia
to the territories of the Hapsburg monarchy. No consideration whatever
can be shown to Serbia, as Austria's first duty is self-defence."
In the German Press two widely-differing opinions found expression with
regard to the equity of Austria's demands, but the Press and people were
unanimous in believing that if these demands were ruthlessly pressed
home they could only lead to a European conflagration.
In view of this latter danger, national opinion was again divided into
two camps: the first against war, the second determined to support
Austria and pursue the path chosen by the Berlin Government, no matter
what the consequences might be. The latter party included the vast bulk
of the nation; and Chauvinism dominated in the Press, theatres,
concert-halls, churches and music-halls. "Patriotic" demonstrations were
held before Austrian consulates, in restaurants and coffee-houses. The
Berlin Government was overwhelmed with telegrams from all kinds of
bodies--especially those with a military colouring, such as veterans'
clubs, societies of one-year volunteers, university societies,
etc.--calling upon it to defend Germany's honour against Slavonic murder
and intrigue. In short, all Germany gave itself up to a veritable
_Kriegsrausch_ (war intoxication) which found expression in the wildest
attacks on Russia and a perfervid determination to see the matter
through, should Russia venture to intervene in any way to protect Serbia
from whatever measures Austria thought proper to take.
It is little to be wondered at that Russia in face of this spontaneous
outbreak did take military precautions, for all Germany made it
perfectly clear that no kind of intervention on Russia's part in the
Austro-Serbian dispute would be tolerated by Germany. It is true that,
late in the day, Austria avowed that she had no intention of annexing
Serbian territory, a declaration which Germans did not believe, and
certainly one which Russia had no reason to accept after Austria's
annexion of Bosnia and Herzegowina in 1908.
Furthermore, Austria gave Russia every reason to cherish suspicion as to
her intentions. On July 25th Austria issued official orders for the
mobilization of eight of her sixteen army corps, in addition to which a
part of the _Landsturm_ was called up. The corps mobilized were: one
each in Upper and Lower Austria, Dalmatia, Buda-Pest, Croatia and Bosnia
and two Bohemian corps. Three-eighths of the forces called up were thus
placed very near to the Russian frontier.
Vienna was wild with war-enthusiasm which found expression in
demonstrations lasting all through the night, July 25-26th. Austrian
officers, who have always been hated by the populace, were cheered,
embraced and carried shoulder-high wherever they were met. The effect
which this had in Berlin may be seen from the _Berliner Tageblatt_ of
July 26th: "An enormous mass of people gathered before the Russian
Embassy last night between the hours of twelve and one. The crowd howled
and hissed, and cries were raised: 'Down with Russia! Long live Austria!
Down with Serbia!' Gradually the police cleared the masses away."
Russia ignored the incident, but when about a hundred Frenchmen
demonstrated before the Austrian Embassy in Paris at exactly the same
time, the Ambassador at once protested at the Quai d'Orsay and the
Director of the French Foreign Office immediately apologized.
On the whole the reports of excesses in various parts of Germany against
any and all who dared to show any anti-war sympathies proves clearly
that the blood-lust aroused by the German Government's policy had
already passed beyond the control of the authorities. In Munich one of
the most modern coffee-houses (Cafe Fahrig) was completely gutted
because the proprietor endeavoured to keep the demonstrants within
reasonable bounds. Serbs and Russians were attacked and ill-treated. One
such incident occurred at mid-day, Sunday, July 26th, in Munich, of
which a full description is given in the _Muenchen-Augsburger
Abendzeitung_ for the following day.
A few days later (August 2nd) the Princess Cafe, Berlin, was demolished
because the guests believed that there were Russians in the band. In
Hamburg on the following day a newly-opened restaurant was completely
destroyed because a young Dane had failed to stand up when the national
hymn was being played. "Yesterday a young Dane remained sitting during
the singing of the national hymn, for which reason the persons in the
hall became greatly excited. 'Russian, stand up!' was shouted to him. In
the same moment blows began to rain down upon him, so that, streaming
with blood, he was carried out." (_Berliner Zeitung am Mittag_, August
These are only a selection of many such incidents which show that the
national brutishness was appearing through the veneer. In the light of
such events where, on German soil, Germans murderously attacked their
fellow-countrymen on such ridiculous pretexts, it requires little
imagination to explain the outburst of brutality against Belgians who
dared to defend hearth and home.
Meanwhile the smaller party which desired peace had not been entirely
idle. On July 28th the Social Democrats held thirty-two mass meetings in
Berlin to protest against war. "The attendance was in every case
enormous, but the meetings were all orderly and calm. The police had
taken extensive precautionary measures. The speakers were mostly members
of the Reichstag or the Berlin Town Council. Throughout they were guilty
of the most fiery and tactless attacks on Austria, _to whom alone they
ascribed the guilt for the warlike developments_. Each meeting adopted a
resolution against war. The chief of police had forbidden all
processions or demonstrations to take place after the day before. In
spite of this, many of the Socialists who had attended these meetings
tried to form processions, especially in Unter den Linden. As large
bodies of troops had closed the streets, small parties of the Socialists
managed to reach the Linden by means of trams and omnibuses. At about 10
p.m. hisses and cries of 'Down with the war party!' were heard before
the Cafe Kranzler. In a moment the number of Democrats swelled to large
proportions and the workmen's Marseillaise was struck up, followed by a
short, sharp order. The mounted police advanced with drawn swords
against the rioters; the air was filled with shouts and cries of _Pfui_!
(Shame!). On the other side of the road the crowd sang the national
hymn. The masses clashed together, and the police advanced again and
again till the street was cleared. At the corner, however, the
Socialists formed up again, and began to demonstrate anew, so that the
police were compelled to attack them without any consideration in order
to preserve the peace. They cleared the pavements and galloped up the
promenade. Again the cry echoed 'Down with war!' and as answer came 'die
Wacht am Rhein.' But it was some considerable time before the struggle
ceased to surge to and fro." (_Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, July
Thus the great Socialist-International-Pacifist movement, with four and
a quarter million German voters behind it, fizzled out on the pavements
of Unter den Linden. Probably there were demonstrations in other parts
of Germany, but this much is certain, that the members of Catholic and
Protestant _Arbeiterverbaende_ (Workmen's Societies) held meetings and
demonstrated in favour of war. On the other hand the Women's Union of
the German Peace Society in Stuttgart sent a telegram to the Kaiser,
begging him in the name of "millions of German mothers" to preserve the
The most interesting protest against the war movement is undoubtedly the
following: "This, then, is the cultural height to which we have
attained. Hundreds of thousands of the healthiest, finest, most valuable
forces in the nation are trembling from anxiety that chance, or a nod of
Europe's rulers, malevolence, or a fit of Sadism, a Caesar-madness or a
business speculation, an empty word or a vague conception of honour,
will drive them to-morrow out of their homes, from wife and child, from
all that which they treasure and have built up with so much pain and
trouble--into death. The mad coincidence may arise to-day, may call them
to-morrow, or at any minute, and all, all of them will go--obeying
damnable necessity, but still obeying. At first they will whine on
seeing their bit of earthly happiness snatched away, but soon,
however--although their consciences may not be quite clean--they will be
possessed by the general frenzy to murder and be murdered." Franz
Pfemfert in _die Aktion_.
Although this article appeared on August 1st, it had evidently been
written before the proclamation of martial law. It was one of the last
political articles which the paper published, for the next number but
one contains the announcement that "the _Aktion_ will in future only
publish articles on art and literature." The reasons are not far to
In justice to the pacifist elements it must be stated that they were up
against bayonets. The only pity is that British public opinion, or any
section of it, had been led to believe that it could ever have been
otherwise. Austria had committed an unpardonable act of provocation,
which at first reasonable opinion in Germany openly condemned.
Simultaneously the German Government set in motion an avalanche of
racial feeling to play off against the just and moderate measures taken
by other powers to checkmate Austrian aggression. In addition to the
racial hostility, which had been lashed into bitterness during the
spring of 1914, came Germany's morbid conception of national and
personal honour. Lastly the fear of a Russian invasion was astutely
inoculated into the nation.
It is the author's firm conviction, and the military events in Poland
and Galicia have only strengthened this opinion, that from the very
beginning Germany could have prevented any Russian invasion of her
territory, but she did not desire that end, but rather that the fear of
Russia should complete the "Kriegsrausch" of the German nation. After
frightening the people the Berlin Government struck its blow in the
direction of their political ambitions--to the West, and after the
Russians had been allowed to penetrate German territories they were
hurled over the Eastern frontiers at the end of August. While the Kaiser
was sending peaceful telegrams to Petrograd and Vienna, the Press was
full of horrible pictures of Cossack barbarism and the dread terrors of
the Russian knout, both of which--the public was led to believe--were
about to strike Germany.
In this manner the Kaiser and his advisers created a national psychology
which left open only two alternatives: the absolute humiliation of
Russia and the consequent hegemony of Germany in Europe--or war.
ON THE LEASH
Russia gave the world to understand by an official declaration, issued
on Friday, July 24th, 1914, that she was not an indifferent, but a
keenly interested spectator to the Austro-Serbian conflict. On the
following day Russia's declaration was published in almost the entire
German Press, and from that moment the same Press was flooded with all
kinds of attacks directed against the Eastern neighbour. Russia was
frankly told to mind her own business--the quarrel did not concern her.
The German public immediately accepted this point of view, so that every
subsequent move on Russia's part appeared in the light of an
unwarrantable offensive. Undoubtedly the Bismarckian tactics of
publishing inspired articles in all parts of Germany were employed, and
their colouring left no doubt on the public mind that the much-talked-of
Slavonic danger had assumed an acute form.
A request on Russia's part, made on July 25th, that the space of time
(forty-eight hours) allowed to Serbia for an answer should be extended,
only increased popular irritation in the Germanic Empires. This
irritation was accompanied by an unmistakable bellicose spirit which
called forth its natural counterpart in Petrograd.
Nevertheless the fact remains that up till July 25th Russia had only
asked for time, and the reply given by the Berlin mob (?) during the
following night, was echoed throughout Germany. The view that Russia had
no right to interest herself on behalf of Serbia (passing over Russia's
right to preserve the newly-established balance of power in the Balkans)
is untenable. If Canada had a quarrel--just or unjust--with the United
States, it would be ridiculous to assert that England had no right to
This was, however, not the first occasion on which Germany had advanced
so preposterous a claim. During the tariff conflict between Germany and
Canada some years ago, a wave of indignant anger went over the whole
Fatherland, because England ventured to interfere.
In any case, during the last week before war broke out, the German
Government succeeded in imposing upon public opinion the feeling that
the quarrel was a racial one; together with the conviction that Russia
was interfering in order to protect a band of murderers from just
punishment, and had neither rights nor interests at stake in the
quarrel. This conspiracy succeeded, but the whole German nation must
still be held responsible for the outbreak of war, because, as has been
shown in the preceding chapter, the nation had already been warned by
newspapers of various political parties. They had been plainly told that
Austria had exceeded the limits of all diplomatic dealings between two
sovereign States, and that Austria's provocation could easily kindle a
Warnings and truths were alike forgotten, and the voices which uttered
them were now raising another hue and cry. Racial hatred was ablaze;
the warlike instincts of a military people were calling for action, and
a diseased conception of national honour was asking why Berlin did not
act against the Russian barbarians. In one paper the author remembers
reading a violent demand for action against Russia before the national
ardour had time to cool down.
[Footnote 1: The last mention of Austria as the guilty party is the
account of the Social Democratic demonstrations in Berlin on July 28th;
reported in the papers of the following day.]
On July 26th Austrian mobilization was in full swing, and Russia
admittedly took precautions of a similar nature soon after that date. We
may be sure that Russia understands her neighbours better than the
inhabitants of the British Isles understand them. In 1909 she had
suffered a severe diplomatic defeat and corresponding loss of prestige,
because she could only use words in dealing with Germany and Austria.
Now she was faced with the alternative of withdrawing from her declared
attitude (July 24th) or taking measures of a military character. In
order not to sacrifice her position as a European power and her special
position as the leader of the Slavonic peoples, Russia chose the latter
course, the only honourable one open to her. German papers and public
speakers retorted that Russia is the patron and protector of
assassins--a calculated distortion of the facts intended to have due
effect on public opinion. On all sides it was said that Russia had given
Serbia secret assurances of help which caused her to become stiff-backed
and unrepentant. Fortunately, it is possible to refute the accusation
through the pen of a German journalist, who described Belgrade's
desperate position on July 25th, the day when the ultimatum expired.
[Footnote 2: "The interests of Russian and German imperialism have
continually clashed during the last ten years, and more than once Russia
has had to beat a retreat before Germany's threats." Dr. Paul Lensch,
member of the Reichstag, in his "German Social Democracy and the World
War," p. 35. Published by "Vorwaerts Co." Berlin, 1915.]
"At last the inhabitants of Belgrade have become aware of their serious
situation. 'We are lost! Russia has left us in the lurch!' is being
shouted in the streets. Journalists, who at 2.30 p.m. had assured me
that Russia had intervened in Vienna with success, succumbed now to the
general depression. The people believe that they have been betrayed and
sold; rumours of assassination pass from mouth to mouth. The ministerial
council has been characterized by violent recriminations, ending in
blows. Others asserted that the Crown Prince Alexander had been stabbed
by a leader of the war-party. Another whispers that King Peter is dying
from an apoplectic fit or as the result of an _attentat_. The reports
become wilder, and each increases the dread of some unutterable,
"The streets are crowded with terror-stricken citizens. Curses resound
on all sides. Certainly a most unusual struggle is going on between the
two parties for peace and war. Shortly after three o'clock it seems to
be settled that Austria's demands will be fulfilled. It is true the
mobilization decree has been posted up on all public buildings, but that
means nothing. We still have nearly three hours in which all can be
righted. How will this gallows-respite be employed?
"It is four o'clock. Messengers rush from one Embassy to the other. In
the coffee-houses the rumour goes round: 'Italy is our saviour in
distress.' Cries of 'shame!' against Russia are raised, while the
'_vivas_!' for Italy sound louder and louder. The crowd marches to the
Italian Embassy, but are received with long and astonished faces. No!
there is nothing to hope for from Italy. Next they go to the French
Embassy; now there are about two thousand of us. Another disappointment!
A young diplomat receives the thronging masses and talks empty nothings,
including a great deal about France's sympathy for Serbia. But in this
dark hour sympathy is of no avail. Downcast and silent, the people go
next to the representative of Albion--who declines to appear.
"The confusion in the minds of the masses caused by the Government's
indecision increases from minute to minute; indescribable scenes are
witnessed before the General Post Office. It is alleged that thousands
and thousands of telegrams have arrived from Russia, begging the members
of Serbia's royal family not to give way to Austria. It may easily be
possible that the Russian telegrams all emanate from one person and have
been forged, in order to counteract the disposition to yield on the part
of the royal family. Without doubt both the King and Crown Prince have
lost all personal influence on the final decision. They are being slowly
carried along by the conflagration-party which obtained the upper hand
soon after four o'clock."
[Footnote 3: _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, July 28th.]
This picture gives no support to Germany's accusation that Russia had
stiffened Serbia into resisting Austria's unacceptable demands. It
rather leads one to consider that an action which drives a weak nation
to arrive at a decision on so awful an issue in so short a time, is an
action discreditable to a stronger, and impossible on the part of a
morally great, power. If Serbia chose wrongly in refusing to bite the
dust, then the guilt is still chargeable to Austria for forcing her
little neighbour to take a choice in haste. Sir Edward Grey emphasized
in his speech of July 27th the shortness of the time which all the
Powers had had at their disposal to formulate a plan, by which the
conflict could be restricted to the East, or amicably settled.
The leaders of the Germanic States had purposely willed it so. Several
unsuccessful attempts had been made to break up the Triple Entente, the
only barrier to the Germanization, _i.e._, Prussianization, of Europe,
and in the tragedy of Serajewo the Central Powers (or, at least, the
dominating factor of the two) believed they had found a lever with which
to break down the opposition by diplomacy. If that failed an immediate
appeal to the sword should follow. The diplomatic forty-eight hours'
_coup-de-main_ failed, and the programme contained no other item except
war. In a few words this means that the dastardly crime of Princip and
his fellow conspirators was exploited by Germany, acting through
Austria, to disturb the European balance of power under the guise of a
Sir Edward Grey formulated and circulated his conference proposal on the
next day, July 26th. Some persons to whom I spoke at the time welcomed
the idea; they belonged principally to the lower middle classes. One
well-known Pan-Germanist (Dr. Beckmann, professor of history in Erlangen
University) said that the proposal was an admission of a diplomatic
defeat and a sign that the Entente Powers were afraid to draw the sword.
If the three Powers in question were prepared to pocket this smack in
the face, then Germany would be satisfied, because such a defeat would
mean that the Triple Entente would never be able to work together again.
It is interesting to compare with this opinion those of two leading
(1.) "We understand that the German Government is not absolutely hostile
to England's endeavours to bring about a mediation between the
contending Powers by those not directly interested in the conflict. But
the German Government makes its participation in the mediation dependent
upon whether Austria-Hungary would accept this procedure, and in which
respect Austria wishes the mediation to follow. The German Government
cannot support any action which Austria-Hungary does not desire, as that
would mean exercising pressure.
"From Sir Edward Grey's declaration in the House of Commons it is clear
that he was not thinking of mediation between Austria and Serbia, but
between Austria and Russia. This shade of meaning requires attention. We
think that any attempt at mediation between Austria and Serbia would
have no prospect of success, because in Vienna they do not seem inclined
to accept such an action. Diplomatic relations have not been broken off;
the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs confers still with the Austrian
Ambassador, and it is not easy to see why the other Powers Should not
further this discussion in a mediative sense.
"But then Sir Edward Grey gave his idea more exact form and proposed a
conference between the German, Italian and French ambassadors and
himself. This conference of ambassadors is to seek a basis for an
agreement and then submit the result to the cabinets in Vienna and St.
Petersburg. In his yesterday's speech he emphasized the point that no
hostilities may take place till the conference has concluded its work.
"Here, of course, is the difficulty which mars his plan, for it is
questionable whether Austria will consent to a postponement of her
military operations. Negotiations concerning Sir Edward Grey's proposal
are at present occupying the cabinets, and it is to be hoped that a
means will be found to make it acceptable to the Powers most interested
in the conflict."
[Footnote 4: _Berliner Tagtblatt_, July 28th.]
(2.) "Germany not only cherishes, in a platonic manner, the desire of
the Western Powers to prevent the conflict between Austria and Serbia
spreading to the great Powers, but the Berlin cabinet has already been
active in more than one European capital in favour of a mediation which
will secure European peace. In this respect we are pleased (_Man
begruesst es hier_) that, in consequence of Sir Edward Grey's initiative,
the mediation idea has assumed an official form and is open for public
discussion. There is, however, reason to doubt whether a conference
between four great Powers as an organ for the mediation is the most
suitable way out of the difficulty. Everyone is quite agreed that the
details of the Austro-Serbian conflict, which concerns these two States
alone, cannot be brought before the forum of a conference; but as
regards the removal in good time of any difficulties which may arise
between Austria and Russia, the question must be raised as to whether
the Governments of these States are willing to entrust an official
mediation to a conference of four other great Powers. For the success of
the mediation proposal it would be more practical if the means to this
end were made as simple as possible, and that use was made of the
current diplomatic discussions, in immediate communication with the
capitals of the Empires in question, in order to carry through a
mediatory action to the result desired on all sides.
"In the employment of these means Germany would not fail to support the
Western Powers as she has already done up to the present."
[Footnote 5: _Koelnische Zeitung_, July 28th.]
I have carefully searched the official publications of the Central
Powers (Germany's White Book; Austria's Orange Book), and can find no
record in them of any pacific action on Germany's part in either of the
European capitals; hence the claims made in the above article seem to be
It appears incredible that these Powers should have omitted to give
proof of such action when making their case public for the sole purpose
of proving their innocence before the world. On the other hand, the
impression given by these books is that Germany and Austria's attitude
To SERBIA: The conditions must be accepted _ad hoc_ to the smallest
tittle and comma. Alternative, war.
To RUSSIA: What we have determined upon is unalterable and inevitable,
and you must submit to this decision. Alternative, war.
The _Goerlitzer Nachrichten_ published the following paragraph on July
30th: "Vienna, July 29th. After having made inquiries in official
circles, the morning papers make this announcement: Count Berchtold has
informed the English Ambassador that the Austro-Hungarian Government is
grateful for Grey's mediation proposal, and appreciates the good
intentions of the British Government. A peaceful solution of the
conflict with Serbia is, however, no longer possible, as the declaration
of war had already been signed."
Before leaving this all-important episode, it is instructive to compare
three other versions of the reason for refusing a conference. Sir Edward
Grey mooted the proposal for a conference to the ambassadors in London
on Friday, July 24th. On the afternoon he requested the British
Ambassador in Berlin to propose the conference to the German Government.
In spite of this, document No. 12 in the German White Book, a telegram
from the German Chancellor to Prince Lichnowsky in London runs: "We know
nothing here of a proposal from Sir Edward Grey to hold a conference of
four in London, etc." Another telegram, document No. 15, bearing the
same date and likewise from Bethmann-Hollweg to Lichnowsky is as
follows: "We have immediately commenced the mediatory action in Vienna
in the sense desired by Sir Edward Grey. Furthermore, we have informed
Count Berchtold of M. Sasonow's desire to communicate with him
[Footnote 6: This message leads to the assumption that direct
communications between Vienna and Petrograd had already ceased, although
the _Koelnische Zeitung_ told the German public on the following day that
they had not.]
The next document in the German White Book is dated July 28th. It is a
telegram from the German Ambassador in Vienna to the German Chancellor
in Berlin. "Count Berchtold begs me to express his thanks to you for
communicating the English mediation proposal. He replies, however, that
in consequence of the commencement of hostilities by Serbia and after
the declaration of war which has meanwhile been made he must look upon
England's step as being too late."
In the Austrian Orange Book, p. 122, we find this passage in a telegram
from Count Berchtold to the Austrian representative in London: "When Sir
Edward Grey speaks of the possibility of avoiding an outbreak of
hostilities he is too late, for yesterday Serbians shot at our frontier
guards, and to-day we have declared war on Serbia."
There are two points in these telegrams which require explanation.
Firstly, why should Sir Edward Grey's proposal take so long to reach
Vienna. Apparently it took from Monday to Wednesday to go by telegram
from London via Berlin to Vienna. Two German newspapers (already quoted)
knew of this conference idea on the 27th of July and commented upon it
in their morning editions of the following day.
The other point is the Austrian statement that Serbia commenced
hostilities. If this were the case, one would expect that
Austria-Hungary, in declaring war subsequently to the alleged shooting
by Serbians at frontier guards, would make mention of the acts as a
_casus belli_. On p. 117 of the Red Book the text of the declaration of
war is given in full, but there is no mention of any resort to arms on
the part of Serbia.
We are forced to the conclusion that Germany and Austria are mutually
responsible for preventing the conference; they desired war, and a
conference might have preserved peace. During the present summer (1915)
an important work has been published in Germany from which the following
passage is taken:
"Grey thought the time had now arrived to formulate a mediation
proposal. This idea was from the very beginning unacceptable to Austria,
because that would indirectly be a recognition of Russia as an
interested Power in the Austro-Serbian conflict. Only those who have
followed the development of mutual obligations between the Entente
Powers are able to understand the role which Russia's two comrades
(France and England)--to say nothing at all of Italy--would have played
in this conference. During its sittings Russia would have continued her
military preparations, while Germany would have been pledged not to
mobilize. Finally, nobody could assert that the man (Sir Edward Grey)
who would have presided over these negotiations, could have been
impartial. The more one thinks about this mediation proposal the more
clearly one recognizes that it would have made for a diplomatic victory
of the Triple Entente."
[Footnote 7: Professor Hermann Oncken: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg,"
Even the claim that Austria showed some inclination to permit mediation
on the points in her ultimatum to Serbia which were incompatible with
Serbia's sovereignty, has been categorically denied. The Vienna
_Fremdenblatt_ for September 24th, 1914, contains this official
"Vienna, September 24th. In a report of the late British Ambassador
published by the British Government, there is a passage which maintains
that Austria-Hungary's Ambassador, Count Szapary, in St. Petersburg had
informed Monsieur Sasonow, Russia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, that
Austria-Hungary 'was willing to submit the points in her Note to Serbia
which seemed incompatible with Serbian independence, to mediation.'
"We have been informed officially that this statement is absolutely
untrue; according to the nature of the step taken by the monarchy in
Belgrade, it would have been absolutely unthinkable. The passage cited
from the British Ambassador's report, as well as some other phrases in
the same, are evidently inspired by a certain bias. They are intended to
prove, by asserting that Austria-Hungary was prepared to yield on some
points at issue, that German diplomacy was really responsible for the
outbreak of war.
"Such attempts cannot obscure the truth, that Austria-Hungary and
Germany concurred in the wish to preserve European peace. If this wish
has not been fulfilled, and a European conflict has arisen out of a
local settlement, it can only be ascribed to the circumstance that
Russia first threatened Austria-Hungary and then Germany by an
unjustifiable mobilization. By this she forced war upon the Central
Powers and thus kindled a general conflagration."
In dealing with Germany's endeavours for peace Professor Oncken writes
on p. 546 of "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg" ("Germany and the World
War"): "The work of German diplomacy took the form of giving warnings
and peaceful explanations." On July 26th she pointed out to the Russian
Government that "preparatory military measures on Russia's part would
compel Germany to take corresponding steps, viz., the mobilization of
the army. Mobilization means war." Oncken does not quote any of the
"peaceful explanations" (_friedliche Erklaerungen_), and much as the
present writer would like to fill up this gap in his work, he must admit
his utter inability, because in the diplomatic correspondence he can
only find exasperating threats, thrown out to Russia by the two Germanic
The whole problem allows of a very simple digest: On July 23rd,
Austria-Hungary handed her ultimatum to Serbia, therein stating her
demands, and on the following day informed all the European powers of
her attitude. The neutral Press of the world and an unusually large
section of the German Press, immediately pronounced Austria's position
to be indefensible and untenable. The German Government, in spite of
these facts, gave its official and unreserved support to Austria's
attitude on July 26th. After eight weeks of war (on September 25th),
Austria officially declared that she had never swerved from her original
claims, nor ever felt any inclination to do so.
It is true that the usages of everyday life do not always hold good in
diplomatic dealings, but it is instructive to state the case in the
terms of everyday affairs. Mr. A. (Austria) informs Mr. B. (Serbia) that
he has a quarrel to settle with him and states his demands. Mr. C.
(Russia) who is a relation, patron and friend of B.'s, interferes to see
fair play. Whereupon Mr. D. (Germany), a friend and relation of A.'s,
informs C. in unmistakable fashion that he must neither speak nor act in
the affair or he will be immediately thrashed. Messrs. A. and D. are
unanimous in this view and repeat the threat in mutual form. Meanwhile
A. attacks B. Mr. C, seeing that they will not accord him a hearing,
takes steps to compel them to hear him, at which point Mr. D. fulfils
his threat and falls upon C.
It is not yet clear whether Austria would have permitted Russia to take
over the role of adviser and second to Serbia in her unequal struggle
with Austria. But from the moment Germany appeared on the scene the
situation becomes perfectly simple: Russia has absolutely no right
either to speak or move in the matter. On this rock of immovable
Germanic obstinacy the Russian ship of State, was intended to meet with
diplomatic shipwreck. Should Russia attempt to avoid this fate, then the
German sword could be trusted to arrange matters in the way desired by
The German language contains a very expressive phrase,
_Stimmungsmacherei_, which means creating or preparing a certain frame
of mind. How Germany's public opinion was tuned to the war melody is
seen by a study of the German newspapers published between July 25th and
August 1st. A great part of the German nation had welcomed Austria's
expressed determination to compel Serbia "to lick her shoes," as a
London paper put it at the time. Only the Social Democratic Party
persisted in asserting that Austria was the provocative and guilty party
down to the evening of July 28th.
But three days earlier the process of educating public opinion against
Russia commenced. In fact, it required little tuning to arouse a
national chorus, which was swelled subsequently by the Social Democratic
voices, demanding that Russia too must bite the dust.
At the psychological moment the terms of the alliance between Germany
and Austria were launched in the Press. One paper wrote: "It is
interesting at the present moment to call to mind how the treaty
existing between Germany and Austria regulates the question of mutual
support." Then the various paragraphs are cited, and the article
concludes: "That is to say: (1.) Assuming Austria attacks Serbia, and
Russia as a precautionary measure sends troops to the Austrian frontier
without commencing hostilities against the latter, then Germany is under
no obligation to intervene. (2.) Assuming that Serbia is the attacking
party, and Russia gives her support by military measures which threaten
Austria, then the German Empire must immediately assist the Hapsburg
monarchy with the whole of her military forces.
[Footnote 8: _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, July 27th.]
"Hence it all depends upon who attacks; the interpretation of 'attack,'
however, is debatable both in politics and international law. Again and
again it has been asserted that that Power which declares war is not the
attacker, but the one which makes a continuance of peaceful relations
Innumerable notices of Russia's alleged mobilization appeared and,
probably with a view to encouraging Germans to stand fast, ghastly
pictures of the weakness and unpreparedness of the Russian army, in a
word Russian rottenness and corruption. Persistent rumours of
revolutions in Russia were current.
A Vienna telegram published in Berlin informed the German public
that: "News received from Warsaw deny the rumours that a revolution has
broken out in Russian-Poland, but it is true that yesterday the entire
citadel in Warsaw was blown up. Official Russian reports endeavour to
prove that the explosion was caused by lightning. The extent of the
damage is not yet known, but in any case it amounts to hundreds of
thousands of roubles. It is also not certain whether any or how many
lives were lost."
[Footnote 9: _Vossische Zeitung_, July 29th.]
A few days later the German official organ _Norddeutsche Allgemeine
Zeitung_ and the semi-official _Koelnische Zeitung_ published the
following report of the explosion. "According to the statement of the
Governor of Warsaw it was caused by revolutionaries. No proof of this
was forthcoming, therefore it was ascribed to lightning, and as nobody
believed this explanation--there was not a cloud on the sky at the
time--the guilt remained finally with the revolutionaries.
"Now it has been proved, not to the satisfaction of the Russian
authorities of course, that Russian officers of high rank blew the
magazine up, because they would have to supply the troops with
ammunition after the mobilization--and the ammunition was not there. The
money for the same had found its way into the officers' pockets."
On July 30th the _Vossische Zeitung_ announced: "To-day even more
alarming news has been in the air than in the last few days. The _Lokal
Anzeiger_ stated during the afternoon that an order for the mobilization
of the army and navy had been signed by the Kaiser. On making inquiries
in official quarters, we were informed that the 'news' is false. At
three o'clock Wolff's Bureau issued an official _dementi_: 'We have
received an official statement to the effect that the news published in
an extra edition of the _Berliner Lokal Anzeiger_ that the Kaiser had
ordered the general mobilization is untrue.' Great excitement was caused
by the _Lokal Anzeiger's_ announcement, and the public visibly
The above report refers, of course, to incidents which happened on the
preceding day. The 30th of July was marked by the suppression of three
Berlin papers, including the _Berliner Neuester Nachrichten_, for
divulging the fact that the 1st, 5th and 17th Army Corps had been
mobilized. An account of this _faux pas_ appeared on July 31st in the
_Kreuz Zeitung_ and concluded, after denying the truth of the
mobilization, with the following paragraph: "If bodies of troops have
been moved to various points of our Eastern frontier, then it only means
the so-called frontier protection (_Grenzschutz_), which has been made
necessary by our Eastern neighbour strengthening his customary frontier
guards by troops of the line. Frontier protection is not generally
intended to prevent a serious attack, but means rather a kind of police
Two other passages will suffice to illuminate the mobilization question.
"Yesterday Russia gave official notification in Vienna and Berlin of
mobilization against Austria. Is it to be wondered at that a feeling of
disquietude is spreading throughout all classes of the nation. By delay
on our side, valuable military advantages may be lost if the people once
suspect that there is an absence of that firmness and joy of
responsibility (_Verantwortungsfreudigkeit_) which marked the action of
the Austrian Government and was hailed with jubilation by the German
"_Summa summarum_: The German Government has taken honest pains during
the last week in showing its peace-loving disposition and in seeking a
peaceful solution to the crisis. Nevertheless the political situation on
all sides and in every respect, has become worse from day to day through
the fault and according to the intention of the Triple Entente."
[Footnote 10: _Kreuz Zeitung_, July 31st.]
"The others are mobilizing. We--issue denials. We deny everything which
might mean mobilization or look like preparation for that step. It is
done for the sake of 'peace,' so that Russia, who is gathering her
national strength together in masses, may not be offended. Are we being
led? We look to the Kaiser. The Peace Societies and some of Germany's
enemies are looking to him.
"Can we remain indifferent in our hour of dread need, when the gleaming
promise of a bright future appears in the distance, if the inability to
resolve and dare has made Berlin its headquarters. All efforts are for
'peace' with honour. But in politics one must be able to recognize when
it is impossible to continue at peace; when peace is at the cost of our
friends, our own security, and the future of European peace. In view of
this one must be able to act."
[Footnote 11: _Deutsche Zeitung_, July 31st.]
The internal tactics of the German Government had been successful all
along the line. Insignificant Serbia had dropped out of the reckoning.
Russia must be humbled. The German nation, believing itself entirely
peaceful, and convinced that its leaders had done everything possible
for peace, now demanded in no unmistakable voice--action! mobilization!
Announcements of mobilization on all sides (Switzerland, Holland,
Belgium) doubtless added to the popular belief that Germany desired
above all things--peace. Still, in spite of the warlike spirit of the
nation and the burning desire to settle off Russia once and for all,
there was an undercurrent of overstrained nervousness. A Dresden paper
of July 30th relates that between the hours of two and four on the
preceding afternoon a Berlin newspaper had been asked thirty-seven
different questions on the telephone relating to rumours of
assassinations, mobilization, etc.
The process of inspiring national confidence, however, had by no means
suffered through neglect. France was represented as being unprepared
and, together with England, desiring only peace. As early as July 27th
in the _Taegliche Rundschau_ the public had been told that Italy, had
officially declared herself ready and willing to stand by the Central
Powers as an ally.
Even Japan was used to stiffen Teutonic courage. The _Deutscher Kurier_
told its readers in a telegram from New York (?) that Americans fully
expected Japan to attack Russia in the back and Japanese ministers were
holding conferences all day and night. According to the _Weser Zeitung_,
August 1st, Japan was arming for war, while the _Muenchen-Augsburger
Zeitung_ published details of an alliance concluded between Austria and
Japan in Vienna on the afternoon of July 30th. According to this source
Japan had pledged herself to support Austria in case the latter was
attacked by Russia, while Austria declared her absolute
disinterestedness in the Far East. On August 1st the _Berliner
Tageblatt_ repeated this legend; but advised its readers to exercise
reserve in accepting it.
"During the evening (August 2nd) the news spread in the streets of
Berlin that Japan was mobilizing and had already declared war on Russia.
Huge crowds flocked to the Japanese Embassy and spent hours in cheering
Japan, Germany, and the Triple Alliance."
[Footnote 12: _Der Montag_, August 3rd.]
Meanwhile Russia, having failed to get her simple rights recognized and
knowing that Germany had made extensive military preparations, decided
on July 31st to mobilize her entire forces. The German Ambassador
immediately informed his Government of this step, and the Kaiser placed
Germany under martial law. On the same day the Emperor proceeded from
Potsdam to the Imperial Palace in Berlin.
THE DOGS LET LOOSE
"Just after three o'clock a company, at war strength, from the
'Alexander' regiment marched under the command of a young lieutenant,
down Unter den Linden. Drums were beaten; a huge crowd listened in
solemn silence as the lieutenant read the articles placing the German
Empire under martial law. The crowd was fully alive to the awful
sternness of this historic moment.
"After the proclamation was ended a deep silence ensued, then a loud
voice cried: 'The Kaiser! Hurrah!' Three times the shout rang to the
heavens. 'The German army! Hurrah!' Once more the caps were swung three
times. The boy-like lieutenant, with head erect, sword in hand,
commands: 'Attention! Slope arms!' The regular beat of marching men
follows as they proceed in the direction of the Imperial Residence.
Berlin is under martial law!"
[Footnote 13: _Deutscher Kurier_, July 31st.]
"During the afternoon enormous masses of people collected in the streets
and open spaces of Berlin. Unter den Linden, in expectation of the
Kaiser's return, was overfilled with excited, waiting throngs. Just
before a quarter to four a great movement was seen from the direction of
the Brandenburger Tor, which spread like a wave along the street.
Everybody rushed on to the road, and the police were pushed aside. Then
the suppressed excitement of the last few days gave vent to a hurricane
of hurrahs as the populace greeted their monarch. The Emperor was
wearing the uniform of the _Garde-Kuerassiere_; beside him sat the
Empress. His countenance was overshadowed by deep gravity as he returned
the welcome of his subjects. At a quarter to four the Kaiser was in the
royal castle, and immediately the Imperial Standard was fluttering
[Footnote 14: _Vossische Zeitung_, July 31st.]
The next twenty-four hours are so full of fateful events that they seem
one big blur on the memory. Although everyone was convinced that an
appeal to the sword was inevitable, there was still a tense feeling of
dread expectation hanging like a cloud over the land. During the whole
of that long night the author was an observer from an overcrowded train
which left Nuremberg at 9 p.m. and rumbled dismally into Cologne the
next morning at ten o'clock. Every station, great and small, was crowded
with anxious, expectant crowds; the smaller stations full of spectators
and relatives bidding farewell to departing soldiers, and the greater
ones crowded with fleeing tourists.
On the platforms at Frankfort and Cologne many tons of luggage were
stacked in huge piles. It would be interesting to know what became of
them. Few Germans could have slept that night; the anxiety was too
great. The whole railway line was guarded by patrols, many of whom were
in civilian attire. Here and there a "field-grey" uniform was visible.
On many stations armed guards awaited the arrival of reservists and gave
them conduct to the barracks.
[Footnote 15: The _Koenigsberger Hartungsche Zeitung_ contained a
paragraph on August 7th to the effect that 120,000 trunks and
portmanteaux had been collected on Berlin stations alone.]
The Kaiser spoke words of cheer from a window of the royal palace on
Friday evening, after which the restless crowd thronged to the official
residence of the Chancellor to receive as a watchword the words which
Prince Friedrich Karl had spoken on a memorable occasion to his
Brandenburger troops: "Let your hearts beat to God, and your blows on
An ultimatum was despatched to St. Petersburg and presented at midnight
to the Russian Government. The latter was requested to cancel all
mobilization orders within twelve hours, or war would ensue.
Simultaneously the French Government was asked what its attitude would
be in case of a Russo-German war. In these measures it is safe to
conclude that the German nation was heart and soul behind the
Government, otherwise the tremendous outbreak of national enthusiasm
throughout the length and breadth of the land would be entirely
Throughout the day the nation awaited, under tense strain, an answer
from Russia. "At five o'clock the excitement of the masses in Unter den
Linden had increased to a degree almost beyond endurance. The crowd
surged from side to side when a court carriage or an officer drove by in
a motor-car. Everyone felt that the fateful decision might fall at any
minute, when the German nation would know its fate.
"Suddenly motor-cars full of officers appeared from the gates of the
royal residence. They shouted to the excited crowd that the general
mobilization had been ordered. One officer waved his drawn sword,
another his handkerchief, while others stood up and waved their caps.
Then an indescribable scene of jubilation followed; the parole
'mobilization' was passed on by the police, and in less time than it
takes to write, the hundreds of thousands of human beings surging to and
fro between the monument to 'Old Fritz' and the Lustgarten, knew that
Germany would now speak with her sword."
[Footnote 16: _Berliner Tageblatt_, August 2nd.]
"Our hour of destiny has struck! Germany, the strongest and most
peaceful nation on earth, appeals to the sword. The last call which we
sent across the Eastern frontier has remained unanswered. The enemy is
mute. Now Germany speaks!
"The Kaiser calls the Empire to arms! Our King will lead Bavaria's
armies to him. The nation is ready, armed to the teeth. Challenged by a
dishonest opponent who envies us the fruit of our peaceful toil, the
hands of German men leave their work and grasp the sword. Our enemy
shall learn to his terrible cost, what it means to summon a nation in
arms to the battlefield. The German army goes out to fight for our
country, in a cause which is more stainless and pure than the light of
the sun. The disgraceful Muscovite conspiracy, creeping in the footsteps
of Serbian murderers, believes the moment has arrived in which they will
be able to fall upon, overthrow and plunder us; Russia desires to kindle
a world war.
"We believe that he will not succeed; but should it thus fall out, we
Germans will defend not only our land and ourselves; but, in this war
which has been forced upon us in the basest manner possible, we shall
defend the civilization of the world, the culture of the earth, against
debased 'unculture' and the spreading roots of decay. This is a lofty
and tremendous task. If we are victorious, as we confidently trust, then
the ever-increasing number of civilized peoples honestly toiling in the
blessings of peace, will thank us for centuries to come.
"Brothers! Sisters! such an hour has come that the history of the world
has never witnessed before. In the struggle which now begins--a deadly
grapple frivolously conjured up by Russia's monarch--the whole earth
will groan. The German people, however, will prove that it is worthy to
retain and develop its leading place in the intellectual and cultural
progress of the world. Our enemy envies us this position because in his
land, stupidity and confusion reign supreme; his own uncivilization and
barbarism cannot be rooted out.
"We will prevent him from throwing Europe back to the conditions in
which he and his likes dwell. May God grant that the civilized peoples
of Europe may have true understanding for this historic hour, just as
their heroic ancestors understood the danger when they hurled themselves
against the invasions of the Mongols.
"First of all the German nation will march against the armies of the
East, and, hand in hand with our ally, we hope will so grip the enemy
that he will lose all desire ever to attack us again."
[Footnote 17: _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, August 2nd.]
The last lines of this perfervid article, give an instructive clue. A
mere quibble had arisen between the Central Powers and Russia. The
former immediately adopted an arrogant, even threatening, attitude which
thoughtful Germans condemned. Russia's willingness to submit the
question to an arbitration conference consisting of four neutral
ambassadors seems only to have intensified Teutonic lust to humiliate
the opponent. In any case, it is interesting to note that between July
24th and 31st the whole German nation had been converted to the
uncompromising attitude of the Government.
Further, it is evident that the German people believed they were about
to march against Russia. The very last remark which I heard from German
lips as we entered the train to leave Erlangen on July 31st was: "Jetzt
werden die Russen abgekloepft." ("Now the Russians will get a
[Footnote 18: We left Erlangen at 3.30 p.m. Martial law had been
proclaimed some time previous to that. But the proclamation in Berlin
occurred at 3.30 p.m. on the same day. The _Berliner Abendblatt_
published on the same evening states that the Kaiser had been waiting
and hoping for a peaceful answer from Russia. The Bavarian authorities
could not have taken so serious a step without an order from the Highest
War Lord, which leads to the conclusion that it was a device to get
military preparation well under way.]
The Berlin cabinet mobilized Germany's armed strength, as they alleged,
against Russia, and the Government succeeded in arousing and enlisting
national enthusiasm against the Eastern neighbour. Yet when the time
came to strike, Germany's might was hurled against neutral Belgium and
unwilling France, while Russia was left free to overrun the Eastern part
of Germany. The blood-guilt rests in the first place with the Kaiser and
his Government, and in the second place (although in no less a degree)
with the German people, because they condoned the crime and acquiesced
in the duplicity.
While the war fury seethed through the nation the cry echoed on all
sides: "We want peace! We have worked for a peaceful solution!" Yet a
study of the workings of the national mind as revealed in the German
Press, and of diplomatic doings as shown in the German White Book,
affords not a single instance--excepting the Socialists'
demonstrations--of any tangible, concrete effort made either by the
German people or its representative diplomacy to avoid a catastrophe. On
the other hand it must be said that the latter (German diplomacy)
deliberately baulked the only practical proposal (Sir Edward Grey's)
which could have brought about a solution. The German nation _did_
desire peace, but only on the condition that their opponents granted
Germany and Austria's arrogant claims down to the smallest tittle.
Exactly at six minutes to one (midday) on August 1st, a telegram left
Berlin instructing the German Ambassador in St. Petersburg to declare
war on Russia at 5 p.m. if the latter State had not given a satisfactory
answer to Germany's ultimatum by that time. Count Pourtales performed
this duty, and therewith the sands of fate ran out.
On the previous day summonses had been issued calling a meeting of the
Reichstag for Tuesday, August 4th. The opening ceremony took place at 1
p.m. and all the political parties were present, except the Social
Democrats, who, according to their traditions, did not appear, and thus
escaped the famous hand-shaking scene. The Kaiser and two of his sons
appeared in field-grey uniform. His theatrical appeal for the leaders of
each party to swear fidelity to the national cause by shaking hands with
him, as well as his saying that "Now there are only Germans," may have
been spontaneous; but it is far more probable that they were meant to be
a diplomatic appeal to the sentimental vanity of the German nation.
It would be superfluous to deal with the speech from the throne in this
place, but at the close of the ceremony an incident occurred which
deserves mention. "After taking leave of the Reichstag's representatives
the Kaiser stretched out his hand to the famous professor of
jurisprudence in Strasbourg University, Dr. van Calker. The Kaiser
looked steadily at Professor van Calker for a moment, then, after the
handshake, clenched his fist and struck downwards uttering these words:
'Nun aber wollen wir sie dreschen!' ('Now we will jolly well thrash
them!'); nodded to the professor and walked away."
[Footnote 19: This utterance has since become a common theme for
composition exercises in German schools.]
[Footnote 20: _Taegliche Rundschau_, August 5th.]
The sitting in the Reichstag was a solemn event. On that occasion the
Chancellor expressed himself at length in defining Germany's position.
"A tremendous fate has fallen upon Europe. While we have endeavoured to
maintain the prestige of the German Empire in the eyes of the world, we
have lived for forty-four years in peace and protected European peace.
In this work of peace we have become strong and mighty--therefore we are
envied. We have suffered with long-enduring patience; while in the East
and West, under the excuse that Germany is lusting for war, hatred for
us has been nourished and fetters wrought where-with to bind us. The
wind which blows there has now become a storm.
"We desired nothing but to live on in peaceful toil, content with an
unspoken oath that was echoed from the Emperor down to the youngest
recruit. Our sword shall only leap from its sheath in defence of a just
cause. (Loud applause.) The day on which we must draw it, has dawned
against our will and contrary to our honest endeavours. Russia has set a
burning torch to the house of peace. (Loud cries of 'Quite true.') We
stand to-day in a forced war with Russia and France.
"Gentlemen, a number of documents, collected in the haste caused by
these overwhelming events, have been laid before you. Permit me to
emphasize the facts which characterize our attitude.
"From the moment that the Austrian conflict broke out we have striven
and worked to limit the quarrel to Austria-Hungary and Serbia. All the
cabinets, in particular England, accept this view; only Russia has
declared that in the settlement of this conflict, she must be allowed to
express her wishes. Therewith the danger of European complications
raised its threatening countenance.
"As soon as the first certain news of Russian military preparations
reached us, we caused it to be made known in St. Petersburg, in a
friendly but unmistakable manner, that warlike measures and military
preparations would compel us also to take corresponding steps. But
mobilization is next to war. Russia assured us in a friendly tone (cries
of indignation) that she was making no military preparations against us.
"Meanwhile England tried to mediate between Vienna and St. Petersburg
and was warmly supported by us. On July 28th the Kaiser telegraphed to
the Czar begging him to remember that it was Austria-Hungary's right and
duty to stop the Greater-Serbian agitation, as this threatened to
undermine Austria's existence. (Cries of indignation.) The Kaiser
pointed out to the Czar the gulf between monarchical interests and the
outrage at Serajewo; he begged him to give his personal support to the
Kaiser's endeavour to smooth out the antithesis between Vienna and St.
"Just before this telegram came into the Czar's hands, the Czar, on his
side, begged the Kaiser for his help: the Kaiser should advise Vienna to
be more moderate. The Kaiser undertook the task of mediator, but the
action ordered by him was hardly in motion, when Russia began to
mobilize all her forces against Austria-Hungary. (Excited shouts of
indignation and disgust.) But Austria had only mobilized certain army
corps against Serbia, besides which she had only two corps, and these
were far from the Russian frontier.
"At this juncture the Kaiser informed the Czar that the mobilization of
his armies against Austria would increase the difficulties of mediation,
a task which he had undertaken at the Czar's express wish, and perhaps
render it impossible. Nevertheless, we continued our mediatory action in
Berlin, and indeed in a form which went to the limits permitted by our
alliance. (Great excitement.) During this time Russia renewed her
assurances that she was taking no military measures against us.
"We come to July 3ist. In Vienna a decision was to be arrived at on that
day. By our representations we had already brought it about that Vienna,
which for a time was not in direct communication with St. Petersburg,
had commenced direct discussion again. But before Vienna could come to a
final decision, the news came that Russia was mobilizing--_i.e._,
against us too--her whole forces. (Cries of indignation.) The Russian
Government, although fully aware from our repeated representations what
a mobilization on our frontiers means, did not notify this step to us,
and gave us no explanations concerning it.
"As late as the afternoon of July 31st a telegram came from the Czar to
the Kaiser in which the former pledged himself that his army should take
up no provocative attitude against us. (Great excitement.) But the
hostile mobilization on the Russian frontier was in full swing during
the night July 30th-31st. While we were mediating in Berlin the Russian
armies appeared on our long and almost entirely open frontier. France
was not yet mobilizing, but, as she admits, was already taking
"And we? Up till then we had not--the Imperial Chancellor spoke with
great emotion and repeatedly struck the table while uttering these
words--called up a single reservist, out of a loving regard for the
peace of Europe. (Loud cries of 'Bravo!') Were we then to wait on in
patience till the Powers between which we are wedged should choose their
moment to strike? (A hurricane of voices, 'No!') To expose Germany to
this danger would be a crime. (Stormy, general and long continued cries
of 'Quite true!' and 'Bravo!' in which the Social Democrats joined too.)
"Therefore on July 31st we requested Russia to demobilize as the only
measure which could save the European peace. (Loud applause.) The
Imperial Ambassador in St. Petersburg further received instructions to
inform the Russian Government, that in case our demand was rejected, we
should consider ourselves in a state of war with Russia. The Imperial
Ambassador has carried out these instructions.
"What answer Russia accorded to our demand for demobilization we do not
know even to-day. Telegraphic announcements on this point have not
reached us, although matters of far less importance have been sent over
the wires. Hence, long after the expiration of the stated time, the
Kaiser saw himself compelled to mobilize our forces at 5 o'clock on
"Simultaneously, it was necessary for us to inquire regarding France's
attitude. In answer to our definite question whether, in case of a
Russo-German war, France would remain neutral, the French Government has
replied that they will act as their interests dictate. (Laughter.) This
was at least an evasion, if not a negative answer to our question.
"In spite of this, the Kaiser ordered that the French frontier should be
respected. This order was strictly obeyed with one single exception.
France, who mobilized at the same time as ourselves, declared that she
would respect a ten-kilometre zone along her frontiers. (Cries of
indignation.) And what happened in reality? Their airmen have thrown
bombs, cavalry patrols have violated our territory, and companies have
broken into Alsace-Lorraine. (Indignation.) Therewith, France, although
war has not yet been declared, has attacked our territories.
"As regards the single exception which I have referred, I have received
the following report from the Chief of the General Staff: In respect to
French complaints of violations of her frontiers, only one case is
admitted. Against express orders an officer with a patrol from the 14th
Army Corps crossed the French frontier on August 2nd. Apparently they
were shot down; only one man has returned. But long before this single
instance occurred, French airmen had penetrated into Southern Germany
and dropped bombs, and French troops had attacked our
frontier-protection-troops in the Schlucht Pass. Up till now our
soldiers have confined themselves entirely to protecting the frontier.
"So far the report from the Chief of the General Staff.
"We are now in a position of self-defence, and necessity knows no
law! (Cries of 'Quite right!') Our troops have occupied Luxembourg,
perhaps they have already entered Belgium. (Loud applause.) That is a
breach of international law. The French Government, it is true, had
declared in Brussels that they would respect Belgian neutrality so long
as their opponent respected it. But we knew that France stood ready to
invade it. (Cries of indignation.)
[Footnote 21: This sentence seems so important that I give the original:
"Wir sind jetzt in der Notwehr, und Not kennt kein Gebot!"]
"France could wait, we could not; and a French attack in our flank on
the Lower Rhine might have been disastrous for us. Thus we were
compelled to ignore the protests of the Luxembourg and Belgian
"The injustice which we commit thereby, we shall try to make good again
as soon as our military goal is attained. Anyone who fights for the
highest, as we do now, may only think of how he may hack his way
through. (Hurricanes of applause; long continued hand-clapping in the
whole house and on the tribune.)
"Gentlemen, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with Austria-Hungary.
Concerning England's attitude, the declaration made by Sir Edward Grey
in the House of Commons yesterday has made the standpoint which the
English Government takes up quite clear.
"We have declared to the English Government that as long as England
remains neutral, our fleet shall not attack the North Coast of France.
Further, that we shall not disturb the integrity and independence of
Belgium. I repeat this declaration before the whole world and I may add
that if England will remain neutral, we are prepared--assuming mutual
treatment--to undertake no hostile operations against France's
commercial marine. (Applause.)
"Gentlemen, so much for events up till now! I repeat the words of the
Kaiser: 'We enter the struggle with a clear conscience!' (Great
enthusiasm.) We are fighting for the fruits of our labours in peace, for
the heritage of a great past, and for our future. The fifty years are
not yet ended within which Moltke said we should stand at arms to defend
the heritage and the achievements of 1870. The hour of great trial has
struck for our nation. But we look forward to it with absolute
confidence. (Tremendous applause.)
"Our army is in the field, our fleet is ready, and behind them the
entire German nation (roars of never-ending applause and hand-clapping
in the whole house)--the whole German nation! (These words were
accompanied by a gesture towards the Social Democrats.--Renewed outburst
of applause, in which the Social Democrats also joined.)
"Gentlemen, you know your duty in its entirety. The vote of credit
requires no further argument, I beg you to pass it quickly. (Loud
[Footnote 22: _Berliner Tageblatt_, August 5th.]
Unfortunately this eloquent exposition of Germany's case contains
inaccuracies which can only be described as conscious untruths. I have
already made myself responsible for the statement: "Lying has always
been the foundation stone of German policy." Earl Cromer, in
commenting on this, gives additional evidence of its veracity.
[Footnote 23: "Soul of Germany," p. 192.]
[Footnote 24: _The Spectator_, August 7th, 1915, p. 169.]
The German Chancellor, when he justified his policy by the dictum:
"Necessity knows no law," evidently meant that necessity also recognizes
no law of truth. In any case, he remained faithful to the traditions of
his country. Although the German Press is both venal and supine, we
shall see that it has done the world a service and played its own
Government a foul trick. (Der deutschen Regierung einen boesen Streich
When Bethmann-Hollweg was thumping the table before him, and assuring
his immediate hearers and the world in general that the Berlin cabinet
had not called up a single reservist before five o'clock on Saturday,
August 1st, he was guilty of a deliberate falsehood. On July 31st, I
left Erlangen by the 3.31 train for Nuremberg; travelling in the same
train was Dr. Haack, professor of the history of art in Erlangen
University. He was accompanied by his wife and various colleagues,
including Professor Busch, who bade him farewell on the platform. Dr.
Haack is an artillery reserve officer, and he was then going to join his
regiment. At 8.30 p.m. on the same day, we spoke to Frau Haack on
Nuremberg station. The lady's face was very tear-stained and she was
about to return to Erlangen alone. She told us in a broken voice that
her husband had been called up.
In "The Soul of Germany" I have given names and dates of other cases. I
do not propose to disgrace my word of honour by playing it off against
the German Chancellor. But acting on the principle of "Set a thief to
catch a thief," I shall adduce some instances from German newspapers.
The Paris correspondent of the _Koelnische Zeitung_ travelled home via
Brussels; his adventures are related at length in the _K.Z._ for August
4th. On August 1st he was in Brussels and complained bitterly, in his
article, about the hotel service, and excuses it by writing: "The German
waiters had all left Brussels the day before (July 31st) to join the
An article dated Strasbourg, August 3rd, was published in the
_Frankfurter Zeitung_ on the 6th of the same month. The writer describes
the martial scenes which he had witnessed during the preceding week, and
mentions that the officers in the garrison had received a special order
to send their wives and children away from the city several days before
martial law was proclaimed. Friday, presumably, the order came for the
garrison to march to the French frontier, for on Saturday the regiments
were entrained and left Strasbourg. Our good German friend describes the
scene in the streets: "Alongside the ranks were the wives and children
of the called-up reservists, trying to keep step with the quickly moving
troops. Before sunset the regiments, all on a war-footing, had left the
Every layman knows that a reservist cannot enter a barracks in civilian
attire, and emerge five minutes later in full war-kit ready for the
march. The German Imperial Chancellor affirms that not one of them had
been called up before five o'clock in the afternoon of that day. It is
true that neither the age of miracles nor the age of lies has passed
away. Perhaps Herr Bethmann-Hollweg could explain why it was impossible
to send trunk-messages on Germany's telephone system during the last
three days of July, 1914. At least, the local papers in Bavaria asserted
that that was the case.
The _Elbinger Zeitung_, August 13th, contained a reservist's letter with
this illuminating passage: "During the last few days everybody was in
readiness; our linen, etc., had been packed and sent off in advance. On
Friday, July 31st, the order arrived that I should present myself;
mobilization had begun. With feelings of joy I changed into my uniform
and rushed to join my company. The streets were full of frightened
people with tears in their eyes. We officers pressed each others' hands
and with ardent glances exclaimed: 'At last it has come!'"
The Chancellor based his assertion that French troops had crossed the
German frontier, on the report from the Chief of the General Staff. This
authority admitted that German soldiers on August 2nd (Sunday) had
violated the French frontier and continues with these words: "But long
before that French airmen had dropped bombs in Southern Germany, and
French soldiers had attacked our frontier-guards in the Schlucht Pass."
The _Frankfurter Zeitung_, July 31st, gives Bethmann-Hollweg and the
Chief of the General Staff the lie direct. The paragraph is dated July
30th, Kolmar, and runs: "The Schlucht Pass has just been barricaded by
German frontier guards. This is to prevent motor-lorries and such-like
vehicles from entering French territory without our permission. Several
papers have announced the alleged occupation of the Schlucht (gorge) by
French troops. The report is an absolute invention. (Die Meldung ist
voellig aus der Luft gegriffen.) I have taken the trouble to look round,
and may say that the usual tourist traffic is going on as usual."
The remainder of the charge is that "long before August 2nd," French
airmen had dropped bombs on South German towns. The towns in question
are Frankfort and Nuremberg. The _Koelnische Zeitung_ contained this
paragraph on August 2nd: "A military report has just come in, stating
that French airmen dropped bombs in the neighbourhood of Nuremberg this
morning. As war has not yet been declared between France and Germany,
this is a breach of international law."
Two remarks are necessary to supplement the above "news." Firstly, in
the Reichstag, the Chancellor said this attack had occurred "long before
August 2nd." Secondly, the _Cologne Gazette_ received the report from
the _military authorities_. That betrays the source from which all these
The author has in his possession a Nuremberg paper (_Fraenkische
Tagepost_) for the whole of August, 1914. It contains absolutely no
mention of any air raid on or near Nuremberg. If bombs had been dropped
in the vicinity, it is quite unthinkable that the local papers should
contain no report of the affair.
President Poincare, on July 15th, 1915, declared the Nuremberg flight to
be a fable. The _Fraenkischer Kurier_ (a Nuremberg newspaper) on August
1st, 1915, contains an article which states that the news of these
alleged airmen, whom nobody saw, was spread throughout the length and
breadth of the German Empire. This same paper ridicules the whole
Another extract gives the key to the whole mystery. "Yesterday (Monday,
August 3rd), at 8 p.m., the following official announcement was given
out for publication.
"Up till now, the German troops, in obedience to orders given, have not
crossed the French frontier. In contrast to this _since_ yesterday
(August 2nd) French troops have attacked our frontier posts without any
declaration of war. They have crossed the German frontier at several
points, although only a few days ago the French Government assured us
that they would keep a zone ten kilometres wide free from their troops.
_Since_ last night French troops hold German places in occupation.
_Since_ yesterday bomb-dropping airmen have come into Baden and Bavaria;
further, by violating Belgian neutrality, they have fled over Belgian
territory into the Rhine province and tried to destroy our railways.
Thus France has begun an attack upon us, and thereby created a state of
war. The safety of the Empire compels us to take defensive measures. The
Kaiser has given the necessary orders. The German Ambassador in Paris
has been instructed to demand his passports."
[Footnote 25: From the _Berliner Lokal Anzeiger_ of August 4th.]
Germany had no earthly excuse to begin war on France, and imitating the
noble example of Bismarck in forging the notorious Ems telegram which
precipitated the 1870 war, the German military authorities forged the
"news" of alleged attacks by French airmen and French troops. The German
Official Press Bureau completed this vile, criminal work.
Although the point is proved, a few more examples of the "airmen" legend
will be of interest. "Berlin, August 2nd. _Last night_ a hostile airship
was observed flying from Kerprich to Andernach. Hostile aeroplanes were
observed flying from Dueren to Cologne. A French aeroplane was shot down
by Wesel." (From the _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, August 3rd.)
The _Frankfurter Zeitung_, August 4th, contains three separate detailed
accounts of French airmen dropping bombs on Frankfort railway station
during the previous night. The third account will suffice.
"The military authorities in Frankfort were informed last night that a
hostile airman was flying in the direction from Darmstadt to Frankfort.
At ten minutes past one the noise of the propellers as well as bursting
bombs was heard by those standing on the command-bridge of the Central
Station. In the dark night it was impossible to see the flying-machine.
As it approached the station, where all lights were out, fifty to sixty
soldiers stationed on the command-bridge fired at the aeroplane, which
soon moved off in the direction of the Southern Station. There, too, it
came under a heavy fire from soldiers and policemen. Nothing whatever
has been found on the ground or at the station, not even parts of the
bombs. It is assumed that the hand-bombs exploded in the air."
[Footnote 26: Yes, they burst in the air, _aus der sie gegriffen worden
In peace times no German editor would dare to refuse any contribution
sent to him by the military authorities. The above airman-story
sufficiently illustrates the state of affairs in war time.
"Chemnitz, August 4th. During the past night, between 3 and 4 a.m., a
French airman dropped bombs on Chemnitz. Bombs exploded in the streets
without, however, doing any damage. Apparently the shots fired at the
aeroplane were unfortunately without result." _Magdeburgische Zeitung_,
This is an excellent example of how the Press trick is worked. A lying
report is published in a city hundreds of miles away from the scene of
the alleged occurrence. The extract where it was alleged that a French
airman was shot down at Wesel, on the Dutch frontier, was published in a
Munich paper, four hundred miles away.
The last and supreme lie in Bethmann-Hollweg's speech is the most
insidious of all. The Chancellor sketched a truly moving picture of
Germany beseeching Austria to find a _modus vivendi_ between herself and
Russia. Germany claims that up to the last minute of the last fatal week
she was working for peace. Bethmann-Hollweg insinuates that on July 31st
a last decision was to have fallen in Vienna; he does not tell us what
that decision would have been, but he maintains that Russia's military
preparations forestalled it and so the decision was never arrived at.
Thus Russia destroyed the last hope of peace; the Chancellor falsely led
his hearers to believe that it was a certain hope and that the European
peace would have been saved.
It is useless to choose one's words in writing of German diplomacy. This
is a base lie. Austria arrived at her decision previous to sending her
ultimatum to Serbia. This momentous decision was, that Russia had no
right to intervene in the quarrel, which means, in other words, that
Russia had absolutely no right to speak or use her influence in a crisis
affecting the destiny of the Slavonic peoples, neither had Russia any
right to move in a crisis which would disturb the balance of power in
the Balkans and in Europe. It was merely these rights which Russia
throughout the crisis endeavoured to establish; if they had been
recognized there would have been no war.
In order to prove what the Austro-German standpoint was, and that from
first to last never changed, reference must be made to the Austrian Red
Book. On page 24: Sir Edward Grey was informed by Count Mensdorf on
July 24th, "and I (Mensdorf) repeated to him (Grey) many times, that we
should stick to that view."
[Footnote 27: Oesterreichisch-ungarisches Rotbuch. Vienna, 1915.]
Page 25. Count Czecsen in Paris informed French Minister: "It is a
question which can only be settled between Serbia and ourselves," on
On the same day the Austrian Ambassador emphasized the same point in an
interview with the Russian Foreign Minister--pp. 27-8.
During the evening Monsieur Sasonow had interviews with both the German
and Austrian Ambassadors. The latter telegraphed to Vienna: "My German
colleague at once pointed out to M. Sasonow that Austria would not
accept any interference in her differences with Serbia and that Germany
would also not permit it."--p. 29.
That gives the situation in its simplest form, and without making
further quotations, it will suffice to cite the dates on which it was
July 25th in St. Petersburg, p. 89
" 27th " " " p. 101
" 28th " Berlin by Germany, p. 116
" " " London by Austria, p. 123
" 29th " St. Petersburg, " p. 128
" 30th " Berlin, " p. 130
" 30th " St. Petersburg, " p. 131
" 31st " Vienna, " p. 133
August 1st " St. Petersburg, " p. 136
Moreover, no less a personage than the Kaiser's brother confirmed this
view. In Prince Heinrich's telegram to the King of England, July 30th,
the following passage occurs: "If you really and sincerely wish to
prevent this terrible misfortune (a European war), may I propose that
you should exercise your influence on France and Russia to keep them
both neutral (in the Austro-Serbian quarrel). In my opinion this would
be of the greatest service. I consider this a certain means and perhaps
_the only possibility of preserving European peace_."
Prince Heinrich expressed no hope that Austria could be persuaded to
make any concession, but merely requested King George to exercise his
influence to get Russia to accept a position impossible to herself and
incompatible with the balance of power in Europe.
The rock of Germanic obstinacy was seated in Vienna, whether Germany was
the prime mover in erecting it remains to be proved. Germany knew full
well that European peace would be shattered on that rock, yet there is
no fragment of evidence to show that she tried to remove it; but there
is overwhelming proof that she encouraged Austria to stand by it, thus
causing a European conflagration.
And as if the above were insufficient to prove that the German Imperial
Chancellor was guilty of conscious falsification, Austria put one more
nail in the coffin of European peace on September 24th, 1914, when it
issued an official communication to the Press, reiterating that Austria
had never dreamed of departing from the attitude which she first took
[Footnote 28: "Die Schuld am Weltkriege" ("The Guilt for the World
War"), by an Austrian. Vienna, 1915, p. 59.]
Germany's aim was to employ the Serajewo crime as a lever to put Russia,
as a vital force, out of the domain of European politics. In spite of
denials, there is reason to believe that Austria was inclined to listen
to reason, but Germany forestalled and prevented this by despatching an
ultimatum to Russia and then declaring war.
A few other points in Bethmann-Hollweg's speech deserve brief notice. He
quotes Germany's threats, but not one word from the peaceful overtures
which were so often mentioned. He fails to cite any single point which
Austria had yielded at Germany's advice. Further, no proof of Germany's
vaunted "mediatory action" is discoverable either in the speech or the
diplomatic documents published by the Central Powers.
In regard to his justification of the violation of Belgian neutrality,
the civilized world has already passed judgment, and in this place it
only remains to point out that the four hundred members of the Reichstag
cheered the Chancellor's announcement. This alone is a sufficiently
severe comment on the conceptions of right and justice which direct the
proceedings of Germany's highest legislative body.
It evidently did not occur to the Reichstag or Germany's Imperial
Chancellor that, if necessity knows no law which respects a neutrality
guaranteed by Germany, then at a later date necessity would also
recognize no law which protected Belgian territory after Germany had
conquered it. A lamb in the jaws of a lion is in a truly dangerous
position, and although the outlook may be black, it is still wiser for
the lamb to try and avoid the lion's jaws.
Bethmann-Hollweg saw the mote of Greater-Serbianism in Serbia's eye, but
he was peculiarly anxious not to perceive the beam of Pan-Germanism
which has blinded Germany's vision for a generation, and is the one and
only cause for the rapid increase in European armaments.
Before consigning the German Chancellor's Pecksniffian oration to
well-deserved oblivion, there is one other fact to state, because it is
of immediate interest to Great Britain. In the person of
Bethmann-Hollweg the German Government stood before the world on August
4th, 1914, and endeavoured to prove that Germany was attacked, and that
her conscience was clear. There are even Britons who have got stuck in
Bethmann-Hollweg's peace-lime. Yet it would be interesting if the German
Government would explain why the civilian population was ordered to
leave Heligoland on the afternoon of Friday, July 31st. They were
allowed twenty-four hours within which to leave the island, and one who
was in the exodus describes the scene in the _Leipziger Neueste
Nachrichten_ for August 12th. Early on Saturday morning the civilians
proceeded on to the landing-stage, where several steamers were waiting.
"Suddenly the _Koenigin Luise_ started off without taking any passengers
on board, and soon disappeared under full steam."
This was the boat which laid mines round the mouth of the Thames.
Although the German Chancellor protested his desire for peace with
England as late as August 4th, it seems quite evident from the events in
Heligoland that war with this country had been decided upon on July
"Munich.--Evening after evening masses of people thronged the streets.
The heavy, oppressive atmosphere weighed upon the spirit--a leaden
pressure which increased with every hour. Then came the stirring events
on the evening of July 3ist, when the drums beat 'general march' on the
Marienplatz, and a commissioner read the articles of war to a crowd
numbered by thousands. Thirty drummers and commissioners in motors
rushed through the streets of the city.
"On Saturday evening, August 1st, the general order for mobilization was
proclaimed from the offices of the _Muenchener Neuesten Nachrichten_. A
deep solemnity fell upon the masses of spectators and the crowd fell
into rank to march to the Royal Palace, from a window of which King
Ludwig spoke words of comfort and inspiration. Still singing the 'Wacht
am Rhein,' this river of humanity flowed on to the 'Englischen Garten,'
at the corner of which stands the Austrian Legation. A gentleman
addressed the representative of our beloved ally, who sounded in his
reply the note of 'faithfulness unto death.'
"And now from out the stifling depression of the leaden weight of the
previous days there arose a terrible, united will, a single mighty
thought. The whole of a great and powerful people was aroused, fired by
one solemn resolve--to act; advance on the enemy, and smash him to the
"Dresden.--I was sitting in the garden of a suburban restaurant; above
me were the dark masses of chestnut trees, while before us, above the
railway, was a long strip of bright, summer-night sky. There seemed to
be something gloomy and uncanny in the air; the lamps blinked
maliciously; a spirit of still expectation rested on the people; furtive
glances were cast from time to time at the near embankment. Military
trains were expected, and we listened nervously to the noises of the
night. The first troop-transports; where were they going--against Russia
or to the French frontier? It was whispered that the troops would only
be transported by night.
"At last a pounding thud came through the stillness of the night, and
soon two colossal engines were silhouetted against the sky, like
fire-spitting monsters. Their roar seemed more sinister than usual.
Heavy forebodings rumbled out in the rocking and rolling of the endless
coaches--the clang of a future, pregnant with death and pain. Suddenly
the tables were empty; everyone rushed towards the lighted compartments
of the train, and a scene of indescribable jubilation followed as train
after train of armed men rushed by into the night.
"Sometimes a troubled father was heard to exclaim: 'If only the first
battles were fought and won!' Yet calm confidence prevailed from the
very beginning. But the sight of the quiet, machine-like completion of
the mobilization strengthened our trust, even though a justifiable
indignation and rage filled our hearts at Europe's dastardly attack on
the Central States. Hate flamed highest, however, when England declared
war against us.
"There are several reasons for this. In the north of Germany, the
Englishman is looked upon as the European who stands nearest the German,
and with whom we have the most sympathy. His personal reliability and
the manly firmness of his bearing, the culture of English social life,
English art and style, have given Imperial Germany many points of
contact and grounds for sympathy. Our historical interests have never
collided. Then we suddenly became aware that this country, under the
mask of friendship, had egged on the whole of Europe to attack us. Not
because we had injured English feelings or interests, but solely to
destroy a competitor and divide his coat of many colours.
"No political necessity compelled modern Carthage to declare war on us,
but merely the avowed aim to do a good piece of business by the war.
Without England's intrigues Europe would never have dared to attack us.
In our case, therefore, hate has sprung out of disappointed love.
England has become our mortal enemy, just as Russia is Austria's. In a
word, the two Central Powers are inspired by moral superiority over
their enemies, and are determined to wage war on them to the last drop
of blood, and if fate permits it, to settle them off and settle up with
them once for all.
"At the commencement of the mobilization the railway time-tables in
force were cancelled; railway traffic ceased, and only slow local-trains
ran, stopping at every station to pick up the men. During the nights a
gigantic transport of troops went on to the frontiers. From that moment
the sale of alcohol on the stations was prohibited. The publication of
news concerning troop movements was suppressed, in order to veil our
objective and to keep secret our strength on the various frontiers.
"The trains in the Tyrol were decked with wreaths and flowers. They bore
Germans from the most southerly corners of our neutral ally--Italy.
Members of the _Wehrkraftverein_ (Boy Scouts) inspected the trains at
every station, and it is said that a Serb was found bound fast
underneath one of the carriages. Serbian scoundrels were found on all
sides; if one of them had succeeded in destroying the Brenner line the
whole plan of mobilization would have been disturbed. Therefore
sentinels were placed along the whole line and strong guards protected
every tunnel. At night all lights were put out and those on the engines
covered up; even the stations were not illuminated--everywhere darkness.
"Slowly feeling its way, the train crept over the Brenner--it took
twelve hours; in Innsbruck the station was crowded with Germans to
welcome the warriors, and the ancient hills echoed again and again the
'Wacht am Rhein.' The solemnity which had marked the first days in
Munich had given place to boisterous joy. Thousands of men in mountain
costume had flocked into Munich to offer themselves as volunteers, and
the streets and station rang with their _jodeln_! (the peculiar cry of
"Outside the station lay vast quantities of materials for the Flying
Corps, and innumerable motor-cars. A regiment of artillery was just
leaving, while a band was in the centre of the station; the rhythm of
the kettle-drums rolled mightily, and the music clashed in the huge
central hall; thousands of voices joined in, then helmets, hats, caps,
rifles and swords were waved and the train moved off amid shouts: 'Go
for them! Cut them down!' ('Drauf auf die Kerle! Haut sie
[Footnote 29: Colonel Frobenius: "Durch Not und Tod" ("Through Distress
and Death"). Leipzig, 1915, p. 12 et seq.]
"If I live to be a hundred I shall never forget these days. They are the
greatest in our history. We never dreamed that anything so overwhelming
could be experienced on earth. Only three weeks ago and we should have
been quite incapable of imagining its like. The feeling that we have
experienced something overpowering, something which we cannot utter,
overwhelms us all. We see it in each other's faces and feel it in the
pressure of a hand. Words are too weak, so each is silent about what he
feels. We are conscious of one thing alone: Germany's heart has appeared
"At last we see each other as we are, and that is the indescribable
something--the birth of this great time. Never have we been so earnest
and never so glad. Every other thought, every other feeling has gone.
What we have thought and felt before was all unreality, mere ghosts; day
has dawned and they have fled. The whole land bristles with arms and
every German heart is filled with trust. If we were always as we are
to-day--one heart and one voice--then the whole world would have to bow
before us. But we no longer knew ourselves, we had forgotten our real
nature. We were so many and so divided, and each wanted only to be
himself. How was it that such madness could have blinded us, and discord
"Now we realize our strength and see what we can achieve, for in spite
of all we have retained our integrity; we have suffered no injury to the
soul. Germany's soul had slept awhile and now awakes like a giant
refreshed, and we can hardly recollect what it was all like only three
weeks ago, when each lived for himself, when we were at best only
parties, not a people. Each knew not the other, because he knew not
himself. In unholy egoism everyone had forgotten his highest will. Now
each has found his true will again, and that is proved--for we have only
"In all German hearts flames the same holy wrath. A sacred wrath which
sanctifies and heals. Every wound heals; we are again healthy and whole.
Praise be to God for this war which delivered us on the first day from
German quarrelsomeness! When the days of peace return we must prove that
we deserve to have lived through this holy German war. Then no word must
be spoken, no deed done on German soil which would be unworthy of these
"Groups stand at the street corners reading the latest news. One counts
aloud how many enemies we have: there are already six. A silence ensues,
till someone says: 'Many enemies, great honour, and we shall win, for
our cause is just!' Such utterances can be heard every day. That is
German faith; human might does not decide, but God's justice! That is
the Supreme blessing of this great time; we put our trust in the spirit.
Modern Germans have never breathed before so pure an atmosphere, for
Germany's soul has appeared to us.
* * * * *
"I am going to pronounce a blessing on this war, the blessing which is
on all lips, for we Germans, no matter in what part of the world we are,
all bless, bless and bless again this world war. I do not intend to
become lyrical. Lyric is so far from me that in all these three months I
have not composed a single war poem. No, I shall endeavour to count up
quite calmly, unlyrically, what we have seen during these three months:
point for point, the whole list of surprises, for they have all been
surprises, one after the other.
"Only a few days ago a high State official said to me: 'Let us confess
at once that in all Europe nobody believed in this war; everybody had
prepared for it, but nobody thought it possible--not even those who
"All thinking men considered that the interwoven economic dependence on
each other among the nations, was so strong that none dare commit
suicide by commencing a war. Thus we spoke to each other, and that
seemed an axiom. Further, it seemed to be true that even if a madman let
loose the dogs of war, then it would be all over in a fortnight. The man
in the street imagined that it would be a kind of parade (_Aufmarsch_),
a mobilization test, and the power which succeeded best would be the
victor, for no country in the world was strong enough to stand the
enormous cost for longer than three weeks.
"Now three months have gone, and we have stood the strain, and we can
bear it for another three, six months, a year, or as many years as it
must be. The calculation was wrong, all the calculations were wrong: the
reality of this war surpasses everything which we had imagined, and it
has been glorious to experience on so grand a scale that reality always
surpasses the conception. Even that is not true which we learned in all
the schools and read in all the books--that every war is an awful
misfortune. Even this war is horrible; yes, but our salvation. It seems
so to us, and so it has appeared to us from the very first day onwards.
"That first day will remain in our memories for ever; never in all our
lives had we experienced anything so grand, and we had never believed it
possible to experience anything so magnificent. Word for word Bismarck's
prophecy (1888) has come true: 'It must be a war to which the whole
nation gives its assent; it must be a national war, conducted with an
enthusiasm like that of 1870, when we were ruthlessly attacked. Then all
Germany from the Memel to Lake Constance will blaze up like a
powder-mine and the whole land bristle with bayonets.' The war which
Bismarck prophesied was this war, and what he foretold came to pass, and
we saw it with our eyes. We saw the German mobilization with eyes which
since then have been consecrate.
"All enthusiasm is splendid, even in an individual, be he who he may and
for whatever cause you like. In enthusiasm everything good in a man
appears, while the common and vulgar in him sinks away. Any enthusiasm
either of groups or societies in which the individual ego loses itself
is grand, but the mighty enthusiasm of a powerful people is
overwhelming. This was, however, an enthusiasm of a peculiar sort--it
was well disciplined, an enthusiasm combined with and controlled by the
"In this the fundamental secret of German power was revealed: to remain
calm in enthusiasm, cold amidst fire and still obedient to duty in a
tornado of passion. Then we were all inspired by the thought and
feeling: 'Nobody can achieve that, for in order to be able to do it we
have had to perform a huge intellectual and spiritual task. It is not
alone the result of the last century and a half; no, that work has been
going on for nearly a thousand years.'
"What is the spirit of our German mysticism, the spirit of Eckhart and
Tauler, except: Drunkenness of the soul in a waking condition? The
accepted law on which all great German deeds rest, is: to dovetail
enthusiasm with discipline and order. From our Gothic, through German
_barock_ to Frederick the Great and Kant, on to the classical
period--what does all that mean if it is not the architecture of one
huge feeling? The soul runs riot in its imaginings and therewith the
intellect builds. The ravings of the soul provide the materials with
which the mind builds.
"What is German music from Bach to Beethoven and from Beethoven to
Wagner--yes, even to Richard Strauss--but enthusiasm with discipline?
German music has been our mobilization; it has gone on just as in a
_partitur_ by Richard Wagner--absolute rapture with perfect precision!
"Hence when we saw the miracle of this mobilization--all Germany's
military manhood packed in railway trains, rolling through the land, day
by day and night after night, never a minute late and never a question
for which the right answer was not ready and waiting--when we saw all
this, we were not astonished, because it was no miracle; it was nothing
other than a natural result of a thousand years of work and preparation;
it was the net profit of the whole of German history.
"At the German mobilization not only our brave soldiers, reserves and
militia (_Landwehrmaenner und Landstuermler_) entered the field, but the
whole of Germany's historic past marched with them. It was this which
inspired the unshakable confidence which has endured from the first day
of war. In truth, the dear Fatherland has every reason to be calm.
"In the meantime something more has happened: all in a moment we became
Germans! We held our breaths when the Kaiser uttered these words. This
too arose out of the deepest depths of Germany's yearnings; it sounded
like an eagle-cry of our most ancient longings. Germany's soul has long
pined to tear itself from its narrow confines (_verwerden_, as Eckhart,
or _sich entselbsten_, as Goethe put it), to lay aside self-will and
sacrifice itself, to be absorbed in the whole, and yet still to serve
(Wagner). And this eternal German yearning had never reached fulfilment,
but self-interest and egoism have always been stronger; every German has
been at war with all the others. 'For every man to go his own way,' said
Goethe, 'is the peculiar characteristic of the German race. I have never
seen them united except in their hate for Napoleon. I am curious to see
what they will do when he is banished to the other side of the Rhine.'
And Goethe was right: no sooner was the land freed from the oppressor,
than each began again to think and act only for himself. Hence, when we
first learned of the Kaiser's words we felt almost a joyous fear. If it
were only true that now there were only Germans! But on the very next
day our eyes saw and our ears heard that at last there were only
Germans, and with that, all pain and fear was forgotten. If war is
awful, even a just war, a holy war--even for the victor too, we will
endure all that, for it is as nothing; no sacrifice is too great for
this prize--that we are all only Germans.
"Since the Emperor spoke those words three months have passed, and there
have only been Germans in the land. These three months have brought much
sorrow to German hearts, for there is hardly a home which does not
lament a father, a son, or a brother. Nevertheless, one may say that
since our existence as a nation, Germany has never been more joyous, in
the best sense of the word, than in this time of suffering. Through our
tears the noblest joy has shone; not alone at the success of our arms;
it is not from pride at fighting against a world of enemies; it is not
the fact that we are now assured of a future which in July last we could
not have imagined; it is not the feeling of power, of which even we
ourselves did not know. That shining joy springs from deeper reasons. We
are glad because we have found each other; we did not know each other
before. Indeed, no one knew himself. Now we know each other, and above
all, each knows himself.
"It was Bismarck who uttered these terrible words: 'When the unoccupied
German must give up the struggle and strife which has become dear to
him, and offer the hand of reconciliation, then he loses all joy in
life. Civil war is always the most terrible thing which any land can
have. But with us Germans it is still more terrible, because it is
fought out by us with more love for the strife than any other war.'
"Does it not sound truly horrible for the greatest benefactor of a
nation, which has to thank him for having realized its century-old dream
of unity, to say in all calm and as something quite obvious, that his
own nation engages in a civil war 'with more love' than any other war?
And wherever we look in Bismarck's speeches, the same complaint is found
which had been the eternal lamentation of Goethe--the lament over the
lack of faith and will of the Germans.
"How will it be this time? Will it be as after the Seven Years' War,
after the War of Liberation, after 1870? Will it be again all in vain?
As soon as the Fatherland is secure, will every German once again cease
to be a German in order to become some kind of -crat or -ist or -er?
This time it will be more difficult, for from this war he will return no
more into the same Fatherland. It will have expanded; the German
Fatherland will be greater. Arndt's poems must be written over again: no
longer merely 'as far as the German tongue is spoken.' Germany will
stretch beyond that limit, and in it the German will have work to do.
"In his speech Bismarck spoke of the 'unoccupied'; but in all
probability after this war, for years to come, there will be no
'unoccupied' Germans. They will be fully occupied with the new
organization. What the sword has won, we shall keep. 'The pike in the
European carp-pond,' said Bismarck once, 'prevent us from becoming carp.
They compel us to exertions which voluntarily we should hardly be
willing to make. They compel us to hold together, which is in direct
contradiction to our innermost nature.'
"As we cannot change our nature, it will be good if we take over for
good and all a number--a very considerable number,--of these European
pike. That will occupy the German peasant and give an outlet to his
superfluous energies. There will be no leisure-energy to discharge
itself in party strife. Further, we must build Europe up again. It stood
on rotten foundations, and now it has fallen to pieces. We shall erect
it again on a German basis, and there will be work enough."
[Footnote 30: Hermann Bahr: "Kriegssegen" ("The Blessings of War").
Published in Munich, 1915, p. 5 _et seq_.]
WARS AND RUMOURS OF WARS
It would be more than human if the German nation had actually realized
the lyrical picture painted by two well-known writers in the preceding
chapter. German newspapers, it is true, prove that the national unity so
loudly acclaimed was no empty word; moreover, they show conclusively
that grumblers and half-hearted enthusiasts were not lacking. It would
probably be more correct to describe them as "sober-minded patriots."
These elements had, however, to use a colloquialism, an "exceedingly
The author has already contended that the German is innately brutal, and
in proof thereof quoted the awful statistics of brutal crimes published
by the Imperial Statistic Office, Berlin. The present work will contain
a picture of the natural unfolding of this "innate brutality" in Germany
itself during war time, and on the battlefields of Belgium and France.
There is no doubt whatever that a systematic, officially-organized press
campaign was carried on to madden the people and arouse blood-lust,
successively against Russians, Belgians, French and English. One is
almost inclined to exclaim: Providence caused some of the fruits of this
blood-lashing to be reaped in Germany!
"Yesterday evening in the Riebeckbraeu another free fight took place, and
quieter guests who refused to take part in the patriotic screaming of
the students and other mob elements were badly ill-treated.
Beer-glasses, ash-trays, chairs and other missiles were thrown about
freely. One man was struck on the back of the head with a beer-glass,
causing the blood to flow in streams. Helpless women, too, were beaten
[Footnote 31: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 1st, 1914.]
Three days later the same journal contained a public appeal from the
Mayor of Leipzig, begging the inhabitants to preserve public order: "If
the disturbances in the streets, public houses, etc., should--contrary
to our expectations--continue, then we shall be compelled to take severe
steps to suppress them."
On the same page there is another report of similar scenes, in one of
which a workman was "horribly ill-treated" by eight others. The army
authorities were compelled to issue a still more drastic warning on
A victim reported his adventures in another Leipzig paper: "I have
just read your article admonishing the 'hot-heads' to keep cool. The
General commanding Leipzig has also warned members of the public not to
allow excitement to lead them to 'deeds of brutality and crime.' I am a
good German patriot, and yet nearly lost my life at the hands of my own
[Footnote 32: _Leipziger Neuesten Nachrichten_, August 9th.]
The "good patriot" then relates that during the week he had spent an
evening at a concert in a beer-garden. Patriotic music was the order of
the day, and as each national song was sung he stood up with the rest of
the company. Towards the close of the evening he felt unwell and
remained sitting, an indiscretion which he truthfully says "nearly cost
him his life." Three skull wounds several inches long, his body beaten
black and blue, and ruined clothes, was the punishment for not joining
in with the "hurrah-patriots."
Dozens of similar instances might be cited, but for the sake of
impartiality it is preferable to allow a German to generalize: "The rage
of the populace has found vent not only against foreigners, but also
against good German patriots, indeed even against German officers."
[Footnote 33: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 12th.]
Probably one of the most glaring instances of German indifference to
brutality is afforded by the following incident. A commercial traveller
named Luederitz, aged twenty-three, murdered his sweetheart in a Leipzig
hotel by strangling her with his necktie. He alleged that he had killed
the girl at her wish, and the judge sentenced him to three years, six
months' imprisonment--not even penal servitude! The report
concludes: "As the accused has been called up to serve in the army,
he was allowed to go free for the present." Which means that if he
survives the war he may be called upon to undergo his sentence.
[Footnote 34: Ibid., August 28th.]
A South German newspaper advised "German wives and maidens to avoid
wearing striking costumes, dresses and hats. Such restrictions are not
only desirable in the serious time through which our dear Fatherland is
passing, but such precautions are urgently necessary in the interests of
personal safety. For amidst the excitement which has unfortunately taken
possession of our people, ladies are not safe, either from insult or
assault, in spite of the fact that the police do their best to protect
[Footnote 35: _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, August 5th.]
These are the bare facts, in a very limited selection, as regards German
brutality towards Germans. In the light of these events the question
suggests itself: How did foreigners fare in the midst of this
_Kulturvolk_? The answer is simple and expressive: "Not half has ever
been told;" yet the German newspapers contain more than sufficient
materials to prove that the floodgates of barbarism were opened wide.
When martial law was proclaimed the Berlin Government caused official
announcements to be issued throughout the whole country, requesting the
public to assist in preventing tunnels, bridges, railways, etc., from
being destroyed by foreign agents and spies. The whole country at once
became a detective office of madmen!
Ample proof is at hand to show that this lashing of the public mind into
brutal fury was the calculated work of the German authorities. "We are
now absolutely dependent upon reports issued by the authorities; we do
not know whether they are correct or whether they are merely intended to
inflame public opinion. Thus reports have been officially circulated of
Russian patrols crossing our frontiers, and from Nuremberg of French
airmen dropping bombs on the railways in that neighbourhood, whereupon
diplomatic relations with both countries were broken off."
[Footnote 36: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 3rd.]
The whole Press, with the exception of at least some Social Democratic
organs, joined in a chorus of hatred and suspicion against Russians
residing in Germany. In bitterness towards the Russian State the
Socialist journals were solid in their hostility, but the author has
only discovered expressions of abhorrence in their columns concerning
the ill-treatment, even murder, of innocent foreigners in Germany. This
fact must be recorded to their honour.
"Certain circles of Leipzig's population are at present possessed by
patriotic delirium and at the same time by a spy-mania which luxuriates
like tropical vegetation. In reality, love of Fatherland is something
quite other than those feelings which find expression in the present
noisy and disgusting scenes. These mob patriots must remember that in
their mad attacks on 'Serbs' and 'Russians'--that is to say, everybody
who has black hair and a beard, whom they at once conclude must belong
to those nations--they are endangering the lives of hundreds of
thousands of Germans in France and Russia."
[Footnote 37: Ibid., August 4th.]
On the following day the same journal contained another detailed report:
"In spite of official appeals to the public to display self-possession
in these serious times, the nationalist mob continues to behave in the
most scandalous manner, both in the streets and public restaurants, etc.
The wildest outbreaks of brutal passions occur, and no one with black
hair and dark complexion is secure from outbursts of rage on the part of
the fanatics. Shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday a gentleman in the uniform
of a German artillery officer was sitting with a lady in the Cafe
Felsche; apparently somebody 'denounced' him for a Russian officer in
disguise. The police accompanied by army officers arrested and led him
into the street, where they were received by a yelling crowd. The
enraged mob forced its way past the guards and beat the 'spy' with
sticks, umbrellas, etc., till streams of blood ran down his face, his
uniform being torn to shreds. The officers and police guarding him drew
their weapons, but were unable to protect him from further brutal
treatment; indeed, it was with the greatest difficulty that they
succeeded in bringing him to a place of safety."
[Footnote 38: The unfortunate suspect was in truth a German officer.]
On the last page of the same edition there is an advertisement which
helps to explain why the appeals for cool blood were useless.
"Among the foreigners in our country, especially Russians, there are a
large number who, it is to be feared, are guilty of espionage and
attempts to disturb our mobilization. While the Russians engaged in
work on our farms may be allowed to continue their work in peace, it
is necessary to watch carefully those who are studying here, or are
"I call upon the inhabitants to take part in the task of observation,
and when strong suspicion is aroused to see to it that the suspects
are arrested and handed over to the civil authorities.
"The protection of our railway lines and stations, telegraph wires,
etc., demands the most careful attention during the next few days.
"General in Command.
"Leipzig, August 4th."
An interesting contrast to the above is a police order, issued by the
Director of the Stuttgart police.
[Footnote 39: _Leipziger Neuesten Nachrichten_, August 9th.]
"Policemen! The populace is going absolutely mad. The streets are
crowded with old women of both sexes who have nothing else to do but
disgrace themselves. Each sees in his neighbour a Russian or French
spy, and imagines that it is his duty to thrash both him _and_ the
policeman who intervenes, till the blood flows; if not that, then at
least to cause an enormous crowd to gather in giving the alleged spy
over to the police. Clouds become hostile airmen, stars are mistaken
for airships and the cross-bars of bicycles are thought to be bombs;
bridges have been blown up, telegraph and telephone wires cut in the
middle of Stuttgart; spies have been shot and water supplies poisoned!
It is impossible to imagine what will happen when serious events
"It has been proved that up till now there has not been the slightest
reason for all this alarm; but yet, judging by appearances, we are
living in a huge lunatic asylum. Everyone, if he is not a coward or a
dangerous idler, should be quietly doing his duty, for the times are
already serious enough.
"Policemen! continue to keep your heads cool. Be men as you were
formerly, and not women. Do not allow yourselves to be frightened at
straws; keep your eyes open and do your duty!
"Director of Police.
It is not surprising that this humorous police commander expressed his
indignation in the forceful Swabian manner. Here are a few telegrams
which had been sent to Berlin from Stuttgart, or still more probable,
manufactured by the official Press Bureau in Berlin.
"A considerable number of Russians and French--including several
women--have been arrested in Stuttgart to-day under the suspicion of
practising espionage. One of these arrests was made in the top-floor of
the Central Post Office, where the apparatus connected with the
telegraph office are to be found.
"More arrests are about to be made in the environs. It has been
established that numerous attempts have been made during the last few
days to blow up the railway bridges. In Freudenstadt a gypsy's wagon was
seized which contained a quantity of explosives."
[Footnote 40: _Berliner Tageblatt_, August 3rd.]
"Some of our contemporaries (Oh, shade of Pecksniff!--Author) announced
yesterday that in Stuttgart eighty, according to other reports, ninety
millions in French gold had been seized. In answer to our inquiry at the
principal office of the Wuertemberg State Railways we were informed that
the statements are pure inventions."
[Footnote 41: _Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger_, August 4th.]
Another Socialist paper which denounced this campaign of lies in its
columns deserves quotation. "The spy-mania luxuriates; every Russian is
in danger of assault by over-heated patriots. The nation, however, ought
to know that the Russians in our midst are labourers, students,
travellers and business men; it is exceeding rare for one of this class,
to sell himself to the scoundrels who follow the dirty practices of
"Civilization and good-breeding demand that everyone should respect the
dictates of international law, and treat the peaceful citizens of a land
with which we are at war, with decency.
"Especially those wretches deserve to have their knuckles rapped who
circulate such infamous bear-baiting news as the alleged attempt on the
Crown Prince's life by Russian students."
[Footnote 42: _Vorwaerts_, August 7th.]
"The General commanding the Leipzig district has issued the following
reply in answer to an inquiry by the civil authorities: We know nothing
at all of an alleged attempt on the life of the Kaiser or the Crown
Prince. The commanding General von Laffert has never uttered the words
ascribed to him, that the Kaiser had been murdered. These reports must
be contradicted with the greatest energy."
[Footnote 43: _Leipziger Tageblatt_, August 3rd.]
The following extracts are of the greatest importance, for they prove
beyond doubt the source of these lies, and the cold-blooded, calculated
manner in which they were circulated by the German authorities:
"The decision as to what may be published in newspapers, is now in the
hands of the military commander in each district.
"The regulations issued by the military authorities, force certain
restrictions upon us and threaten the existence of our journals. As
regards our principles and convictions no change has taken place."
[Footnote 44: The editor of the _Vorwaerts_ to his readers on August
"Berlin, August 10th.--Major Nicolai, director of the Press department
of the General Staff, received representatives of the Press to-day and
communicated to them, _inter alia_, the following details: Our army
commanders decline to enter into competition with the lie-factories
abroad. They will convince the world that truth is on our side, and that
we spread neither lies nor coloured reports. We hope in a short time to
be able to prove how much our enemies have sinned against the truth.
"What have we achieved up till now? The dreaded invasion of Russian
cavalry was broken up by our frontier guards alone. Indeed, in many
cases only the Landwehr was needed to throw back the invaders. What
about the destruction of important buildings, railways, bridges and such
like? Nothing at all has happened."
[Footnote 45: Condensed translation of the report in the _Leipziger
Volkszeitung_, August 11th.]
On another page of the same issue a long official army order to the
Press is given in which this paragraph occurs: "All news given out by
Wolff's Telegraph-Bureau may only be quoted literally as they stand and
the source named by the initials W.T.-B."
It is thus clear that the news-agency mentioned performs two separate
functions, although the German army authorities do not draw this
distinction. First, the circulation of reports issued by the Army
Headquarters in the field, for the truth of which the Berlin General
Staff guarantees. Secondly, the spreading of their own news, and
information supplied to them by other German Government departments. All
news published by the agency has thus received the stamp of official
authority, and the German public is too ignorant to recognize the
"Metz, August 3rd.--A French doctor, accompanied by two officers in
disguise, was caught yesterday while trying to infect the water supply
with cholera bacilli. He was at once shot under military law."
[Footnote 46: _Deutsche Tageszeitung_, August 3rd.]
"The report of the Metz water supply being infected, which was given out
by Wolff's Bureau yesterday, proves to be a pure invention. The agency
informs us that there is no ground for uneasiness, but the state of
affairs at present makes it imperative to exercise great care."
[Footnote 47: _Berliner Tageblatt_, August 4th.]
"Coblence, August 2nd.--The Government-president in Duesseldorf reports
that twelve motor-cars containing eighty French officers in Prussian
uniforms tried this morning to cross the Prussian frontier by Walbeck,
west of Geldern. The attempt failed."
[Footnote 48: Ibid., August 3rd.]
Referring to this episode another paper wrote: "The alleged attempt of
whole caravans of French officers, masquerading as German lieutenants,
to enter the Rhine province as spies is too adventurous to be believed.
Especially as it is known that the Dutch frontier is very strictly
"But Wolff's Bureau, which at present takes every precaution, circulated
the news. Hence we have here an instance of France violating Dutch
[Footnote 49: _Koelnische Volkszeitung_, August 3rd.]
As far as the author is aware, the German Government has not yet
protested to the Dutch authorities for this breach of their neutrality.
The poisoned-water-supplies lie deserves further attention. It was
scattered broadcast throughout the land, and millions of credulous
Germans reduced to a state of absolute panic and--what was intended by
those who spread the lie--blind hate against Germany's opponents. I have
before me a number of descriptions of scares in various parts of the
Fatherland. A few notices will suffice as illustrations.
"A most terrifying report spread like wild-fire through the town last
Monday morning, and reached to the farthest suburbs. The waters of the
Mangfall had been poisoned by Russian spies, and everyone's life was in
danger. It is hardly possible to conceive the effect of this terrible
rumour. Messengers of despair rushed from house to house, knocking at
strangers' doors in order to spread the warning. 'That is a devilish
deed!' stammered the white lips of women. 'Only barbarians wage war in
this manner!' hissed the men, trembling with rage and hate."
[Footnote 50: The full report of this Munich scare occupies more than a
column in the _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_, August 10th.]
The _Breslauer-Morgenzeitung_ for August 10th contains an announcement
from the Breslau municipality warning the inhabitants that the waters of
the Oder have possibly been poisoned, and appealing for every precaution
to be taken before drinking from the town supply, till a fresh supply
can be provided.
"The authorities in Danzig have declared the waters of the Weichsel to
be under suspicion of having been infected with cholera bacilli. It is
presumed that cholera is raging on the upper Weichsel in Russia, and
that the Russians have not allowed this to become known. Water from the
river must not be used for any purposes connected with human food or
[Footnote 51: _Leipziger Neuesten Nachrichten_, August 20th. A lying
report put in circulation hundreds of miles away from Danzig.]
Finally the originator of these rumours piously contradicts them all and
announces, "lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein," in the following words:
"Wolff's Bureau reports: There is absolutely no reason for anxiety on
account of the alleged poisoning and infection of rivers, water supplies
and springs which have been reported unauthoritatively from all parts of
the country, and published in the Press. These rumours, which have
caused grave anxiety, on closer investigation have all proved to be
[Footnote 52: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 27th.]
The war had lasted for four weeks, and although no rivers had been
poisoned, the same could not be said of the currents of popular opinion.
"While I was walking down a street in Breslau a tram suddenly stopped,
loud cries proceeding from within it. The occupants had discovered a
Russian, dragged him out and handed him over to a policeman who led the
man away. But the official was unable to protect him, and blows with
fists and sticks literally rained on the defenceless fellow. The couple,
surrounded by a howling crowd, had just moved away, when a nun attracted
the attention of the crowd. On account of a report that a Russian spy
disguised as a nun had been arrested the same morning, the people
imagined the nun to be a man in disguise.
"Smiling at the ridiculous supposition and the maddened howls of the
ever-increasing throng, the lady endeavoured to enter a tram. Men placed
themselves in front of the car, others dragged the frightened woman out
again and with blows and kicks she was driven before them to the next
police station. But the saddest part of these excesses--and I am only
describing a few of which I was accidentally a witness--is that members
of the so-called educated classes participated in them."
[Footnote 53: A special correspondent in the _Frankfurter Zeitung_,
"On one of the most frequented open places in Breslau a soldier
approached a lady and looked searchingly into her face. She understood
him, and remarked with a smile: 'I am not a spy!' The man replied: 'But
you have short hair. I am sorry, you must come with me.'
"She at once recognized that the wisest plan was to accompany him, and
turned to do so. The movement worked like a signal; the bystanders
immediately threw themselves in blind rage upon the defenceless woman.
In vain the single soldier tried to protect her, and equally in vain was
the assistance of two policemen who had come up. Her cries to be taken
into a neighbouring house for safety met with no response.
"Her garments were literally torn from her body, a spectacle which
finally proved to her persecutors that she actually was a woman, but
that fact no longer protects her. Brutal instincts, once let loose, are
mad and unrestrained. Blows continue to fall on her head and kicks rain
against her body. She only tries to shield her eyes. 'Take her to the
police station' was shouted, but that is some distance away. And any
second may mean death--a horrible, disgraceful death.
"Having arrived in the guard-room the officials are soon convinced that
they have to do with an absolutely innocent woman. Outside the throngs
yelled in triumph."
[Footnote 54: _Breslauer Generalanzeiger_, August 6th.]
A German officer wrote the following account to the _Berliner Zeitung am
Mittag_ (August 5th): "May I supplement your article 'Spies and
Spy-hunting' with a few facts from my own personal knowledge. On August
3rd no fewer than sixty-four spies (?) were brought into the police
station at the Potsdamer Railway Station (Berlin). Not one was kept in
arrest, for the simple fact that they were all innocent German citizens.
"Among others who were 'captured' and threatened with death by the
raging crowd on the Potsdamer Platz were: A pensioned Prussian major,
who was waiting for his son; a surgeon in the Landwehr; a high official
from the Courts of Justice; and lastly, a pensioned Bavarian army
officer who, on account of his stature, was thought to be a Russian. A
drunken shop-assistant egged on the crowd against this last suspect, so
that his life was really in danger. He was rescued by four Prussian
officers, who pretended to arrest their Bavarian colleague, and were in
this way able to lead him into safety."
This twentieth-century reign of terror is not, however, without a ray of
humour. The semi-official _Koelnische Zeitung_ (August 4th) contained a
legend which set all Germany hunting for French motor-cars. "Several
motor-cars with ladies in them, taking gold to Russia, are on their way
across Germany. They must be stopped and a communication sent to the
nearest military or police station."
"The occupants of the motor-cars carrying gold to Russia are said to
have transferred the precious metal to cyclists dressed as
[Footnote 55: _Das Kleine Journal_ (Berlin), August 5th.]
"The official announcement that French and Russian motor-cars had been
seen on our country roads has aroused the otherwise leaden, heavy
imaginations of the country people to the most incredible delirium. We
will limit ourselves to a single instance. One of our cars met a peasant
with a hand-waggon near Nerchau. As soon as he perceived the motor he
bolted in mad fright into a neighbouring corn-field.
"Our man called in a friendly voice: 'My good fellow, what are you
running away for?' Then the hero answered in a trembling voice: 'I
thought it was a French motor!'"
[Footnote 56: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 6th.]
On August 6th every important paper in the German Empire contained the
following paragraph issued by the "Army Direction" in Berlin:
"The hunt for alleged hostile motor-cars must stop. It endangers the
motor-car communications so necessary to our armies."
This warning was repeated in stronger terms on the following day, and
the roll of murdered victims began to leak out. "Unfortunately through
this hunt several persons have been wrongfully shot. In Leipzig a doctor
and his chauffeur have been shot, while between Berlin and Koepenick a
company of armed civilians on the look-out for Russian motor-cars tried
to stop a car. The chauffeur was compelled to put the brakes on so
suddenly that the motor dashed into a tree, with the result that the
occupants--several persons connected with the army--were hurled on to
the road and received dangerous injuries.
"In Munich a chauffeur was shot dead by a sentinel because he did not
stop soon enough. Even children are not spared in this degrading fear of
"Near Bueren (Westphalia) the twelve-year-old daughter of Town Councillor
Buddeberg in Bielefeld was returning with her mother from Marburg in a
motor. Somebody must have telephoned that the car was suspect, for the
Landwehr Society placed armed sentinels at various points on the road.
They cried 'Halt!' to the chauffeur; just as the car was stopping, shots
were fired, and the girl sank dead in the arms of her mother.
"Even the nationalist journals have expressed their astonishment that a
civilian society is permitted to hold the public highways with armed
guards. At Coblence a teacher and organist named Ritter was shot by a
[Footnote 57: _Leifziger Volkszeitung_, Supplement I., August 7th. Here
we have proof that Germany allowed armed civilians to murder supposed
Frenchmen, a fact to be remembered when weighing Germany's accusations
against Belgian civilians. The German Government has published a White
Book (328 quarto pages) during the summer, 1915, indicting Belgian
civilians with all kinds of atrocities. Waiving the point that if
Germany first laid aside international law she had no right to expect
Belgium to respect its dictates, it may be safely assumed that the
evidence cited by the Germans is of little or no value. The oath which
German soldiers are compelled to take precludes the possibility that
they would or could give evidence which reflected on the conduct of the
German army either in peace or war, even if the evidence is absolutely
true. "In the interests of military discipline" the truth must be
suppressed. The same oath is, however, proof that the German soldier
must be prepared to lay down either his life _or his honour_ in defence
of the army, and in a later chapter irrefutable evidence from German
sources will be adduced to show that the White Book in question contains
"sworn lies" emanating from members of the German army.]
In its issue for August 11th the same newspaper gave the names of four
more victims who had been shot in Westphalia. Among them was a poor
woman of weak intellect; she was near a bridge, and failing to comply
with a sentry's challenge, was shot. The bullet passed through her leg
and killed a little girl who was working near her.
Wolff's Bureau in Berlin reports: "In spite of the most urgent appeals
which the Army Direction has issued during the last few days, begging
the public not to place hindrances in the way of motor-cars, blundering
mistakes are still being made every hour in all parts of Germany,
accompanied by the most serious consequences.
"The morning papers again contain reports of gold-motors having been
captured. There are neither gold-motors nor foreign motors in Germany.
Anyone who interferes with motor traffic is committing a sin against the
[Footnote 58: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 10th.]
Another warning appeared in all the papers of August 12th in a still
more imperative form. Yet a section of the public seemed to find a
source of humour in this tragic hunt. A correspondent of the _Berliner
Tageblatt_ gave an interesting report of his motor-ride (joy-ride?) from
Lindau to Munich.
"We were hardly two kilometres out of Lindau when we were stopped by a
barricade of hay-wagons. On each side peasants stood with threatening
mien, armed with pitchforks, revolvers and ancient carbines at
full-cock. 'Hands up!' First visitation; we show our papers, everything
in order. Off again.
"About every two kilometres this scene was repeated: road jammed with
huge, long wagons, the same excitement, the same discussion, but now and
then somewhat sharper. In some villages the duty to defend the
Fatherland has turned into madness.
"'Here, get out! Where was this paper stamped? Yes, it is possible to
forge!' They refuse to believe anything; not even a passport from the
Chief in Command, nor papers proving me to be a German and my companion
a German officer. When I tell them that I am an author and journalist
from Berlin, they parry with a 'What the devil is that?'
"These brave peasants defend their Fatherland well. Once we had to wait
half an hour till a _gendarme_ came and ended the comedy with a few
short words. Then we are allowed to get in again, and as I turn round a
peasant shouts a last greeting: 'Really, I took you for a common hussy
"They threaten us from the houses. Now and then the trigger of a gun
clicks as it is levelled at us from a window. The roads are lined with
peasants armed with all sorts of weapons, iron spikes, dung-forks,
clubs, scythes, and old swords from the time of our great-grandfathers.
"Up to the suburbs of Munich they stand at every village by day and by
night to see that nothing happens to the Fatherland! And even if we were
stopped twenty-eight times in this short distance; even if we did have
to put up with hard words and black looks--we suffered all this gladly.
We rejoiced to see with our own eyes how valiantly our peasants defend
the frontiers of their Fatherland."
[Footnote 59: Edmund Edel in the _Berliner Tageblatt_, August 9th.]
In due time the bloodthirsty Pecksniff who had set the avalanche in
motion appeared to express his holy indignation.
"Wolff's Bureau has circulated the following warning. Berlin, August
14th. This fatal hunt for motor-cars has claimed yet another victim.
Recently an Austrian countess was shot while working for the Red Cross,
and now a cavalry captain and his chauffeur have been killed by a
forest-keeper on the look-out for Russian _automobile_.
"The General Staff has again and again issued the most urgent demands
that this unhappy hunt for foreign motorists--which has already caused
the death of several good Germans--should cease.
"It is unadulterated madness (_es ist heller Wahnsinn_) to search for
enemy motors in our land. Neither enemy officers, nor cars loaded with
gold, are driving around in Germany. Would that our people would stop
this horrible murder of their own countrymen and lend an ear to the
warning voice of our Army Direction. Our Fatherland needs every single
man in this serious hour."
[Footnote 60: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 15th.]
Only one more nail requires to be driven home to prove the blood-guilt
of the German authorities for the murder of their own citizens.
"Innumerable reports are in circulation about the capture of spies and
the prevention of plots against persons and buildings. In spite of the
fact that the military authorities have repeatedly and urgently appealed
for the exercise of the greatest discretion in publishing such reports,
the nationalist Press exploits every opportunity to disquiet the
masses and excite them to senseless delirium.
"It is obvious that we shall not join in this game. We exercise our most
careful judgment before publishing anything; in these serious times we
must decline to speculate in the thirst for sensation which has been
bred in the public. Rather, on the contrary, we must beg our readers
always to accept all news, WHICH NOW EMANATE ALMOST ENTIRELY FROM
OFFICIAL SOURCES, with the necessary reserve."
[Footnote 61: The emphasis is mine. Author.]
[Footnote 62: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 7th.]
The author has ventured to lead his readers on a mad-brained chase after
non-existent motor-cars and mythical French gold. He hopes that his
readers' patience has not been exhausted, because the ride may prove an
instructive education in German methods and the standards of truth
accepted in a country where only might is right.
The object in view, in submitting these modern fairy-tales to the
British public, is to lay bare the pillars of truth which support the
Fatherland. During the first month of the war there was an outbreak of
brutality in Germany; contemporaneously with these horrors some million
members of the same nation flooded Belgium with dread deeds of an
indescribable nature. This is a noteworthy coincidence.
We have seen how Germans treat Germans, which makes it easier to
comprehend how Germans treated Belgians. The present chapter gives a
picture of how the German Press is worked, how popular opinion is
created and blood-lust awakened. When dealing with Germany's defence of
her Belgian horrors, we shall find that her entire case rests alone upon
the utterances of her oracles of truth: Wolff's Telegraphic Bureau and
Germany's venal, lying newspapers.
That was the reason for this mad joy-ride from end to end of the German
Empire, and that is the only apology which the author has to make for
introducing the latest contributions to Germanic mythology into an
otherwise serious work.
Incidentally we have observed that German civilians were permitted to
bear arms and did not hesitate to use them "in defence of the
Fatherland," as Edmund Edel put it. The civilians were doubtless
inspired by the noble desire to grab French gold. Yet when Belgian
civilians--as Wolff's Bureau alleges--dared to defend their homes, wives
and children against the most treacherous and dastardly invasion in the
world's history--then, of course, Germany was perfectly justified in
murdering all and sundry, burning towns and hamlets and laying waste a
THE DEBACLE OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS
In the second paragraph of the Social Democratic programme published
after the Halle Congress in 1890, we read: "The German workmen's
socialistic party, although working for the present on national lines,
is aware of the international character of the workmen's movement, and
is determined to fulfil all duties accruing thereby to the working
classes, in order to make the brotherhood of all men a reality."
At that meeting--the first to be held after the repeal of Bismarck's
anti-socialist law--the president claimed that they had secured more
votes at the Reichstag election than any other party; they were the
strongest political party in Germany.
Since that year they have consistently increased their power, till in
the present Reichstag they have no fewer than one hundred and eleven
members, giving them almost an absolute majority.
It seems an irony of fate that at Halle in 1890 one of the speakers who
dilated on international brotherhood and the inseparable bonds which
bound Belgian and German workmen--was a Belgian delegate! Singer, in
reporting on the doings of the representatives in the Reichstag, said:
"We consider peace among the nations to be an indispensable preliminary
for the improvement of social conditions. We vote against expenditure
for military purposes, because we are convinced that this continuous
arming, accompanied by the constant improvement of murderous weapons,
must be ended. It is contradictory to the civilizing task of the nations
for them to be armed to the teeth, lying in wait for the moment when
they can devour each other.
"Militarism is an evil for the nations; its burdens cannot be borne for
ever, and even to-day the nations are collapsing under them. Modern
conditions are unbearable; out of them spring ever-increasing armaments,
and at last a time will come when war must break out, because the state
of modern armed peace will one day have become impossible."
Another authoritative pronouncement from the report of the Social
Democratic Congress in Erfurt, 1891, deserves mention. It is a passage
from a speech delivered by the elder Liebknecht in the Reichstag: "As
regards the defence of the Fatherland all parties will be united when it
is necessary to meet an outside enemy. In that moment no party will
shirk its duty."
[Footnote 63: "Protokoll ueber die Verhandlungen des Parteitags der Soz.
Dem. Partei Deutschlands zu Erfurt, 1891."]
This is an instance of what Germans call _Rueckversicherung_, or a
covering insurance. Having pledged themselves never to leave the
Fatherland in the lurch--and the pledge was repeated on many
occasions--they were free to babble to French, English and Italian
Socialists about the blessings of internationalism, general strikes, and
eternal peace. But there is no single instance on record to show that
German Socialists considered any other benefits of internationalism,
except those which served the purposes of their own nationalism.
At Halle, 1890, Liebknecht said: "These ideas are indisputably correct.
Nobody, no matter how enthusiastic he may be for the international
cause, will dare to maintain that we have no national duties. National
and international are not opposing principles. The word 'national' must
be rightly understood. It includes only a certain, limited portion of
international humanity. The part belongs to the whole, and international
merely means going beyond the boundary-posts of the nation, the narrower
limits of the native land; to extend one's horizon to include the whole;
to consider humanity as one family and the world as a home."
[Footnote 64: Liebknecht was wrong. There are dupes who hold that their
international obligations come before their national duties, and
unfortunately in the ranks of these traitors, English M.P.'s may be
found, who receive L400 per annum from the British State, presumably to
aid them in injuring the British cause.]
The error into which British Socialists have fallen--or been led--is
their attitude towards militarism. German Democrats have never denounced
the bearing of arms; they have admitted that arms will always be
necessary, pre-supposing that the world continues along the same lines
of development as heretofore.
They have only objected to the existing _form_ of militarism, but
otherwise they have always been unanimous that military training should
be compulsory and universal. Their British _Genossen_ (comrades) have
either misunderstood or wilfully perverted these teachings. German
Socialists have unswervingly insisted upon every man learning the use of
arms, while their British followers have preached absolute disarmament
and done their utmost to betray this country into weakening herself
below the minimum necessary to guard the land, and to maintain the
country's pledges to the world.
[Footnote 65: Kautsky: "Die Internationalitaet und der Krieg" (Vorwaerts
Publishing House, Berlin, 1915), p. 26. "We have fought against the
military system not to make the land defenceless, but in order to
introduce another system in its place, which will give us the necessary
guarantees that the army will always be the tool of the civil
authorities and never their master. When the latter is the case we call
such a condition 'militarism,' and it is against that alone that we
fight." Seeing that military power is absolutely subordinated to the
civil authorities in the case of Great Britain (Mutiny Acts), then
according to the principles of German Socialists their British
colleagues were wrong in all the efforts which they have made against
the armed powers of these islands.]
In Halle, Herr Bebel made this statement: "I have already made it clear
that I consider the efforts of the so-called peace friends towards
disarmament to be useless (_aussichtslos_), because it is unthinkable
that the rival States would agree to legal restrictions concerning
disarmament. If such were made, each would endeavour by secret
preparations to out-do the other. War and national enmity are necessary
products of society, and the existing class distinctions."
The Germans were quite logical in this matter; in effect they said--the
existing States and forms of government make militarism necessary, and
war inevitable. Therefore we declare war to the knife on every existing
government, including Russian Czarism, British constitutionalism, German
autocracy and American republicanism. They are one and all rotten,
unjust and inhuman. Our programme includes their complete overthrow and
the erection in their stead of a _Volksstaat_ (People's State).
The position is perfectly simple, and to those who are sufficiently
ignorant and naive this programme promises an universal salvation, as
delirious in its joy as that expected by African races when bending the
knee before images of wood and stone. German Socialists are pledged just
as irrevocably to the doctrines of brute force as are the Junker and
military powers in the German Fatherland. What is their industrial and
class warfare but an attempt to enforce the doctrine of might is right?
In the official programme drawn up at Erfurt, 1891, there is a paragraph
stating a claim for _uneingeschraenktes Koalitionsrecht_ (absolute and
unlimited right of coalition), which means that the masses may unite to
enforce what they will, and annihilate whom they please. The same rights
of coalition are denied to anyone else, and in the coal-strikes in South
Wales we have a lurid example--such instances could not be found in
Germany--of the absolute and unlimited right of coalition at the risk of
undoing any and every other right.
[Footnote 66: The strikes during the present war.--Author.]
The point is this: German Socialists have declared their intention to
give no allegiance to any existing form of government and to overthrow
them at the earliest possible moment. Do British Socialists accept this
part of the programme?
Throughout German Social Democratic literature we find Mr. Ramsay
Macdonald referred to as _Genosse_ Ramsay Macdonald, which means that he
is considered a full member of the brotherhood. If that is really the
case, and if he accepts their programme as one to be followed here he
would be favouring the substitution of the _volksstaat_ for the British
In face of this it may be asked why do British members of the Socialist
party take an oath on entering the House of Commons, and why do they
accept L400 per annum to support a national State, if they have pledged
themselves internationally to overthrow it?
The author admits his inability to solve the riddle, but during the
years 1902-1914 he has heard members of all non-Socialist German parties
assert that the German Socialists do not recognize any religious oath,
and sections of the Socialists admit this position. As a party they are
professedly atheistic; therefore when the might of the German State
compels them to take an oath--they take it with an inward
In a word, false-swearing is permitted, when one is obliged by
circumstances, to take an oath to authorities whose right and might the
oath-taker does not admit. So long ago as 1892 the Social Democrats were
publicly charged with condoning perjury in order to rescue fellow
members from the results of breaches of the law. Judge Schmidt in a
court at Breslau said in that year: "Social Democrats have never
concealed the fact that they are hostile to any religious form of oath.
For them the religious importance and responsibility of an oath has no
meaning whatever." Numerous German judges and authors have expressed
themselves in a similar strain.
Readers who are interested in the point are referred to the report
of the Socialist Congress held in Berlin, October, 1892. The party
leaders endeavoured to gloss the matter over with righteous indignation
and ambiguous phrases, but it nevertheless remains a fact that the
desire to counteract effectively, a tendency to perjury among Socialists
led the German Government a few years later to make perjury punishable
by penal servitude up to ten years.
[Footnote 67: All these reports may be seen in the British Museum
Reading Room. Press mark is: 08072d.]
Before leaving the _Volksstaat_ the author only wishes to state that it
lays the axe on every conception of morality, religion and social order
which we esteem. In the place of existing conditions, it would erect a
mob tyranny more degrading to the individual than Czarism or
Republicanism. The mines of Siberia and the tinned-meat factories of
Chicago may enslave the body, but the _Volksstaat_, as portrayed by
Socialist writers and speakers, promises an intellectual
tyranny--hopeless alike to body and soul; and those who have had an
opportunity to observe the brutal tyranny called "party discipline"
which rules the German Social Democrats, will bear the present writer
out in saying that its like, could only be found inside the German army.
The strongest, best organized and most thoroughly disciplined political
party in the world has repeatedly expressed its unalterable
determination to place national before international interests, whenever
these two should seem to be at variance. In the light of these
declarations, the action of German Socialists in giving unreserved
support to the German Government in this war, is not altogether
Furthermore, this foundation-stone in their policy ought never to have
been left out of consideration when pondering over their ecstatic
utterances on peace and internationalism.
The communistic manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, first
published in London in the German language in 1847, contains the
following: "Men say that we Communists wish to destroy the nationality
of the native land. Workmen have no Fatherland. It is impossible to take
away what they do not possess. The Communists scorn to conceal their
views and intentions. We declare openly, that their aims can only be
attained by the violent overthrow of all existing social orders. Let the
ruling classes tremble before a communistic revolution. The proletarians
have nothing but their chains to lose, while they have a world to
[Footnote 68: "Envy and greed are the two powerful levers by which the
Social Democrats are endeavouring to lift the world off its hinges. They
live by the destruction of every ideal." Treitschke in the "Preussische
Jahrbuecher," vol. 34.]
German Socialists have incorporated these principles _in theory_ in
their programme, but _in practice_ they do not hold them, especially if
their own skins are endangered, together with the Government which is
threatened by "violent overthrow." That is the sum total of their
extensive defence--literature published _since_ the outbreak of the
present war. In its naked reality that is what the guarantee-insurance
policy covered. So long as no danger threatened their own lives, goods
and chattels, such eloquence as the following extracts were shouted into
the world; but when they personally stood face to face with the Moloch
upon which for years they had heaped contemptuous abuse, then national
(_i.e._, personal) interests came first.
Herr Fischer, in his capacity as president of the Socialist Congress in
Berlin, 1892, said:
"The reception of French delegates at Halle, and of Liebknecht at
Marseilles, have proved incontrovertibly that the struggling French
proletarians are of one mind and heart with German Social Democracy. Let
the chauvinists, burning with hate on this and that side the Rhine, urge
us on to war; let the diplomats and Governments of both countries
sacrifice the well-being of the two nations to militarism and the
war-bogey. The working-men in the two countries stretch out their hands
to each other over the frontiers as pioneers of true culture and
morality. They are convinced that there is only one enemy which
separates them, and that it is their common task to fight against and
annihilate this one enemy--capitalism."
"Now as ever, we Social Democrats reply to the Government's military and
economic policy this parole: Not a man and not a farthing will be voted
for this system!"
[Footnote 69: Social Democrat members of the Reichstag in their report
to the annual congress held in Cologne, 1893.]
These quotations have been intentionally taken from speeches, etc.,
published in the early nineties of the last century. If necessary, it
would be an easy matter to fill several volumes of similar matter from
the annual congress reports down to 1913; from the vast mass of German
Social Democratic literature published between 1890 and 1914; and from
the hundred party newspapers and reviews circulated in the Fatherland,
Yet in the face of all these assurances it seemed to us that the German
Socialists had shamefully betrayed their principles on August 4th, 1914,
by giving their unreserved support to "Germany's Holy War."
[Footnote 70: In all Germany, and among all classes, this has become the
popular designation of the European war: "_Unser_ heiliger Krieg."]
Probably the betrayal was not so shameful as it seemed, because the fact
was not made known in this country that the German Socialists had but
imitated Bismarck's policy with Russia and Austria. (Bismarck concluded
a treaty, with the one Power, then behind that Power's back he concluded
a _Rueckversicherungsvertrag_ with the other, _i.e._, a covering
insurance policy intended to protect him against all risks.)
During a quarter of a century, German Social Democrats have been the
most ardent and insistent pioneers of internationalism and
anti-militarism. But it has not been so generally known that they too
have protected their rear by a _Rueckversicherung:_ (1.) They have
consistently taught that every man must learn to bear arms, and that
both man and woman must be prepared to make any sacrifice for their
Fatherland. (2.) They have always held that national interests must be
considered before international palaver.
In Chapter I. we have seen that up till July 28th, 1914, the German
Social Democratic Party considered Austria and Germany to be entirely
responsible for the European crisis. They had then no shadow of doubt,
that Austria alone was guilty for bringing the danger of a European war
to their very doors; from that point we again take up the story.
[Footnote 71: In all the mass of literature published by German
Socialists during the war I have found only one mention of their first
attitude to the war danger. On the first anniversary of the ultimatum to
Serbia (July 23rd, 1915) the _Leipziger Volkszeitung_ contains these
lines in a leading article: "To-day we may not repeat that which we
wrote about the ultimatum in our issue of July 24th, 1914. But there was
no doubt in any section of the Press, that Europe stood on the brink of
war from the moment that ultimatum was despatched."]
Three days later they tacitly agreed that Russia was the guilty party
and acquiesced in the mobilization of the German army. On August 1st
this proclamation occupied the front page of their seventy-seven daily
"PARTEIGENOSSEN! Military law has been proclaimed. Any hour may bring
with it the outbreak of the world war. Thereby the severest trials
will be imposed upon, not only our nation, but upon the whole of our
"Up till the last minute the internationalists have done their duty,
and on the other side of our frontiers every nerve is being strained
to preserve peace and to make war impossible.
"If our earnest protests, our repeated endeavours have been without
success, it is because the conditions under which we live have once
again proved stronger than our will, and the will of our workmen
brothers. Hence, whatever comes, we must now face it with firmness.
"The horrible self-laceration of the European peoples, is the cruel
confirmation of our warnings to the ruling classes for more than a
generation; we have spoken admonishingly and in vain.
"_Parteigenossen_ (comrades), we shall not live through coming events
in fatalistic indifference; we shall remain true to our cause; we
shall hold firmly together, permeated by the sublime greatness of our
"The women, on whom the burden of events presses two and threefold,
have above all, in these serious times, the task of working in the
spirit of Socialism for the high ideals of humanity, so that a
repetition of this dreadful catastrophe may be averted, and this war
may be the last.
"The stern regulations of martial law strike the workmen's movement
with terrible force. Imprudent actions, useless and falsely-conceived
sacrifices, damage in this moment not only the individual, but also
"Comrades, we appeal to you to persevere in the unshakable confidence
that the future belongs, in spite of all, to nation-binding Socialism,
to justice and humanity.
(The leaders of the party.)
"Berlin, July 3ist, 1914."
With these words, millions of German Socialists, represented by four and
a quarter million voters and a hundred and eleven members of the
Reichstag, tacitly denied their previous protestations, that Austrian
Imperialism was letting loose the war-fury on Europe. There are rumours
of a secret consultation with the German Chancellor, but that is of
little import in this place. The leaders of this huge party proclaimed
on July 25th that Austria was the blood-guilty power and maintained this
attitude in spite of bloodshed till 11 p.m. on July 28th. By what
lightning-change Austria's original guilt was transferred to Russia by
July 31st is not recorded.
With regard to the text of the above proclamation, there are variations
to be noted. In the _Vorwaerts_ it runs "within and without our
frontiers" in the second paragraph; the text as I have given it is taken
from the _Leipziger Volkszeitung_. In the fifth paragraph the Nuremberg
_Fraenkische Tagespost_ gives "capitalistic" for "fatalistic."
A few extracts from Socialist newspapers will suffice to illustrate the
complete change of front which happened in three days:
"We Social Democrats in this solemn hour are at one with the whole
German nation, without distinction of party or creed, in accepting the
fight forced upon us by Russian barbarism, and we are ready to fight
till the last drop of blood for Germany's national independence, fame
and greatness." _Der Folksfreund_ (Karlsruhe), August 1st.
"We desired peace and we have done everything humanly possible to secure
that end. But when war is forced upon us by Russian Czarism, then,
whatever the final decision may be, we must drop all class distinctions
and differences of every kind, to form a single, determined people,
prepared to defend Germany's independence and greatness against the
enemy--even to the last drop of blood." _Volksstimme_ (Mannheim), July
"A defeat would mean collapse, annihilation and horrors most dreadful
for all of us. Our imaginations revolt at such a possibility. Our
representatives in the Reichstag have unanimously declared on
innumerable occasions that the Social Democrats could not leave their
Fatherland in the lurch when the hour of destiny strikes; the workmen
will now redeem the promise given by their representatives. The
'Fatherlandless fellows' will do their duty, and in doing it, will
allow themselves to be surpassed in no wise by the patriots," _Muenchener
Post_, August 1st.
[Footnote 72: These sentiments did not occur to this journalist when
Germany began a ruthless war of invasion on Belgium.--Author.]
[Footnote 73: A phrase of contempt employed by the Kaiser when speaking
of the Social Democrats in 1889, and which became proverbial.]
"Whatever our opponents have done to us, at this moment we all feel the
duty to fight against Russian knout-rule. Our women and children shall
not be sacrificed to Russian bestiality, nor the German people become a
booty for the Cossacks." _Die Volksstimme_ (Chemnitz), August 2nd.
It is possible that even at the end of the war no explanation will be
forthcoming for this astounding change of attitude. Some have suggested
that the Russian or Slavonic danger caused it. Yet just these journals,
and this party, had maintained, so long as any degree of free speech was
permitted, that Austria had provoked the danger, and they were fully
aware that the German Government had from first to last approved of and
openly assisted in provoking, nay challenging, Russia on a question
which involved the latter's prestige and diplomatic existence.
Bethmann-Hollweg gave the alleged Russian mobilization as the immediate
cause of the war, but doubtless the Social Democrats knew full well that
for several days before Russia's mobilization was announced, Germany had
been secretly mobilizing her army. From July 26th till July 30th German
papers contained many reports that Russia was mobilizing; they may have
been true or not, but the diplomatic correspondence published by Austria
and discussed on page 63 shows conclusively that the Central Powers were
baiting Russia into taking that step, and when the greatest Slavonic
power had made the desired move, Germany replied with an ultimatum which
brought about the war, so ardently desired by the great majority of
Germany's warlike tribes.
Britishers who sympathize with German Social Democracy may advance the
plea: If Germany's military preparations were secret, how could the
Social Democrats know of these proceedings? The answer is direct and
simple: Every individual Social Democrat--and men, women, and children,
they number some twenty millions--has for years past been a spy and
informer in the interests of the _Umsturzpartei_ (overthrow-party). All
the happenings of the workshop, barracks, farmyard, shop and office have
been systematically reported to the local Press, and local committees of
the Democratic Party; the ammunitions thus obtained have been just as
systematically employed to fire insidious paragraphs and Press articles
at governments, local authorities, employers, officers, and even the
employers of servant-girls. Of late years it has been dangerous to have
a difference even with a maid-servant; a few days later the inevitable
insidious, anonymous attack would certainly appear in one or other of
the S.D. journals.
One instance will suffice to illustrate the everyday routine of the
class-war (_Klassenkampf_) in which the whole energies of the Social
Democrats have been absorbed for a quarter of a century. An acquaintance
of the author's, Major Schub, in the 19th Infantry Regiment, stationed
in Erlangen, dared some years ago to send his orderly with a she-goat to
a peasant in the district who kept the indispensable he-goat. Two days
later he was pilloried in a Furth paper for calling upon a private
soldier to fulfil such a degrading office. German workmen do not read
the _Vorwaerts_ (its circulation is well under 100,000), but they read
one or other of the seventy purveyors of filth and class hatred which
form the stock-in-trade of the Social Democratic Party.
The author of this work, knew as early as July 25th, that reserve
officers had been warned to hold themselves in readiness; on succeeding
days he saw tangible evidence that mobilization was proceeding
stealthily, and it would be ridiculous for him to claim greater
knowledge than the hundred and eleven S.D. members of the Reichstag, and
the seventy-seven editors of their party papers--especially when these
have an army of millions of spies at their command.
In order to obtain a correct judgment of the motives which actuated
German Social Democrats in their complete support of the German
Government it is necessary to consult the works published by them during
the war. Karl Kautsky writes: "That which under these circumstances,
was most immediate and pressing in determining the attitude to war, not
only for the masses, but also many of our leaders, was the fear of a
hostile invasion, the urgent necessity to keep the enemy out of our
territory, no matter what the causes, object or results of the war may
be. This fear was never greater and more justified than on this
occasion; never have the devastating results of invasion been more
terrible. Belgium and East Prussia speak plainly.
[Footnote 74: "Die Internationalitaet und der Krieg." Berlin, 1915; p.
"The increased size of the armies greatly extends the unavoidable
desolation of war, and in addition to this a second strongly-working
popular motive decides the attitude of a nation to war, viz., the
interest of the entire people in the fate of an army in which every
family is represented."
It thus becomes evident that no motives of justice, right or wrong, or
politics played any part in the decision arrived at, but merely a great
fear which impelled the Social Democrats to consider first and foremost
how to save their own skins.
All protest meetings were cancelled on August 1st, and the Press
restricted itself to chronicling rumours and events. The sitting of the
Reichstag was awaited with impatience as that was expected to bring more
light on the crisis. The effect which Bethmann-Hollweg produced upon his
hearers was to convince them that Russia alone was to blame. "The
question of supporting the war by voting a loan was all the easier for
us to decide, because the provocation had come, not from France or
England, but from Russia. I admit openly that while I was travelling to
Berlin to the Reichstag I had very little time to hunt for precedents in
the party's history to determine my vote. For me the force of
circumstances alone was decisive; the material interests of the working
classes and the entire nation; common sense and the realization of a
[Footnote 75: "Die Kriegssitzung des deutschen Reichstags" ("The War
Sitting of the Reichstag"), by Karl Hildenbrand, Member for Stuttgart.
Published 1915; p. 13.]
"At the time of voting on August 4th, we were not in a position to take
England into consideration, because at the moment she had not yet
declared war. But by England's intervention our attitude on August 4th
has been still more emphatically justified."
[Footnote 76: Ibid., p. 16.]
This statement is a gross distortion of the truth. It is true that
England had not yet declared war, but Sir Edward Grey had made England's
attitude quite clear on the previous day. His speech had been published
in the Berlin papers. Furthermore, the Chancellor informed the Reichstag
that England's position was perfectly clear, although he suppressed the
fact that Germany had begun preparations for war with this country five
days before, by ordering civilians to leave Heligoland, and despatching
the _Koenigin Luise_ to lay mines on our coasts.
In any case, the action of the Social Democrats on that occasion is an
example of unfaithfulness to principles. Accepting the invasion fear as
a ground for voting a loan for a war of defence, there is still no
evident reason why they should vote funds for a war of aggression
against Belgium. On the surface, there is no explanation for their
cheers when Bethmann-Hollweg announced the invasion of two neutral
States by Germany's armies.
Had they been tricked into supporting an alleged defensive war, there
was still time to protest against German hordes overrunning two weak
neighbouring countries. In spite of their terror that they personally
might suffer through the horrors of war, their vaunted humanitarianism
led to no outcry against those same horrors being wilfully and
ruthlessly forced upon their Belgian _Genossen_.
The only anxiety which the speech of their chosen spokesman, Herr Haase,
betrays, is the anxiety to avoid responsibility. "In the name of my
party I am empowered to make the following declaration: We are standing
in an hour of solemn destiny. The consequences of the imperialistic
policy--which brought about an era of armaments and made international
difficulties more acute--have now fallen upon Europe like a storm-flood.
"The responsibility for this recoils upon the leaders of that policy; we
decline to accept it. Social Democracy has fought against this ominous
development with all the forces at its command. Up to the very last hour
we have worked for the maintenance of peace through mighty
demonstrations in every land, especially in intimate cooperation with
our French brothers. (Applause from the Social Democrats.) Our efforts
have been in vain.
"Now we are face to face with the stern reality of war. We are
threatened by the terrors of a hostile invasion. To-day we have not to
decide either for or against war, but only concerning the necessary
means for the defence of our country. Now we have to think of the
millions of our _Genossen_ who are innocently swept into this fate. They
will suffer most through the devastations of war. Our ardent wishes
accompany also our brothers who are called to the flag without
distinction of party. (Loud applause.)
"We think, too, of the mothers who must give their sons and of the women
and children who are robbed of their bread-winners, and to whose fear
for their loved ones is added the dread of hunger. Tens of thousands of
wounded and mutilated warriors will soon be added to these. We consider
it our most compelling duty to help them, to lighten their burdens and
relieve their distress. (Loud applause.)
[Footnote 77: There is every reason to believe that the party has worked
hard to keep this promise.--Author.]
"In case of a victory for Russian despotism, which is already stained
with the blood of Russia's best sons, much--if not everything--is at
stake for our people and our free future. It is a question of averting
this danger, and of securing the culture and independence of our own
country. (Loud applause.)
"Now we will redeem our oft repeated pledge: In the hour of danger we
shall not leave our Fatherland in the lurch. (Loud applause.) Thereby,
we feel ourselves in unison with the principles of internationalism
which have always admitted the right of each single people to national
independence and national defence. We condemn, as internationalism does,
every war of conquest.
"We demand, that, as soon as the goal of security has been attained and
our enemies are inclined to make peace, the war shall end by a peace
that will make friendship with neighbouring countries possible. We
demand this, not only in the interests of the international solidarity
for which we have uniformly fought, but also in the interests of the
"We hope that the cruel school of war's sufferings will awaken a horror
for war in new millions, and win them over to the socialistic ideal and
international peace. Guided by these principles we vote in favour of the
war loan. (Loud applause.)"
[Footnote 78: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 5th.]
A short historical comparison will assist in making the Social
Democratic action still clearer. In 1870, when Bismarck asked the
Reichstag for a war credit to prosecute the campaign against France, the
Socialists were few and helpless. Yet Liebknecht and Bebel refused to
vote in its favour. "Their moral demonstration was in itself perfectly
logical, for Bismarck's and Napoleon III.'s intrigues equally deserved
[Footnote 79: Kautsky: "Die Internationalitat und der Krieg," p. 19.]
Apparently it did not occur to the Democrats in 1914, that probably
Germany had again been guilty of intrigues. It is noteworthy, however,
that the small party in 1870 protested when a national issue was at
stake, while the mighty party of 1914 made no protest whatever,
although, as they had previously announced and denounced, the issue had
been raised by the unjust actions and vile intrigues of Austrian
The campaign against Russia conducted by the nationalist Press up till
August 1st was taken up by the organs representing Social Democracy,
immediately war broke out. Their papers were flooded with appalling
pictures of Russian (generally termed Asiatic) barbarism, tyranny and
misrule. Passages from the speeches and writings of Bebel, Liebknecht
and others were quoted to show the fiendishness of Russian policy, and
the justice of every German doing his utmost to smash Czarism and
deliver millions of fellow workmen from its thrall. Even a
blood-and-thunder story of the Russian police was turned on as a serial
story in their daily papers. In short, nothing was omitted which
goes to make _Stimmung_.
[Footnote 80: "Der Polizeimeister, ein russischer Polizeiroman," by
Gabryela Zapolska. The story commenced in the Nuremberg party organ on
August 11th, and in Kautsky's _Leipztger Volkszeitung_ on August 18th.]
Had they been honestly impartial a still blacker picture of Austria,
painted by one of the founders of the workmen's movement, might have
been quoted, yet it might have been indiscreet to tell Germans what
Lassalle wrote. "Austria? Russia is a mammoth, barbarian Empire which
its despotic rulers endeavour to civilize, just so far as suits their
despotic interests. In that country barbarism is excusable, because it
is a national element. But the case is very different with Austria.
There it is the government which represents the barbaric principle and
crushes beneath it by artifice and violence, the civilized peoples under
[Footnote 81: Bernstein's edition of Lassalle's "Reden und Schriften,"
vol. I., p. 306.]
With the exception of a few Britishers, the Socialists of all countries
have unanimously condemned the attitude of the German party. Not the
least interesting is the condemnation expressed by the Italian section.
Dr. Suedekum, Reichstag member for Nuremberg, was sent to Italy to
discuss the situation with Italian Socialists and justify their own
action in supporting the war. The following account of the meeting
appeared in the _Vorwaerts_ for September 12th: "The meeting lasted from
3.30 p.m. till 7 p.m. Suedekum declared that he had come to inform their
Italian comrades of the situation in which the German Socialists found
themselves, and in order to learn whether the Italians had taken any
steps to keep up communications with Democrats in other lands.
"We hold firmly to the contention that the German Socialists could have
done nothing except what they did. My presence here is a proof that we
Germans are aware of our duties towards internationalism. We
believed that the German Government had given proof of its peaceful
tendencies and was forced into war against its will. Therefore, the
Social Democratic Party supported it.
[Footnote 82: There is no evidence to show that Suedekum's Italian visit
had any other purpose than winning over the sympathies of Italian
Socialists and with them, the whole Italian nation for the purposes of
"Delia Seta answered that this was no justification for giving their
support. The Italian Socialists would not have given their assistance
under the same circumstances, just as they had refused to vote in favour
of the Libyan war.
"Dr. Suedekum replied that the German Socialists were compelled to defend
their Fatherland against Czarism. Further, he repeated Haase's
declaration in the Reichstag and continued: 'I am astonished that the
Italian Socialists are able to believe, that so strong a party as the
German Democrats, had denied their ideals, and been untrue to their
task. You must admit that no other way was open to us, except to grant
the credit demanded.'
"After this, he asserted the nationalist Press of France and Italy was
working against Germany, and it seemed as if the Italian comrades were
in agreement with Italian nationalists in endeavouring to maintain the
existing condition of affairs in Italy.
[Footnote 83: "The existing condition of affairs" seems to mean Italian
"Finally Suedekum concluded by pointing out that the German Democrats had
neither the intention, nor the right, to influence the attitude of the
Italian Socialists, but were merely endeavouring to link up hearty
international intercourse again.
"In reply Delia Seta said he found it remarkable that the German
Socialists had appealed to their Italian comrades in this solemn hour,
all the more remarkable because intentions might easily be ascribed to
this intervention. 'This is a serious motive which impels us to state
our opinions with unreserved frankness.'
"He continued: 'Your defence does not convince us. You speak of France
being allied with us, and of England, Germany's enemy. But we speak of
our France, revolutionary France, Jaure's France. The French Socialists
opposed the military preparations made by France, you Germans did not do
the same in your country, or at least, only up to the point where the
imperialistic feelings of the Kaiser and his party might be hurt.
"'The point of view of German Democrats coincides with that of German
imperialism. German predominance means for us a far greater danger than
Czarism, because Czarism prevents the German army from marching on
Paris, and thus protects the banner of France, which in spite of all
mistakes and errors, is still the most revolutionary.
"'Germany's motto is: _Deutschland ueber alles_ and you have not opposed
it; but you have published in the _Vorwaerts_ an appreciation of the
Kaiser alleging that he had worked during twenty-five years for peace.
"'You speak of German civilization being in danger. But in this
civilization we can find no trace of culture, when you attack and
torture neutral Belgium, and complete the destruction of Louvain. Taken
as a whole, German Socialists are just as plausible and use the same
excuses as the Ministers of the German Government.
[Footnote 84: Might not this also be said of Messrs. Morel, Macdonald,
Bernard Shaw, etc., and the _Labour Leader_, whose writings on the war
have been scattered broadcast throughout Germany during the last six
"'We are enraged at the terrible fact that Germany has violated
Belgium's neutrality, and you have not even protested. We tell you quite
openly that we honour and weep for devastated Belgium, and tremblingly
follow the fate of France.'"
Suedekum had no words with which to answer this terrible indictment, and
the _Vorwaerts_ could only add the following comment:
"We consider the judgment of our Italian comrades to be one-sided, but
for reasons easy to understand, desist from discussing it in the present
situation. Unfortunately we must recognize the fact, however, that the
Italian view is widespread among the Socialists of other neutral
Germany's revolutionary party lost no time in hoisting the banner of "no
annexations." The _Leipziger Folkszeitung_, second in importance only to
the _Vorwaerts_ nailed down a phrase in the Kaiser's speech from the
throne, which stated: "We are inspired by no desire for conquest." In
commenting on this phrase, Kautsky's organ said:
"The part of the speech which excites most sympathy in us is the
admission that Germany cherishes no lust for conquest. At the proper
time we shall refer to that again.
"It is with sincere regret that we see the French Government on the side
of the criminal Powers, which have enslaved and robbed the Russian
people. If Germany, in a delirium of victory, should raise claims which
mean annexation, then we shall--that must be repeated again--recall the
speech from the throne of the German Kaiser on August 4th, 1914."
[Footnote 85: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 4th.]
During the first year of war a split among the Social Democrats has
become evident, and it appears certain that it is the annexation
question which is causing the cleavage. In December last Liebknecht
abstained from voting when the second war loan was granted by the
Reichstag. Evidently doubts have arisen in a small section of the party
either as to the origin of the war, or in regard to the objects which
the German Government hopes to attain.
On August 20th, 1915, Dr. Liebknecht put this question in the Reichstag:
"Is the Government prepared to enter into immediate peace negotiations
on the basis that Germany renounces all annexation claims and assuming
that the other Powers in question are willing to negotiate?" Von Jagow
replied: "I believe the great majority of the members will agree with
me, when I refuse to answer the question, as being at present beside the
The reply evoked a hurricane of "bravos."
A parallel may be found in the year 1870. The central committee of
German Social Democrats passed a resolution that: "It is absolutely
necessary for the party to organize simultaneously in all parts of the
country great popular demonstrations against the annexation of
Alsace-Lorraine, and pass resolutions in favour of an honourable peace
with the French republic."
Nothing came of the movement, for on September 9th the committee was
placed under arrest and prosecuted. If Germany should be victorious in
this war, it is to be assumed that the Socialists would again prove
powerless to prevent annexation. What the allies cannot hinder, the
Social Democrats would be still more helpless to prevent; especially as
the great majority of them are unreservedly on the side of the Kaiser
and his Government. When in need, the latter flattered and persuaded the
Democrats to vote for an alleged war of defence; but should German arms
be victorious the German Government would neither seek, nor accept
advice on her national projects, from her quondam internationalists.
There are grounds for suspicion that the party is playing a game desired
by the Berlin Government. For some months past they have tried every
means possible to arrange personal interviews with the leaders of the
corresponding party in France--the French "comrades" have refused to
meet them. The _Leipziger Volkszeitung_ for July 16th, 1915, contains
more than a column about "We and the French," in which the German party
spreads the usual Teutonic lime of sophistry and empty phrases.
One passage betrays the entire intrigue. They wish their "French
brothers" to agree to a peace without annexations, which means, in so
many words, that the French Socialists are to renounce Alsace-Lorraine
for ever. Had they been, or should they be in the future, so foolish as
to enter this German mouse-trap, then before the war has reached a
decisive conclusion, a large section of the French nation would be
pledged to renounce the lost provinces even in case of a German defeat.
This is an excellent instance of the manner in which German Social
Democracy works in an enemy country to assist its own Government. In
like manner, the Independent Labour Party and Union of Democratic
Control are forces exceedingly sensitive to German influence, and in a
decisive moment can be set in motion by the German "comrades."
The hundred and eleven Social Democrats in the Reichstag have no real
power in Germany. If they possess any degree of power, then fear for
their own skins, prevents them from risking its exercise. Their real
opinion concerning Alsace-Lorraine appeared in the same journal four
days later. "According to our opinion it would be a crime, if France
made the return of these provinces a condition of peace." In the same
article an accusation of one-sidedness is made against the Socialists in
France for supporting the French Government. After which, it is not
surprising that every time the names of the _Genossen_ Macdonald,
Snowden, Hardie and Newbold occur in the _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, they
are mentioned with awe and reverence.
"Besides Ramsay Macdonald and Philip Snowden, our friend J.T. Walton
Newbold has got on the nerves of the English patriots." These
gentlemen invariably receive polite mention, but French Socialists are
evidently in disfavour--presumably because they know too well the German
[Footnote 86: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, July 23rd, 1915.]
The peace programme of the German Socialists has been published. An
official declaration of the party which appeared on August 23rd, 1915,
gives the following conditions.
"While caring for the national interests and rights of our own people,
and at the same time respecting the vital interests of all nations,
German Social Democracy strives for a peace which bears the guarantee of
permanence, and will bring the European States closer together in
matters of justice, culture, and commerce. In this sense we have drawn
up the following scheme:
"I. The security of German independence and the entirety of the German
Empire, which implies the rejection of all annexation plans on the part
of our opponents. That includes the French plan to re-incorporate
Alsace-Lorraine with France, no matter in what form that end may be
"II. In order to secure free economic development for the German nation,
"(_a_) The 'open door,' _i.e._, equal rights for commercial and
such-like activities in all colonial territories.
"(_b_) The inclusion of the most-favoured-nation clause in the articles
of peace of all the nations now at war.
"(_c_) The furthering of an economic entente by abolishing tariffs,
etc., as far as possible.
"(_d_) The equalization and improvement of the social-political
institutions according to ideals aimed at by the workmen's international
"(_e_) The freedom of the seas is to be guaranteed by an international
treaty. To this end the right of capture at sea must be abolished, and
all straits and narrows of importance for world commerce, must be
"III. In the interests of Germany's security and the free exercise of
commercial and economic efforts in South-Eastern Europe, we reject all
the warlike aims of the Quadruple Alliance to weaken or disintegrate
Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
"IV.--In consideration of the fact that the annexation of territories
inhabited by another race transgresses the rights of nations to govern
themselves; furthermore because thereby, the unity and strength of
Germany would be weakened and her foreign relations seriously and
permanently injured, we oppose the plans in that direction cherished by
[Footnote 87: There are two and a half lines of dots at this point.
Probably the German censor has cut out a sentence.]
"V.--The terrible destruction and sufferings brought upon humanity by
this war have won over millions of hearts to the ideal of a world peace,
permanently secured by an international court of justice. The attainment
of this end must be recognized as the highest moral duty of all those
who are appointed to the work of framing a peace. Therefore we demand
that an international arbitration court shall be created which shall
settle all future difference between the nations."
[Footnote 88: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 23rd, 1915.]
This imaginary peace-treaty is what Germans would call a _Zankapfel_
(apple of discord). It may represent the serious opinions of Germany's
greatest political party, but the German Government will welcome it
because it will give Germany's sympathizers in France, England, Italy
and Russia an excellent weapon with which they can attack their
respective Governments, and hamper them in protecting their national
interests. It will doubtless be an inspiration to the members of the
I.L.P. and the U.D.C.
[Footnote 89: Above prophecy written end of August; fulfilled in the
_Labour Leader_ October 28th.--Author.]
If the German Government seriously formulated such proposals, the author
believes that all Britishers worthy of the name would simply answer:
"Fight on!" On this assumption the proposals deserve no discussion.
Yet the document is interesting as revealing the mind of Social
Democratic Germany. These sublime Pharisees are unconscious of Belgium's
wrongs and Germany's crimes. The former deserve no compensation and the
latter no penalty. Here we are on the bed-rock of their ideas of justice
and humanitarianism. Still we are not altogether surprised, because the
Democratic newspaper organs have openly defended and justified the
atrocities committed by German soldiers, and whenever any particularly
damning evidence has been produced their parole has consistently been:
"At any rate, now is not the time to discuss it." According to their
comprehension the only time for discussion is when Europe is under the
German heel. They are willing to discuss--when discussion can no longer
injure the Fatherland, when Germany has gained all she wants.
The most remarkable metamorphosis which the German Democrats have
undergone, is shown in their changed attitude to England. This country
gave a home to Marx and Engels; the former is buried in Highgate
cemetery. For many decades the party professed enthusiastic admiration
of British institutions and our ideals of personal freedom. Their
admiration for England was not always convenient to the German
Government, and was certainly a thorn in the side of the Kaiser.
In 1898 the party published a "Handbook for Social Democratic Voters,"
which contains lengthy explanations of their entire policy. Therein they
justify their opposition to German naval expansion, and while conceding
that naval supremacy is vital and indispensable to England, continue:
"Boundless plans are veiled beneath the Navy Bill (1897). The hotspurs
among the water-patriots dream of a first-class navy which might rival,
yes, even surpass the British fleet.
"For the water-patriots the Navy Bill means an instrument to further
their unlimited _Weltpolitik_ and schemes of conquest; a weapon with
which to realize their mad imaginings of a greater Germany. They desire
to employ it as a tool for their absolutist plans and adventurous world
"It increases the risk of foreign conflicts. At the same time it
brightens the prospects of success of those influential circles
which--impelled by an overpowering impulse to deeds, and inspired by a
diseased longing for prestige--press on from excitement to excitement,
from daring to daring, and from crisis to crisis."
This remarkable prophecy has been verified by history, but with its
realization, the party which made it has been converted to the side of
their former opponents. To-day the Social Democrats are just as hearty
in the desire to see Britain overthrown and British naval supremacy
smashed as is the Kaiser's Government.
No impartial thinker dare deny that the British fleet has been the
principal factor in preventing Europe's subjugation to German autocracy,
and the world to German militarism. Yet the so-called party of freedom
prays earnestly that this fleet may be destroyed. This represents the
tone of their daily Press, and the change of attitude has been proved to
be scientifically correct in various books published by their leaders
during the present year. One of these works will be quoted at
considerable length, because of its importance in showing what the
"pioneers of liberty" wish, may be the end of the "home of liberty." The
work bears the title, "German Social Democracy and the World War;"
its author is a Socialist member of the Reichstag.
[Footnote 90: "Die deutsche Sozialdemokratie und der Weltkrieg," by Dr.
Paul Lensch, published by the Vorwaerts Publishing House. Berlin, 1915.]
In dealing with England he refers to their former admiration for this
country and proceeds to prove that it was wrong--wrong in the interests
of Germany, and the world. England's fight against Napoleon for European
freedom Dr. Lensch disposes of in a sentence: "Consumed by greed,
England took the long-yearned-for opportunity and fell upon her rival,
France" (p. 16).
He informs his readers that England and Russia are two beasts of prey.
England's disarmament proposals were only intended to secure her naval
supremacy, because Germany seemed to be escaping from the strangulation
cord which. England had drawn tight round her throat. Therefore three
problems present themselves to Dr. Lensch, which the war must solve:
(1.) Shall the German people continue to exist as an independent nation?
(2.) Shall the danger of Czarism continue to threaten West European
(3.) Shall Britain's naval supremacy be eternalized or overthrown,
seeing that Britain only allows other nations to develop, so far as they
are compatible with her national interests? (p. 15).
"England's oft-praised freedom is based upon the enslavement of the
world; the peoples now recognize that England's wealth, freedom, and
greatness are merely the corollary to their poverty, slavery and
wretchedness (p. 20).
"International Socialism has not the slightest interest in helping to
bolster up this supremacy (p. 22).
"When this monopoly is broken the English working classes will lose
their present privileged position. They will be reduced to the same
level as the workmen of other lands. Then Socialism will flourish in
England (p. 23).
[Footnote 91: The author had fondly imagined that the British workman
stood foremost as the result of his own battles. In any case, it is to
be hoped that British Socialists will be grateful for "Genosse" Lensch's
prayers for their downfall.]
"No party stands to lose more by a British victory than Social
Democracy. The overthrow of England's world-position would clear the way
for the continuation of the world's progress on the right historical
lines, and its economic development (p. 25).
"In the present world war the interests of the internationalists are
bound up in a German victory. Hence a German victory would be a victory
for Marx's internationalism, and only then, would the hearts and heads
of English workmen be open to the intellectual schooling of the
Socialistic idea (p. 27).
"As early as the eighties in the last century, Friedrich Engels proved
that the ruin of England's industrial monopoly had begun. What the
scientist had foretold, became evident to all eyes two decades later.
The social system of the greatest, world-ruling industrial State was
shaken to its foundations. International Socialists had every reason to
welcome this peaceful downfall of England's world power" (pp. 21-22).
"Marx once wrote that war is like a locomotive in the history of the
world. May this war have that effect and under full steam lead to a
finish the work which peaceful development had already commenced,
_i.e._, the downfall of English supremacy. If the war hastens and
concludes this process, then the sacrifices in blood and treasure will
not have been in vain. A great stumbling-block to human progress and
especially to the proletarian fight for freedom will have been hurled
out of the way" (pp. 27-8).
Having failed during a peaceful fight of over forty years, to hurl
German autocracy and militarism out of the world, these hot-headed
pioneers of liberty (Kaiserdom?) wish to destroy the very State which
was their place of refuge when German "liberty" overwhelmed them with
its kindly attentions.
Still we cannot be too grateful to Dr. Lensch for his lucid statement.
It is an effective reply to Germany's sympathizers in this country, and
if British workmen should ever see these lines, it will interest them to
know that German Socialists are anxious to pull them down a little, in
the belief that if British workmen are cut short in their luxuries they
will become better Socialists and Internationalists.
Dr. Lensch has only one step more to take, and he will certainly gain
the highest German order--_pour le merite_. The famous Communist
manifesto of Marx and Engels concludes with the words: "Proletarians of
all lands, unite!" It is much to be desired that Dr. Lensch should amend
this by adding to Marx's phrase a few words, so that the amended form
"Proletarians of all lands, unite to sing 'Deutschland, Deutschland,
ueber alles.'" By this simple means the learned doctor would condense the
entire teachings of his book into a single sentence.
"The position to-day is that the interests of freedom and democracy are
utterly at variance with a French victory (p. 42).
"Greater Prussia was founded by the war of 1866, while the 1870 struggle
established a Little Germany. Through the present war Great Germany will
be created" (p. 46).
On another page this Socialist-Chauvinist proclaims that "the freedom of
the oppressed must be the work of the oppressed themselves," which is a
principle that the I.L.P. and U.D.C., etc., would do well to note. "The
peculiarity of our situation is to be found in the fact that
extraordinarily advanced ideals have penetrated into our unripe
[Footnote 92: Louis Bamberger in an essay on German Social Democracy in
the _Deutsche Rundschau_, vol. 14, p. 243.]
It is to these "unripe conditions" that Lensch, Liebknecht, David,
Hildenbrand and the remaining leaders of German Social Democracy should
give their undivided attention. Last year the Berlin Government
published a record of crimes committed in Germany. It is the most awful
record of any nation in the world, and the above gentlemen would do well
to study Volume 267 of the _Vierteljahrshefte_. There were hundreds of
thousands of brutal crimes committed in Germany by German proletarians
during the year 1912.
For half a century Marx, Lassalle, Bebel, Liebknecht and their
successors have been busily engaged in intellectualizing Germany's
proletarians; now it is advisable for the Socialist party to begin the
work of humanizing them. Their efforts to internationalize the world
have resulted in a hopeless _debacle_; let them now begin the task of
humanizing Germany. They have all evidently forgotten the German
proverb: _Kehr vor deiner eignen Tuer!_ (Sweep first before your own
"NECESSITY KNOWS NO LAW"
On August 2nd, 1914, Belgium announced her neutrality in the European
war; France had already declared her intention to respect Belgian
neutrality at all costs. On the other hand we have Bethmann-Hollweg's
word that he knew French armies were standing ready to strike at Germany
through Belgium. This statement he has never supported by any proof, nor
even mentioned his authority for the same. In view of the facts that
no military preparations had been made on the Franco-Belgian frontier,
and that the German armies first came into contact with French forces
long after the fall of Liege, we are compelled to declare the German
Chancellor's statement to be a pure invention.
[Footnote 93: So-called "evidence" has been given by Richard Grasshoff
in his book "Belgien's Schuld" ("Belgium's Guilt"), pp. 14-20. Grasshoff
quotes the sworn statements of a German corporal who resided in
Boitsfort, near Brussels. The corporal states that he saw two French and
one English officer in Brussels on July 26th, and eight French soldiers
on July 29th.
The statements of three French soldiers, prisoners of war in Germany,
are also cited; these men maintain that they entered Belgium on the 31st
of July and the 2nd of August.
With regard to this "evidence," we must note that Grasshoff is a German
official, the corporal a German spy, and that the Frenchmen have made
these statements in a prisoners' camp, a place where they were exposed
to the temptation of German gold and the influence of Teutonic bullying.
Lastly, the Berlin General Staff has recorded that the German armies
first came in touch with French troops on August 19th, near Namur.]
Moreover Germany's excuse for invading Belgium is given in the title of
this chapter. Had Germany possessed any proof that French officers in
disguise were organizing preparations in Belgium, or that French airmen
had crossed the latter's territories in order to drop bombs by Wesel,
etc., then Bethmann-Hollweg would have had no reason to admit in the
Reichstag that his country was committing a breach of international law.
Under such circumstances Belgian neutrality would no longer have
existed; the Chancellor, instead of "necessity," could have pleaded
justification and the world could scarcely have withheld its approval.
In the early hours of August 4th the Germans crossed the Belgian
frontier, although the _Cologne Gazette_ had published a notice three
days before announcing that Germany had no intention whatever of taking
the step, and that no German troops were near the frontier.
General von Emmich immediately issued this proclamation in French: "To
my great regret German troops have been compelled to enter Belgian
territory. They are acting under the compulsion of unavoidable
necessity, for French officers in disguise have already violated Belgian
neutrality by trying to reach Germany, via Belgium, in motor-cars.
[Footnote 94: One wonders what military purpose these officers had in
view. They would have been inevitably arrested at the German frontier.
The fable was made public by Wolff's Agency, and has been ridiculed even
by the German Press, _vide_ pp. 96-7.]
"Belgians! it is my most ardent desire that it may yet be possible to
avoid a struggle between two peoples which up till now, have been
friends, formerly even allies. Remember the glorious days of La Belle
Alliance, when German arms helped to found the independence and future
of your Fatherland.
"Now we must have a free way. The destruction of tunnels, bridges and
railways will be considered hostile actions. Belgians! you have to
choose. The German army does not intend to fight against you, but seeks
a free path against the enemy who wishes to attack us. That is all we
"Herewith I give the Belgian people an official pledge that they will
not have to suffer under the terrors of war; that we will pay ready
money for all necessaries which we may have to requisition; that our
soldiers will show themselves the best friends of a nation for which we
have the highest esteem and ardent affection. It depends upon your
prudence and your patriotism whether your land shall be spared the
horrors of war." (Appeared in the _Cologne Gazette_, August 6th.)
A Dresden paper of the same date contains an illuminating statement. "We
have just received official information that the German General Staff
had been informed by an absolutely reliable source that the French
intended to march through the valley of the Meuse into Belgium. The
execution of this plan had already commenced, therefore France was by no
means prepared to respect Belgian neutrality."
"For years past the King of Belgium has conspired with England behind
the backs of his ministers, to damage German interests. His telegram to
the King of England was a trick planned long ago. These facts will soon
be supplemented by a large number of documentary proofs; from this the
necessity has arisen to direct Germany's advance through Belgium
irrespective of neutrality considerations."
[Footnote 95: _Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten_, August 9th.]
Here we have the first clumsy attempts to prove that Belgian neutrality
did not exist. These after-thoughts have grown during the past year into
no inconsiderable literature. Probably the two motives which have
inspired Germany--official and unofficial--to print many volumes on
Belgian neutrality have been the indignation aroused in neutral
countries and the fact that a complete German victory was not obtained
in three months of war.
German newspapers again betray the plot against Belgium, and a search
through their files reveals in the clearest manner possible how Wolff's
Bureau was again the source of a widespread campaign to prove that
Germany was right, and simultaneously to lash public opinion into hatred
for the Belgian "barbarians and beasts."
In the first few days of August the Press was filled with reports
concerning the murder and ill treatment of Germans in Belgium, before
any act of war had taken place. No doubt a justified fear for the
mighty, brutal neighbour existed in the popular imagination, and fear
may be the father of ill-considered deeds. Nevertheless, there is no
proof that mob law prevailed in Belgium, as it did in Germany. Moreover,
the latter country outlawed herself when she proclaimed the law of
necessity. In the light of this consideration the German outcry that the
Belgians were breaking both the laws of humanity and international
jurisprudence lacks sincerity and remains unconvincing.
A country which announces her intention to ignore existing laws and
"hack a way through at all costs," should surely be the last to declaim
on the alleged offences against the laws of war by a small, weak,
unprepared neighbour. If these considerations are insufficient, there
remains the fact that Germany herself began war against unarmed Belgian
During the night following the unsuccessful _coup de main_ against
Liege, a Zeppelin attacked the town and dropped bombs. "On Thursday,
August 6th, at 3.30 a.m. Z6 returned from an air-cruise over Belgium.
The airship took a conspicuous part in the attack on Liege, and was able
to intervene in a markedly successful manner. Our first bomb was dropped
from a height of 1,800 feet, but failed to explode. The ship then sank
to 900 feet above the city, and a non-commissioned officer dropped
twelve more bombs, all of which exploded, setting the city ablaze in
[Footnote 96: German official report in the _Berliner Tageblatt_, August
An Austrian who was in the town afterwards described the attack in the
_Grazer Tagespost_. According to this witness it was already daylight
when the airship appeared, and the effect of the bombs was truly awful.
In view of the circumstance that it was already light, Germany cannot
put forward the defence that the bombs were intended for the twelve
forts which surround Liege at a distance of some miles.
This is the earliest official record of an attack upon civilians--and it
came from the German side! The crew of Z6 were the recipients of a
tremendous ovation on their return, while the news of this dastardly
murder was received with jubilation throughout the German Empire. In
Luneville fifteen civilians were killed by airship bombs two days
earlier; shortly afterwards followed the attack by airship on civilians
The author has before him about one hundred different newspaper reports,
alleging the most awful barbarism on the part of the Belgians. Among the
numerous statements that Germans were murdered, only two names are
mentioned, and both these men are alive to-day; the one is Herr Weber,
proprietor of an hotel in Antwerp.
"We have now received full details of the murder of the German, Weber.
He had fled from his pursuers and hidden himself in a cellar. As the
raging mob could not find him they burnt sulphur in the house, which
caused Weber to break into a violent fit of coughing. This betrayed his
hiding-place; he was dragged out and murdered."
[Footnote 97: _Hamburger Fremdenblatt_, August 12th, and simultaneously
in many other journals. On the following day the _Vorwaerts_ announced
that Herr Weber had returned to Germany in the company of their own
"The German pork-butcher, Deckel, who had a large business in Brussels,
was attacked in his house by a crowd of Belgian beasts because he had
refused to hang a Belgian flag before his shop; with axes and hatchets
the mob cut off his head and hewed his corpse in pieces."
[Footnote 98: _Koelnische Volkszeitung_, August 10th.]
A few days later the _Berliner Tageblatt_ informed its readers that Herr
Deckel was residing in Rotterdam, and had suffered no harm whatever.
Readers who are acquainted with the official record of brutal crimes
committed year by year in Germany and the haughty contempt for civilian
rights which the whole German army has consistently shown in the
Fatherland, during the orderly times of peace, will require little
imagination to conceive that this same army would show still less
consideration for civilians in a country which they were wrongfully
The German Press during the last thirty years, as well as many books
published in the Fatherland, contains ample proof of German brutality at
home, and above all, of the legal brutality of German non-commissioned
and commissioned officers. How can Germany expect the world to believe,
that these same men, were transformed into decent human beings by the
mere act of stepping over the Belgian frontier?
Granted that vulgar elements of the Belgian population did transgress,
there still remains incontrovertible evidence that almost unheard-of
kindness was shown to the invading army, and that Germans had displayed
brutal insolence to Belgians before a state of war had been declared.
Nearly every single letter from soldiers, published in German papers,
records the fact that in the villages through which they passed they
were given water, wine and food, while payment was in many cases
It is part of Germany's policy to blacken Belgium's character in order
to justify her own ruthlessness--naturally Wolff's Agency was one of the
principal tools to that end.
"Much as we condemn the excesses of the Belgians, still we must not
wreak vengeance on the whole nation as a section of our Press demands.
Have not harmless and defenceless foreigners been terribly ill-treated
in Germany without distinction of sex? Have not shops and restaurants
been demolished in hundreds, wherever a French word was to be met? And
the rage of the German masses has found an outlet not only against
foreigners, but against good German patriots and even German
[Footnote 99: _Leipziger Volkszeitung_, August 12th. This journal as
well as the _Fraenkische Tagespost_ names Wolff's Agency as their
authority in more than one issue.]
The same journal on the preceding day deplored that "we ourselves are
not free from guilt." It recounts how German reservists, when leaving
Antwerp and Brussels, had sung their national songs in a loud,
provocative manner, and taunted the bystanders with such remarks as: "In
three days we shall be here again!"
According to the same authority German residents had insulted the
populace by displaying their national flag; and German employers had
been among the first to discharge employees of their own nationality,
without salary in lieu of notice, thus increasing the difficulties of
German residents in Belgium.
German official pronouncements are much more reticent in their judgment
on these allegations of Belgian cruelties. None the less the Berlin
Government must be held responsible for them being scattered throughout
the land. After Germany's official representative had returned from
Brussels to Berlin he made a statement to the Press. Considering that
von Below was in the Belgian capital at the time, his views are
He expressed his great astonishment that such things should have
happened, and asserted that up till the very last minute he had been
treated with the greatest kindness and politeness. Neither he nor any of
his Legation Staff had experienced the slightest unpleasantness.
Further, von Below expressed the conviction that only single instances
of such excesses had occurred and these were a result of the quarrelsome
Walloon character. No village _fete_ passes off among them without such
outbreaks, accompanied by bloodshed.
[Footnote 100: This may be true, but von Below could have said the same
with absolute truth of German village fairs, _Kirmesse_, etc.--Author.]
German papers of August 15th reported this official version, and four
days later a proclamation was issued by State Secretary Dr. Delbrueck,
calling upon all persons who had been ill-treated in Belgium to report
themselves, so that the "numerous" newspaper reports could be confirmed
or refuted. The result of the inquiry has never been published.
From a number of witnesses who testified whole-heartedly to Belgian
kindness, one will suffice. A lady reported her adventures in the
_Vorwaerts_ of September 6th, from which the following sentences have
been gleaned. "Even if it is true that Germans were subjected to
inconsideration and ill-treatment during their flight from Belgium,
still there are hundreds of Germans who, like myself, met with generous
sympathy and unstinted help.
"A Flemish servant refused her month's wages, saying that her employers
would need it on the journey. Many Germans were offered homes in Belgian
families till the war was over. My own landlord in Brussels placed an
empty flat at my disposal for German refugees. At parting he and his
wife were as deeply moved as we, and when I began to make excuses for
being unable to pay the rent, she at once prevented me from speaking
another word. My husband was provided with a hat which looked less
'German;' they filled our pockets with provisions for the journey, and
after his wife had embraced me and my child we left the house in
"German refugees whom I met afterwards, related hundreds of similar acts
of kindness. When such severe accusations are raised against the entire
Belgian people, justice demands this statement that Belgians in hundreds
of cases, uninfluenced by the prevailing bitterness, showed themselves
kindly, helpful and humane towards the Germans."
In the second month of the war two representatives of the Social
Democratic Party received special permission from the General Staff to
visit Belgium and the theatre of war in Northern France. Their report
has been issued by the Vorwaerts Publishing House.
[Footnote 101: "Kriegsfahrten durch Belgien und Nordfrankreich"
("Journeys in War Time through Belgium, etc."), by Dr. Adolph Koester
and G. Noske.]
"Concerning the events and conditions in Belgium many false reports have
been spread abroad. That is especially the case in regard to the
terrible persecutions of Germans immediately before the outbreak of war.
The civil authorities (German) are now permitting full investigation in
those parts of Belgium occupied by our troops, and it is already obvious
that many exaggerations were circulated by German newspapers. Without
doubt beer-houses and business houses were wrecked, but the Tartar
stories which were reported in Germany and Belgium, Herr von Sandt,
Chief of the Civil Administration, puts down to hysterics, and the
desire of some people to make themselves important."
[Footnote 102: Ibid., pp. 14-15.]
No correct judgment on the apportionment of right and wrong between the
Belgian civilians and the German army is possible without taking into
consideration the status of militarism in each of these countries before
the war. As far as Belgium is concerned, the army was looked upon as a
necessary evil. The Social Democratic doctrines imported from Germany
had obtained such a hold upon the people that the Belgian Government
experienced ever-increasing difficulty in getting supplies voted in the
House of Deputies, for defence purposes. Belgian Socialists
unfortunately played into the hands of the German Government by doing
their utmost to prevent money from being spent for the defence of their
country. Consciously or unconsciously, German Socialists have rendered
the Kaiser and his army inestimable service. Their propaganda against
armaments has borne fruit in Belgium, England and France, but did not
prevent a single German battleship from being built, nor a single
regiment from being added to the German army.
In Germany militarism is a gospel. All classes and all political parties
have been unanimous for years past, that every man should be a soldier.
The military ethos has ruled supreme, and whenever civilianism has
dared, merely to cherish thoughts contrary to the ideals of the ruling
caste, no time was lost in seeking an opportunity to challenge a quarrel
which invariably ended in humiliation for the civilian ethos.
Characteristically, therefore, the contemptuous phrase has become
current both in the German army and navy--"das Civil"--when speaking of
the non-military elements of the nation.
Imbued with these traditions and inspired by this contempt for
everything civilian, the German armies invaded Belgium, and it may be
safely assumed that in a country where the civilian ethos predominated,
looks, words, and even deeds, expressed hostility. Such "provocation"
would certainly rouse the military ego to a revenge ten thousand-fold
greater than that taken at Zabern. German militarism brooks neither
contempt, criticism, nor opposition from German civilians, and much less
so from the civilians of another nation.
When it is possible to obtain cool and clear accounts of the events in
Belgium, the author has no doubt whatever, that proofs of
civilian-baiting will be forthcoming in that unhappy country. The policy
of frightfulness was not only intended to drive an enemy into abject
submission and as a punishment for resistance to Germany's imperious
will, but it was the military ethos in strife with the civilian spirit.
In order to hinder the march of the invaders the trees lining the roads
were cut down and formed into barriers, but the civilian population was
compelled at the bayonet's point to remove all obstacles and thus assist
in the conquest of their native country.
"The magnificent tall fir-trees which are so characteristic of Belgian
roads, had been felled across the highways. But all the civilian
population which could be found, without regard to age, rank, or sex,
was forced by our advancing cavalry to clear it all away. One can
imagine the joy of the Belgians in performing this task!"
[Footnote 103: "Unser Vormarsch bis zur Marne" ("Our advance to the
Marne"), by a Saxon officer, p. 22.]
This writer, too, chronicles many instances of kindness. "I was billeted
in a peasant's house at the western exit of the village. Three beautiful
children, trembling with fear, watched us come in, for besides me there
were twenty-four men. We had received emphatic warnings from
headquarters not to allow soldiers to be billeted alone. The woman gave
us everything she could find and it was almost necessary to use force to
get her to accept payment."
[Footnote 104: Ibid., p. 25.]
"A load of shot struck the ground at the feet of my horse. Before I had
calmed the animal a N.C.O. marching at my side had finished off the
dirty Belgian scoundrel, who was now hanging dead from a roof window.
"Foaming with rage, my field-greys surrounded the house, in which only a
few of the dogs were taken captive, the others were immediately
slaughtered. A boy hardly fifteen years old was dragged out of a wet
ditch with a gun in his hand. Before being brought to me, this youthful
swine had been thrashed from head to foot. Besides the men, two women
and a girl were taken.
"Meanwhile a terrible hand-to-hand fight was going on throughout the
long, scattered village. Infantry and artillerists smashed the doors and
windows; no mercy was shown to anyone, and the houses were set alight.
An attempt to storm the church-tower failed because the occupants fired
from above. Bundles of straw were brought, paraffin poured on them, and
the tower set on fire. Above the roar of the flames we could distinctly
hear the shrieks of the murderers shut in there.
"I gave orders to a squad to shoot our prisoners, but a deadly bullet
finished the career of the lying, scoundrelly priest as he was trying to
escape. Our losses were remarkably small, only two men being killed and
a number wounded."
[Footnote 105: Ibid., p. 43-4.]
In all cases where German soldiers asked for water from the inhabitants,
the latter had to take a drink first. "Before tasting the water both man
and wife had to drink first, and as this scene was repeated on
innumerable occasions, it was delightful to observe the comic
desperation with which the people took their involuntary 'water
[Footnote 106: "Mit der Kluck'schen Armee nach Belgien" ("With von
Kluck's Army into Belgium"), by Dr. Jos. Risse, p. 17.]
Dr. Risse's interesting diary contains one or two important passages
illustrating the relation between conquerors and conquered. Like many
other German writers, he saw no hostile act on the part of the civilian
population, but they came to him as rumours. "That night we slept in a
barn. Here we heard that a village near Dahlem had been burned down
because the inhabitants had cut the throat of a sleeping ambulance
"On continuing our march we suddenly entered a wide vale. The horizon
was blood-red and huge clouds of smoke drifted heavenwards. On all sides
the villages were in flames. In the last village before Louvain the
sight was terrible in the extreme; houses ablaze; pools of blood in the
street; here and there a dead civilian; pieces of Belgian equipment,
haversacks, boots and trousers lay around; while the inhabitants stood
about with their hands raised above their heads.
"It was said that hostile cavalry had hidden in the village and together
with a part of the inhabitants had fired on our troops. We only saw the
"After a long rest before Louvain we entered the town at 7 p.m. Our
artillery had taken up a semi-circular position on the heights around
and directed their cannon on to the town."
[Footnote 107: Ibid., pp. 22-3.]
The above events occurred on August 19th, exactly six days before the
sack of Louvain. It strikes one as remarkable that the German cannon
were even on that day directed against an unfortified city.
Risse was among the first German troops to enter Brussels. "Our route
took us through some of the principal streets, and various splendid
buildings including the Royal palace. Joy shone in our faces and a
feeling of pride swelled our breasts at being the first to enter
Belgium's capital. These feelings found expression in our talk and
shouts. The man behind me shouted to every bewildered, staring Belgian
whom we passed: 'Yes, young fellow, you are astonished, you blockhead!'
On we marched with the air of victors.
"The inhabitants were exceedingly kind, so that one had not at all the
feeling of being in the capital of an enemy. They brought us water,
lemonade, beer, cigars, cigarettes, etc., without asking for any
[Footnote 108: Ibid., pp. 26-7.]
The same writer refers to similar hospitality in various parts of his
book. After passing through Brussels he continues his diary: "Sunday,
August 23rd. Nothing came of our hopes for a rest-day. Shortly after 5
a.m. we were ready for the march. A fine rain was falling as we passed
through village after village. We saw the villagers with frightened
faces hurrying to church, carrying prayer-books. Notices from the
Belgian Government were placarded on the houses, warning the people to
avoid every kind of hostility towards the Germans."
[Footnote 109: Ibid., p. 31.]
From the last sentence it is evident that the Belgian authorities did
not incite the civilian population to resistance. Other German
war-writers state that the Belgian and French Governments had organized
a _franc-tireur_ warfare long before, and this accusation is one of the
pillars of Germany's defence for the destruction of Louvain.
"Soon after crossing the frontier we saw the first ruined house. Our
route led us down the same road on which a few days before the violent
and bitter struggles had taken place between German troops and Belgian
soldiers, aided by the inhabitants. The Belgians have supported their
troops in a manner which can only be described as bestial and cruel.
From the houses they have shot at troops on the march, and of course
their homes have been reduced to ashes.
"The road from Aix-la-Chapelle to Liege is one long, sad line of
desolation. Otherwise the district is fertile; now, however,
sadness and devastation reign supreme. Nearly every second house is a
heap of ruins, while the houses which are still standing are empty and
[Footnote 110: On September 8th, 1914, the Kaiser sent a long telegram
to President Wilson, in which he defended the German armies against the
charges of ruthless atrocities. He euphemistically stated that "a few
villages have been destroyed."]
"On every side signs of destruction; furniture and house utensils lie
around; not a pane of glass but what is broken. Still the inhabitants
themselves are to blame, for have they not shot at our poor, tired
[Footnote 111: "Mit den Koenigin-Fusilieren durch Belgien" ("With the
Queen Fusiliers through Belgium"), by H. Knutz, p. 13.]
That is the utmost sympathy which any German has expressed for Belgium.
The German public is fully informed of all that has been done, and
considers that _they_ have been brutally, wrongfully treated. Lord
Bryce's report as well as the French and Belgian official reports have
been dealt with at considerable length in the German Press, but receive
no credence whatever; they are lies, all lies invented to blacken the
character of poor, noble, generous Germany!
Germans are well aware of the awful number of brutal crimes which their
men-folk commit year by year at home. Yet they are absolutely convinced
that these same men are immediately transformed into chivalrous knights
so soon as they don the Kaiser's uniform. They seem incapable of
conceiving that a race which debauches its own women, can hardly be
expected to show the crudest forms of respect to the women of an enemy
Herr Knutz--an elementary school-teacher in civilian attire, and a
non-commissioned officer when in the German army--seems to possess some
rays of human feeling. "Just as I was leaving the fort I saw seven or
eight Belgian civilians guarded by our men with fixed bayonets. They
were charged with firing on German soldiers. I must say that the
lamentations of these men--aged from 20 to 50--made a deep impression on
me. They had thrown themselves upon their knees, and with raised hands
were weeping and beseeching that their lives might be spared.
"The villagers are exceedingly ignorant, and when their land is in
danger, believe themselves justified in seizing any old shot-gun or
revolver which lies at hand. Probably some of the more prudent are aware
that it is a mad enterprise, but the instinct of self-defence is so
innate in the simple country people that advice does not help in the
least." (Von Bethmann-Hollweg and von Tirpitz justify the use of gas,
the sinking of merchant vessels containing women and children, the
dropping of bombs on open towns, etc., etc., by the plea of
"But it is otherwise with regard to the atrocities on our wounded; these
are a stain on Belgium's national honour which will not easily be wiped
out. A German would never perpetrate such monstrous crimes, and
that we can say without any overweening opinion of ourselves."
[Footnote 112: This is hypocrisy or ignorance.--Author.]
[Footnote 113: Ibid., pp. 18-19.]
Herr Knutz offers no proof of the alleged atrocities; he has heard of
them, believes and repeats the story. I have some fifty German books
describing the war in Belgium, and in all of them similar legends are
mentioned, but in no single instance is a case proved and nailed down.
No victim is named, and the scene of the alleged atrocity is never
given, hence it seems to be the usual German artifice to make
_Stimmung_, _i.e._, to raise feeling.
One thumb-nail picture from the teacher's diary shows that the Germans
created only too well a _Stimmung_ of abject terror among the Belgians.
"This morning, August 19th, we searched a small wood for Belgians, but
found none. On leaving the wood a touching picture met our eyes. Several
families were fleeing with their children, and the barest necessaries of
life, into a neighbouring village. An old woman on crutches was trying
in vain to keep up; a young mother with a sucking child was sobbing and
pressing the babe to her bosom. The boys were weeping bitterly and
holding their hands high to prove that they were harmless. We passed by
the ruins of Roosbeck, where civilians had shot on the 20th Artillery
Regiment, for which reason it was burnt down."
[Footnote 114: Ibid., p. 27.]
Among the various interesting pictures of the Fatherland sketched by
German authors perhaps the following is the most naive: "English, French
and Belgians, hand in hand; how nicely it was all thought out; Belgian
neutrality--so solemnly pledged by all the Powers--was nothing but a
screen behind which they wrought the most devilish plans against
Germany. It was a neutrality which had long since been betrayed and sold
by the Belgian Government.
"But the German people--a pure fool-like Parsifal, who could not
conceive such treachery and knavery because it was incapable of such
things itself--toiled and worked day by day, enjoyed the blessings of
peace, was happy in its existence and ignorant of the looming clouds
gathering on its frontiers. All hail to our chosen leaders who kept
watch and ward over a dreaming people, and did not allow themselves to
be lulled into watchlessness by the lies of our enemies, who while
talking of peace intrigued for our annihilation."
[Footnote 115: "Von Luettich bis Flandern" ("From Liege to Flanders"), by
Wilhelm Kotzde. Weimar, 1914; p. 5.]
The same author's opinion of the Belgians coincides with that expressed
by many of his fellow countrymen. "What did our troops find by the
roadside? On all sides haversacks, straps, cartridges, caps, tunics and
rifles. To our soldiers this was a remarkable sign of flight, for they
are accustomed to military training of a different sort. In the forts,
it is true, they found among the soldiers also civilians wearing
patent-leather shoes. Indeed, the whole Belgian campaign has shown how
badly the army was prepared and equipped.
"The lack of discipline and order is evident, however, in every
department of Belgium's national life, and these virtues they
endeavoured to replace by cunning and cruelty--at least among the
[Footnote 116: Ibid., pp. 61-2.]
A Knight of the Order of St. John is still more cynical in his
condemnation of the conquered enemy: "The greatest misfortune in this
land is unemployment; factories are inactive and shops closed. The
horrors of famine draw nearer, and we, as well as some neutral
countries, are endeavouring to relieve the tortures of want. But charity
only encourages the laziness of the inhabitants. Just as the refugees in
Holland, the Belgians who have remained in their land would like to put
their hands in their pockets and be fed. Of course, that is not
permissible, and the German Government does its best to rap these lazy
wretches on the fingers."
[Footnote 117: "Kriegsfahrten eines Johanniters," by Fedor von
Zobeltitz, pp. 86-7.]
"It was characteristic that the Belgians always placed their hopes on
foreign help and never dared to rely on the strength of their own army.
This alone is a serious symptom of national weakness. Still, the Belgian
army has fought bravely. It is true they had not the discipline and
preparation which distinguish the German troops, but everything which a
badly equipped and trained army could achieve they have done."
[Footnote 118: Wilhelm Kotzde: "Von Luettich bis Flandern," p. 71.]
It is not necessary for the author of this work to write a song of
glorification for Belgium; she has herself composed an epic of valour
and self-sacrifice written in immortal deeds. At present her only reward
seems to be a desolate land in the hands of the conqueror, and the
graves of her fallen sons. Germany's evident intention is the annexation
of that part of Belgium where Flemish is spoken. At the moment of
writing, Goliath has vanquished David. France and England have a supreme
duty to fulfil: they are called to avenge Belgium's wrongs, and thereby
establish the principle that even necessity must recognize law.
The question of Belgian atrocities is so important that no apology is
required for giving the British public every possible opportunity to
sift evidence, and above all, to hear the German side.
In the interests of fair play we will allow a German lawyer to
state the case against the Belgians. Herr Grasshoff is armed with two
doctorates and is in practice as an advocate in one of the higher courts
of law (_Kammergericht_). Chapter III of his work is entitled: "The
Belgian Outrages;" in the foregoing chapter he endeavours to show that
the Belgian Press had worked upon public opinion and lashed it into such
a state that atrocities and mutilations of Germans by Belgian men,
women, boys and girls were the natural consequences.
[Footnote 119: Richard Grasshoff: "Belgien's Schuld" ("Belgium's
"That the goaded rage of the lower classes found expression in nameless
horrors is unfortunately a sorry truth. The proofs? We are not in a
position to satisfy the desire for sensation with a cabinet of horrors.
The equipment of the German army does not include either the jars or the
chemical fluids for preserving hacked-off limbs, hence it is impossible
to display exhibits as in a museum. Our hospitals do not admit the dead.
"If Germany should be compelled to conduct a second campaign against the
cultured peoples of Western Europe, then she will not forget to add the
above articles to her equipment in any future war against such
opponents. Pitying mother earth covers the murdered victims."
This eloquent lawyer has overlooked the aid which the art of photography
affords, and as the German army was well equipped with cameras, some
tangible proofs could still have been procured--assuming there were any
shred of truth in Germany's accusations. The Berlin Government has
circulated photographs of dum-dum bullets, _i.e.,_ English and French
bullets with the points cut off. It is true no statement is offered
regarding the time and place of the points being cut off, which leaves
us free to believe that captured ammunition was "doctored" in this
manner by the Germans themselves. "Necessity knows no law" is a
principle capable of the widest application.
Grasshoff's work was only published a few months ago, so that he had
ample time to collect facts and proofs--the result is, six detailed
cases with the names of his German informants and their regiments. In
each case the "evidence" is of an exceedingly doubtful character; in
view of the gravity of the charges, the lack of corroboration (each case
is "proved" by one witness alone), and the partisanship of all
concerned, we may safely conclude that no court of justice would convict
The same criticism applies to the official White Book, published in June
or July of the present year. Every witness had previously sworn an oath
to protect the German flag (_der Fahneneid_) which precludes the
probability of all impartiality in the witness and makes bias
(_Befangenheit_) his simple duty. Another important factor to be borne
in mind is the hysterical, morbid self-importance of the German nation
in general, which causes police and members of the German army to shoot
or cut down with the sword their own civilians for the most trivial
offences, even in times of peace.
The White Book in question contains a six-page introduction stating the
charges against Belgian civilians, and three hundred and seventeen pages
of sworn evidence of German officers and soldiers taken for the most
part in Belgium and France. A few extracts from the introduction will
suffice to make the German side clear.
"Finally, there is not the slightest doubt that Belgian civilians robbed
and killed German wounded; in short, mutilated them in a barbarous
manner; even women and young girls participated in these atrocities.
Hence German wounded have had their eyes gouged out, noses, ears,
fingers and genitals cut off and their bodies cut open; in other cases
German soldiers have been poisoned, hanged on trees, or had burning
liquids poured on them, causing death in a most terrible form.
"This bestial behaviour on the part of the civilian population is a
breach of Article I., Convention of Geneva, and the principles of
military law, as well as the principles of humanity" (p. 4).
[Footnote 120: Self-proclaimed outlaws cite the law when it suits their
"The guilt for these transgressions of international law lies largely at
the door of the Belgian Government. The latter has made an attempt to
rid itself of responsibility by ascribing the guilt to the rage for
destruction in the German troops, who are accused of proceeding to deeds
of violence without any reason or ground.
[Footnote 121: Certainly, just as in Germany in peace time.--Author.]
"An examining commission has been appointed by the Belgian Government to
inquire into the alleged cruelties of German soldiers, and the evidence
thus obtained has been made the subject of diplomatic complaints. This
attempt to pervert the truth has absolutely failed.
"The German army is accustomed to wage war against hostile troops, but
not against peaceful citizens. Investigations conducted by any
examining commission whatsoever, can never dispose of the irrefutable
fact that German troops were forced by Belgium's native population to
take defensive measures in the interests of self-preservation.
[Footnote 122: German non-commissioned officers are accustomed to kick
and beat German privates, and the behaviour of German soldiers to
fellow-subjects is aptly illustrated by Lieutenant Foerster fighting a
pitched battle with a lame old cobbler in Zabern.--Author.]
"The refugees' tales collected by the Belgian commission and declared by
them to be the result of an impartial investigation bear a stamp which
makes them unworthy of belief. According to the nature of things, the
commission is not in a position to test the veracity of such rumours or
to apprehend the association of events. Hence, their accusations against
the German army are nothing other than base slanders which are
completely invalidated by the accompanying documents" (pp. 5-6).
It must be assumed that readers are acquainted with the official
publications of the Belgian and French Governments accusing the German
army with waging war in an atrocious manner, as well as the report of
Lord Bryce's commission and Professor Morgan's report in the "Nineteenth
Century" for June. In the above extract the Berlin Government rules them
one and all out of court, which is the author's justification for making
no use of their evidence.
Fortunately the Roman Catholic Church of Germany has published a
refutation of Germany's White Book, and surely this authority deserves
credence. The work in question bears the title: "Der Luegengeist im
Voelkerkrieg," Kriegsmaerchen gesammelt von Bernhard Duhr, S.J. ("The
Spirit of Lying in the War of the Nations," War Legends collected by the
Rev. Bernhard Duhr, S.J.). The reverend gentleman castigates all
the nations at war with the same offence--lying. His work should have
permanent value in the literature of war psychology, but he only
undertakes to expose German lies, and in his 72-paged booklet he proves
to the hilt the charges made in this work.
[Footnote 123: The author hopes to publish a complete translation
In his introduction the Rev. Duhr states that the office of the Priests'
Society "Pax" in Cologne has taken great pains to expose and refute lies
as fast as they have appeared. The original documents are preserved in
the above office and may be seen by anyone who cares to apply.
Probably one of the motives actuating the Society "Pax" and the Rev. B.
Duhr was the intention to refute the accusations of cruel outrages by
Belgian and French Catholic priests. Whatever their motives may have
been, one thing is certain, they have produced most convincing proof of
German mendacity. It is to be hoped that the "Pax" will give the world
the benefit of all the documents in their possession.
Even the Kaiser had the audacity to state in his telegram of September
8th, 1914, to President Wilson that "women and priests have been guilty
of atrocities in this guerilla warfare." For reasons easy to understand
the reverend gentleman does not introduce the Kaiser's name into his
booklet, but in the introduction he remarks: "Finally the refutation of
such fairy-tales is a patriotic duty. Nothing is more essential for us
Germans, especially in war time, than unity; but this harmony is
necessarily endangered by religious bitterness and strife. Of a
necessity it must cause deep pain and embitterment to our Catholic
population when again and again ENTIRELY UNTRUE ACCUSATIONS are made
against the priesthood of their Church."
The Rev. Duhr's exposure of what he calls "erlogener Schauergeschichten"
("lying horror tales") kills most of the "fairy-tales" accusing the
Russians, French and Belgians of atrocities on German soldiers. A few
illustrations will suffice to show the absence of all foundation for the
charges against the Belgians; charges, we must remember, which the
German soldiery believed, and which convinced them they were performing
a holy task at Louvain, Tirlemont, Dinant, etc.
"On October 1st, 1914, a telegraphic agency (Wolff's?) issued the
following notice: 'A high Bavarian officer writing from the front has
informed the _Muenchen-Augsburger Abendzeitung_ of this incident. South
of Cambrai a column of German motor-cars was attacked by a company of
French cyclists. For the most part the guard was killed by rifle fire,
while the cars were all burnt. Later a German patrol discovered the
remains, and on investigation, found that the dead Germans had all had
their eyes gouged out.'"
The reverend Father comments as follows: "On following up this case, it
was impossible to prove whether the patrol had seen rightly or whether
they had really made the report at all. So much is certain, however,
that in the matter of eyes being gouged out, an absolute mania of
gruesomeness broke loose. An innumerable swarm of such horrible tales
were told, passed on, and finally guaranteed as true--AND YET THEY WERE
ALL FAIRY-TALES. A few cases will suffice.
"In September, 1914, the following paragraph appeared in the papers:
'Several ladies engaged in Red Cross work on Cologne Station were
informed with every assurance of truth, that a hospital at
Aix-la-Chapelle contained a whole ward full of wounded whose eyes had
been gouged out on the battlefields of Belgium.'
"On September 26th the editor of the Catholic _Koelnische Volkszeitung_
wrote to Dr. Kaufmann, a high Roman Catholic dignitary in
Aix-la-Chapelle, begging him to ascertain whether the report were true.
Two days later that gentleman replied: 'As regards the rumour mentioned
in your letter, I beg to inform you that I at once put myself in
communication with the authorities. I inquired of the doctor in charge
of a hospital here (he is, by the way, a famous specialist for the
eyes), and he assures me that in all the local hospitals there is no
ward for wounded whose eyes have been put out, AND SUCH A CASE HAS NEVER
BEEN OBSERVED in the town, although the place is full of wounded.'
"A second report which the same journal exposed dates from October,
1914. Recently Dean A., who is the Superior in a military hospital in
the Franciscan Nunnery at S., came to us and reported that a wounded
soldier had told him that he had heard that in the monastery Bl. by
V., in Holland, there were twenty-two wounded German soldiers whose eyes
had been gouged out by Belgians. The Dean begged us to write to the
Mother Superior and ask for confirmation of the story. We did write, and
the lady answered that there was no hospital at all in the cloister
[Footnote 124: The words "hear" and "heard" occur very frequently in
[Footnote 125: The Rev. Duhr's book, pp. 11-12.]
The same lie travelled to Bonn, Sigmaringen, Potsdam, Bremen, and was
successively nailed down by the _Volkszeitung_. Inquiries were made in
all directions wherever a case of gouged-out eyes was reported, the
result being everywhere the same--a fairy-tale.
Yet when the German Imperial Chancellor received a party of American
journalists (representatives of the United Press and the Associated
Press) on September 2nd, 1914, he communicated this statement: "The
English will inform your countrymen that German troops have burnt down
Belgian villages and towns, but they will conceal the fact that Belgian
girls have gouged out the eyes of our helpless soldiers lying on the
"Berlin papers informed the public that 'a large number of Belgian
civilians were prisoners in Muenster. They are the same bestial creatures
who shot from their houses on our unsuspecting troops, and who, before
the arrival of our invading armies in Belgium, had perpetrated all sorts
of cruelties on helpless German citizens. Indeed, when they were
searched on their arrival at the prisoners' camp fingers with rings on
them, which they had hacked off their victims, were found in their
pockets. Justice will soon strike down these Belgians, among whom a very
large number of priests are to be found. Twenty to thirty have already
been condemned to death by a court-martial.'
"The 'Pax' Society of Priests immediately wrote to the commander of the
prisoners' camp, and received this reply: 'The ridiculous assertion of a
Berlin paper that fingers had been found in the pockets of Belgian
civilians in this camp is false. Neither has any priest or layman been
condemned to death, but over one hundred Belgian women and children have
been sent home again.'"
[Footnote 126: Ibid., p. 19.]
The above extracts will suffice to show how these Roman Catholic
gentlemen proceeded. Immediately an atrocity was reported they applied
to the authorities, and in every case received an affirmation that the
deed had never taken place. Among the monstrous lies exposed by these
investigators, are reports that Belgian priests paid eight shillings for
every German head brought to them; high treason charges against Catholic
priests in Alsace; all kinds of monstrous crimes charged to the
priesthood; that a Belgian boy was caught with a bucketful of dead
Germans' eyes; espionage by priests etc., etc.
Yet one other case deserves quotation: "On October 5th, 1914, a priest
was travelling by rail to Mayence. In the same compartment there were
four privates from Infantry Regiment No. 94. One of them named Roessner,
related the following story to his comrades, and then, at the priest's
request, again repeated it:
"'In the Belgian village of Patsie the _cure_ welcomed a German major
and his orderly into his house. Afterwards the priest promised a boy of
thirteen that he should go straight to heaven if he would murder the two
Germans. The lad perpetrated the murder, after which he and the _cure_
were shot under martial law.'
"When the priest pointed out how incredible the whole story was, the
soldier swore to its truth, and became very impolite to his auditor. An
inquiry was instituted and this was the result:
"'War Office, No. 1866. The investigations made, in especial the
hearing under oath of private Roessner and several officers in his
regiment, have resulted in the following particulars being obtained:
At the beginning of the campaign as the troops marched into a
village--name unknown--they saw by the roadside two or three dead
civilians. One was apparently a boy of about thirteen, while the other
was an adult with a dark coat. It was not established whether this was
the body of a priest. Furthermore, we have not been able to discover
by whom, or for what reason, these people were shot.
"'At that time the story quoted by you about a _cure_ and a boy, was
told as a "rumour" to all the troops marching through. It is
impossible after the lapse of time to test the truth of the narrative.
"'Signed by order,
"'BAUER AND WAGNER.'"
[Footnote 127: Ibid., pp. 54-5.]
The above document may be said, without presumption, to possess historic
importance. It is a frank admission by the German War Office that
Belgian civilians were actually shot down without rhyme or reason.
Apparently German soldiers (!) had a _carte blanche_ to shoot whom they
liked, without rendering or being expected to render a report of their
The Rev. Duhr writes: "The incredible speed with which these lying tales
of horror spread on all sides must be classed as a morbid phenomenon, a
sort of blood-cult. Their consequences could only be to act upon the
national soul as a stimulant, inspiring fear and brutality."
[Footnote 128: Ibid., p. 9.]
The author of this work is prepared to go much farther than the Rev.
Father, and maintain that the foul, diseased imaginations which could
invent such monstrous horrors are also capable of perpetrating them.
They did not spring from the imagination of an Edgar Allan Poe, but
arose in the minds of Germany's brutal peasantry and bloodthirsty
working classes, who together every year commit in times of peace 9,000
acts of brutal, immoral bestiality, and maliciously wound 175,000 of
their fellow German citizens.
[Footnote 129: _Vide_ Vol. 267 _Vierteljahrshefte_, published by the
Berlin Government, 1914.]
To-day Germany shouts in ecstasy that she is the chosen power of God;
that her _Kultur_ will regenerate the world. Let it first regenerate the
"Augean Stable" known to the world as Germany. Without further comment
readers are left to form their own opinion of a Press which breeds such
filth, and the cultural level of a people which consumes such garbage.
But the world owes a debt of gratitude to the Rev. Bernhard Duhr, S.J.,
and the "Pax" Society in Cologne.
The accusations of plundering on the part of German soldiers is
naturally denied _in toto_ by all parties in the Fatherland. Indeed, it
has been discovered that the British army was guilty of wilful
destruction in Belgium. A certain Major Krusemarck, commanding the 2nd
battalion of the 12th Infantry Reserve Regiment, is responsible for the
story. "On October 10th I entered Wilryk, near Antwerp, and took up my
quarters in the Italian Consulate. All the houses had been deserted by
the inhabitants. Immediately after entering the house I perceived that
English soldiers had been here and behaved in a barbarous manner.
Mirrors, valuable objects of art, etc., had been smashed in a way which
betrayed purpose." The major's report continues: "The destruction which
I have described had undoubtedly been perpetrated by members of the
English army, and as proof of this I may state that in one of the rooms
about a dozen visiting-cards were found with the name: Major E.L.
Gerrard, Royal Marine Light Infantery (sic).
"During the subsequent pursuit of the Belgian and English armies we
heard repeated complaints from the inhabitants that especially the
English troops had acted in the most inconsiderate manner, purposely
destroying furniture, etc., in civilian houses."
[Footnote 130: Richard Grasshoff: "Belgien's Schuld," p. 84.]
Without doubt the story belongs to the group of legends exposed by the
"Pax" Society, for which reason it is quoted here, as a fitting
supplement to them. Yet it is psychologically interesting to note how
difficult it is for Germans who burn, destroy and violate in their own
country to believe that they behave otherwise than as lambs when playing
the role of invaders.
One quotation from a large number will illustrate sufficiently the
respect which the German troops felt for civilian homes in the
territories occupied by them: "We got into the house by a back-door.
Orders had been issued that only food and shirts were to be taken. The
cellar was full of wine and champagne. A corporal brought us some of the
latter. After half an hour the rooms looked very different; all the
cupboards had been emptied in order to get at the jams and jellies.
Several pots of fruit preserved in wine were divided as honestly as the
greed of the individual allowed.
"All the underclothing was seized upon, obviously only the best being
taken. Many a dirty Pole put on such a shirt as he had never dreamed of
before. Even ladies' chemises were commandeered, and some of the men
assured me that a French chemise is quite comfortable--in spite of the
"If there is a sterner sex in France, which is exceedingly doubtful,
they do not seem to possess pants; so the men resorted to the
corresponding article worn by ladies." (This writer refers in other
parts of his book to "mementoes" which he carried home to the
Fatherland, after being wounded at the Marne.)
[Footnote 131: H. Knutz: "Mit den Koenigin-Fusilieren durch Belgien," p.
THE NEUTRALITY OF BELGIUM AND GERMANY'S ANNEXATION PROPAGANDA
"Afterthoughts" is the term which would perhaps designate most concisely
the section of German war literature treating of Belgium's violated
neutrality. Should that designation appear unfitting, then the author
has only one other to suggest--"whitewash."
In order to apprehend clearly the method and aims concealed beneath the
"afterthoughts," readers must bear in mind that every attempt to protest
against the annexation of Belgium by Germany is prohibited by the German
censor. The Social Democratic organs emphasize the fact almost daily
that they are not permitted to print anything contrary to the principle
On the other hand, numerous writers are allowed to make a most extensive
propaganda by suggesting that annexation is necessary in the interests
of their racial-brothers the Flemings. By order of the German Government
a geographical description of the country has been published, in
which every detail of Belgium's wealth in minerals, agriculture, and so
on, is described, with no other possible purpose than the desire to whet
German Michael's appetite.
[Footnote 132: "Belgien, Land und Leute," Berlin, 1915.]
All at once Germany has become suspiciously interested in Belgian
history, in the domestic quarrels between Walloons and Flemings, in the
alleged oppression of the latter (Low Germans) by the former, and
propose for themselves the part of liberator and saviour for Flemish
culture. They have discovered, among other things, that Belgium was
merely a paper State, a diplomatic invention, an experiment, and that no
"Belgian" people has ever existed, but rather two hostile elements were
packed under the same roof against their will by the Conference of
London--the said roof bears the name Belgium!
According to a good German-Swiss the Belgians have no national
feelings, no patriotism, and have never had a Fatherland. If a serious
writer can make such statements after the Belgians have defended their
native country so heroically, one naturally wonders whether Herr Blocher
is sane, or merely a paid agent of the German authorities. In his work
he denies every and any intention to justify or condemn either Germany
or Belgium, and then proceeds to blacken the latter's character by
quoting every Belgian utterance which may be interpreted as anti-German.
These expressions lead him to the remarkable conclusion that Belgians
had already violated their own neutrality!
[Footnote 133: "Belgische Neutralitaet," by Eduard Blocher. Zurich,
Blocher states that his work is only intended to prove that Switzerland
has nothing to fear from Germany's precedent in invading Belgium. But he
never mentions Belgium's maritime interests, Antwerp and the extensive
seacoast on the North Sea. He is oblivious to the fact that Germany's
desire to possess these was the sole motive for precipitating war and
invading Belgium. To Germany the coast of Belgium is the door to the
world and world domination. Switzerland does not possess such a door,
and therefore had nothing to fear from her powerful neighbour; but if
the Allies are unable to bar this door to Germany's aggressive schemes,
then the time is not far distant when Germany would remember that she
has "brothers" within Swiss frontiers and insist upon their entrance
into the great Teutonic sheepfold--just as her most earnest desire at
present is to drive the "lost" Flemings back to their parent race.
Among the many phrases which Germans have coined to describe Belgium the
following occur: bastard, eunuch and hermaphrodite. According to the
German conception of a "State," Belgium is an unnatural monstrosity,
from which one draws the natural conclusion that Germany intends to
remove it from the domain of earthly affairs.
On the whole, German writers admit the existence of Belgian neutrality,
and also Germany's pledge to respect it. The three most serious writers
on the subject are, Dr. Reinhard Frank, professor of jurisprudence
in Munich University; Dr. Karl Hampe, professor in Heidelberg; and
Dr. Walter Schoenborn, also a professor in Heidelberg University.
[Footnote 134: Reinhard Frank: "Die belgische Neutralitaet." Tubingen,
[Footnote 135: Karl Hampe: "Belgien's Vergangenheit und Gegenwart."
[Footnote 136: Walther Schoenborn: "Die Neutralitaet Belgien's." This is
an appendix to a large work written by twenty university professors,
entitled "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," published by B.G. Teubner,
Leipzig and Berlin, 1915.]
The nearer examination of these three works must be premised by two
important considerations. Firstly, the three professors ignore the fact
that Germany was a menace to Belgium, and make no mention of German
aspirations for a coastline on or near the English Channel. Holland and
Belgium form a twentieth century "Naboth's vineyard," on which the
German Ahab has cast avaricious glances for upwards of forty years.
A casual acquaintance with Pan-German and German naval and military
literature during the same period, affords overwhelming proof of this
powerful current in German nationalism. If Naboth consulted strong
neighbours as to necessary precautions against Ahab's plans for
obtaining the vineyard, then Naboth acted as a wise man, and the only
regret to-day is that the "strong neighbours" only offered Naboth
assurances and words, instead of deeds. In other words Great Britain did
nothing because, as Lord Haldane expressed it, the Liberal Cabinet was
"afraid" (!) to offend Germany and precipitate a crisis.
Secondly, the three professors, like all others of their class in the
Fatherland, have sworn an oath on taking office not to do anything,
either by word or deed, detrimental to the interests of the German State
of which they are _official_ members. An ordinary German in writing on
Germany may be under the subjective influences of his national feelings,
but a German who has taken the "Staatseid" (oath to the State) cannot be
objective in national questions and interests--his oath leaves only one
course open to him, and any departure from that course may mean the loss
of his daily bread.
The author has the greatest respect for the achievements of German
professors in the domains of science and abstract thought; by those
achievements they have deservedly become famous, but in all judgments
where Germany's interests are concerned they are bound hand and
[Footnote 137: Towards the close of 1913 I had a conversation with half
a dozen Germans (average age twenty-five) in Erlangen Gymnasium (State
Secondary School); they were candidates in training for the teaching
profession, all university men. I listened patiently to their diatribes
concerning the perfidy of English Statesmen, and then pointed out,
giving chapter and verse in German biographies, that Bismarck's record
was exceedingly tortuous; the forgery of the Ems telegram was given as
A few weeks later I met the vice-principal of the school at a private
party; this gentleman was a good friend of mine. He reminded me of the
above conversation, and gave me a friendly warning never again to make
such statements to my pupils. The candidates had talked it over, and
although they had provoked the discussion, proposed to have me reported
to the Minister for Education for uttering such opinions. The
vice-principal had intervened and prevented the _Denunziation_.
If a professor of history in a German university expressed any opinion
in his academic lectures unfavourable to modern Germany, he would be
immediately _denunziert_ to the State authorities by his own students.
Should he publish such opinions in book form, of course the process of
cashiering him would be simpler. Germans do not desire the truth so far
as their own country is concerned; they do not will the truth; they will
_Deutschland ueber alles_, and all information, knowledge, or propaganda
contrary to their will is prohibited. If space permitted I could mention
numerous cases in which famous professors have been treated like
schoolboys by the German State--their stern father and master.]
When a German conscript enters the army he takes the _Fahneneid_ (oath
on, and to, the flag), which binds him to defend the Fatherland with
bayonet and bullet. In like manner it may be said that German professors
are bound by the _Staatseid_ either to discreet silence, or to employ
their intellectual pop-guns in defending Germany. That these pop-guns
fire colossal untruths, innuendoes, word-twistings, and such like
missiles, giving out gases calculated to stupefy and blind honest
judgments, will become painfully evident in the course of our
That any and every German obeys the impulse to defend his country is
just and praiseworthy; but in our search for truth we are compelled to
note the fact that German professors are merely intellectual soldiers
fighting for Germany. Without departing from the truth by one jot or
tittle, readers may even call them "outside clerks" of the German
Foreign Office, or the "ink-slingers" under the command of the German
These premises have been laid down _in extenso_ because some fifty books
will be discussed in this work, which emanate from German universities.
A neutral reader may retort: You also are not impartial, for you are an
Englishman! Having anticipated the question, the author ventures to give
an answer. If he could make a destructive attack on Britain's
policy--the attack would be made without the least hesitation. Such an
attack, if proved to the hilt, would bring any man renown, and in the
worst case no harm. But if a German professor launched an attack, based
upon incontrovertible facts, against Bethmann-Hollweg and Germany's
policy, that professor would be ruined in time of peace and in all
probability imprisoned, or sent to penal servitude in time of war.
Nothing which the present author could write would ever tarnish the
reputation of German professors as men of science, but in the narrower
limits as historians of the Fatherland and propagandists of the
_Deutschland-ueber-alles_ gospel they are tied with fetters for the like
of which we should seek in vain at the universities of Great Britain or
America. It would be in the interests of truth and impartiality if every
German professor who writes on the "Causes of the World War," "England's
Conspiracy against Germany," "The Non-Existence of Belgian Neutrality,"
and similar themes, would print the German _Staatseid_ on the front page
of his book. The text of that oath would materially assist his readers
in forming an opinion regarding the trustworthiness and impartiality of
the professor's conclusions.
Professor Frank commences his historical sketch of Belgian neutrality
with the year 1632, when Cardinal Richelieu proposed that Belgium should
be converted into an independent republic. Doubtless the desire to found
a buffer State inspired Richelieu, just as it did the representatives of
Prussia, Russia, France, Austria and England when they drew up the
treaty guaranteeing Belgium's neutrality in perpetuity, at the
Conference of London, 1839.
But an additional motive actuated the diplomatists of 1839, viz.,
Belgium was henceforth to be the corner-stone supporting the structure
commonly designated "the balance of power in Europe."
An objection has been made to the validity of the treaty signed in
London, viz., England herself did not consider it reliable and binding,
or she would not have asked for, and obtained, pledges from both Prussia
and France to respect Belgian neutrality in 1870. Another objection is
the claim that the German Empire, founded in 1870, was not bound by the
Prussian signature attached to a treaty in 1839. Other writers have
endeavoured to show that the addition of African territory (Congo Free
State) to Belgium changed the political status of that country, exposed
it to colonial conflicts with two great colonial Powers, and thus
tacitly ended the state of neutrality.
Each of the professors in question overrides these objections, and Frank
remarks, p. 13: "Lawyers and diplomatists refuse, and rightly so, to
accept this view." Again, p. 14.: "There is no international document in
existence which has cancelled Belgian neutrality."
Germany's alleged violation of her promise to regard Belgium as a
neutral country is justified on quite other grounds. Belgium had herself
violated her neutrality by a secret alliance with France and England.
Frank argues that a neutral State has certain duties imposed upon it in
peace time, and in support of his contention quotes Professor Arendt
(Louvain University, 1845), who wrote: "A neutral State may not conclude
an alliance of defence and offence, by which in case of war between two
other States it is pledged to help one of them. Yet it is free and
possesses the right to form alliances to protect its neutrality and in
its own defence, but such defensive alliances can only be concluded
after the outbreak of war."
Another authority quoted to support his point is Professor Hilty
(University of Bern, 1889). "A neutral State may not conclude a treaty
_in advance_ to protect its own neutrality, because by this means a
protectorate relationship would be created."
Frank continues (p. 21): "Hence Belgian neutrality was guaranteed in the
interests of the balance of power in Europe, and I have already pointed
out that the same idea prevailed when the barrier-systems of 1815 and
1818 were established.
"Considering the matter from this point of view, the falsity of modern
Belgium's interpretation at once becomes apparent. According to Belgian
official opinion her neutrality obligations only came into force in the
event of war, and therefore could not be violated during peace. But this
balance of power was to be maintained, above all in time of peace, and
might not be disturbed by any peaceful negotiations whatever, especially
if these were calculated to manifest themselves in either advantageous
or prejudicial form, in the event of war.
"In this category we may place the surrender of territory. No impartial
thinker can deny that the cession of Antwerp to England would have been
a breach of neutrality on the part of Belgium, even if it had occurred
in peace time. The same is true for the granting of occupation rights,
and landing places for troops, or for the establishment of a harbour
which might serve as a basis for the military or naval operations of
"Moreover, it is unnecessary to exert one's imagination in order to
discover 'peaceful negotiations' which are incompatible with permanent
neutrality, for history offers us two exceedingly instructive examples.
When a tariff union between France and Belgium was proposed in 1840,
England objected because the plan was not in accord with Belgian
neutrality. Again in 1868, when the Eastern Railway Company of France
sought to obtain railway concessions in Belgium, it was the latter
country which refused its consent, and in the subsequent parliamentary
debate the step was designated an act of neutrality."
From this extract it is evident that Professor Frank has undermined his
own case. Belgian neutrality was intended by the great powers to be the
corner-stone of the European balance of power. During the last forty
years Germany's carefully meditated increase of armaments on land and
sea threatened to dislodge the corner-stone. When the Conference of
London declared Belgium to be a permanently neutral country, there was
apparent equality of power on each side of the stone. In 1870 the
Franco-German war showed that the balance of power was already disturbed
at this corner of the European edifice. Still Germany's pledged word was
considered sufficient guarantee of the _status quo_.
Since 1870 the potential energy on the German side of the corner-stone
has increased in an unprecedented degree, and this huge energy has been
consistently converted into concrete military and naval forces. This
alteration in the potential _status quo ante_ has been partly the result
of natural growth, but in a still greater degree, to Germany's doctrine
that it is only might which counts.
Another German professor had defined the position in a sentence:
"Germany is a boiler charged to danger-point with potential energy. In
such a case is it a sound policy to try to avert the possibility of an
explosion by screwing down all its safety-valves?" Recognizing that
Belgian neutrality has existed for many years past solely on Germany's
good-will, it became the right and urgent duty of the other signatory
powers to endeavour to strengthen the corner-stone. Germany absolutely
refused to relax in any way the pressure which her "potential energy"
was exercising at this point, therefore it was necessary above all for
France and Great Britain to bolster up the threatened corner.
[Footnote 138: Hermann Oncken (Heidelberg), in the _Quarterly Review_,
October, 1913. The author of the article charges Great Britain with
screwing down the valves, which is a deliberate distortion of the truth.
Britain has always opened her markets free to German goods and admitted
the same privileges to her rival--so far as these did not run contrary
to established rights--in all parts of the world. With regard to
territorial expansion a treaty had been drawn up between the two Powers
and was ready to be signed just when war broke out. That treaty would
have afforded Germany immense opportunities for expansion, but not at
the expense of Europe. Germany, however, desired European expansion, and
according to her accepted teaching, the fate of extra-European
territories will be decided on the battlefields of Europe.]
The former Power could have achieved this purpose by building a chain of
huge fortresses along her Belgian frontier. Why this precautionary
measure was never taken is difficult to surmise, but had it been taken,
Germany would have ascribed to her neighbour plans of aggression--and
Great Britain could have restored the balance by creating an army of
several millions. Lord Haldane has announced that the late Liberal
Government was "afraid" to do this, although the fear of losing office
may have been greater than their fear for Germany.
The measures which England did take were merely non-binding
conversations with the military authorities of France and Belgium; the
making of plans for putting a British garrison of defence on Belgian
territory in the event of the latter's neutrality being violated or
threatened; and the printing of books describing the means of
communication in Belgium.
[Footnote 139: "Belgium, Road and River Reports," prepared by the
General Staff, Vol. I., 1912; II., 1913; III. & IV., 1914. Copies of
this work have been seized by the Germans in Belgium, and capital is
being made of the incident to prove a violation of Belgian neutrality.
If the British General Staff had nothing better to do than to compile
guide-books to Belgium for a non-existent British army, it appears
merely amusing. But if the late Liberal Government believed that
Germany's potential energy could be prevented from breaking through into
Belgian territory by a barricade of guide-books--it was a lamentable
error of judgment. On the whole we are forced to call it a tragical
irony, that the only defences which Belgium possessed against the _furor
teutonicus_--excepting the Belgian army--were a "scrap of paper" and a
barricade of the same material.]
As a result of these measures, Belgium stands charged by Germany with
having broken her own neutrality, and German writers are naively asking
why Belgium did not give the same confidence to Germany which she gave
to England. The German mind knows quite well, that in building strategic
railways to the Belgian frontier she betrayed the line of direction
which the potential energy was intended to take, when the burst came.
Unofficially Germany has long since proclaimed her intention to invade
Belgium; it was an "open secret."
The _denouement_ of August 4th, 1914, when Belgian neutrality was
declared a "scrap of paper," was not the inspiration of a moment,
nor a decision arrived at under the pressure of necessity, but the
result of years of military preparation and planning. It had been
carefully arranged that the boiler should pour forth its energy through
the Belgian valve.
[Footnote 140: This famous phrase was employed as far back as 1855 by a
Belgian Minister in the House of Deputies, Brussels. M. Lebeau in
pleading for greater military preparation used these words: "History has
shown what becomes of neutralities which were guaranteed, by what may be
termed a 'scrap of paper.'"]
Or to draw another comparison, it is a modern variety of the wolf and
the lamb fable, with this difference: the wolf has first of all
swallowed the lamb, and now excuses himself by asserting that the
traitorous wretch had muddied the stream.
Belgians were painfully aware of the danger threatening them, and would
have made greater efforts to protect themselves, had not their own
Social Democrats resisted every military proposal. As the matter stands
to-day, however, all the efforts which Belgium did make, are classed by
Germany as intrigues of the Triple Entente, threatening her (Germany's)
existence, and all the horrors which have fallen upon this gallant
"neutral" country the German Pecksniff designates "Belgium's
Atonement." It is to be feared that sooner or later, unless
Germany's military pride and unbounded greed of her neighbour's goods
can be checked, German professors will be engaged in the scientific task
of proving that the waters of the upper Rhine are unpalatable because
the lamb residing in Holland has stirred up mud in the lower reaches of
the same river!
[Footnote 141: _Belgien's Suebne_, the title of a chapter describing the
desolation and havoc of war, in a book entitled "Mit dem Hauptquartier
nach Westen," by Heinrich Binder. Berlin, 1915.]
Belgium knew that England and France had no other interest than the
maintenance of her neutrality. Belgium saw and felt, where the storm
clouds lowered, and probably sought or accepted advice from those Powers
who wished to perpetuate both the territorial integrity and neutrality
of Belgium. Germany's afterthought on the point is: "It was Belgium's
duty to protect her neutrality, and she owed this duty to all States
alike in the interests of the balance of power--a conception to which
she owes her existence.
"She was bound to treat all the signatory Powers in the same manner, but
she failed to do so, in that she permitted one or two of them to gain an
insight into her system of defence. By this means she afforded the
States admitted to her confidence, certain advantages which they could
employ for their own ends at any moment.
"By allowing certain of the great Powers to see her cards, Belgium was
not supporting the European balance, but seriously disturbing it. Even
Belgium's Legation Secretary in Berlin had warned his Government
concerning the political dangers arising out of intimacy with England.
By revealing her system of defence to England, Belgium destroyed its
intrinsic value and still more--she violated her international
[Footnote 142: Professor Frank's work, pp. 29-30.]
Considering that the British army at that time was small, that Britain
had no idea of annexing Belgian territory, one naturally wonders how the
value of Belgium's defence system had been depreciated by conversations
with British officers. In effect, Germany maintains that Belgium should
have behaved as a nonentity, which is contrary to all reason.
The Berlin Government has always treated her small neighbour as a
sovereign State, equal in quality, though not in power, to any State in
the world. If Germany recognized Belgium's sovereignty, why should not
England do the same, and, above all, why had Belgium no right to think
of her self-preservation, when she knew the danger on her eastern
frontier grew more menacing month by month?
Frank concludes his dissertation with his opinion of England and quotes
Thucydides, V., 105, as the best applicable characterization of the
British with which he is acquainted. "Among themselves, indeed, and out
of respect for their traditional constitution, they prove to be quite
decent. As regards their treatment of foreigners, a great deal might be
said, yet we will try to express it in brief. Among all whom we know
they are the most brazen in declaring what is good to be agreeable, and
what is profitable to be just."
The very offence which Germany accuses England of having premeditated,
she committed herself many years before. When France seemed to threaten
Belgium's existence, King Leopold I. concluded a secret treaty with
the king of Prussia, whereby the latter was empowered to enter Belgium
and occupy fortresses in case of France becoming dangerous. The French
danger passed away, and its place was taken by a more awful menace--the
pressure of German potential energy; and when Belgium in turn opened her
heart (this is the unproved accusation which Germany makes
to-day--Author) to England, then she has violated her neutrality and
undermined the balance of power. There is even a suspicion that
Leopold II. renewed this treaty with Germany in 1890, in spite of the
fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prince de Chimay, in an
official speech denied its existence.
[Footnote 143: Germans love anything which is "secret."
"Geheimniskraemerei" ("affectation of mysteriousness and secrecy") is a
national and individual characteristic of the German people.--Author.]
[Footnote 144: Karl Hampe: "Belgiens Vergangenheit und Gegenwart"
("Belgium Past and Present"), p. 49.]
Professor Schoenborn's essay on Belgian neutrality is the least
satisfactory exposition of the three professorial effusions; it is no
credit to a man of learning, and is merely the work of an incapable
partisan trying to make a bad cause into a good one. Schoenborn
commences with the customary German tactics by stating that
Bethmann-Hollweg's "scrap-of-paper" speech, and von Jagow's (German
Secretary of State) explanations to the Belgian representative in Berlin
on August 3rd, 1914, are of no importance in deciding the justice of
Germany's violation of her pledged word. One is led to inquire, When is
a German utterance--whether given in the Reichstag by the Chancellor or
on paper in the form of a treaty--final and binding?
[Footnote 145: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg" ("Germany and the World
War"), pp. 566-8.]
Subterfuges, insinuations, distortions, even brazen falsehoods, are
scattered throughout German war literature, thicker "than Autumnal
leaves in Vallombrosa's brook." It is to be feared that just as Germans
have lied for a century to prove that the English were annihilated at
the battle of Waterloo, and for over forty years to show that Bismarck
was not a forger, so they will lie for centuries to come in order to
prove that the invasion of Belgium was not what Bethmann-Hollweg called
it, a "breach of international law."
Like his _confreres_, Herr Schoenborn admits that Germany was pledged to
respect the neutrality of Belgium, but the said neutrality was
non-existent, which appears somewhat paradoxical. Yet this is not the
least logical part of his case. "The passage of German troops through
Belgium was indispensable in the interests of the preservation of the
German Empire. A successful resistance to the annihilation-plans which
our enemies had wrought for our downfall seemed possible only by this
means. The Government regretted that, by so doing, we should commit a
formal infringement of the rights of a third State (Belgium), and
promised to make all possible compensation for the transgression.
"The judicial point of view which influenced the decision of the German
Government is perhaps, best illustrated by a parallel taken from the
ordinary laws of the country: A forester (game-keeper) is attacked by a
poacher, and in that same moment perceives a second poacher bearing a
gun at full-cock, creeping into a strange house in order to obtain a
better shot at the forester. Just as he is about to enter the house the
forester breaks the door open and thus forestalls him--in order to
surprise and overcome him. The forester is justified in taking this
step, but must make good all damage resulting to the householder."
[Footnote 146: Ibid., p. 575.]
The instance holds good in the land of _Kultur_, where law and order
affords so little protection to a civilian and his property; but in
countries where laws are based upon culture the author believes that the
forester would receive condign punishment for breaking into another
man's house, no matter under what pretext. Unconsciously the learned
professor is humorous when he compares Germany to a gamekeeper and
Russia and France to poachers; but he is naive to a degree of stupidity,
when he makes France carry a weapon fully prepared to shoot the
We will consult another German authority to show that France's weapons
were not at full-cock.
"During the last ten years France has given special attention to the
fortresses on the German frontier. But those facing Belgium have been so
carelessly equipped that we see clearly to what a degree she relied upon
her neighbour. The forts are in the same condition as they were twenty
or thirty years ago. As some of these fortifications were built fifty
years ago, various points on the frontier are strategically, absolutely
"A typical example of this, is Fort les Ayvelles, which is intended to
protect the bridges and Meuse crossings south of Mezieres-Charleville;
the fort was levelled to the ground by 300 shots from our 21-centimetre
howitzers. It was built in 1878 and armed with forty cannon; of these
the principal weapons consisted of two batteries each containing six
9-centimetre cannon, which, however, were cast in the years 1878-1880,
and in the best case could only carry 4,000 yards. Then there were some
12-centimetre bronze pieces cast in 1884, and a few five-barrelled
"Besides these there were old howitzers from the year 1842;
muzzle-loaders with the characteristic pyramids of cannon ball by the
side, such as are often used in Germany at village festivals or to fire
a salute. The fort itself was a perfect picture of the obsolete and
out-of-date. Apart from the crude, primitive equipment, the organization
must have been faulty indeed.
"On the road leading up to the fort we saw some tree-branches which had
been hurriedly placed as obstacles, and higher up wire entanglements had
been commenced at the last moment. At least one battery was useless, for
the field of fire was cut off by high trees, and at the last minute the
garrison had tried to place the guns in a better position.
"Our artillery which fired from a north-westerly position displayed a
precision of aim which is rare. One battery had had nearly every gun put
out of action by clean hits. In several cases we saw the barrel of the
gun yards away from its carriage, and only a heap of wheels, earth,
stones, etc., marked the place where it had stood.
"Another proof of the excellent work done by the artillery, was the fact
that hardly a shell had struck the earth in the 500 yards from the
battery to the fort. After the former had been disposed of, the
artillery fire was concentrated on the fort, which was reduced to a heap
of rubbish. The stonework and the high walls--yards thick--had tumbled
to pieces like a child's box of bricks.
"A garrison of 900 men had been placed in this useless cage, and they
had fled almost at the first shot. Instead of putting these men in
trenches, their superiors had put them at this 'lost post' and allowed
them to suffer the moral effects of a complete, inevitable defeat.
"Near the fort I saw the grave of its commander, the unfortunate man who
had witnessed the hopeless struggle. He lived to see his men save their
lives in wild flight--and then ended his own."
[Footnote 147: Heinrich Binder: "Mit dem Hauptquartier nach Westen," pp.
Here we have a sorry picture of the poacher whom Germany feared so much.
The world knows now that neither Britain, France nor Russia were
prepared for war, which excludes the probability that they desired or
provoked a conflict. But Germany knew that, and much more, in the month
of July, 1914. Bethmann-Hollweg when addressing the Reichstag drew a
terrifying picture of French armies standing ready to invade
Belgium, but he knew full well that the necessary base-fortresses were
lacking on the Franco-Belgian frontier.
[Footnote 148: Richard Grasshoff in his work "Belgien's Schuld"
("Belgium's Guilt"), p. 14 _et seq_., reproduces several confessions
alleged to have been made by French soldiers, prisoners of war in
Germany, stating that they entered Belgian territory on July 31st, 1914.
At present it is impossible to test the value of this evidence. Cf. p.
As regards the alleged plans which Germany's enemies had made to
annihilate Germany, it will be necessary for Professor Schoenborn to
prove that the Entente Powers had: (1.) Caused the murder in Serajewo;
(2.) Despatched the ultimatum to Serbia; (3.) Prepared themselves for
war. Until he proves these three points the world will continue to
believe that it was Germany alone who cherished "annihilation-plans."
Schoenborn mentions too, Britain's refusal to promise her neutrality
even if Germany respected the neutrality of Belgium. This offer was made
to Sir Edward Grey, who declined it. According to Professor Schoenborn
Germany's final decision to invade Belgium was only taken after that
refusal. It is a striking example of the immorality which prevails both
in Germany's business and political life. She gave her solemn pledge in
1839, yet endeavoured to sell the same pledge in 1914--for Britain's
The author once made an agreement with a German, but soon found that the
arrangement was ignored and wrote to the person in question: "You have
employed our arrangement merely as a means for making further incursions
into my rights."
That summarizes the Teutonic conception of a treaty, either private or
national. It is only a wedge with which to broaden the way for a further
advance. Usually a man signs an agreement with an idea of finality, and
looks forward to freedom from further worry in the matter. Not so the
German; with him it is an instrument to obtain, or blackmail, further
concessions; and as individuals, instead of occupying their thoughts and
energies in the faithful fulfilment of its terms, they plot and plan in
the pursuit of ulterior advantages.
Heidelberg's great scholar seems to have had doubts concerning his
simile of the gamekeeper; hence in his last footnote he makes the
innocuous remark: "Because the house-breaking gamekeeper fired the first
shot, it is not usual to draw the conclusion that the poacher had only
defensive intentions" (p. 590).
All in all, Professor Schoenborn's attempt at partisanship is a
miserable failure, and as an academic thesis it is doubtful whether the
faculty of law in any German university would grant a student a degree
for such a crude effort.
Various facts indicate Germany's intention to annex Belgium, if not the
entire country, then those districts in which Flemish is spoken. Germany
has suddenly remembered that the Flemings are a Low German people and
that they have been "oppressed" by the Walloons. The hypocrisy of the
plea becomes evident when we recall German (including Austrian)
oppression of the Poles, Slavs and Hungarians.
One writer has even endeavoured to prove that the House of Hesse
has a legitimate historical claim to the province of Brabant. But as the
following extracts will show, there is method in this madness. No pains
are being spared to stir up racial feeling between the two peoples
(Flemings and Walloons) who form King Albert's subjects. All the
internal differences are being dished up to convince the inhabitants of
Flanders that they will be much better off under the German heel.
[Footnote 149: Dr. Karl Knetsch: "Des Hauses Hessen Ansprueche auf
Brabant" ("The House of Hesse's Claims to Brabant"). Marburg, 1915.]
[Footnote 150: The _Muenchner Neueste Nachrichten_ for September 19th,
1915, contains a long account of a petition which was presented to Herr
von Hissing, General Governor of Belgium, by a branch of the General
Union of the Netherlands. The branch society is in Lierre (a town
occupied by the Germans), and the petition is a statement of Flemish
national and language aspirations. Unfortunately the document in
question "makes a bitter attack on Franco-Belgian endeavours to rob the
Flemings of their rights." It is superfluous to quote more; this
sentence alone shows the origin of the petition to be German.]
Forgetting their tyrannous efforts to stamp out the Polish language and
Polish national feelings, the Germans are now sorrowing over the alleged
attempts of the Walloons to suffocate the Flemish dialect. German war
books breathe hate and contempt for the Walloons, but bestow clumsy
bear-like caresses (no doubt unwelcome to their recipients) on the
In a work already cited the following passages occur, in addition
to three whole chapters intended to supply historical proof that
Flanders is by the very nature of things a part of the German Empire.
[Footnote 151: Wilhelm Kotzde: "Von Luettich bis Flandern" ("From Liege
into Flanders"). Weimar, 1914.]
"The German people committed a grave crime, when they fought among
themselves and left their race-brothers on the frontier, defenceless and
at the mercy of a foreign Power. Therefore we have no right to scold
these brothers (the Flemings), but should rather fetch them back into
the German fold" (p. 40).
Kotzde reports a conversation which he had with an educated Fleming last
autumn. "'We do not like the French and English,' said the Fleming. 'But
what about Brussels?' I remarked. 'They are a people for themselves. The
Flemish capital is Antwerp' he answered.
"Our paths led in different directions, but we parted with the
consciousness that we are tribal brothers. So much seems certain, that
when the Flemings are freed from the embittering influence of the
Walloons and French, then this Low German tribe will again learn to love
everything German--because they are German. Furthermore, that will make
an end of the French language in Flemish districts" (p. 84).
"German infantry marched with us into Antwerp. How deeply it touched me
to hear them sing the 'Wacht am Rhein' and then 'Deutschland,
Deutschland ueber alles,' in the very city which was to serve as an
English base for operations against our dear Fatherland. And my Flemish
companion softly hummed this splendid German song of faith.
"In that moment a spasm of pain went through my heart, that the Flemings
should have to fight against us in this great struggle for the existence
of Germany: these, our lost brothers, of whom so many yearn to be with
us again" (p. 86).
"With the fall of Antwerp, Flanders--the land of the German Hanse
period, of Ghent, Ypres and Bruges--became German once more" (p. 147).
Kotzde concludes his work as follows:--
"Holland was compelled to bow before the might of France and consent to
Belgium becoming an independent State. From that moment the Flemings,
cut off in every way from their German brothers, were delivered up to
the Walloons, behind whom stood the French.
"The Germans at that time lacked a Bismarck to unite them and interest
them in the fate of their outlying brother tribe. This war has freed our
hands, which hitherto had been bound by the dictates of conscience. Of
himself the German would never have kindled this world conflagration,
but others have hurled the torch into our abode--and our hands are free!
"We do not yet know what Belgium's fate will be, but we can be perfectly
sure that the Flemings will never again be left to the mercy of the
Walloons and French. They have had a wild and chequered history; and
although they have often shown signs of barbarism in the fight, they
have not waged this war with the devilish cruelty of the Walloons.
"They lack the discipline which alone a well-ordered State can bestow.
The training and education of the German military system and German
administration, will be a blessing to them. Even to-day many Flemings
bless the hour of their return into the German paternal home" (p. 190).
"In a struggle which has lasted for nearly a century, the Flemings have
displayed their unconquerable will to maintain their national
peculiarities. Without outside aid, and with little or no deterioration,
they have maintained their nationalism. Now the horrors of war have
swept over the lands of the Flemings and Walloons. The Belgian army,
consisting of 65 per cent. Flemings, has been decimated by German arms.
North and south of the Meuse a wicked harvest of hate has sprung up. But
the most remarkable point is that this hate is not directed against the
Germans alone; the mutual dislike of Flemings and Walloons has turned
into hatred. The Walloons cherish bitter suspicions of the Flemings;
they scent the racial German, and are promising that after the war they
will wage a life and death feud against the German part of the Flemish
[Footnote 152: Ulrich Rauscher: "Belgien heute und morgen" ("Belgium
to-day and to-morrow"). Leipzig, 1915; p. 35.]
The same writer claims that the Germans had conquered Antwerp before its
fall, by peaceful penetration. "In 1880 the British share of Antwerp's
trade was 56 per cent., Germany's 9 per cent.; in 1900, British 48 per
cent., German 23-1/2 per cent. Not only had the British flag been beaten
in percentages but also in absolute figures; in the year 1912-1913
German trade to Antwerp increased by 400,000 tons, while that of Great
Britain decreased by 200,000 tons. The commercial future of Antwerp will
[Footnote 153: Ibid., p. 64.]
"To-day Antwerp is the second largest port on the Continent, with over
400,000 inhabitants, and now Germany's war banner waves above its
cathedral. Germany's maritime flag has waved during the last twenty
years above Antwerp's commercial progress. Antwerp's progress was German
[Footnote 154: Ibid., p. 68.]
After which follows a glowing account of Belgium's mineral wealth. "It
is Belgium's mission to be a gigantic factory for the rest of the
world," and of course this mission will be directed by--Germany!
"Those who had warned us for years past that England is our greatest
enemy were right. To-day every German recognizes who is our principal
opponent in this world war. Against Russia and France we fight, as the
poet expresses it, 'with steel and bronze, and conclude a peace some
time or other.' But against England we wage war with the greatest
bitterness and such an awful rage, as only an entire and great people in
their holy wrath can feel. The words of Lissauer's 'Hymn of Hate' were
spoken out of the innermost depths of every German soul.
"When Hindenburg announces a new victory we are happy; when our front in
the Argonne advances we are satisfied; when our faithful Landsturm beats
back a French attack in the Vosges, it awakes a pleasurable pride in our
breasts. But when progress is announced in Flanders, when a single
square yard of earth is captured by our brave troops in the Ypres
district, then all Germany is beside herself with pure joy. The seventy
millions know only too well, that everything depends upon the
development of events in Flanders, as to when and how, we shall force
England to her knees.
"Hence of all the fields of war, Belgium is the most familiar to us, and
we love best of all to hear news from that quarter. May God grant that
in the peace negotiations we shall hear much more and good tidings about
[Footnote 155: Dr. Fritz Mittelmann: "Kreuz und Quer durch Belgien"
("Round and about Belgium"). Stettin, 1915: p. 8. Dr. Mittelmann is a
personal friend of the Liberal leader, Herr Bassermann, who accompanied
him on some of his journeys.]
Dr. Mittelmann's book is a prose-poem in praise of Germany's ineffable
greatness. He sees in the present war, "a holy struggle for Germany's
might and future," and like all his compatriots, makes no mention of
Austria. If the Central Powers should be victorious, there is no doubt
that Germany would seize the booty. In justifying the destruction of
churches, cathedrals, etc., Herr Mittelmann asserts that "one single
German soldier is of more worth than all the art treasures of our
enemies" (p. 12).
His book deserves to be read by all Britishers who imagine that we can
win Germany's love and respect--by weakness and compromise. "In this war
Germans and English soldiers are opposed to each other for the first
time. All the scorn and hate which had accumulated for years past in the
German nation has now broken loose with volcanic force. Whoever assumes
that the English were ever other than what they are--is wrong. They have
never had ideals, and seek singly and alone their own profit. Whenever
they have fought side by side with another nation against a common foe,
they have done their best to weaken their ally and reap all the glory
and advantage for themselves."
[Footnote 156: Ibid., p. 29.]
Pity for the Belgians suffering through Germany's brutal war of
aggression does not appear to be one of Dr. Mittelmann's weaknesses.
"The principal industrial occupation of the inhabitants seems at present
to be begging. In spite of their hostile glances the crowd did not
hesitate to gather round as we entered our car, and quite a hundred
greedy hands were stretched towards us for alms. But in Liege, without
the shadow of a doubt the best of all was the magnificent Burgundy which
we drank there; perhaps we had never relished wine so much in our
lives." One wonders whether these pioneers of _Kultur_ relished the
wine so much because they knew themselves to be surrounded by thousands
of hungry, "greedy" Belgians.
[Footnote 157: Ibid., p. 44.]
On page 93, Mittelmann relates at length his genuine Prussian joy at
humiliating a Belgian policeman before the latter's compatriots. None
enjoy having their boots licked, so much as those who are accustomed to
perform that service for others.
Our author pays the customary compliments to the Flemings. It must be
remembered that the above incident took place in Liege among the
Walloons, but it would seem that the Germans try to behave with decency
when among their Low German brothers.
"One feels at home in the house of a Flemish peasant; the racial
relationship tends to homeliness. The painful cleanliness of the
white-washed cottages makes a pleasant contrast to the homes of the
Walloons. War and politics are never mentioned, as these delicate
subjects would prevent a friendly understanding."
[Footnote 158: Ibid., p. 90.]
"A dream. An old German dream. A land full of quaintness which the rush
of modern life has left untouched. On all sides cleanliness and order
which makes the heart beat gladly. And this joyful impression is doubly
strong when one comes direct from the dirty, disorderly villages of the
"Just as a mother may give birth to two children with entirely different
natures, so Belgium affords hearth and home to two peoples in whose
language, culture and customs there is neither similarity nor harmony.
The Flemings are absolutely German, and in this war they treat us with
friendly confidence. Their eyes do not glitter with fanatical hate like
those of the Walloons."
[Footnote 159: Heinrich Binder: "Mit dem Hauptquartier nach Westen," p.
Herr Binder's meditations on the slaughter in the valley of the Meuse
are not without interest. "A vale which has been won by German blood! In
recent days the waters of the Meuse have often flowed blood-red. Many a
warrior has sunk into these depths. Longing and hope rise in our hearts:
May destiny determine that all these dead, after a triumphant war, shall
sleep at rest in a German valley!"
[Footnote 160: Ibid., p. 122.]
SAIGNER A BLANC.
[Footnote 161: "To bleed white." Bismarck employed this phrase on two
occasions in addressing the Reichstag; his purpose could have been no
other than to bully France.--Author.]
It would be superfluous to review here the history of Franco-German
relations during the last half century; other writers have already
performed the task. Yet the whole trend of development in the relations
between the two powerful neighbours may be defined by two watch-words:
_saigner a blanc_ in Germany, and the _revanche idee_ in France. But
there is this difference: the former has become ever more and more, and
the latter less and less, a factor in European politics.
While the German nation has been gradually and systematically leavened
with the teaching that might alone is right, the French revenge party
has been weakened year by year by national prosperity, colonial
expansion and the growth of a powerful anti-military party. Whatever may
be said of French chauvinists, this much remains an immovable fact--the
party was incapable of providing adequate national defences against the
Germanic neighbour, while plans of reconquest can only be assigned to
the domain of myths.
On every occasion that the _revanche_ cry has been resuscitated, the
direct cause is to be sought in Germany. Having displaced France in 1870
from her position of the first military power in Europe, Germany has
endeavoured by fair and foul means to prevent her neighbour from again
raising her head, and that policy alone is to blame for the suspicion
and hatred which have marked Franco-German relations during the whole
period and plunged Europe into an era of armaments, ending in a world
war. England and Russia prevented Bismarck from annihilating France in
1875, an incident which aroused justified fear throughout France and
gave an impulse to the revenge party.
In 1881 the Iron Chancellor told the French Ambassador: "Outside Europe
you can do what you like." Bismarck's intention was to divert reviving
French energies to colonial work, and if possible involve her in
conflicts with the other Colonizing Powers. In both of these plans he
succeeded, but the common sense and loyalty of Great Britain and Italy
prevented the conflicts from assuming a dangerous form--war--as desired
by the Government in Berlin.
As soon as the latter perceived that French genius and persistency were
bearing fruit in a magnificent colonial empire, the innate jealousy and
greed of the German nation led to a policy of colonial pinpricks on the
part of the Kaiser's Government. This seems the most probable
explanation of Germany's attitude during the last decade before 1914.
The natural consequence was that those powers which had most to fear
through German ill-will were welded together more firmly in a policy of
Germany cannot, or will not, recognize that the causes of the
above-mentioned development are to be found solely and alone in her own
actions. On the contrary, she designates the "consequences" a world-wide
conspiracy against German interests. In naval affairs she adopts the
same naive line of argument. First and foremost Germany committed
herself to a policy of unlimited--even provocative--naval expansion.
When the Power most concerned--Great Britain--took precautionary
measures to guarantee British interests in view of Germany's "peaceful"
development, then the latter Power declared the consequences of her own
actions to be a hostile initiative directed against her.
A defence of this kind may be convincing for those who observe events in
the German perspective, but it will be unable to withstand impartial
historical criticism. Boxers expect a rebound when they "punch the
ball," but none of them would be so foolish as to deny having delivered
a blow when the rebound takes place. Yet that is the unscientific
defence which Germany has adopted in her endeavours to explain away her
aggressive attitude to Belgium, France, and Great Britain.
In a word, the principles underlying _saigner a blanc_ have grown during
the past four decades into a possible avalanche possessing huge
potential energy; the momentum was given to it in August, 1914.
If it were necessary, a picture of German popular opinion might be
projected, showing how that opinion was influenced and formed during the
critical days at the close of July last year. But from considerations of
space only the outlines of the picture can be given. Before the war
German newspapers abounded in reports of French unpreparedness and
chaos. The German public was informed that France dreaded and feared war
"Without any exaggeration it may be said that a state of nerves has
seized the French nation, such as we should seek for in vain at the time
of Tangiers and Agadir. There is tremendous excitement, which in many
reports suggests absolute panic."
[Footnote 162: _Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten_, August 1st.]
The Paris correspondent of the _Koelnische Zeitung_ (August 4th) on
returning to Cologne wrote: "Conditions in France afford a striking
picture of bad organization. War rage possesses the people; but such an
enthusiasm as I found in Germany on my return is unknown to them."
On the same day the _Hamburger Nachrichten_ reported: "A German refugee
who has returned from the French capital says that there is no
enthusiasm in Paris. Men and women may be seen weeping in the streets,
while the crowds are shouting: 'Down with war!' 'We desire no war!'"
Probably there is no better way to incite a ferocious bully than to tell
him that his opponent is weak, unprepared and afraid. Almost
simultaneously false reports of French troops crossing the frontier and
of French airmen dropping bombs on Nuremberg were spread by the Berlin
General Staff, and thus an excuse found for a declaration of war on
From the French point of view events appeared quite different. "This
morning German troops have violated French territory at three different
points: in the direction of Longwy by Luneville, at Cirey and by
Belfort. War has thus been declared, and the endeavours for peace as
described in the President's proclamation have been in vain. For the
last eight days Herr von Schoen (German Ambassador in Paris) has lulled
us to sleep with endearing protestations of peace. Meanwhile Germany has
mobilized troops in a secret and malevolent manner.
"The war upon which we must enter is for civilization against barbarism.
All Frenchmen must be united not merely by the feeling of duty, but also
in hatred for an enemy who seeks no other goal than our
annihilation--the destruction of a nation which has always been a
pioneer of justice and liberty in the world.
"To-night our five covering-corps will take up their positions and face
the enemy till our plan of concentration is completed. Russia is with
"Minister for War."
From the moment that Germany declared war on France, new tactics were
adopted in the Press. A campaign of calumny began which is the exact
counterpart of that against Belgium and the Belgians. Uncorroborated
tales of Germans having been ill treated in all parts of France were
spread broadcast. According to one journal sixty to eighty Germans
had been murdered on the platforms of the Gare de l'Est in Paris.
[Footnote 163: _Koelnische Volkszeitung_, August 5th.]
Still there is one accusation which even German newspapers have never
dared to make, viz., that Frenchmen murdered and ill-treated Frenchmen,
or that war delirium led them to destroy property on a wholesale scale.
On the other hand, the picture obtainable of Germany during August,
1914, proves that similar peaceful conditions did not prevail in the
great nation of "drill and discipline."
France was even "convicted" of having caused the war; instead of being
unprepared, she had laid the fuse and was the guilty power in causing
the European explosion. "The German Government has now obtained absolute
proof that France has been standing at arms, ready to fall upon Germany,
for many weeks past."
[Footnote 164: _Hamburger Fremdenblatt_, August 13th.]
Above all, President Poincare has been marked down in Germany's
senseless, unnecessary hunt for a scapegoat upon whom to fix her own
guilt. Even in the year 1915 there is a section of the German
public which believes that the French President--a native of
Lorraine--has worked for years past in building up a _revanche_
conspiracy ending in the European war.
[Footnote 165: Dr. Max Beer: "Tzar Poincarew, die Schuld am Kriege"
("Czar Poincarew, the War-guilty"). Berlin, 1915.]
Germany despised France and has tried in vain to patronize her. For many
years past the average German has held that the French are a nation of
"degenerate weaklings." Inspired by these sentiments, with a mixture of
hate, the German troops invaded France, and it is a promising symptom
that during twelve months of war respect for French valour has taken the
place of contempt.
The first engagements are described in the official telegrams from the
German army head-quarters. "August 11th. Enemies' troops, apparently the
7th French army corps and an infantry division from the Belfort
garrison, were driven out of a fortified position by Muelhausen. Our
losses were inconsiderable, those of the French heavy.
"August 12th. Our troops attacked a French brigade by Lagarde. The enemy
suffered heavy losses and was thrown back into the Paroy forest. We
captured a flag, two batteries, four machine guns and about seven
hundred prisoners. A French general was among the killed.
"August 18th. The fight by Muelhausen was little more than a skirmish.
One and a half enemy corps had invaded Upper Alsace before our troops
could be collected and placed on a war-footing. In spite of their
numerical inferiority they attacked the enemy without hesitation and
hurled him back in the direction of Belfort.
"Meanwhile an artillery contingent from Strasbourg has suffered a check.
Two battalions with cannon and machine guns advanced from Shirmeck on
the 14th. They were attacked by hostile artillery fire while passing
through a narrow pass. The cannon, etc., were badly damaged and
therefore left. No doubt they were captured by the enemy.
"The incident is of no importance and will have no influence on our
operations, but it should serve as a warning to our soldiers against
over-confidence and carelessness. The men mustered again and reached the
fortress in safety: they had lost their guns but not their courage.
Whether treachery on the part of the inhabitants had any part in the
affair has not yet been ascertained.
"August 22nd. Our troops are in pursuit of the French army defeated
between Metz and the Vosges. The enemies' retreat became a flight. Up
till now more than ten thousand prisoners have been taken and at least
fifty cannon captured. The French had eight army corps in the field.
"August 24th. Yesterday the German Crown Prince, advancing on both sides
of Longwy, achieved a victory over the opposing forces and hurled them
"The troops under the leadership of the Bavarian Crown Prince have also
been victorious and crossed the line Luneville-Blamont-Tirey. To-day the
21st army corps occupied Luneville.
"The pursuit has brought rich booty. Besides numerous prisoners and
standards the left wing of the Vosges army has already captured 150
"To-day the German Crown Prince's army has continued the pursuit beyond
"The army under Duke Albrecht of Wuerttemberg has advanced on both sides
of Neufchateau and completely defeated the French army which had crossed
the Semois. Numerous cannon, standards and prisoners--among the latter
several generals--were captured.
"West of the Meuse our troops are advancing on Maubeuge. An English
cavalry brigade which appeared on their front was defeated.
"August 27th. Nine days after the conclusion of our concentration the
armies in the West have gained victory after victory and penetrated the
enemy's territory from Cambrai to the Southern Vosges. At all points the
enemy has been driven out of his positions and is now in full retreat.
"It is not yet possible to estimate, even approximately, his losses in
killed, prisoners and booty; the explanation for this is the enormous
extent of the battlefields, broken by thick forests and mountainous
"General von Kluck's army defeated the English at Maubeuge and to-day
has attacked them in an encircling move south-west of that place.
"After several days' fighting about eight army corps of French and
Belgian troops between the Sambre, Namur and the Meuse were completely
defeated by the German armies under Generals von Buelow and von Hausen.
"Namur has fallen after two days' cannonade. The attack on Maubeuge has
commenced. Duke Albrecht's army pursued the defeated enemy over the
Semois and has now crossed the Meuse.
"On the other side of Longwy the German Crown Prince has captured a
fortified enemy position, and thrown back a heavy attack from the
direction of Verdun. His army is advancing towards the Meuse. Longwy has
"New hostile forces from Nancy attacked the Bavarian Crown Prince's army
during its pursuit of the French army before it. The attack failed.
"General von Heeringen's army is pursuing the enemy in the Vosges, and
driving him southwards. Alsace has been cleared of enemy forces.
"Up till the present the lines of communication have been guarded by the
various armies; now the troops left behind for that purpose are urgently
required for our further advance. Hence His Majesty has ordered the
mobilization of the Landsturm.
"The Landsturm will be employed in protecting the lines of communication
and for the occupation of Belgium. This land which now comes under
German administration will be utilized for supplying all kinds of
necessities for our armies, in order that Germany may be spared as much
During the first month of hostilities on the Western front, the Germans
claimed that their captures amounted to 233 pieces of heavy artillery,
116 field guns, 79 machine guns, 166 wagons and 12,934 prisoners. On
September 8th General Quartermaster von Stein announced: "Maubeuge
capitulated yesterday; 40,000 prisoners of war, including four generals,
400 cannon and immense quantities of war materials fell into our hands."
A German war correspondent, who was present at the fall of Maubeuge,
wrote: "The march out of the prisoners began on the same day at
2.30 p.m. and lasted over six hours. They were conducted to trains and
despatched to Germany. Some of the infantry made a good impression,
while the pioneers and artillery can only be classed as passable.
[Footnote 166: Heinrich Binder: "Mit dem Hauptquartier nach Westen," p.
"To the great disappointment of our troops there were only a hundred and
twenty English among the prisoners who had been cut off from the main
army; young fellows about eighteen to twenty years of age. When marching
out these English youths were so stupid as to offer the hand to their
German victors in token of the gentlemanlike manner in which they
accepted defeat. In accordance with Albion's ancient boxing custom, they
desired to show the absence of any bitter feeling by a handshake; just
as one does after a football match.
"Our men returned a few cuffs for this warlike behaviour, whereupon the
English--richer in experience--drew back astonished at German
Germany's rush for Paris reached as far as the Marne; they claim that
patrols penetrated to within seven kilometres of the French capital. The
report announcing the turn of the tide is worthy of quotation.
"Chief Headquarters, September 10th. Our army in their pursuit of the
enemy in the direction east of Paris had passed beyond the Marne. There
they were attacked by superior forces between Meaux and Montmirail. In
two days' heavy fighting they have kept the enemy back and even made
"When the approach of new, stronger hostile forces was announced our
wing was withdrawn; the enemy made no attempt at pursuit. Up till now
the booty captured in this battle includes fifty cannon and some
thousands of prisoners.
"West of Verdun the army is engaged in an advancing battle. In Lorraine
and the Vosges district the situation is unchanged."
This seems to be all that the German nation has heard from official
sources of the German defeat on the Marne and the hurried retreat to the
Aisne. Almost every report issued by the German headquarters during the
succeeding three weeks informed the world that a "decision had not yet
Evidently the nation awaited and hoped for a decision which would leave
Paris at the mercy of the invading army. They are still awaiting that
decision, but whether the waiting is seasoned by hope cannot easily be
A soldier present at the battle of the Marne has chronicled his
experiences. "We passed over long, undulating hills and valleys,
and towards 1 p.m. obtained our first glimpse down the beautiful vale of
the Marne. Standing on the heights of Chateau Thierry, we beheld the
town nestling on both sides of the river in the valley below.
[Footnote 167: H. Knutz: "Mit den Koenigin-Fusilieren durch Belgien und
Frankreich,", p. 49 _et seq_.]
"Then we entered the town and saw on all sides the tokens of street
fighting. All the windows were smashed by shell fire; some houses had
been entirely gutted. Dead Frenchmen lay around in heaps, some corpses
so mutilated by shrapnel as to appear hardly human. With a shudder we
turned our eyes from this horrible scene.
"Crossing the Marne by a sand-stone bridge, we climbed the opposing
heights under a burning sun. At the top we deployed, but for that day
our artillery sufficed to drive the enemy in headlong flight to the
south; the night we spent under the open sky.
"Sunday, September 6th. Before breakfast we intended to bathe in a
stream, when our dreams of a rest-day were dispelled by an order to hold
ourselves ready for the march. 'The 17th division is under heavy rifle
fire and the 18th must advance to their support.' Meanwhile, the chicken
soup was almost ready, but the order 'form ranks' resounded, and with
empty stomachs we marched through Neuvy up a hill and dug ourselves in
behind a wood.
"The thunder of the enemies' artillery is terrible; shrapnel is bursting
on our left. Captain von Liliencron discusses the situation with the
major and then turns to us. 'Our regiment attacks! go for the dogs,
children!' he exclaims with gleaming eyes.
"Next we advance round the wood and lie down behind a hedge; axes are
held in readiness to hack a way through the latter. Five steps from me a
machine gun hammers away at full speed; it is now impossible to hear
commands, so they are roared from man to man--it could not be termed
shouting. 'Ambulance to the right!' somebody is severely wounded, but
the ambulance men have more than they can do on the left.
"The hell-music is at its loudest; shrapnel is bursting in the wood
behind us; suddenly there is an awful explosion half a dozen yards away;
I hear the screams of my comrades, then we rush forwards. The rush
across the field was awful--flank fire from the right. Here and there a
comrade bites the grass.
"At last I throw myself down, but there is no cover; the wounded crouch
there too. None of my company are there; it seems that the two last
shells have played havoc with them. The enemies' (French) main position
is nearly a mile away in a forest.
"Up the next slope our dead lie thick around, and here too a deadly
bullet had found the breast of our heroic captain. But in the strip of
forest French and Turko bodies are still thicker. The cat-like Turkos
have climbed into the trees and are shot down like crows. A maddening
infantry and artillery fire greets us as we reach the top. Every ten to
twenty yards shells strike, and shrapnel bursts, filling the air with
earth, dust, smoke and smell.
"Forward! till almost exhausted I throw myself down again; a hundred to
a hundred and fifty Fusiliers form a firing-line. Columns of infantry
pour a murderous fire on to us from the forest. It cannot go on thus;
one after the other is wounded or killed. We have advanced nearly eight
hundred yards over open ground. On the right there is a small thicket of
reeds. Some of the company have already sought shelter there, and I make
a rush there with the same hope.
"'For heaven's sake, lie down, corporal,' screamed a man as I came up.
In fact, the reeds afford no cover whatever. Wounded and dead lie there
and bullets keep hitting them. In front of me lay a man from the fourth
company; a bullet had entered his chest and passed out of his back; the
blood was oozing out of a wound about the size of a shilling. The horror
was too much for me, and I crept to the other end of the strip.
"There I found everything far worse, but I cannot describe the terrors
which I saw. One poor fellow begs for a drop of water; there is just
another draught in my bottle. With grateful eyes he hands it back to me,
and in the same moment I feel a stinging pain in the shoulder. My arm is
numbed and helpless; hardly one of us who is not wounded.
"We can offer no resistance to the enemy; but the awful way back! At
last the run back over eight hundred yards of open field begins. Now and
again a comrade sinks to the ground, never to rise again. My breath is
nearly gone; one last effort, and in truth I have escaped from the hail
It is remarkable and noteworthy that German writers charge the French
armies with looting and destruction in their own country. Probably this
is merely a device to get rid of unpleasant accusations raised against
the German army. Furthermore, the most reckless charges of uncleanliness
are made. In commenting on the lot of the Landsturm troops quartered in
the villages of Northern France, one author writes: "The Landsturm
men pass their time as best they can in these holes, whose most
conspicuous quality is their filth."
[Footnote 168: Erich Koehrer: "Zwischen Aisne und Argonnen" ("Between the
Aisne and the Argonnes"), p. 25.]
The same author gives his impressions of a visit to Sedan. "Only one
house has been completely and another partly destroyed, otherwise
appearances are peaceful, and as far as possible, life goes on as usual.
Here, too, many of the inhabitants have left their homes and fled. The
stupidity of this flight becomes evident at every step. In numerous
small hotels whose proprietors have remained, one sees German soldiers
buying bottles of splendid Burgundy wine at a shilling a bottle.
"But in another hotel whose proprietor had fled, is it a matter for
surprise that the men caroused on discovering a cellar containing three
thousand bottles of wine? On the route I have myself purchased some of
the oldest and best wines from our men at a price of three cigars a
bottle, and the recollection of them belongs to the pleasantest memories
of my sojourn at the front.
"Certainly the owner of Chateau Frenois, situated a few minutes' walk
from the town, will be more unpleasantly surprised on his return than
the hotel proprietor. In his home, French marauders and plunderers have
destroyed and devastated the entire contents. It is impossible to
comprehend the senselessness of this conduct, for which no reasons of
military necessity can be advanced.
"Ancient family pictures which could not be taken out of their frames
have been ruined by bayonet stabs, and from the shape of the cuts they
were certainly the work of French bayonets. Even the library, which
contained a valuable collection of old prints, had been robbed.
"Not far from this scene of desolation stands Chateau Bellevue, where
King William met Napoleon in 1870. There, too, the traces of French
plunderers are painfully evident; it was left to the 'Hun-Kaiser' to
save this historic spot from complete annihilation. In September Wilhelm
II. visited the chateau and seeing the signs of rapacity, ordered the
place to be strictly guarded to prevent further desecration."
[Footnote 169: Ibid., pp. 22-3.]
It did not occur to Herr Koehrer to connect the carousals with the
plundering; in one sentence he admits that French soldiers respected the
wine-cellars and in the next accuses them of stealing books, etc. Every
German writer, in describing the German advance, comments on the immense
number of haversacks, weapons and equipment thrown away by the French in
their "wild flight." Yet they desire their readers to believe that the
same soldiers had time to rob and destroy, indeed, carry their plunder
Since September no French troops have been in the district, yet the
Kaiser found it necessary to place guards round Chateau Bellevue. Is it
not more reasonable to assume that the precaution was taken against the
predatory instincts of his own soldiery, who, admittedly, are in
occupation of the province?
Herr Koehrer finds it almost beneath his dignity to reply to charges of
barbarism and Hunnism; yet he devotes several pages to the art of
white-washing. "The inhabitants who remained in their homes, and those
who have returned since the flight--unfortunately it is only a small
part of the entirety--have recognized long ago that the German soldier
is not a barbarian. The terrible distress which prevails among the
French is often enough relieved by the generosity of the German troops.
Throngs of women and children from the filthy villages of the Argonne
and the Ardennes gather round our field-kitchens and regularly receive
the remains of the meals; while many a German Landsturm man,
recollecting his own wife and children, fills the mouths of dirty French
children instead of completely satisfying his own hunger."
[Footnote 170: Ibid., p. 34. Herr Koehrer has evidently never visited
many Bavarian villages: otherwise he would be more careful with his
adjectives when describing the villages of France.--Author.]
No one disputes the presence of kindly Germans in the Kaiser's armies,
and it is pleasing to read about these acts of generosity in relieving
distress which is entirely the result of Germany's guilt. But the point
which all German writers miss is the explanation of positive evidence of
brutal deeds. Their kindly incidents and proofs of German chivalry are
all of a negative character, and do not overthrow one jot or tittle of
the opposing positive evidence.
Iron crosses have fallen in thick showers on the German armies; during
the month of July, 1915, no fewer than 3,400 of these decorations were
awarded to the Bavarian army alone. Still, as far back as November of
last year, Herr Koehrer wrote: "In the villages on the slopes of the
Argonnes and on the banks of the Aisne, nearly every second soldier is
wearing an iron cross. One has the certain conviction that it is not an
army of fifty or sixty thousand, but a nation of heroes which occupies
the plains of France and fights for us.
"They are all heroes at the front, including those who do not wear the
outward symbol of personal bravery. When we see how our men live, it
would seem that the earliest days of the human race have returned. They
have become cave-dwellers, troglodytes in the worst form. Our heavy
batteries are placed on the slopes of the Argonne forest, while the
light field-howitzers occupy the summits.
"Near them holes have been dug in the wet clay or chalk, and meagrely
lined with straw; these dark, damp caves are the dwellings of our
officers and men for weeks at a time, while the shells from the enemy's
artillery whiz and burst around. In them the differences of rank
disappear, except that one sometimes sees a couple of chairs provided
for officers. When duty does not call them to the guns, they are free to
remain in the open exposed to a sudden and awful death, or to spend
their time in the womb of mother earth. Yet one never hears a word of
complaint; rather the hardships of this strange existence are borne with
[Footnote 171: Ibid., p. 28.]
Contrary to the expectations of other nations, the war seems only to
have increased the popularity of the military Moloch. Writers who look
upon the Allies as deliverers who will free Germany from the degrading
slavery imposed upon that country, will be disappointed to learn that
Germans worship the _bunte Rock_ (gay uniform) more than ever.
At a meeting of the National Liberal leaders held in Dortmund, July,
1915, a resolution was passed calling upon the Government to pursue a
still greater naval and army programme. Both the Liberals and
Conservatives have adopted the motto: _Deutsche Machtpolitik frei von
Sentimentalitaet_ (A German policy of might free from sentimentalism).
"This war of the nations, which has overthrown so many accepted
standards and created new ones, will also give a new basis to the
privileged position of German officers in public life. Millions of
German men have seen how in this war the German lieutenant has again
merited his special position for some generations to come. I wish to
emphasize this point over and over again.
"During the first two months of hostilities nearly forty thousand iron
crosses were awarded. To many of those at home this appeared to be
overdoing it, like the many exaggerations in the domain of orders and
honours with which we have become familiar during the last decade.
As a matter of fact, the number of crosses given was too small.
[Footnote 172: _Vide_ "The Soul of Germany," Chapter XIII.]
"Not forty thousand heroes are at the front, but a nation of heroes. In
emphasizing why the work of our officers is so splendid I must lay down
these premises. The bravery and joyous spirit of self-sacrifice in our
men is above all praise, but the officers have higher and more
responsible duties. They have not only to set an example of physical
courage, but they must possess the mental capacity to lead and spur on
their men--and that under conditions so hard and rude that the man at
home has no conception of them.
"I have been in the trenches on the slopes of the Argonnes, where
officers lie side by side with the men in clay and chalk, unwashed and
filthy cut off from the outside world, exposed to continuous fire and
thrown entirely upon themselves. I have seen them in the artillery
positions on the Aisne, in the mud-caves of the heavy batteries, where
they sit in the dark on empty packing-cases, listening to the music of
exploding shells and whistling bullets. And everywhere I received the
same impression: the men are enthusiastic in praise of their leaders.
"Many a one who has never voted for any other party than the Social
Democrats has exclaimed: 'Lieutenants! _Donnerwetter_, yes! Hats off to
them!' For the lieutenant is not only the first in the fight, but he is
the soul of the company; untiring in his efforts to keep up their
spirits in the intervals between the fighting.
"And when we again witness the scenes which often disgusted us before
the war--the monocled young gentlemen in gay uniform, walking through
the streets, nose in the air--when we see all this again, and perhaps a
bit of iron pinned on the breast, then we must remember that for their
life of danger and hardship in Argonnes clay, and Russian mud, no
earthly compensation can be too great.
"No nation can ever imitate our lieutenant, and in this war of masses
and technical perfection it is still the value of individual personality
which will decide the issue. We may affirm that this value stands very
high in our army--both as regards officers and men.
"Only he who has seen for himself the burnt villages, devastated towns
and desolate land of France can comprehend the full meaning of the awful
word _Krieg_ (war). Mere words cannot express what it means to Germans
and Germany that the horrors of war have been carried almost alone into
the enemy's territory.
"But then a spirit of irresistible ardour goes through the ranks of our
warriors. From every eye, in every word, burns the deepest, most
unbounded faith in victory. In the trenches, batteries and hospitals
there is no doubt, no fear. One great thought hovers victoriously above
all hardships, distress and suffering: Germany to the front in the
"And from out the blood which flows--and that is shed plenteously, very
plenteously--(this is the sacred faith which I brought back from the
battlefields) out of this blood the proud harvest will grow, whose
blessings we shall all feel--the world dominion of the German
[Footnote 173: Ibid., p. 50 _et seq_.]
In spite of Koehrer's assurances that the relationship between officers
and men in the German army is an ideal one, there is evidence that such
is not always the case. The Social Democratic paper _Karlsruhe
Volksfreund_ (July 23rd, 1915) contained a long article by "comrade"
Wilhelm Kolb, attacking the anti-annexation fraction of his party. Kolb
accused the opposition with "speculating on the question of food-prices
and the ill-treatment of soldiers at and behind the front. The power of
the censor makes it exceedingly difficult, or even impossible, to
ventilate this matter."
German writers are careful to impress their readers that the losses of
the French were appalling, but here and there a stray word or sentence
lifts the veil and discovers their own.
"Just before me are the graves of some German officers adorned with
wooden crosses and helmets, and a little farther on a _Massengrab_
(large common grave) containing several hundred German soldiers. At this
point (Sedan) the battle raged with awful fury, and the Germans had to
make heavy sacrifices. It seems almost incredible that the Germans could
have forced the position.
"The country is hilly; not a tree or bush offered cover from the French
bullets. French trenches at distances of from thirty to fifty yards,
stretched across the land, and between them were wire entanglements and
other obstacles. Besides which they had an open firing-range of over a
mile in extent, with their artillery to cover them from a steep hill on
the other side of the Meuse.
"At 5 a.m. the attack commenced, and by the afternoon the French had
been hurled across the river. Then came the most difficult part of the
operations. From the Meuse the ground rises gradually to a steep hill,
on which the French artillery and machine guns were placed. The only
bridge over the river, at Donchery, had been blown up at the last moment
by the enemy, and although our pioneers had hastily constructed a bridge
of tree-trunks--what was this for so many regiments!
"Many tried to ford or swim the stream. The French fire was murderous in
its effect. Several times the ranks wavered, but again and again they
pressed forward, till the heights were stormed and the enemy in flight.
The battle raged on into the night and then the remains of the regiments
gathered at the foot of the hill. They had won a costly but glorious
victory. Those who have seen the successes which our troops have gained,
even under the most difficult conditions, need have no fear as to the
ultimate result of this war.
"I stood long at this spot on the blood-drenched soil of France, just
where the regiments from Trier had fought so bravely and suffered
so heavily. Serious thoughts arose in me as I gazed at the battlefield.
What a dispensation! Two gigantic battles on the same spot in such a
short space of time; two great victories over the French. And most
remarkable of all, the nation which for forty-four years had desired
_revanche_ for Sedan, was again completely defeated at the same
place--almost on the anniversary of the first battle.
[Footnote 174: The writer, Dr. W. Kriege, is a Roman Catholic priest
from Trier (Treves). His book "Bilder vom Kriegsschauplatz" (Pictures
from the Seat of War"), published in 1915, is both interesting and
"Twilight shadows fall deep upon the quiet fields where the dead rest.
Squadrons of white clouds drift down the valley, as if to cover the
sleeping heroes with a shroud of white. Above Sedan's heights appears
the shining crescent of the moon and sheds a ghostly light over the wide
field of death--the battlefield of Sedan."
[Footnote 175: Dr. W. Kriege: "Bilder vom Kriegsschauplatz," p. 45 _et
"At last we arrive at our destination--Somme-Py. But what a sight!
Nothing remains of the once beautiful, spacious village but a heap of
rubbish. A few black-burnt walls are still standing and about three
houses; among them, fortunately, the house occupied by Kaiser Wilhelm I.
in 1870-71, when the victorious German army was marching on Paris. At
present it serves as a field-hospital. Yes, this is the second time that
a German army has marched this way; but the battles were never so bloody
as this time.
"Somme-Py and the country round has a special meaning for us folk in
Trier. For here our Trier regiments--above all the 29th and 69th--have
fought with splendid valour, and here they have buried many a dear
friend and comrade. Immediately before Somme-Py one of the largest
mass-graves of the whole campaign may be seen.
"A simple iron railing surrounds the spot where hundreds of those rest
who lived so happily in our midst, who marched so gaily and to whom we
waved farewell greetings as they tramped through our streets.
"The fight for the village had been particularly fierce and bloody; the
inhabitants had no time to flee. Half-burnt men and animals, soldiers
and civilians, filled the houses and streets, or lay buried under the
ruins--awful sacrifices to the war Fury! We must thank God and our brave
soldiers that they have preserved our hearths and homes from such horror
[Footnote 176: Ibid., pp. 78-80.]
It is cheering to find a growing feeling of respect for the French in
German war literature. One of many such expressions will be sufficient
to quote here. The writer of it is a German author who enjoys much
esteem in his own country, and was a guest at the German Crown Prince's
headquarters in May, 1915.
"In conversations with numerous French prisoners I have found no traces
of hate and rage either in their looks or words. The most are glad to
have escaped in an honourable manner from the nerve-racking, trench
warfare. In an honourable manner? Yes, for I have heard on all
sides--from the highest officers and the simplest soldiers--that the
French have fought well. For the most part they are well led--and always
filled up with lies."
[Footnote 177: Rudolf Presber: "An die Front zum deutschen Kronprinzen"
("At the Front with the German Crown Prince"), p. 33.]
"Then we dined with the Crown Prince; soup, roast goose, fresh beans and
dessert. The conversation was lively. In our small company--although the
bravery of the enemy and his excellent leadership receives full
recognition--there is not one who does not reckon with absolute
conviction on complete victory on both fronts."
[Footnote 178: Ibid., p. 61.]
Herr Presber's book is free, neither from adulation nor hero-worship. He
is a poet, sentimentalist, and evangelist for Greater Germany. His book
is a collection of incidents, reflections, and conversations, carefully
assorted and arranged, so as to allow the limelight to glare on the
statuesque figure of a mighty Germanic hero, fresh from
Walhalla--incarnated in the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince's birthday dinner-party affords an excellent
opportunity for the German nation to see the mighty one replying to the
toast of his health. Presber affirms that the moment when his royal host
raised his glass and uttered the words: "Ein stilles Glas den Toten!"
("A glass in silence to the memory of the fallen") will for ever be
"most solemn and sacred" in his memory.
With genuine German inquisitiveness Herr Presber hunted through the
various cupboards and drawers in his room and found a map of France as
it was before the loss of Alsace-Lorraine. "The map is wrong and
useless, and so I use it to line a drawer before placing my linen
therein. This makes me think of the many changes which will be marked in
the atlases which German children are now carrying to school in their
satchels--after the cannon have ceased to roar. How the colouring of the
maps has changed since I went to school, and yet once more a great
'unrest of colour' is about to change the map of Europe. And as far as I
can see, large notes of interrogation must be placed not alone round the
Poles and in Central Africa!"
[Footnote 179: Ibid., p. 101.]
"I spoke of the good understanding between the natives and our soldiers.
Probably that is not so easy to attain everywhere. We drove long
distances from the Prince's headquarters and once passed through a
famous town which sees the German conquerors for a second time. (No
doubt Sedan is meant.--Author.)
"Most of the inhabitants know it is the Crown Prince by the signs of
reverence shown him on all sides, by officers and men alike. But the
citizens of the twice-conquered town bite their lips, turn their heads
aside, and pretend indifference. The women too--many of them in deep
mourning--turn away, or sometimes stand and stare as if with suddenly
aroused interest. Here the ancient hate glowers in silence.
"It seems as if a parole of mute non-respect has been passed round. This
town, which has become world-famous on account of the _debacle_ of the
Third Empire, lives to see with gnashing of teeth the downfall of the
Republic. But they do not believe it yet."
[Footnote 180: Ibid., p. 108.]
"French and Russian prisoners are working on the roads, wheeling barrows
of stone and filling the holes made by shell fire. Some of them, without
thinking, touch their caps when their guards stand stiffly at the
salute. (And how few guards are necessary to watch this tame herd!)
Others gaze at our car as it rushes past without giving any salute;
their faces express astonishment, curiosity, but no excitement."
[Footnote 181: Ibid., pp. 107-110.]
Another illuminating page tells of the Crown Prince's anger on hearing
that Italy had joined the Allies, and how they went for a motor-ride as
an antidote to the royal rage.
German humour is generally unconscious and mostly unintentional. After a
policy of bullying towards France for forty-four years, Germany has
discovered during the course of the war that France is the cat's-paw of
Russia and Great Britain--principally the latter.
One writer, in some fifty pages of venom, endeavours to show that
England is France's executioner. Another gives our ally the advice
"awake!" After Germany has played the _saigner-a-blanc_ game in Northern
France for more than a year, the advice seems rather belated.
[Footnote 182: Walter Unus: "England als Henker Frankreichs."
[Footnote 183: Ernst Heinemann: "Frankreich, erwache!" Berlin, 1915.]
Herr Heinemann writes, p. 33: "France is not fighting for herself, but
for England and Russia.
"Poor deceived France! She has given fifteen milliards of francs to
Russia so that she may at last draw the sword in defence of
Russo-Serbian and British commercial interests. She has placed her money
and her beautiful land at the disposal of her so-called friends--for the
sake of a mad idea which these friends have cleverly exploited
"England has declared that she will continue the war for twenty years,
twenty years--on French soil. If under these circumstances the French
broke with their allies--who have exploited France for the last
twenty-five years, and who have plunged her into this war---in order to
arrive at a reasonable understanding with Germany; then they would only
show that they do not intend to accept the final consequences of the
mistakes committed by the French Government.
"No one is compelled to eat the last drop of a soup prepared by false
friends. In this sense, to seduce France to a direct breach of faith
with her allies, would in truth, only mean the protection of France's
best interests" (pp. 51-2).
One other writer deserves mention--a lecturer in history, Bonn
University--because he presents an opinion the exact contrary to the one
last quoted. According to Dr. Platzhoff, France herself is the guilty
party, who has tricked Russia and Great Britain into the service of
revenge for 1870.
"Therefore France found it necessary to extract herself from isolation,
and acquire allies against her neighbour (Germany). In several decades
of painful effort, French diplomacy has solved the problem in brilliant
fashion. _Revanche_--and alliance policy are inseparable
[Footnote 184: Dr. Walter Platzhoff; "Deutschland und Frankreich," p.
In contrast to most German authors, Platzhoff admits that the _Entente
Cordiale_ was called into being by Germany herself. "This development
caused great anxiety in Germany. But it seems certain that Germany could
have prevented it by one means alone--an open agreement with England.
And Berlin, after considering the matter carefully, had declined the
[Footnote 185: Ibid., p. 22.]
"That France would enter the field on Russia's behalf is a logical
consequence not only of the Dual Alliance treaty, but also of the policy
pursued during recent decades. In vain French ministers have protested
their love of peace and their innocence in causing this war. The policy
of alliances and revenge was certain to end in a world conflagration.
"Already voices make themselves heard which prophesy a revolution in
French policy and a later _entente_ with Germany."
[Footnote 186: Ibid., pp. 26-8.]
Many such passages might be cited to prove that Germany would like to
see a split among the allies. But France's honour and welfare are in her
own hands, and it appears a futile hope that Germany, after failing to
bring France to submission and self-effacement by threats of _saigner a
blanc_, will succeed in her purpose by the reality.
THE INTELLECTUALS AND THE WAR
Mention has already been made that a large number of Germany's war books
has emanated from the universities. Not the least important of these
efforts is "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg" ("Germany and the World
War.") Twenty well-known university professors have contributed to
the work; the fact being emphasized that special facilities have been
accorded to them by the German foreign office. For British readers the
chapters by Professors Marcks and Oncken are the most interesting, viz.,
"England's Policy of Might" by the former, and "Events leading up to the
War" and "The Outbreak of War" by the latter. They take up a fifth of
the 686 pages of which the entire work consists.
[Footnote 187: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," herausgegeben von Otto
Hintze, Friedrich Meinecke, Hermann Oncken und Hermann Schumacher.
Leipzig und Berlin, 1915.]
The purpose of Professor Marcks' essay is to prove on historical and
scientific lines the lessons which have been taught in German schools
for nearly half a century, _i.e._, England is an astute but ruthless
robber who respects no right, and no nation which stands in her way.
"England's modern history begins with the Tudors and her world policy
with Elizabeth. First of all, England had to liberate herself,
economically and politically, from a position of dependence on the other
Powers; then she took up her particular attitude to the world. Her
separation from the Roman Catholic Church was exceedingly rich in
consequences; this step assigned to her a peculiar place in the camp of
the nations, and exercised a deep influence upon her intellectual
development. It gave her an impetus towards internal and external
"But the determining factor for England's future was her insular
position; this has been the case from the time Europe entered the
ocean-period. Since the year 1600 England, by her commerce and politics,
has influenced Europe from without, while she has maintained for herself
a position of independence, and directed her energies across the ocean
into the wide world. Successively she seized upon the Baltic, North Sea,
and Atlantic Ocean; gradually she became the merchant and shipbuilder
for most of the European nations.
"The sea has given her everything--independence, security and
prosperity--both in treasure and lands. The sea protected her and spared
her the unpleasantness of mighty neighbours. It was the ocean which
permitted free development to her internal life, parliament, government
and administration, and saved her from the continental form of
Government--a strong, armed monarchy.
"The sea has allowed the English to develop, undisturbed, the
peculiarities of their race--personal energy, trained by contact with
the ocean; personal freedom, favoured but not oppressed by the living
organism of the State. The sea afforded them liberty of action in every
direction without fear of attack from behind. Freed from the chains
which bound Europe, England went out into the wide world.
"Yet she remained constantly associated with the continent, not only
because Europe was her field of action. English statesmen have always
seized upon every opportunity to influence European policy; at first
this was from motives of defence, but afterwards from an ever-increasing
spirit of aggression. The balance of power on the continent has always
been one of the premises for England's security and existence.
"She is indebted to her insular position for the supreme advantage of
being able to exercise her influence in Europe without allowing her
forces to be tied to the continent; European countries were bound by
their own conflicts and differences, enabling England to exert her
influence upon them without active participation. England has become
thoroughly accustomed to a state of affairs under which she has no
neighbours and never permits any--not even on the sea. She has come to
consider this her God-given prerogative.
"The barriers of geographical position which hampered other lands,
nature did not impose upon England; the security afforded by her girdle
of waves seemed as it were to impel her to strike out into the
unbounded, and to look upon every obstacle as a wrong. There is a thread
of daring lawlessness running through all England's world-struggles,
through all periods of her history, right down to the present day.
"When England speaks of humanity she means herself; her cosmopolitan
utterances refer to her own nationality. She forgets too easily that
other nations have arisen on the earth who esteem their own
distinguishing traits and are inspired by the ardent desire to uphold
their own institutions, forms of Government and culture. England
believes all too easily that the world's map should be all one colour.
But the soul of the modern world demands variety."
[Footnote 188: Ibid., 297 _et seq_.]
There is no important objection to raise against Professor Marcks'
statement of English history and Britain's favoured position on the
surface of the globe. Germany did not choose her own geographical
situation in the world--it is hers by nature and the right of historical
succession. Britain has never envied her or endeavoured to deprive her
of the advantages consequent upon her "place in the sun."
Neither did the British select their island home; destiny and history
were again the determining factors. But it would be a travesty of the
truth to assert that Germany has not envied her that position, together
with the advantages arising from it. Yet in the same degree as the
inhabitants of these islands have used the "talents" entrusted to them
through their favourable position, Germany's jealousy seems to have
become more bitterly angry. By right of birth and national necessity
Germany demands the domination of the Rhine, but she fails to recognize
that right of birth and the demands of national existence compel Britain
to claim the domination of the seas.
The remainder of Professor Marcks' essay is devoted to proving that "the
freedom of our world requires that it shall not be so in future."
Whatever motives actuated Germany in precipitating the war, this much is
now evident--it is her supreme desire and the aim of her highest
endeavour to destroy Britain's favoured situation and every advantage
accruing to her from it.
To-day the issue is clear and simple for Germany--the annihilation of
British power and influence in the world. Literally hundreds of German
war books echo that cry, and, above all else, it is the hope of
attaining this aim which has aroused the bitterest war fury in the
entire German nation--man, woman and child. Reduced to first principles,
this difference of geographical position and the varying advantages
arising therefrom are the prime causes--if not _the_ cause--of the
It was solely the fear of perpetuating British supremacy which has
led Germany consistently to reject the extended hand of friendship.
Standing side by side with Great Britain, either in friendship or
alliance, Germany would have given her approval to Britain's historical
position in the world. When this country departed from the policy of
"splendid isolation" repeated attempts were made to establish more
intimate relations with Germany (1898-1902).
[Footnote 189: Graf Ernst zu Reventlow: "Der Vampir des Festlandes
("England, the Vampire of the Continent"). Berlin, 1915, p. 117.
"England's withdrawal from the policy which sought to establish a mutual
plan of procedure in world politics between Germany and Britain dates
from the time when Britain recognized that Germany would not allow
herself to be employed against Russia. In Germany to-day, voices may be
heard proclaiming that von Buelow chose wrongly in refusing England's
offer, especially as Russia has repaid our loyalty and friendship with
iniquitous ingratitude. The latter represents the truth.
"But in judging the policy of that period two factors must be borne in
mind. The acceptance of Great Britain's offer would have placed a tie
upon the German Empire which would have been unendurable. Germany would
have become the strong but stupid Power, whose duty would have been to
fight British battles on the continent. Besides which the choice
concerned Germany's world future, above all the development of the
German war fleet."]
But as Professor Marcks (p. 315) observes: "Germany refused the hand
extended to her." Count Reventlow and a host of other writers have
chronicled the fact too, yet on September 2nd, 1914, the German
Chancellor dared to say to representative American journalists: "When
the archives are opened then the world will learn how often Germany has
offered the hand of friendship to England."
It is only one more confirmation that the "law of necessity" is
incompatible with the truth. The truth is that Germany preferred to
drive Britain into another and hostile camp rather than have her
friendship. Germany preferred British hostility rather than relinquish
her plans for unlimited naval expansion--which she believed to be the
only means of destroying Britain's position, and with that resolution
already taken the Kaiser presented his photograph to a distinguished
Englishman with this significant remark written on it with his own hand:
"I bide my time!"
Although Britain drew the sword to defend Belgium, the supreme
issue--and the only one which occupies the German mind to-day--is
whether this country shall continue to hold the position allotted to her
by destiny and confirmed by history, or whether she is to be supplanted
by Germany. That is the one political thought which permeates German
intelligence at this moment, and no other considerations must be allowed
to darken this issue.
Professor Oncken reviews the events of the period 1900-1914 in
considerable detail, and to him the policy of _ententes_ appears to be
the main cause leading up to the world war. From this alone it is
obvious that, consciously or unconsciously, he is wrong; the _ententes_
in themselves are results, not prime causes. The prime causes leading to
these political agreements are to be found in Germany's attitude to the
rest of Europe. In a word they were defensive actions taken by the
Powers concerned, as a precaution against German aggression.
German aggression consisted in committing herself to unlimited
armaments, cherishing the irreconcilable determination to be the
strongest European power. According to her doctrine of might, everything
can be attained by the mightiest. British advances she answered with
battleships, simultaneously provoking France and Russia by increasing
her army corps. The balance of power in Europe, Germany declares to be
an out-of-date British fad, invented solely in the interests of these
In secret Germany has long been an apostate to the balance-of-power
theory; the war has caused her to drop the mask, and it was without
doubt her resolve never to submit to the chains of the balance in
Europe, which forced three other States to waive their differences and
form the Triple Entente. Simply stated this is cause and result. But
Professor Oncken maintains--and in doing so he voices German national
opinion--that the entire _entente_ policy was a huge scheme to bring
about Germany's downfall.
He goes further and proclaims that the Hague Conference (1907) was a
British trick to place the guilt of armaments on Germany's shoulders.
"England filled the world with disarmament projects so that afterwards,
full of unction, she could denounce Germany as the disturber of the
peace. At that time the Imperial Chancellor answered justly: 'Pressure
cannot be brought to bear on Germany, not even moral pressure!'"
And in that sentence German obstinacy and sullen irreconcilability is
most admirably expressed.
[Footnote 190: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," p. 495.]
Having seen that Professor Oncken has failed to recognize the prime
causes which provoked the _entente_ policy, it is not surprising to find
him equally in error when discussing the diplomatic clashes between the
rival camps. The professor calls them _Machtproben_ ("tests of power");
but how he can dare to state that these diplomatic trials of strength
were engineered by Great Britain--remains his own secret.
"King Edward's meeting with the Czar at Reval in June, 1908, was
followed by a far-reaching Macedonian reform programme, the commencement
of the division of European Turkey. What Britain had failed to induce
Germany to help her in executing, was to be attained with the sword's
point directed against Germany. And Britain proceeded in cold blood to
conjure up an era of might-struggles, which, in the island language, is
called preserving the balance of power."
[Footnote 191: Ibid., p. 297.]
The trials of strength recounted by Oncken are the Bosnian crisis, the
Morocco question, and the Austro-Serbian quarrel which led to the
present war. It seems banal to have to point out that Bosnia was
unlawfully annexed by Germany's vassal--Austria; that Germany, herself,
brought Europe to the verge of war by sending the _Panther_ to Agadir;
and that the final catastrophic _Machtprobe_ was likewise provoked by
Germany's eastern vassal.
For good or evil Germany has been convinced for nearly two decades that
the balance of power in Europe was an obstacle to her world future.
Furthermore, she believed that the balance imposed fetters upon her
which only mighty armaments could break. All Germany's energies in the
domain of diplomacy have been set in motion to make the balance of power
a mere figment of the imagination.
In pursuing this end it has suited her purpose to declare all attempts
at maintaining the outward appearances of equality between the Powers of
Europe to be Machiavellian schemes against her existence; or to cite the
Kaiser's own words, "to deprive Germany of her place in the sun."
Britain's _entente_ policy was the only one calculated to preserve our
own existence, and to restrain Germany from establishing a hegemony in
Europe. She was completely convinced that the domination of Europe
belonged to her by right of mental, moral and military superiority over
her neighbours. Not in vain have Germany's educational institutions
inculcated the belief in her population that the British Empire is an
effete monstrosity with feet of clay; France a rotten, decaying empire,
and Russia a barbarian Power with no new _Kultur_ to offer Europe except
Inspired by such conceptions, together with an astoundingly exaggerated
idea of Germany's peerlessness in order, discipline, obedience,
morality, genius and other ethical values, as well as an unshaken belief
in Germany's invincibility by land and sea--the entire nation, from
Kaiser to cobbler, has long since held that by right of these
virtues--by right of her absolute superiority over all other
nations--Germany could and must claim other rights and powers than those
which fell to her under an antiquated balance of European power.
In few words that is the gospel of _Deutschland, Deutschland, ueber
alles_. These are the motives which inspired Germany's naval expansion
and forbade her to accept a compromise. The same ideals led to her
endeavours to shatter the _ententes_, and it is alone the general
acceptance of this gospel, which explains the remarkable unanimity with
which the German nation has stood behind the Kaiser's Government in each
trial of strength. They have learned to consider all attempts of the
lesser peoples (Britain, France and Russia included) to maintain
themselves against the Teutonic onset as impudent attacks on sacred
Germany, which also illuminates the fact that Germans call the present
struggle--"Germany's holy, sacred war."
German statesmen were quite clear as to the national course at least
fifteen years ago. Hence they have persistently pursued a policy of no
compromise and no agreements. A compromise recognizes and perpetuates,
in part at least, the very thing which stands in the way. An agreement
with Britain in regard to naval armaments would have perpetuated British
naval supremacy, as well as recognized its necessity. Likewise an
agreement, or the shadow of an understanding with France on the question
of Alsace-Lorraine would have been a recognition of French claims. Hence
on these two questions--which are merely given as examples illustrative
of German mentality--every attempt at an agreement has been a failure.
A cardinal point in Germany's programme has been the consistent manner
in which she has tried to separate her European neighbours from Britain
in order to deal with them separately or alone. That her endeavours
ended in failure is due to the instinct of self-preservation which has
drawn Germany's opponents closer together, in exact proportion to the
increasing force of her efforts. Both in peace and war, Germany desired
and endeavoured to switch off Britain's influence in Europe.
The diplomatic battles of 1905, 1908 and 1911 were a few of the efforts
to dislodge Great Britain from her _ententes_, while her repeated
attempts to buy this country's neutrality, down to the eve of war, are
proof that Germany wanted a free hand in Europe. If she had
succeeded in her purpose, it is exceedingly doubtful whether any Power
could have prevented her from exercising a free hand in the whole world.
[Footnote 192: Professor Schiemann: "Wie England eine Verstaendigung mit
Deutschland verhinderte" ("How England prevented an Understanding with
Germany"). Berlin, 1915; pp. 20-21: "From the very commencement Berlin
was convinced that the probability of a combined Franco-Russian attack
was exceedingly small, if England's entrance to this Germanophobe
combination could be prevented. Therefore we endeavoured to secure
England's neutrality in case of war (1909), that is, if an Anglo-German
alliance could not be achieved--an alliance which would have guaranteed
the world's peace." (Schiemann's insinuation that Germany desired an
alliance is an instance of _suggestio falsi_. Germany had decided in
1902 never to conclude an alliance with this country.--Author.)]
Coming down to the last trial of diplomatic power, we are confronted by
the immovable fact, that it too was a challenge on the part of the
Central Empires. The conditions seemed peculiarly favourable to them,
for the British Ambassador declared to the Russian Government on July
24th, 1914, that Britain would never draw the sword on a purely Serbian
question. Moreover, in the preceding year, a British minister, says
Professor Schiemann, had given what we may style a remarkable
semi-official promise that Great Britain would never go to war with
"On February 18th, 1913, Mr. Charles Trevelyan, M.P., paid me a visit,
and assured me with the greatest certainty that England would under no
circumstances wage war on Germany. A ministry which made preparations
for war, would be immediately overthrown."
[Footnote 193: Ibid., p. 27. In the light of this revelation it would be
interesting to know what was the real motive which induced Mr. Trevelyan
to resign his office when war broke out. Either he was conscious of
having seriously compromised his position as a Minister of the Crown, or
he conscientiously believed that Britain was drawing the sword in an
unjust cause. Unfortunately a section of the British public accepted the
latter interpretation. In any case, Mr. Trevelyan's indiscretion affords
overwhelming proof that he had an utterly false conception of
Professor Schiemann affirms that his good impression was strengthened by
a visit to London during March and April, 1914, and reports a
conversation which he had with Lord Haldane when dining privately with
the latter in London. After returning to Berlin, he says he received a
letter from Lord Haldane dated April 17th, 1914, but from Schiemann's
quotation it is not evident whether the following is an extract or the
"It was a great pleasure to see you and to have had the full and
unreserved talk we had together. My ambition is like yours, to bring
Germany and Great Britain into relations of ever-closer intimacy and
friendship. Our two countries have a common work to do for the world as
well as for themselves, and each of them can bring to bear on this work
special endowments and qualities. May the co-operation which I believe
is now beginning become closer and closer.
[Footnote 194: Lord Haldane has stated during the war that his visit to
Berlin in 1912 had filled his mind with doubt and suspicion in regard to
"Of this I am sure, the more wide and unselfish the nations and the
groups questions make her supreme purposes of their policies, the more
will frictions disappear, and the sooner will the relations that are
normal and healthy reappear. Something of this good work has now
come into existence between our two peoples. We must see to it that the
chance of growth is given."
[Footnote 195: A word or phrase appears to have been dropped in this
[Footnote 196: Professor Schiemann's book, pp. 27-8.]
It is not difficult to conceive that such utterances, on the part of two
British ministers, would raise hopes in the German mind, for it would be
useless to imagine that Professor Schiemann would keep them secret for
his own private edification. And it is possible that they led the German
Government into a false reckoning as to what this country would do under
certain circumstances, and so encouraged Germany into taking up an
irreconcilable attitude in the crisis of July, 1914.
Whatever Germany expected must, however, for the present, remain a
matter of conjecture. Schiemann's comment on the above letter leaves no
doubt that he expected Lord Haldane to resign. "When one remembers
that Lord Haldane belonged to the inner circle of the Cabinet, and was
therefore privy to all the secret moves of Sir Edward Grey, it is hard
to believe in the sincerity of the sentiments expressed in this letter.
Besides, he did not resign like three other members of the Cabinet (Lord
Morley, Burns and Charles Trevelyan) when Sir Edward's foul play lay
open to the world on August 4th."
[Footnote 197: Lord Haldane seems to have injured his reputation both in
Great Britain and Germany. Professor Oncken designates him: "the
one-time friend of Germany, the decoy-bird of the British cabinet."
_Vide_ "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," p. 561.]
The most regrettable side of the whole incident is that the resignation
of the above gentlemen has been proclaimed by innumerable German writers
as proof of Sir Edward Grey's double dealing, and proof that Britain is
waging an unjust war. Still, it may console these gentlemen to know that
the nation which wages war on women and children acclaims them to-day
"all honourable men," and doubtless without the Shakespearian
By reason of the above incidents, and more of a similar nature, Germans
accuse the late Liberal Government with perfidy of the basest kind. The
author is not in the least inclined to admit the charge, but thinks,
rather, that the Government in question--individually and
collectively--was astonishingly ignorant of European conditions and
problems, especially those prevailing in the Germanic Empires.
To what a degree Germany was obsessed by the idea that Britain was
trying to strangle her by an encircling policy, is apparent in a
diplomatic document quoted by Professor Oncken. Its author's name is not
given, and it was doubtless a secret report sent to the German Foreign
Office in 1912; its freedom from bias is also questionable. Moreover, it
is probable that it belongs to the same category of documents as those
quoted in the French Yellow Book--reports intended to exercise due
influence on the mind of the Emperor.
"French diplomacy is succeeding more and more in entangling England in
the meshes of her net. The encouragement which England gives, directly
or indirectly, to French chauvinism may one day end in a catastrophe in
which English and French soldiers must pay with their blood on French
battlefields for England's encircling policy. The seeds sown by King
Edward are springing up."
Another link in the chain of proof of Britain's guilt, is found in the
documents seized by the Germans in Brussels. The enemy seems to attach
great importance to them, for they are being employed in much the same
way that parliamentary candidates use pamphlets during an election. Yet
they do not contain a particle of proof that Britain had hostile
intentions against Germany, but only confirm the presence of the German
The documents in question are reports sent by the Belgian Legation
Secretaries in London, Paris and Berlin to the Minister for Foreign
Affairs in Brussels. These gentlemen held opinions identical with those
expressed again and again in German newspapers, and even in some British
and French organs. Messieurs Comte de Lalaing (London), Greindl
(Berlin), Leghait (Paris), evidently believed that the activities of the
Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente endangered the peace of Europe.
[Footnote 198: Published by the Berlin Government as supplements to the
_Nord-deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung_, July 29th and 31st; August 4th, 8th
and 12th, 1915.]
Further they believed the latter constellation to be the more aggressive
of the two, and formally reported these convictions to the Belgian
Government. If read as a modern edition of "Pepys' Diary" they form
entertaining literature, but by no stretch of the imagination could they
be classed as historical sources. A gentleman who reports to his
Government that King Edward took breakfast in company with M. Delcasse
and that the Press had neglected to chronicle the incident, can hardly
rank as an historian.
Moreover, it is by no means clear why the German Press should laud M.
Greindl as a gentleman of German origin. If this be true it would
probably explain everything which deserves explanation in the said
documents, and would probably account for the intimate, confidential
treatment which M. Greindl received at the hands of German officials.
German newspapers are gloating over the fact that the British Government
has not deigned to reply to these "revelations." There is really nothing
to which it can reply; three observers expressed their opinion on
contemporaneous happenings during the years 1905-1911. But a brutal
sequence of events in 1914 showed them--if they had not been convinced
during the preceding three years--that they had drawn false conclusions
from their observations.
To return to the last trial of strength between the two groups of
European Powers, it is interesting to note that Professor Oncken denies
German participation in formulating the ultimatum to Serbia, or that
Germany was aware of its contents. Germany merely left Austria a free
hand in the matter. Oncken endeavours to show that Austria's demands
were not excessive, and expresses astonishment that the opposing Powers
found them exorbitant. He does not mention the fact that a large section
of the German nation held the same opinion on July 25th, 1914.
His comment on Sir Edward Grey's efforts for peace is characteristic:
"England claims that she did everything possible to preserve the peace.
It cannot be denied that Grey made a series of mediation proposals. But
mere good-will is not everything. It is much more important to weigh
their practical importance, and the goal at which they aimed: Whether
they were intended to preserve the world's peace under conditions
honourable for all parties, or calculated to obtain for the _Entente_ a
one-sided diplomatic victory which would have established its future
[Footnote 199: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," p. 544.]
"Grey considered the moment suitable for a mediation proposal. On the
evening of July 26th, after obtaining Russia's consent, he proposed to
the Governments of France, Germany and Italy that their London
ambassadors should meet in London to confer on a peaceful solution of
"The proposal was unacceptable to Austria, because it would have been an
indirect recognition on her part of Russia's interest in the conflict.
"Only those who had followed the growing intimacy of the mutual
obligations between the Entente Powers, and their organization to a
'London Centre' during the summer of 1914, are able to estimate the
role--to say nothing of Italy--which Russia's two comrades would have
played in the conference. During its course Russia would have continued
her military preparations, while Germany would have had to pledge
herself not to mobilize.
"Finally, no unprejudiced observer would dare assert that the man (Sir
Edward Grey) who was ready to transform himself at a suitable
opportunity into an ally of Russia, would have been an impartial
chairman in a conference held under the pressure of a Russian
mobilization. The more one thinks about this mediation proposal the more
convinced one becomes, that it would at least have worked for a
diplomatic victory for the Entente Powers.
"Grey put the whole machinery of the Triple Entente in motion in order
to force back Germany and Austria-Hungary along the whole line."
[Footnote 200: Ibid., p. 545 _et seq_.]
An analysis of Professor Oncken's theses gives the following results:
First, Britain's efforts to preserve peace are admitted, but he fails to
mention any friendly advances to meet them. Secondly, the fundamental
principle underlying the Germanic attitude is again exposed, viz., that
Russia had no right to intervene in a question affecting the balance of
power in the Balkans and in Europe (_vide_, p. 63). Thirdly, a
diplomatic struggle was in progress along the whole line, between the
two groups of Powers.
In weighing the second point it would be wrong to assume that the
Central Empires were not fully aware of the presence of a far more vital
question behind the Austro-Serbian conflict. They knew it from the very
beginning and had already expressed threats in St. Petersburg, hoping to
achieve the same effect as in the Bosnian crisis. If Austria had been
allowed to destroy Serbia's military power the material forces of Europe
would have been seriously disturbed; the ineffectiveness of the Triple
Entente finally established, and its dissolution the inevitable
If these considerations are correct then the statement attributed by M.
de L'Escaille (see p. 281) to Sir George Buchanan that Britain would
never draw the sword could only have served to strengthen the resolution
of the Germanic Powers in enforcing their point Germany above all
desired that the balance of power theory should be finally smashed, and
it may be safely assumed that an Austro-Serbian conflict seemed to her a
most fitting opportunity to realize her purpose.
The third point suggests two questions. Who provoked the diplomatic
conflict, and who would have benefited most by a diplomatic victory? A
reply to the first question is superfluous, and the answer to the second
is obvious from the preceding line of reasoning. Germany would have
reached the goal towards which she had striven for more than a
decade--the removal of all diplomatic hindrances to the unlimited
assertion of her will in Europe. It may even be doubted whether the Dual
Alliance would have survived the shock.
Another phase of Professor Oncken's work is the open attack on Sir
Edward Grey. Only three years ago this statesman was acclaimed in
Germany as a man of peace--_the_ man who had prevented the Balkan War
from becoming a European conflagration. To-day he is accused by the same
nation of being the originator of the world war.
Oncken goes back to the year 1905 and states that Sir Edward Grey
initiated only two members of the Cabinet--Mr. Asquith and Lord
Haldane--into the details of the agreement with France, and these three
gentlemen he refers to as the "inner circle." King Edward, and
afterwards Sir Edward Grey in continuing the late King's policy,
succeeded in harnessing the _revanche idee_ and the spirit of Russian
aggression to the chariot of British Imperialism. All offers of
friendship made by this country were insincere. (The professorial
pleader does not say so, but he leaves his readers to infer that
sincerity is a German monopoly.) Concerning the British Minister's
declaration in Parliament that no secret treaty existed with France,
Oncken remarks: "The declaration was just as true formally as it was a
lie in essentials."
[Footnote 201: The authorities (?) most frequently cited by Professor
Oncken in making out his case are Messrs. Morel, Macdonald, Hardie, G.
B. Shaw and the _Labour Leader_.--Author.]
Following the development of events after the conference proposal had
been dropped, Oncken writes: "Meanwhile the Russian Government
endeavoured to persuade England's leading statesman that the opinion
prevailed in Germany and Austria, that England would remain neutral in
every case, in consequence of this delusion the Central Powers were
obdurate. England could only dispel the danger of war by destroying this
false conception, _i.e._, openly joining Russia and France.
"It is noteworthy how quickly Grey assimilated this train of thought.
Disregarding the suggestions of the British Ambassador in St.
Petersburg, he did nothing to exercise a moderating influence upon
Russia and thereby further the success of the conversations between
Vienna and St. Petersburg. On the other hand, he proceeded to take steps
which probably in his opinion, were calculated to damp the supposed
desire for war on the part of Germany. Practically, the result of all
his actions was to exercise one-sided pressure upon Germany and Austria
and simultaneously, through unmistakable declarations concerning
England's eventual attitude, to encourage Paris and St. Petersburg to
"But all hopes for peace were destroyed at a single blow by Russia. On
the evening of July 30th after the conversations with Austria-Hungary
had been resumed, Sasonow increased his demands--and in truth with
England's co-operation--to such a degree that their acceptance would
have meant the complete submission of the Dual Monarchy.
"And as if this were insufficient, a few hours later, before a reply had
been received and while negotiations were proceeding in Vienna, Russia
suddenly broke off the communications with a momentous decision
(mobilization). The certainty which she had gained from the moves of
English diplomacy, that in case of war she was sure of France's support
and with it England's, turned the scale--against peace.
"That this calculation was decisive for Russia's change of front is
confirmed by a witness whose impartiality even our opponents will
[Footnote 202: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," pp. 553-4.]
Professor Oncken then supports his argument with quotations from a
letter written by the Belgian Legation Secretary in St. Petersburg to
his Government. The letter was doubtless stolen while in transit by the
Berlin postal authorities. Monsieur B. de l'Escaille wrote the letter on
July 30th, despatched it by courier to Berlin, where it was posted on
the following day. The outside envelope was addressed to Madame
Costermans, 107 Rue Froissard, Bruxelles; inside was a letter addressed
to M. Darignon, Minister for Foreign Affairs. German writers state that
no letters were forwarded to foreign countries after martial law was
proclaimed on July 31st (a statement which is untrue), thus it fell into
Overwhelming importance is attached to this document by German war
writers. The more important passages of the despatch run as follows:
"The last two days have passed in the expectation of events which are
bound to follow upon Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against
Serbia. The most contradictory reports were in circulation, without any
possibility of confirming their truth or falsity.
[Footnote 203: Thus the impartial witness whom Germans quote to prove
their innocence definitely states that Russia had no other course left
open to her by Austria's actions.--Author.]
"One thing is, however, indisputable, viz., that Germany has done
everything possible both here and in Vienna to find a means of
avoiding a general conflict, but has only been met with the
determination of the Vienna cabinet, on the one hand, not to yield a
single step, and on the other hand Russian distrust of Vienna's
declaration that they merely intend a punitive expedition against
[Footnote 204: How could M. de l'Escaille know what had passed in
"One must really believe that everybody wants war, and is only anxious
to postpone the declaration in order to gain time. At first England gave
out, that she would not allow herself to be drawn into a conflict. Sir
George Buchanan said that definitely. But to-day they are firmly
convinced in St. Petersburg, indeed they have received an assurance,
that England will stand by France. This support is of extraordinary
importance, and has contributed not a little to the war-party gaining
the upper hand.
"In the cabinet sitting held yesterday, there were differences of
opinion, and the mobilization order was postponed. This morning at four
o'clock mobilization was ordered.
"The Russian army feels itself strong, and is full of enthusiasm. The
reorganization of the navy is still so incomplete that it would be out
of the count in case of war. For that reason England's assurance of help
was of the greatest consequence."
[Footnote 205: "Kriegs-Depeschen, 1914" ("German War-Telegrams, 1914").
Berlin, 1914; p. 96 _et seq_.]
If Professor Oncken is correct in stating that Sir Edward Grey's
measures were calculated to exercise a pressure on Germany and Austria,
then he merely confirms what this country has hitherto believed--Sir
Edward Grey acted rightly. Where else should he have exerted pressure
except in the quarter from whence a provocative, insolent challenge had
With regard to the assertion that Russia--stiffened by England--took a
"momentous decision" on the evening of July 30th, Professor Oncken is
guilty of distortion. The decision to mobilize had been taken earlier,
and as M. de l'Escaille wrote, was made public at four o'clock on the
morning of July 30th.
Whether Russia had increased her demands ("peremptorily sharpened" are
Oncken's words) the reader can judge for himself by comparing the two
"If Austria, recognizing "If Austria agrees to
that the Austro-Serbian stay the advance of her
question has troops on Serbian territory,
assumed the character and if, recognizing
of a European question, that the Austro-Serbian
declares herself ready to dispute has assumed the
eliminate from her ultimatum character of a question
the points which of European interest, she
infringe the sovereign admits that the Great
rights of Serbia, Russia Powers shall examine
engages to stop her the satisfaction which
military preparations." Serbia might give to
(Russian Orange Book, the Austro--Hungarian
No. 60.) Government without
affecting her sovereign
rights and independence,
to maintain her waiting
Yellow Book, No. 113.)
Oncken, in making this comparison, comments: "It is most remarkable that
the original formula chosen by Sasonow had been peremptorily sharpened
(_einschneidend verschaerft_) on July 31st at the request of the British
Ambassador. This interference by England in the formulation of the
proposal must arouse the gravest doubt regarding the peaceful tendencies
of England's policy. Sasonow had every reason to thank Grey 'for the
firm, amicable tone which he has employed in his pourparlers with
Germany and Austria.'"
[Footnote 206: "Deutschland und der Weltkrieg," p. 553. Oncken's
quotation in the last lines taken from the Russian Orange Book, No. 69.]
Sir Edward Grey had proposed five days earlier (July 26th) that all
military measures should cease pending a settlement. Hence the
introduction of this clause is not a new demand. Moreover, in the
meantime Russia and Germany--in spite of the latter's denial--had
commenced to mobilize; Austria had mobilized and commenced hostilities
against Serbia. Thus there were far more urgent reasons to include the
cessation of military measures on July 31st than before. Lastly, it was
the only acceptable pledge of Austrian sincerity which Russia could
accept. Whether the formula would have met with Austria's approval
cannot be determined, for Austria was saved from what Oncken terms
"complete submission" by Germany's ultimatum to Russia, despatched on
the same day, July 31st.
It is impossible to get rid of the suspicion that Germany thought
Austria might accept the proposal; in any case, Germany deliberately
shattered the last chance of a settlement by her demand that Russia
If Germany outwardly worked for peace in St. Petersburg, as M. de
l'Escaille states, it would be quite in harmony with the methods of
German diplomacy. But, as the same gentleman testifies: "Austria would
not yield a step"--the conclusion must be drawn that Germany had ordered
her to stand firm. Austria did not yield a single inch, and so it is a
matter of indifference as to the sincerity or otherwise of Germany's
Oncken further mentions Britain's refusal to remain neutral in return
for a promise that French territory should not be annexed, but he omits
the question of French colonies. His analysis of the Belgian question
deserves quotation: "Grey was seeking an excuse for war, and he found
one in the question of Belgian neutrality. It was just such a reason as
he required in order to carry away the Cabinet, Parliament and public
opinion. And since then that reason has been much discussed, accompanied
by appeals to international law and humanity, by England's and the
"But there is more than one irrefutable proof at hand, to show that this
reason for war, was merely a veil covering the real ones. Anticipating
Grey's intentions, before the German Government had finally declared
themselves on the subject, Prince Lichnowsky put the question to
Sir Edward Grey on August 1st, as to whether England would remain
neutral if Germany undertook to respect the neutrality of Belgium.
[Footnote 207: Britain had asked Germany a day or two before, whether
she would respect Belgium's neutrality.--Author.]
"Grey, however, refused to give the pledge with which he could--if he
was really concerned about Belgium--have spared that unhappy land its
terrible fate. But by these means the trump card of Belgian neutrality
had been taken from our opponent's hand in advance. Yet Grey actually
considered it permissible to conceal this offer from the British
Cabinet. Yes, he dared even more.
"After the matter had been mentioned by Ramsay Macdonald in the _Labour
Leader_, Keir Hardie asked a question in the House of Commons on August
27th, as to whether Lichnowsky's proposal had been submitted to the
Cabinet, and why the same had not been made the basis of peaceful
negotiations with Germany. Grey made a weak attempt to discriminate
between official proposals made by a government, and a private question
asked by an ambassador.
"When the inconvenient questioner asked for further information, he was
cried down. The Oxford theologian Conybeare gained the impression from
this Parliamentary incident: 'That all Sir Edward Grey's answers to Mr.
Keir Hardie's questions are examples of _suppressio veri_ and _suggestio
falsi_.' His later revocation of this judgment does not alter its value
as objective evidence.
"After Grey's refusal, Prince Lichnowsky pressed him to formulate
England's conditions for her neutrality. At the same time the Ambassador
increased his offer of July 29th by proposing to guarantee the integrity
of France and her colonies in return for England's neutrality. Grey
suppressed this proposal too before the Cabinet, as any negotiation on
this basis would have thwarted his pre-conceived plans. Only an
immovable determination for war can explain this behaviour.
"Even before he could assume that Belgian neutrality was in danger, he
pledged English policy to the wishes of France. On the afternoon of the
same August 1st, he gave the French Ambassador--who was anxiously
pressing for a decision--reason to believe that he would be able to give
a formal promise on the following day. At the Cabinet meeting on August
2nd--the same in which he suppressed Germany's offer!--he got a motion
accepted empowering him to assure Cambon that if Germany attacked the
French coast, England would intervene."
It is necessary to return to Germany's proposal in regard to Belgian
neutrality. In simple language it means that Germany wanted to sell her
pledged word, given in 1839, for British neutrality in 1914. In view of
the fact that Professor Oncken looked upon this as a legitimate bargain,
one wonders in silence at his standard of morality and honour. Is he not
a scoundrel who first gives his word of honour and afterwards tries to
strike a bargain with the same? Stripped of all verbiage that is
Germany's proposal in its naked immorality, and the author chronicles
with pleasure that the House of Commons cried down even its discussion.
It recalls to his memory the fact, that the Reichstag--Germany's highest
legislative assembly--cheered to the echo Bethmann-Hollweg's
announcement that German armies, in violating the dictates of moral and
international law, by breaking Germany's word of honour, had occupied
Luxembourg and entered Belgium. The two incidents are drastic, concrete
illustrations of the gulf which separates British and German conceptions
of right and wrong.
Furthermore, there are two questions of a disciplinary nature arising
out of this incident which "the man in the street" has a perfect right
to raise. Assuming that Sir Edward Grey exercised his discretion and
concealed the "infamous proposal" from the Cabinet, which of his
colleagues afterwards betrayed the fact and from what source--German or
English--did he obtain his information?
Full knowledge on these points would probably be of great assistance in
destroying the "trail of the serpent" (_i.e._, German influence and
intrigues) in the political and national life of Great Britain.
Professor Oncken praises German disinterestedness in offering to
guarantee the integrity of French continental and colonial territories
in case Germany gained a victory in the war. Sir Edward Grey's refusal
to guarantee British neutrality in return for this promise, the
professor considers supreme and final proof that Britain was bent on
war. The nation has rightly approved of this policy and the point need
not be argued in this place; but Professor Oncken in the seclusion of
his German study would do well to weigh two problems:
If Germany had gained a victory--and in August, 1914, she was absolutely
convinced that France and Russia would succumb if they faced her
alone--then Germany would have obtained the long sought upper and "free
hand" in Europe. What earthly powers could have compelled her in that
moment to respect her promise in regard to French territories? Certainly
Germany's sense of honour could not be counted upon to do so.
The second problem refers to the bull and the china-shop. Presuming that
the bull could talk, would Professor Oncken advise the guardian of the
proverbial china-shop to accept the bull's promise to respect the
_status quo ante_ of his property, before letting him (the bull) run
amock amongst the china?
Lastly, readers are advised when studying the German "case" to remember
that Germany never offered to respect the integrity of French
territories _and_, the neutrality of Belgium. Although German
writers--with malice aforethought--seek to give that impression. Yet,
had this combined offer been made, the author submits that in spite of
such a promise, it would still have been ruinous to British interests to
stand aside and see Germany gain the upper and "free hand" in Europe.
Having obtained that, all else would have followed to the desire of
THE LITERATURE OF HATE
"The English are wretched scoundrels."--_Frederick the Great_.
"It must come to this, that not even a German dog will accept a piece of
bread from an Englishman."--_Heinrich von Treitschke_.
"England, the Vampire of Europe," by Count Reventlow.
"Down with England," by Admiral Valois.
"England, our Enemy in the Past, Present and Future," by Erich von
"A German Victory, Ireland's Hope," by Dr. Hans Rost.
"England, the Scourge of Humanity," by Germanicus.
"The Poisonous Press," by Germanicus.
"England against England," by Mathieu Schwann.
"A Woman's War Letters," by L. Niessen-Deiters.
"Albion's Death Struggle," by Eugen Detmolder.
[Footnote 208: Written by Detmolder (a Belgian) during the Boer
"How John Bull recruits his Hirelings," by Dr. Herbert Hirschberg.
"Advance on England! The Destruction of Britain's World Power,"
"In English Captivity," by Heinrich Norden, late missionary.
"British _versus_ German Imperium," by an Irish-American. Introduction
by Sir Roger Casement.
"Lousyhead goes on Lying." The latest war news of Messrs. Grandebouche
(France), Lousyhead (Russia), and Plumpudding (England), by Karl
"England and Germany," by Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
"Cable Warfare and the Campaign of Lies," by Dr. Meister, Professor in
"England and Continental Interests," by Captain H. Schubart.
"The Annihilation of England's World Power," Essays by twenty-three
different authors, including Professors Haeckel, Eucken and Lamprecht;
State Secretary Dr. Dernburg; Dr. Sven Hedin, etc.
"German Misery in London," by Carl Peters.
"The English Face," by six university professors; Frischeisen-Koehler
(Berlin); Jastrow (Berlin); von der Goltz (Greifswald); Roloff
(Giessen); Valentin (Freiburg); von Liszt (Berlin).
"Starvation, England's Latest Ally," by Friedrich Simon.
"England and the War," by Professor Lujo Brentano.
"Against France and Albion," by A. Fendrich.
"The Land of Unlimited Hypocrisy," by Spiridion Gopevi.
[Footnote 209: Probably the most scurrilous and vulgar work of its type;
but the writer of it is not a German.--Author.]
"England"; "England and America," _Sueddeutsche Monatshefte_ (South
German Review) for January and May, 1915.
"England's Tyranny and former Supremacy of the Seas," by Admiral
"England's Blood-Guilt against the White Peoples," by Woldemar Schuetze.
"The Greatest Criminal against Humanity; King Edward VII. of England. A
Curse-pamphlet," by Lieut.-Col. R. Wagner.
"England, tremble!" by J. Bermbach.
"England as Sea-Pirate State," by Dr. Ernst Schultze.
"In the Pillory! Our Enemies' Campaign of Lies," by Reinhold Anton.
"London's Lie Factory: Renter's Office," by A. Brand.
"England's Wicked Deeds in the World's History," by A. Kuhn.
"Our Settlement with England," by Professor Hermann Oncken.
"England's Betrayal of Germany," by M. Wildgrube.
"England's Guilt," by Gaston von Mallmann.
"English Character," by Professor Arnold Schroeer.
"England and We," by Dr. J. Riessner, President of the Hanseatic League.
"How England prevented an Understanding with Germany," by Professor Th.
"God Punish England," published by _Simplicissimus_.
"Perfidious Albion," by Alfred Geiser.
"Our Enemies among Themselves," Caricatures from 1792-1900 collected by
Dr. Paul Weiglin.
"Words in Season," Poems, including the "Hymn of Hate," by Ernst
About sixty-five other titles might be added to those given above, but
the author has restricted the list to books in his possession. Some of
them are scurrilous and obscene, deserving no further attention than a
record of their existence. Yet the fundamental idea running through
these works is identical, differing only in the mode of expression.
Hate in itself is a confession of weakness, to a certain extent an
admission of defeat. The presence of hate in a nation or an individual
may be explained as resulting from the desire to remove or destroy an
obstacle, which has proved to be immovable and indestructible. A
healthy, well-balanced mind admits defeat and endeavours to make a
compromise--to adjust itself to the inevitable.
But assuming other conditions--a false sense of honour, a morbid
conception of self-importance--then hate seems to be a natural, although
unhealthy result. Unfortunately there is evidence that these factors
influence modern Germany. One of the roots of tragedy is to be found in
the inequality between the will and power to perform. In its
helplessness the will recoils upon itself, turning to gall and
bitterness, or seeks a solution in self-destruction.
It is noteworthy that some thirteen thousand individuals commit suicide
every year in Germany. Unwilling or unable to adjust themselves to the
phenomena of life, they choose death in preference to the
compromise--life. A leaning towards the tragic characterizes the German
of to-day; an inclination not to compromise, not to admit defeat,
thereby admitting the "will" to be incapable of transformance into
Between Germany and Britain fate has placed such a rock of destiny,
_i.e._, this country's position in the world, above all, her naval
supremacy. Germany has held that this rock hinders, even endangers, her
just and historical development in the world. With wonderful energy,
perseverance, self-sacrifice and heroism, Germany has endeavoured to
surmount or destroy the obstacle. The united will of the nation was
expressed in the momentum of the onslaught--in vain. And as no
reconciling influences are at work, no tendency to accept the
Outside Germany there is, probably, no one who doubts the invincibility
of the British Navy and the unchangeable will of the British
(strengthened by the danger of the past year) to maintain its supremacy.
Yet even to-day responsible Germans are appealing to their nation to
fight till "modern Carthage" is finally destroyed.
"In spite of the publications of our enemies, we in Germany, from the
highest to the lowest, will believe unto all eternity that this war was
caused by England alone. All Germany replied to England's declaration of
war with a cry of indignation. The hate for the hypocritical island
kingdom was so bitter that it took the form of demonstrations against
the British Embassy, while the representatives of the other enemy
countries were able to depart unharmed.
[Footnote 210: Admiral Valois appears to be unaware that both ladies and
gentlemen from the Russian Embassy were beaten with sticks, fists and
umbrellas before leaving Berlin.--Author.]
"Up till then political England was little known in Germany, but now the
bitter hate which reigns throughout the land characterizes her as the
incarnation of all that is base and vile. It brings back to our minds
the saying of the old Hanseatic towns:
'England, thou land of shame,
Why hast thou, Satansland,
The name of Angel-land?'
"No sacrifice and no effort will be too great, for us to drag her from
her imagined height into the dust. By force of arms, starvation and the
power of lies, they hoped to force us back to unimportance, and now the
issue is: Whether the categoric imperative of the East Prussian Kant, or
the hypocrisy of British cant, shall gain the victory.
"We are unalterably convinced that England is our mortal enemy, and that
all endeavours to find a _modus vivendi_ will be in vain. Still our
present naval forces are unequal to the task of overthrowing her. This
will make it easy for the German Government to obtain even the greatest
sums from the Reichstag in order to increase our fleet. Every other
aim--no matter what it is--must be laid aside, till this one is
attained: Down with England!
"It is to be hoped that this attempt on England's part to get rid of a
competitor will be the last. We Germans anticipate the future with an
unshakable belief in victory. Possibly sooner or later, England's
present allies will see that in reality they are serving English
interests. When this unnatural alliance has crumbled to pieces under the
might of our blows, then we shall at last stand face to face with
"Our life-work will then begin--to settle up with the pioneers of
hypocrisy so that they shall never again cross our path! If at any time
this high endeavour seems to slacken, then think of East Prussia!
Remember that a third of the province was laid waste; that men, women
and children were murdered and violated; that the lists of the missing
contained the names of nearly fifty thousand fellow-countrymen. And all
this had to happen so that every Englishman might become a few pounds
"Think of it as long as you live, and pass it on to your descendants as
an inheritance. Give all your strength and your last farthing to
increase our fleet and any other necessary means to attain our goal:
Down with England!"
[Footnote 211: Admiral Valois: "Nieder mit England!" ("Down with
England!") p. 5 _et. seq_.]
"Truly it is no longer necessary either in this assembly or in all
Germany to create popular opinion for the cry 'Nieder mit England!' It
re-echoes daily from the lips of every German. But still we must
continue to point out its necessity--it is a commandment which must
banish every weak inclination to yield, and make us strong to hold out
to the bitter end.
"To some it may appear 'one-sided,' but yet it is a moral duty to
emphasize and strengthen our hate for England. Not only because we
_will_ hate, but because we _must_. Hatred ennobles when it is directed
with full force against the evil and bad. And what is the evil? For an
answer consider how the English pedlar-spirit with cunning and lies, has
subjugated the world and holds it in bondage.
"Even in the upper classes (English), ignorance reigns supreme. In their
famous schools, _e.g._, Eton College, the young people--besides sports
and so-called gentlemanlike behaviour--learn exceedingly little. Except
in regard to purely English affairs most Englishmen possess an almost
inconceivable ignorance of history and geography. The view held by so
many Germans that the majority of the English nation, especially the
so-called 'upper ten,' have enjoyed a thorough education--is utterly
false. But in spite of this, English conceit and unexampled pride leaves
little to be desired."
[Footnote 212: Vice-Admiral Kirchhoff: "England's Willkur" ("England's
Tyranny"), p. 1 _et seq_.]
All German naval writers whine in unison concerning the "protection of
private property in naval warfare." The shoe appears to pinch at that
point, but the complaints sound hollow when made by a nation which has
shown so little respect for private property in land warfare.
"Turkey was compelled to hand over Cyprus; in return she received an
assurance of protection from England. What the latter understands by
'protection' we have learned from her recent actions. The behaviour of
England's last naval commission in Constantinople speaks volumes. The
very men who were in Turkey's pay, destroyed the weapons (ships, _i.e._,
cannon, machinery, etc.) entrusted to their care."
[Footnote 213: Ibid., p. 31.]
Besides Kirchhoff, several other writers charge the British naval
officers who were in Turkey's service before the outbreak of war, with
acts of _sabotage_. Another writer (Heinrich Norden, late missionary in
Duala, German Cameroons) sinks a little lower and states that English
officers were guilty of thieving when Duala was captured.
"Indeed, it is not saying too much when I maintain that the true
historical purpose of this war, is only half fulfilled if we do not
bring England to her knees--cost what it may in blood and treasure. That
much we owe to our children and their children. We will not only be
victorious, victory is only half the work; we must annihilate the power
of our enemy.
"All our dearly-bought victories in East and West will be of no avail
if, at the conclusion of peace, we have not conquered and compelled
England to accept our terms. There can never be justice or morality on
earth, or keeping of treaties, or recognition of moral international
obligations, till the power of the most faithless, hypocritical nation
which ever existed, has been finally broken and lies prostrate on the
ground. So long ago as 1829 Goethe said to Foerster: 'In no land are
there so many hypocrites and sanctimonious dissemblers as in England.'
"We must wait in patience and with confidence in our leaders for the
final settlement which the future will bring. The men in our navy are
burning to imitate the deeds of their comrades on land. Whenever an
opportunity has arisen, they have shown themselves equal to the enemy.
Our navy knows, and that is a consolation for the men during inactivity,
that the lofty task of breaking England's power will fall to their
share. The men know that the final purpose of this world war can only be
attained with their help, they know what is before them, and that the
enormous stake demands and deserves all they have to give.
"In this time of trial we can best help by waiting in patience. The
fleet's turn will come; the fleet created by our Kaiser will fulfil its
mission. Everyone of us recognizes that a well-thought-out plan is
behind all this; even the enemy has premonitions of it.
"In regard to England's downfall there can, may, and must be only one
opinion. It is the very highest mission of German _Kultur_. Our war,
too, is a 'holy war.' For the first time England's despotic power is
opposed by an enemy possessing power, intelligence and will."
[Footnote 214: Ibid., p. 37 _et seq_.]
Another of the fundamental reasons for German hate must be sought in the
different conceptions of life and its duties in the two nations. In its
chief results this has found expression in two totally different beings.
Professor Engel (Berlin) once wrote that from the cradle to the grave,
the German is "on the line," or, in other words, the State directs his
Probably it would be more correct to look upon the German State as a
Teutonic Nirvana--with this distinction, that it is a negation of
personal individuality, but at the same time a huge, collective
positive. The individual German fulfils his life's mission by absorption
into Nirvana and by having all his activities transformed in the
collective whole for the benefit of the State. The will of the State is
supreme; individuals exist in, through, and for, the whole. And, above
all, the State's motto has been thoroughness and efficiency in every
department of its manifold life; knowledge and power its aims.
Britain's development has been along other lines; the widest possible
room has been left to the individual, and the ties binding him to the
whole have been loose in the extreme. German discipline is replaced by
British liberty, with its advantages to the individual and corresponding
disadvantages for the State. Liberty implies the right to rise by honest
endeavour, but does not exclude the possibility of a wilful surrender to
slothful inactivity, _e.g._, the human flotsam and jetsam of British
cities, the casual ward and similar institutions. These and other
phenomena of life in our islands have aroused bitter contempt among
Germans. Contempt has been succeeded by envy and hatred. Rightly or
wrongly the German has argued that the people who prefer sport to
knowledge, self-will to a sense of duty to the community, selfishness to
sacrifice, wire-pulling and patronage to efficiency--this people is
no longer worthy of the first place among the nations. By right of
merit, morality and efficient fitness--that place belongs to Germany.
[Footnote 215: An article by the present writer on "Some German Schools"
in the _Times_ Educational Supplement, October 5th, 1915, gives some
faint idea of the unprecedented sacrifices made by German schools.
During the war all classes of the population have voluntarily renounced
a part of their earnings for war charities. In the _Fraenkischer Kurier_
for October 13th, 1915, the Burgomaster of Nuremberg announced that the
voluntary reduction of salaries agreed to by the municipal officials of
that city had resulted in 264,000 marks (L13,000) going to charitable
funds. The author could cite dozens of similar instances, but it would
interest him most of all to know whether any town in the British Isles
can show a better record than Nuremberg, with a population of 350,000.]
Unfortunately the present war has brought many proofs that there is no
small amount of truth in this indictment, and most unfortunate of all,
neutral countries too accept Germany's version that Britain is
unorganized, self-interested, inefficient and effete. And to just the
same degree they are convinced that Germany is thorough. They love
Britain's humanitarian idea, but admire German efficiency--although they
fear the latter's militarism.
Still when they are driven to choose to whom they shall confide their
vital interests, _i.e._, future existence, they prefer to lean on
successful German thoroughness, than on Britain's humanitarianism
unsupported by the strong arm. At the moment of writing there is wailing
and gnashing of teeth throughout the British Empire at the diplomatic
failure in Bulgaria and the previous fiasco in Turkey. Sir Edward Grey
has dealt with the question in Parliament, but he has not mentioned the
The true reason is that this country has fallen into the habit of
sending diplomatic representatives abroad who have not been keen enough
to obtain a mastery of the language, or a full knowledge of the feelings
and national aspirations of the peoples to whom they were accredited.
Instead of being living ambassadors of the British idea, they have often
been concrete examples before foreign eyes of British inefficiency. An
example of the language question which came under the author's personal
notice, deserves mention.
In the spring of 1914 there seemed to be a danger that a German would be
appointed British Consul in Nuremberg, and in order to prevent this the
author wrote to a British Minister stationed in Munich. He was greatly
surprised to receive a reply--the latter, of course, was in
English--addressed on the outside to:
"Dr. T. Smith,
"_On the top_ of the University of Erlangen."
That is to say, the German preposition _auf_ was employed instead of
_an_. A mistake which even an elementary knowledge of German should have
made impossible. In the British Legation at Munich there was a
German-British Consul--a Munich timber-merchant. If readers imagine that
Munich was an unimportant city in the diplomatic sense, then they are
recommended to study the French Yellow Book, which contains final proof
that an efficient French Minister was able to make important discoveries
at the Bavarian Court.
British prestige, confidence in British efficiency and power among
neutrals has gravitated dangerously in the direction of zero, while
admiration for Germany has correspondingly risen. That there is only too
much reason for the change, the course of the war has given ample proof,
and therein lies the hope of Britain's future. The war will reveal to
the British both their strength and weakness, and if the war does not
destroy the dry rot in the land, then it is merely the precursor of
Britain's final downfall.
There can be no greater mistake than closing one's eyes to the good
points in a resolute enemy. As far as this war is concerned they can be
summarized under two heads: (1.) The German Board of Education, which
has developed and mobilized the last ounce of German brains and directed
them into the service of the Fatherland. (2.) The German War
Office, which has mobilized Germany's physical and technical forces.
[Footnote 216: Five years ago the present author wrote in the September
number, 1910, of Macmillan's _School World_:--"Educational reforms and
plans must come from the schoolmen; they never spring of themselves from
out of the people; and this is perhaps the most deplorable admission of
all, that modern England has no great educationist or statesman capable
of formulating a national system of schools which shall develop the
intellectual material of the nation to its highest powers, and direct
those powers into the best channels. For several decades school
inspectors, etc., have visited continental countries to study their
educational systems, and have returned home with innumerable fads--but
no system. Everything of the fantastic has been copied, but no
foundations have been laid; with the result that England's educational
system to-day resembles a piece of patchwork containing a rich variety
of colours and a still greater variety of stuff-quality. It were better
for us to have done with educationists who preach about 'the rigid
uniformity of system which is alien both to the English temperament and
to the lines on which English public schools have developed.' The said
public schools have hopelessly failed to meet the necessity of a
national system of education, or to form the nucleus from which such a
system could or can develop itself. That the Falls of Niagara, however,
dissipate untold natural forces is just as true as that England wastes
immeasurable intellectual force because her forces are allowed to
dissipate through not being disciplined and bridled by a fitting
educational mechanism. Therefore let England turn to the prosaic work of
No other State possesses institutions to compare with them. They are the
foundation of Germany's strength, and the present author's only regret
is, that the overwhelming forces obtained by bridling the Teutonic
Niagara of brains and muscle, have been directed by a false patriotism
into the wrong channels. Still that is what Britain is up against, and
Britain can only secure an honourable victory by surpassing them. And
this much may be admitted even at this stage of the struggle: one part
of the "German idea" is certain of complete victory along the whole
line--German thoroughness and self-sacrifice.
Because only by adopting that ideal is it possible for Germany's enemies
to beat her. Political intrigues, hunger caused by blockade, cant,
wire-pulling, hiding the truth, etc., etc., will break down before the
German onslaught like waves break upon a rock. Britain has got to hark
back to Strafford's watchword "thorough" and season it with the spirit
of Cromwell's Ironsides.
To-day Germans are seriously discussing measures by which Britain's
financial supremacy--and therewith her naval supremacy--can be
overthrown, after the present war. One writer proposes a return to
Napoleon's Continental system, and concludes his plea:
"The British Empire can and must be overthrown, so that the Continent of
Europe may flourish and develop according to the dictates of Europe's
will. According to Herbert Spencer's view, Europe must exercise the
highest ethics, viz., 'give the highest possible total of human beings,
life, happiness and above all harmony of work.'
"England has never comprehended what 'the harmony of work' means. Her
entire heroism consisted in brutally suppressing the weaker, and
avaricious exploitation of everything foreign by means of cunning
treaties and business tricks. Even an Englishman, Sir J. Seeley, in his
book, 'The Growth of British Policy,' has defied this characteristic
with objective clearness.
"For sixty years England struggled against Holland--after which the
latter lay prostrate before her. Now England's battle against her
greatest and mightiest rival has commenced--against Germany. This
struggle will last sixty years and longer if Great Britain does not
succumb before. Every peace will only mean preparation for new battles,
till the final result is attained; English history affords proof of
"Shall Germany, the latest rival, be broken too? Or shall it be her
mission to awaken Europe to war against greed and avarice, hypocrisy and
theft, robbery and violence? Lands which have slept and dreamed for
centuries, do not easily awake. And a part of Europe still dreams deeply
under the hypnotic influence of English cant and altruism, or at least
of her God-ordained hegemony.
"This must be the goal of German statecraft and German diplomacy. The
dream must be dispelled, and the mask torn from the hypocrite's face. If
Germany desires to exist, then the weak, faltering expediency-policy of
the German Empire must be at an end. Our one and only aim must be: Down
"Germany, however, may not strive to enter into England's heritage--that
must fall to the Continent. England's heir shall be Europe, which will
then be able to progress and develop as history intended."
[Footnote 217: Captain H. Schubart: "England und die Interessen des
Kontinents" ("England and Continental Interests"), p. 50.]
German hate has been fed by stories of British atrocities, ill-treatment
of German civilians, the alleged use of dum-dum bullets by British
soldiers, and the employment of coloured troops from India etc. A book
has been published under the style of "The Black Book of Atrocities
committed by our Enemies." The charges concerning the use of
dum-dum bullets by the British are dealt with on pp. 39-43.
[Footnote 218: "Das Schwarzbuch der Schandtaten unserer Feinde." Berlin,
In spite of the fact that von Treitschke advocates the employment of all
available troops, irrespective of colour, by a State at war, and in
spite of the fact that Germany has herself employed native troops in
this war (Cameroons, etc.), their employment by Britain has aroused a
wave of bitter hatred in Germany. As a justification for this
indignation the Black Book quotes Earl Chatham's speech against the
employment of Red Indians in the war with the American colonies.
It is impossible to suppose that some of the charges of ill-treatment of
Germans by the British are more than the squeals of the bully on feeling
the pinch. Carl Peters' book "Das deutsche Elend in London" ("German
Misery in London") must certainly be dismissed as belonging to the
squeals. Another booklet may perhaps be quoted, though with all
reserve, because it involves the charge of endangering the white
man--above all, the honour of white women--in Africa.
[Footnote 219: "In Englischer Gefangenschaft" ("In English Captivity"),
by Heinrich Norden, late missionary in Duala, Cameroons.]
"In declaring my willingness to relate our experiences during the
defence and surrender of Duala and my experiences in English captivity,
my motive was not to add fuel to the fires of hate against England. But
it would be an injustice if we were silent concerning English outrages.
Thousands of our brother Germans lie in English prisoners' camps; their
hands are tied and their mouths closed by the force of circumstances.
But with inward wrath they endure in silence. Yet their position demands
that we, who have suffered with them and have luckily escaped, should
speak for them.
"It is our bounden duty to the Fatherland to reveal the truth about
English atrocities, and I am all the more conscious of that duty because
some circles betray a certain amount of mistrust concerning the reports
of English horrors.
"On Sunday, September 27th, after all the necessary preparations had
been made, the white flag was hoisted. In a few hours the town was
teeming with black and white English and French landing parties, who
were received with indescribable joy by the natives. The latter followed
the soldiers about like dogs, and in real dog-manner began to show their
teeth (against the Germans).
"Everything remained quiet on Sunday, but on the following day robbery
and plundering began in a way which we had never believed possible.
Still less were we prepared for the brutal treatment which the English
practised on us defenceless Germans. At first they made sure of those
who had borne arms; with lies and deceit they were enticed into a trap.
They were requested to give in their names, whereupon they would be set
at liberty. However, when the English thought that the majority had been
collected, the victims were driven on to a steamer which took them to
"During the months of our imprisonment I had ample opportunity to
observe how the Germans have been ill-treated by the blacks. The English
incited them like a pack of hounds to worry their own race--and looked
on with a laugh. Yet the Germans bore all this degradation with proud
calm, and with the consolation that a day will come when all this shame
will be wiped out.
"On the way to the harbour I met about twenty Germans; our company
increased from hour to hour. Women were weeping who did not know the
fate of their husbands, but this had not the faintest effect on the
brutal hearts of the English. At last night fell; we were tortured by
hunger and burning thirst. We were in anguish as to what would become of
us. Why were our enemies so inconceivably bitter? Why did they tell
us no word of truth? They declared openly that everything German was to
be destroyed, German thrones overthrown and the German devils driven
[Footnote 220: Norden has had ample opportunities to learn the story of
Belgium, but he and all other Germans writers, in apparently holy
innocence, look upon all bitterness against their nation as a cruel
"Albion's heroic sons were only able to capture the Cameroons with the
aid of native treachery. The blacks showed them the ways, betrayed the
German positions, and murdered Germans in cold blood wherever
opportunity occurred. The English even paid a Judas reward of twenty to
fifty shillings for every German, living or half-dead, who was brought
in by the natives.
"Later I met various prisoners whose evidence corroborated the inhuman
tortures which they had endured. Herr Schlechtling related how he was
attacked at Sanaga by natives with bush-knives, just as he was aiming at
an English patrol. Herr Nickolai was captured by blacks and his clothes
torn from his body and numerous knife wounds inflicted on his body. The
natives took him to an English steamer whose captain paid them twenty
"Another German, Herr Student, was compelled to look on while the
natives drowned his comrade (Herr Nickstadt) in a river, while he
himself was afterwards delivered up to the English. Yet another, Herr
Fischer, was surprised while taking a meal, bound hand and foot, beaten
and then handed over to the English."
[Footnote 221: Four of these men are still in British captivity. Another
Teuton who has sent blood-curdling tales to Germany may be found in the
person of Martin Trojans, prisoner on Rottnest Island. It would be good
to give these men an opportunity of making statements in London before a
commission of neutral diplomatists.--Author.]
[Footnote 222: "In englischer Gefangenschaft," pp. 1-30.]
After all, the picture does not seem so terrible as this good missionary
would make out. In any case he has failed to make out a case which will
bear comparison with that already proved against the German army in
Europe, or even so bad as the treatment dealt out by German civilians to
their fellow-countrymen during August, 1914. Furthermore it may be
safely assumed that the bitterness of the natives is to be ascribed to
German tyranny, which culminated, as Norden relates on p.16 of his book,
in the strangling of a number of natives, including chiefs of tribes
just before the advent of the British.
Still his book has had due influence on German public opinion. A German
lady in a book full of hysterical hate has based a foul charge upon
Norden's statements (besides publishing his experiences the missionary
has delivered many public lectures), that the English and French left
German women to the mercies of the natives!
[Footnote 223: Louise Niessen-Deiters: "Kriegsbriefe einer Frau" ("The
War Letters of a Woman"), p. 56.]
"In the hearts of all those Germans who in this great time, are banished
from the Fatherland and who do not know how things really stand, there
burns a great hate, hate for England and the ardent desire to fight
against her--the basest and most hated of all our enemies.
"I have come to the end of my report, which contains only a fraction of
the outrages committed by Albion. And this nation talks of German
atrocities! If all the lies spread by the English Press were true, even
then England would have every reason to be dumb. Only he who has felt
the effects of English hate upon his own person can understand the
brutal deeds perpetrated recently on Germans in London and Liverpool.
There, England's moral depth is revealed only too clearly, and before
the world she seeks to drag us down to the same level."
[Footnote 224: Norden's book, p. 43 _et seq_.]
Considering that the total number of Germans captured in the Cameroons
is only equal to the number of civilians murdered or wounded in British
towns by Zeppelin bombs, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds to
the German Government, one begins to wonder whether Norden and his
countrymen possess any sense of proportion. Germans are assiduous
students of Shakespeare, but have seemingly overlooked the comedy: _Much
ado about Nothing_.
Ireland is another text for long and windy sermons of German hate, but
the conclusion of one of these tirades will suffice to show
Germany's real motive.
[Footnote 225: Dr. Hans Rost: "Deutschland's Sieg, Irland's Hoffnung"
("Germany's Victory, Ireland's Hope"), p. 25 _et seq_.]
"At present the direction of the Irish revolutionary movement is in the
hands of Professor Evin MacNeill, Mac O'Rahilly and, above all, Sir
Roger Casement. The final acceptance of the 'Constitution of Irish
Volunteers' was carried on Sunday, October 25th, 1914, in Dublin. At
that congress of Irish volunteers--who to-day number more than 300,000
well-armed men--special stress was laid on the fact that the volunteers
are Irish soldiers and not imperialistic hirelings.
"Further the members of the organization have engaged not to submit
under any circumstances to the Militia Ballot Act, a kind of national
service law which, remarkable to say, is only enforced in Ireland.
"The Irishmen are thronging to join the movement, and pamphlets are
being distributed, and appeals made on all sides. Besides which, weapons
are being gathered and money collected. The entire episcopacy of Ireland
has warned the young men against enlisting in English regiments on the
ground that they will be placed in regiments to which no Catholic priest
is attached. The warning has been most successful in hindering
recruiting. In order to break the opposition of the bishops, England has
appointed a special representative to the Vatican.
"When the German Emperor took steps to appoint Catholic priests in the
prisoners' camps where Irish soldiers are interned, the English at once
appointed forty-five Catholic priests with officer's rank, to the
British army in France. Even this measure, as well as the sudden
diplomatic activity at the Vatican, is little calculated to extinguish
the hate for England in the Irish mind.
"On November 24th (1914) James Larkin began a propaganda in America. He
appealed to all Irishmen to send gold, weapons, and ammunition to
Ireland, for the day of reckoning with England. 'We will fight,' said
Larkin, 'for the destruction of the British Empire and the foundation of
an Irish republic; we will fight to deliver Ireland from that foul heap
of ruins called England.' The assembly broke into enthusiastic applause.
"At that moment the curtain was raised, and on the stage a company of
Irish volunteers and a number of German uhlans were revealed. The
officers commanding the companies crossed swords and shook hands while
the assembly sang the 'Wacht am Rhein' and 'God save Ireland.'
"Sir Roger Casement has long been a thorn in the side of the English
Government, therefore the latter has not shrunk from making a murderous
conspiracy against the life of this distinguished Irish leader. In
agreement with Sir Edward Grey, the British Minister in Christiania, Mr.
Findlay, tried to bribe Casement's companion--named Christensen--to
murder Sir Roger. The attempted murder did not succeed, but the original
documents are in the possession of the German Foreign Office, so that
all doubt is excluded as to the English Government's participation--with
their most honourable Grey at the head--in this Machiavellian plan."
This colossal Germanism concerning a plan to murder Sir Roger Casement
has been assiduously spread throughout the German Press. The Berlin
Government allows the German people to believe that incriminating
documents are in their possession, and the vilest statements to blacken
Mr. Findlay's character were printed in German newspapers when that
gentleman was appointed to the Bulgarian Court in Sofia.
There are so few utterances in German war literature, which display
reason or even moderation, that the author feels glad to be in a
position to cite two. In the May number of the
_Sueddeutsche-Monatshefte_, Professor Wilhelm Franz (Tuebingen) reviewed
one of the hate-books, viz., a work entitled "Pedlars and Heroes" by a
German named Sombart. A few passages will suffice to show that Germany
is not quite devoid of straight-forward men, who dare to castigate hate.
"Towards the end of his book, Sombart solemnly assures the English that
'they need not fear us as a colonizing power; we (the Germans) have not
the least ambition to conquer half-civilized and barbarian peoples in
order to fill them with German spirit (_Geist_). But the English can
colonize and fill such peoples with their spirit--for they have none, or
at least only a pedlar's.'
"It would never occur to any sane man to refute effusions of this kind,
for they cannot be taken seriously. Still I cannot but wish that an
angry English journalist with his clever and fiery pen, would fall upon
Sombart's book and give its author a sample of English spirit. The work
teems with unjust, incorrect opinions; is full of crass ignorance and
grotesque exaggerations, which lead the unlearned astray, injure
Germany's cause, and annoy those who know better--so far as they do not
"What is one to think when Sombart asks his readers: 'What single
cultural work has emerged from the great shop, England, since
Shakespeare--except that political abortion the English State?'
"If I had to answer Sombart I should say, the great shop has given the
English State practically everything which makes for internal peace,
solidarity and national health. It has enabled the nation to exercise
tolerance within, and develop splendour and power without, which in
their turn have made Britannia the mistress of the world's waterways,
and the British the first colonial nation in the world.
"England's cultural development has brought all these since
Shakespeare's time; energy, willpower, united with high endeavour to
realize great aims and overcome mighty resistance. And the basis of this
splendid progress which compels the admiration of all other States, was
what Sombart presumes to call an 'abortion.'"
The other is taken from "Der englische Gedanke in Deutschland" ("The
English Idea in Germany,") by Ernst Mueller-Holm, p. 72. "It is not true
that all Englishmen are scoundrels. It is not true that there is nothing
but pedlar's spirit in England, and because it is not true it should not
be said, not even in these times when war passions run high.
"The fatherland of Shakespeare, Byron and Thackeray; the home of Newton,
Adam Smith, Darwin and Lyell will ever remain a land of honour to
educated Germans. Where would it end if I were to count up the heroes of
English intellect whose names are written in letters of gold in
humanity's great book?"
It is well to conclude this chapter of hate with two quotations which
breathe respect. The author does not believe that German hate will be so
long-enduring as the hate-mongers would have us think. Rather, he is
convinced that mutual interest will force the two nations together
within one or two decades. Preparatory for that day, it is Britain's
duty to compel Germany's respect.
There are good, even magnificent forces in the German nation; there are
still noble-minded, high-thinking Germans who yearn to work in the great
civilizing world enterprises. But--and therein lies the tragedy--"the
good, the true, the pure, the just" are not to-day the predominating
powers. They must work out their own salvation; but if the time ever
comes when the finest and best German thought directs Germany's
destinies, then there will be no lack of sympathizers in this country,
who will hail the day as the advent of a new world era. For the present,
all mutual jealousies, all the burning ambitions, all quarrels and hate,
are submitted to the arbitrament of the sword. If Britain only wields
her sword so well and honourably, as to gain unstinted victory, that
will prove to be the firmest basis for future respect and enduring
"MAN TO MAN AND STEEL TO STEEL"
Mention has already been made of German disrespect, even contempt for
England and the English. One of the reasons for this contempt was the
smallness of the British army, and the fact that our soldiers are paid
servants of the country. Germans apparently never could comprehend why a
man should receive payment for serving his country by bearing arms, and
that fact appeared to them to afford overwhelming evidence of the
pedlar-soul (_Kraemergeist_). The second conclusion drawn, has generally
been that the Britisher is devoid of all sense of duty and
self-sacrificing patriotism. Probably the flocking of several million
men to arms in defence of the Empire, and in defence of British
conceptions of right and wrong has done something to convince Germans
that the premises of the syllogism, were not so self-evident as they had
"Among all the great European Powers, England is the only one which has
not introduced national service and remained true to the principle of
keeping an army of paid soldiers. Hence, when in all other lands at the
outbreak of war, the entire people stands ready to defend the national
honour, England is compelled to beat the recruiting drums before she can
[Footnote 226: Dr. H. Hirschberg: "Wie John Bull seine Soeldner wirbt"
("How John Bull recruits his Mercenaries"), p. 3. Hirschberg reproduces
in facsimile a large number of the recruiting placards which have
decorated the British Isles since the outbreak of war. "Your King and
Country need you" is also given (English and German) with music.]
"England wages war on business lines. It is not the sons of the land who
bleed for Britannia's honour; mercenaries from the four corners of the
world--including blacks--carry on the war as a trade for England's
business world and nobility. England might well smirk as she uttered
blessings on the Triple Entente, for has she not borne the brand of
perfidy for centuries? Her breast conceals the meanest pedlar's spirit
in the, world.
"Every battle which Russia loses is a victory for England, and every
defeat which France suffers means profit for England. She can afford to
wait till her allies are beaten and then take over their business.
'First come, first served' does not hold good in England's case; for her
motto is, the last to come gets the prize.
"Twelve Powers declared war on Germany. Then Japan, the thirteenth,
poked out her yellow face and demanded Kiau Chou. A hyena had smelt
corpses, but the blackmailing Mongol received no reply to his ultimatum.
Grim laughter was heard in Germany--booming, bitter laughter at the band
of thieves who hoped to plunder us. And in the wantonness of their
righteous wrath, German soldiers scribbled on the barrack walls an
immortal sentence: 'Declarations of war thankfully received!'"
[Footnote 227: A. Fendrich: "Gegen Frankreich und Albion" ("Against
France and Albion"). Stuttgart, 1915; pp. 11-12.]
"How wickedly the war was forced upon Germany! A ring of enemies
surrounded her. Envy and ill-will were their motives, but they lacked
the right measure for Germany's greatness. Our people stand invincible,
united, staking life and everything they have--till the last enemy lies
in the dust.
"Not much longer and the goal will be attained; the many-sided attack
has been smashed and the war carried into enemy lands. Shining glory has
been won by Germany's armies. The passionate _elan_ of our soldiers,
their death-despising bravery and one-minded strength, have gained
victory after victory.
"Revenge begins to glow against the originator of the
world-conflagration--against false England! Mute and astonished the
world saw her baseness--wondering at her greatness and her sin. Envy and
ill-will inspired her to cast the lives of millions into the scales, to
open the flood-gates of blood, to spread pain and unspeakable
misery--herself coldly smiling.
"What are men's lives to England? She pays for them. Her army of
mercenaries which was to force her yoke on Europe, is paid with the gold
of blackmailers. She sends hirelings into the field to defend the
inheritance of her ancestors; paid mercenaries fight for her most sacred
possessions, while those who pay the blood-money throng to see the
masterly exponents of football. And England is proud of her splendid
sons who prefer this intellectual game to stern battle with the enemy.
"How different it is with our men! With shouts of joy they march forth
to meet the foe, offering their lives in a spirit of glad sacrifice for
the highest and best which the world has to offer humanity. Storming
forwards with the song, 'Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles,' our
youthful hosts, greeting death with a smile, hurl themselves upon the
enemy. Truly, wherever and so long as men are men, the glory of our
warriors will find remembrance in brave hearts."
[Footnote 228: J. Bermbach: "Zittere, England!" ("England, tremble!").
Weimar, 1915; p. 5 _et seq_.]
"It would be neither right nor just to accuse English soldiers of a want
of courage. They have fought everywhere, by land and sea, with
respect-inspiring gallantry--for mercenaries! But the warlike virtues of
England's armies cannot atone for the cowardice with which she has
conducted the struggle for naval supremacy. Albion means England's
rulers. And this England of Messrs. Grey and Churchill, has covered
herself with shame for all time by the manner of her warfare on sea.
"Albion has not changed. She has hidden her battleships in the bays of
northern Ireland, and conducts war on sea--not against our ships and
soldiers, but against those at home, German women and children! 'The
pinch of hunger makes the heart weak,' said the noble-minded
[Footnote 229: Fendrich: "Gegen Frankreich und Albion," p. 152 _et
"According to its composition the English army is an army of
mercenaries. On that account, however, it would be a great mistake to
despise the quality of the soldiers or to cherish contempt for them. The
standard of physical fitness demanded of the recruits was--at least up
till a short time ago--more severe than that imposed in other lands.
There is no doubt, our German brothers who have met the English on the
field of battle, admit that they fight not only with valour but with
"This results not so much from barrack-yard drill and field manoeuvres,
as from the practical experience of warfare gained in many campaigns.
England is occupied almost uninterruptedly, in warlike enterprises in
some part of the world or other. Further, the officers--belonging mostly
to the upper circles--have distinguished themselves in the field by a
rash bravery which was marked perhaps, not so much by military as
"All in all the strategic value of the English army in regard to
leadership, training, discipline and the spirit of the troops, cannot
compare with the conscript armies of other lands--especially the German
army. Yet the contempt which has been expressed for it in the Press as
an army of hirelings, is just as little merited to-day as it was in the
past when it added many a glorious page to England's history.
"These remarks are intended as a refutation to the reproaches made
against the English army. It is true, those unjust criticisms did not
originate with experts, or they would imply a dangerous under-estimation
of the enemy. But in consequence of the widespread acceptance among the
masses they unjustly feed the fires of hate."
[Footnote 230: Dr. G. Landauer: "England." Vienna; 1915, pp. 74-5.]
"For the last ten days we have been resting to the west of Lille not far
from Armentieres; an English army is opposed to us. My battery is one of
the links in the long chain of growlers which daily pour fire and
iron on to the enemy. We gave up counting the days and fights, for every
day has its battle. Besides the English there are Indian troops, and a
few French batteries in front of us.
[Footnote 231: The Germans call their big guns "Brummer," _i.e._,
"Every day confirms our experience that we are faced by an enemy with
incomparable powers of resistance and endurance. An enemy who can hardly
be shaken by the sharpest rifle-fire or the most awful rain of shell and
shrapnel. We gain ground slowly, exceedingly slowly, and every step of
soil has to be paid for dearly.
"In the trenches taken by storm the English dead lie in rows, just like
men who had not winced or yielded before the bayonets of the stormers.
From the military point of view it must be admitted that such an enemy
deserves the greatest respect. The English have adapted the experiences
gained in their colonial wars to European conditions in a particularly
"Every attempt to cross the canal was thwarted by artillery fire and in
many places the enemy was more advantageously situated than our men. His
trenches were at least dry while ours were flooded with water. I went
into the front trenches by Dixmude and found them lined half a yard deep
with faggots and wood, yet at every step our feet sank into the water
"On the other bank of the Yser lay the enemy and fired continuously.
Anyone who saw our soldiers under these conditions and heard their jokes
will never forget the sight. All the folk at home who grumbled at the
slow progress ought to have been sent for a single day and night into
"In those fields and canals, in this endless morass--made impassable by
flooding--many, many brave German soldiers have sacrificed their lives.
During the autumn and winter months of 1914 the whole Yser domain was
transformed into a vast graveyard.
"The battle-front was determined by the nature of the land. It stretched
from the sea through Ramscapelle, Dixmude, Roulers, Paschendaal to Ypres
and the rage of battle swayed like a tossing ship in ocean storm. Even
now Germany does not know the greatness and terror of the battles fought
there. Only names are known, such as Middelkerke, Zonnebeeke, Warneton,
"The Belgians fought with the courage of despair. Their battle-cry was
'Louvain!' and 'Termonde!' Highlanders, Indians, Sikhs, Ghurkas,
Zouaves, Turkos, Canadians, Belgians, French and English were thrown
into the line, and ever-new regiments landed at Calais. Houses and
villages were taken and re-taken at the point of the bayonet, as many as
seven times. Towns and bridges were conquered and lost often eight times
in succession, accompanied by heavy artillery duels and incredible
[Footnote 232: Heinrich Binder: "Mit dem Hauptquartier nach Westen," p.
123 _et seq_.]
"We have just gone into billets. Not far off are the positions of
_the_ enemy--the English. There will be a battle to-morrow and everybody
is serious. Mostly by the evening, we are too tired to think, but it is
not so to-day.
[Footnote 233: Extracts from the diary of a German soldier, published in
"Der Weltkrieg" ("The World War"). Leipzig, 1915; p. 632 _et seq_.]
"Again and again I arrive at the same conclusion--war is too great a
thing to comprehend. Now we are going into battle with the
black-white-gold band on our breasts. Greetings to you all at home,
above all to you, father. I have your blessing, haven't I?
"October 24th.--We are lying before the road from Ypres to Paschendaal.
The Lt. Colonel has just told us that 'the losses cannot go on at this
rate.' By the side of the brook, on this side the road, English
sharpshooters are in hiding. They shoot damned straight. Our artillery
is not yet up; the reason for our heavy losses yesterday.
"The infantry advance with a rush towards the windmill, but we no sooner
top the hill than the English machine guns begin to rattle. Our front
ranks are mown down. Every attempt to advance fails. The order was given
to lie down and there we remained for four hours. Then we rush one after
the other through a hedge. When darkness fell we had nearly reached the
English trenches, but were recalled and spent the night in our trench.
"The next morning passed quietly, except for rifle-fire. Captain von K.
was hit, and rolled over in front of the trench. Three comrades crept
out one after the other to fetch him--all three fell. At last our
wounded captain was still too--killed by a second bullet. Being
compelled to watch this scene without power to help, was the beginning
of our day.
"Just after mid-day the music began. Crash! a shell lands in our trench
on the right. A short pause, and crash follows crash as the shells are
dropped into our trench at distances of four yards. Death walks slowly
up the trench towards us. We know that he is coming, we see him.
Everybody is lying flat on the ground. We are waiting for 'our' shell.
"If we had a communication trench we could escape--but there isn't one.
We reckon the distance: twenty-five yards away another direct hit.
Crash! only twenty yards. Fifteen yards! We have only five minutes to
live. Thoughts of God and home and parents rush through the mind; yet
they are only numb feelings. Crash! ten yards; one more and then comes
'ours.' But no, the next boom was in the trench behind, and in the same
manner that trench was cleared from end to end.
"'Lieutenant T. killed, Lieutenant K. takes command' was passed along.
We have hardly left the trench when bullets begin to whistle round our
heads. Man after man remains behind. At last night sinks and hides the
horrors of the day. I have lost my company and spend the night in the
open with a few others.
"The next morning the sun shone brightly; the morning wind blows coldly
over the furrows and over the dead. I have no words to describe what I
saw--but my heart bled! Near Paschendaal I found my company. Altogether
there are thirty of us--out of two hundred and fifty."
German war literature affords a complete picture of the transformation
of German contempt for the British army into profound respect. As
witness the following:
"It cannot be denied that the English have supported Joffre's offensive
with valour, strength and vigour. The battles which have raged since the
end of September on the front between Givenchy la Gobelle and
Armentieres, have confirmed the deadly seriousness of the English. And
if they have not obtained great successes, still, in this gigantic
grapple, they have displayed desperate courage which compels the
admiration of their opponents.
"The Commander of a division, with whom I spent the last few days, said
to me in a tone of deep conviction: 'Nobody must talk lightly of English
soldiers in my presence. Their bravery and the extraordinary courage of
English officers compels my admiration. Regimental commanders and staff
officers advanced in the first line of their troops. They fight and fall
by the side of their men. I saw several high officers killed myself.'
Besides, I have heard his Excellency's words confirmed by many of his
[Footnote 234: Julius Hirsch; War Correspondent with the German Army, in
the _Fraenkischer Kurier_, October 22nd, 1915.]
In a previous work the author has expressed the opinion that Great
Britain must employ all her strength in this, the greatest of all wars,
and in concluding this work he repeats that warning still more
emphatically. Only a true realization of the inevitable fact that
British democracy is on trial by battle--"man to man and steel to
steel"--will give the necessary courage, endurance, faith and hope to
bring the issue to a victorious end.
Alleged Ill-Treatment of Germans in Belgium
Appreciation, a German, of England
Attack on Liege by a Zeppelin
Attitude of Germany and Austria
Battle of the Marne
Belgian kindness to Germans
Belgrade during the crisis
Bethmann-Hollweg falsely accuses Russia of causing the war
Britain's position in the world
accused of plundering
General Staff's guide-books to Belgium
Brutal treatment of foreigners in Germany
Courage of British Army
Demonstrations in Favour of War
neutrality, German offers for
Excitement in Germany
French Airmen, Alleged Attack near Nuremberg
alleged attack on Frankfort
German Brutality towards Germans
Chancellor's speech in the Reichstag
comment on the conference proposal
frontiers, alleged violation by the French
General Staff, did it conspire to bring about war?
invasion of France
opinion of England
Press plays Germany a foul trick
provocation to Belgians before the war
State, a Nirvana
and universal peace
cheer the announcement that Germany had invaded two neutral countries
help Kaiser's government
support the war
vote for a war of aggression
why they supported the war
German Socialists' attitude to England
campaign against Russia
proclamation on August 1st, 1914,
German troops enter Belgium and Luxembourg
war against civilians
German White Book on atrocities by the Belgians
Germans charge French with looting
Germany declares war on France
declares war on Russia
made peace impossible
rejects British friendship
Germany's alleged efforts for peace
case against Belgian civilians
hunt for phantom gold
hunt for spies
ultimatum to Russia
Grey, Sir Edward
Grey's, Sir Edward, conference proposal
Heligoland prepared for war
Ill-treatment, alleged, of Germans by British
Ireland and Germany
Italian Socialists condemn their German comrades
Kaiser's return to Berlin
threat to England
_Koenigin Luise_ starts to lay mines round the English coast
Lassalle's opinion of Austria
Last protest against war
Legend of gouged-out eyes
Letter of Belgian Legation Secretary
Lying, a foundation-stone of German policy
Macdonald, Mr. Ramsay
Martial law proclaimed in Germany
Militarism, spirit of
Necessity knows no law
Neutrality of Belgium
"Now there are only Germans"
Oncken, Professor Hermann
Opinion in France at the outbreak of war
Peace, did Germany work for?
Poisoned water-supply scare
Press, German, condemns the Austrian ultimatum
Prince Heinrich's telegram to King George
Proclamation of the Social Democrats, July 25th, 1914
Propaganda for the annexation of Belgium
Reconciliation with Germany
Roman Catholic Church refutes German atrocity legends
Russia ignores the German ultimatum
Russia's attitude during the crisis
right to intervene
Secret Belgian documents seized in Brussels
Social Democratic demonstrations against war
Social Democrats' report on Belgium
Socialists, German, vote for war
Spy scare and its results
Status of German professors
Swiss Neutral on Belgian neutrality
Terms of Triple Alliance
Treatment of Belgian civilians
Trevelyan's, Mr. Charles, remarkable promise
Tricks of the German Press
Unprepared Condition of the Franco-Belgian Frontier
Violation of Belgian Neutrality
_Volksstaat_ (People's State)
Warsaw citadel blown up
Wolff's News Agency
End of Project Gutenberg's What Germany Thinks, by Thomas F. A. Smith
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