My Four Years in Germany
James W. Gerard
Part 5 out of 6
of peace." It was as a result of intimations from government
circles that, after my return to Berlin, I gave an interview to
a representative of a Munich newspaper, expressing my faith in
the coming of peace, although I was careful to say that it might
be a matter of months or even years.
Thereafter, on many occasions the Chancellor impressed upon me
the fact that America must do something towards arranging a peace
and that if nothing was done to this end, public opinion in Germany
would undoubtedly force a resumption of a ruthless submarine war.
In September of 1916, I having mentioned that Mrs. Gerard was
going to the United States on a short visit, von Jagow insistently
urged me to go also in order to make every effort to induce the
President to do something towards peace; and, as a result of his
urging and as a result of my own desire to make the situation
clear in America, I sailed from Copenhagen on the twenty-eighth
of September with Mrs. Gerard, on the Danish ship, _Frederick_VIII_,
bound for New York. I had spent almost three years in Berlin,
having been absent during that time from the city only five or
six days at Kiel and two week-ends in Silesia in 1914, with two
weeks at Munich in the autumn, two days at Munich and two days at
Parten-Kirchen in 1916, and two week-ends at Heringsdorf, in the
summer of the same year, with visits to British prison camps
scattered through the two and a half years of war.
On the _Frederick_VIII_ were Messrs. Herbert Swope of the
_New_York_World_ and William C. Bullitt of the _Philadelphia_Ledger_,
who had been spending some time in Germany. I impressed upon each
of these gentlemen my fixed belief that Germany intended shortly,
unless some definite move was made toward peace, to commence
ruthless submarine war; and they made this view clear in the
articles which they wrote for their respective newspapers.
Mr. Swope's articles which appeared in the _New_York_World_
were immediately republished by him in a book called "Inside the
German Empire." In Mr. Swope's book on page ninety-four, he says,
"The campaign for the ruthless U-boat warfare is regarded by one
man in this country who speaks with the highest German authority,
as being in the nature of a threat intended to accelerate and
force upon us a movement toward peace. Ambassador Gerard had
his attention drawn to this just before he left Berlin but he
declined to accept the interpretation."
On page eighty-eight he writes, "Our Embassy in Berlin expected
just such a demonstration as was given by the U-53 in October
when she sank six vessels off Nantucket, as a lesson of what
Germany could do in our waters if war came."
On page seventy-four he says further, "Throughout Germany the
objection for the resumption of ruthless U-boat warfare of the
_Lusitania_ type grows stronger day by day. The Chancellor
is holding out against it, but how long he can restrain it no one
can say. I left Germany convinced that only peace could prevent
its resumption. And the same opinion is held by every German
with whom I spoke, and it is held also by Ambassador Gerard.
The possibility was so menacing that the principal cause of the
Ambassador's return in October was that he might report to
Washington. The point was set out in press despatches at that
I wrote a preface to Mr. Swope's book for the express purpose
of informing the American public in this way that I believed
that Germany intended at an early date to resume the ruthless
Our trip home on the _Frederick_VIII_ was without incident
except for the fact that on the ninth day of October, Swope came to
the door of my stateroom about twelve o'clock at night and informed
me that the captain had told him to tell me that the wireless had
brought the news that German submarines were operating directly
ahead of us and had just sunk six ships in the neighbourhood
of Nantucket. I imagine that the captain slightly changed the
course of our ship, but next day the odour of burning oil was
quite noticeable for hours.
These Danish ships in making the trip from Copenhagen to New
York were compelled to put in at the port of Kirkwall in the
Orkney Islands, north of Scotland, where the ship was searched by
the British authorities. On the occasion of our visit to Kirkwall,
on this trip, a Swede, who had been so foolish as to make a sketch
of the harbour and defences of Kirkwall from the top deck of the
_Frederick_VIII_, was taken off the boat by the British. The
British had very cleverly spotted him doing this from the shore
or a neighbouring boat, through a telescope.
Ships can enter Kirkwall only by daylight and at six o'clock
every evening trawlers draw a net across the entrance to the
harbour as a protection against submarines. A passage through
this net is not opened until daylight the following morning.
Captain Thomson of the _Frederick_VIII_, the ship which
carried us to America and back to Copenhagen, by his evident
mastery of his profession gave to all of his passengers a feeling
of confidence on the somewhat perilous voyage in those dangerous
When I reached America, on October eleventh, I was given a most
flattering reception and the freedom of the City of New York.
Within a few days after my arrival, the President sent for me
to visit him at Shadow Lawn, at Long Branch, and I was with him
for over four hours and a quarter in our first conference. I saw
him, of course, after the election, before returning to Germany,
and in fact sailed on the fourth of December at his special request.
Before I left I was impressed with the idea that he desired above
all things both to keep and to make peace. Of course, this question
of making peace is a very delicate one. A direct offer on our part
might have subjected us to the same treatment which we gave Great
Britain during our Civil War when Great Britain made overtures
looking towards the establishment of peace, and the North answered,
practically telling the British Government that it could attend
to its own business, that it would brook no interference and would
regard further overtures as unfriendly acts.
The Germans started this war without any consultation with the
United States, and then seemed to think that they had a right
to demand that the United States make peace for them on such
terms and at such time as they chose; and that the failure to
do so gave them a vested right to break all the laws of warfare
against their enemies and to murder the citizens of the United
States on the high seas, in violation of the declared principles
of international law.
Nevertheless, I think that the inclination of the President was
to go very far towards the forcing of peace.
Our trip from New York to Copenhagen was uneventful, cold and
dark. We were captured by a British cruiser west of the Orkneys
and taken in for the usual search to the port of Kirkwall where
we remained two days.
The President impressed upon me his great interest in the Belgians
deported to Germany. The action of Germany in thus carrying a
great part of the male population of Belgium into virtual slavery
had roused great indignation in America. As the revered Cardinal
Farley said to me a few days before my departure, "You have to
go back to the times of the Medes and the Persians to find a
like example of a whole people carried into bondage."
Mr. Grew had made representations about this to the Chancellor
and, on my return, I immediately took up the question.
I was informed that it was a military measure, that Ludendorf had
feared that the British would break through and overrun Belgium
and that the military did not propose to have a hostile population
at their backs who might cut the rail lines of communication,
telephones and telegraphs; and that for this reason the deportation
had been decided on. I was, however, told that I would be given
permission to visit these Belgians. The passes, nevertheless,
which alone made such visiting possible were not delivered until
a few days before I left Germany.
Several of these Belgians who were put at work in Berlin managed
to get away and come to see me. They gave me a harrowing account
of how they had been seized in Belgium and made to work in Germany
at making munitions to be used probably against their own friends.
I said to the Chancellor, "There are Belgians employed in making
shells contrary to all rules of war and the Hague conventions."
He said, "I do not believe it." I said, "My automobile is at the
door. I can take you, in four minutes, to where thirty Belgians
are working on the manufacture of shells." But he did not find
time to go.
Americans must understand that the Germans will stop at nothing
to win this war, and that the only thing they respect is force.
While I was in America von Jagow, as had been predicted by his
enemies in Berlin, had fallen and Zimmermann had been given his
I remained a day in Copenhagen, in order to arrange for the
transportation to Germany of the three tons of food which I had
brought from New York, and, also, in order to lunch with Count
Rantzau, the German Minister, a most able diplomat.
Therefore, the President's peace note arrived in Berlin just
ahead of me and was delivered by Mr. Grew a few hours before my
arrival. Joseph C. Grew, of Boston, was next in command during
all my stay in Berlin. He most ably carried on the work of the
Embassy during my absence on the trip to America, in the autumn
of 1916; and at all times was of the greatest assistance to me. I
hope to see him go far in his career. This note was dated December
eighteenth, 1916, and was addressed by the Secretary of State
to the American Ambassadors at the capitals of the belligerent
powers. It commenced as follows: "The President directs me to
send you the following communication to be presented immediately
to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the government to which
you are accredited.
"The President of the United States has instructed me to suggest
to the (here is inserted a designation of the government addressed)
a course of action in regard to the present war which he hopes
that the government will take under consideration as suggested
in the most friendly spirit, etc."
In the note which was sent to the Central Powers it was stated:
"The suggestion which I am instructed to make, the President
has long had it in mind to offer. He is somewhat embarrassed
to offer it at this particular time because it may now seem to
have been prompted by a desire to play a part in connection with
the recent overtures of the Central Powers."
Of course, the President thus referred to the address made by
Bethmann-Hollweg in the Reichstag in December, in which, after
reviewing generally the military situation, the Chancellor said:
"In a deep moral and religious sense of duty towards this nation
and beyond it towards humanity, the Emperor now considers that the
moment has come for official action towards peace. His Majesty,
therefore, in complete harmony and in common with our Allies decided
to propose to the hostile powers to enter peace negotiations."
And the Chancellor continued, saying that a note to this effect
had been transmitted that morning to all hostile powers, through
the representatives of these powers to whom the interests and
rights of Germany in the enemy States had been entrusted; and
that, therefore, the representatives of Spain, the United States
and Switzerland had been asked to forward the note.
Coincidently with this speech of the Chancellor's, which was
December twelfth, 1916, the Emperor sent a message to the commanding
generals reading as follows: "Soldiers! In agreement with the
sovereigns of my Allies and with the consciousness of victory,
I have made an offer of peace to the enemy. Whether it will be
accepted is still uncertain. Until that moment arrives you will
I return to the President's note.
The President suggested that early occasion be sought to callout
from all the nations now at war an avowal of their respective
views as to the terms upon which the war might be concluded,
and the arrangements which would be deemed satisfactory as a
guarantee against its renewal.
He called the attention of the world to the fact that according
to the statements of the statesmen of the belligerent powers,
the objects which all sides had in mind seemed to be the same.
And the President finally said that he was not proposing peace,
not even offering mediation; but merely proposing that soundings
be taken in order that all nations might know how near might
be the haven of peace for which all mankind longed.
Shortly after the publication of this note Secretary Lansing
gave an interview to the representatives of the American press
in which he stated that America was very near war. This interview
he later explained.
As soon as possible after my return to Berlin I had interviews
with Zimmermann and the Chancellor. Zimmermann said that we were
such personal friends that he was sure we could continue to work,
as we had in the past, in a frank and open manner, putting all
the cards upon the table and working together in the interests of
peace. I, of course, agreed to this and it seemed, on the surface,
as if everything would go smoothly.
Although the torpedoing without warning of the _Marina_,
while I was in the United States, had resulted in the death of a
number of Americans on board, nevertheless there seemed to be an
inclination on the part of the government and people of the United
States to forget this incident provided Germany would continue to
keep her pledges given in the _Sussex_ Note. During all
the period of the war in Germany I had been on good terms with
the members of the government, namely, the Chancellor, von Jagow,
Zimmermann and the other officials of the Foreign Office, as well
as with Helfferich, Dr. Solf, the Colonial Minister, Kaempf, the
President of the Reichstag and a number of the influential men
of Germany such as von Gwinner, of the Deutsche Bank, Gutmann of
the Dresdener Bank, Dr. Walter Rathenau, who for a long time was
at the head of the department for the supply and conservation of
raw materials, General von Kessel, Over-Commander of the Mark of
Brandenburg, in spite of many tiffs with him over the treatment
of prisoners, Theodor Wolff, editor of the _Tageblatt_, Professor
Stein, Maximilian Harden and many others.
For a long time the fight waged by the Chancellor was America's
fight and a fight for peace, so much so that the newspapers which
attacked the Chancellor were the same ones which had attacked
President Wilson, America and Americans in general, and which had
very often included me in their attacks. During every crisis between
America and Germany I had acted with von Jagow and Zimmermann in
a most confidential way, looking forward always to one object,
namely, the preservation of peace between our respective countries.
Many suggestions were made which, I think, materially aided up
to that time in the preservation of peace.
The Chancellor and the Foreign Office, however, through sheer
weakness did nothing to prevent the insults to our flag and President
perpetrated by the "League of Truth"; although both under the law
and the regulations of the "State of Siege" this gang could not
operate without the consent of the authorities. So far as I was
concerned personally, a few extra attacks from tooth carpenters
and snake dancers meant nothing, but certainly aroused my interest
in the workings of the Teutonic official brain.
On my return everyone in official life,--the Chancellor, Zimmermann,
von Stumm who succeeded Zimmermann, von der Busche, formerly
German Minister in the Argentine, who had equal rank with Stumm
in the Foreign Office--all without exception and in the most
convincing language assured me that cases like that of the
_Marina_, for example, were only accidents and that there
was every desire on the part of Germany to maintain the pledges
given in the _Sussex_ Note.
And the great question to be solved is whether the Germans in
making their offers of peace, in begging me to go to America to
talk peace to the President, were sincerely anxious for peace,
or were only making these general offers of peace in order to
excuse in the eyes of the world a resumption of ruthless submarine
warfare and to win to their side public opinion in the United
States, in case such warfare should be resumed.
Had the decision rested with the Chancellor and with the Foreign
Office, instead of with the military, I am sure that the decision
would have been against the resumption of this ruthless war.
But Germany is not ruled in war time by the civilian power.
Hindenburg at the time I left for America was at the head of
the General Staff and Ludendorf, who had been Chief of Staff,
had been made the Quartermaster General in order that he might
follow Hindenburg to General Headquarters.
Hindenburg, shortly before his battle of the Masurian Lakes,
was a General living in retirement at Hanover. Because he had
for years specialised in the study of this region he was suddenly
called to the command of the German army which was opposing the
Russian invasions. Ludendorf, who had been Colonel of a regiment
at the attack on Liege, was sent with him as his Chief of Staff.
The success of Hindenburg in his campaigns is too well known
to require recapitulation here. He became the popular idol of
Germany, the one general-in fact the one man--whom the people felt
that they could idolise. But shortly before my trip to America an
idea was creeping through the mind of the German people leading
them to believe that Hindenburg was but the front, and that the
brains of the combination had been furnished by Ludendorf. Many
Germans in a position to know told me that the real dictator
of Germany was Ludendorf.
My trip to America was made principally at the instance of von
Jagow and the Chancellor, and, in my farewell talk with the
Chancellor a few days before leaving, I asked if it could not
be arranged, since he was always saying that the civilian power
was inferior to that of the military, that I should see Hindenburg
and Ludendorf before I left. This proposed meeting he either
could not or would not arrange, and shortly after my return I
again asked the Chancellor if I could not see, if not the Emperor,
at least Hindenburg and Ludendorf, who the Chancellor himself
had said were the leaders of the military, and, therefore, the
leaders of Germany. Again I was put off.
In the meantime and in spite of the official assurance given
to me certain men in Germany, in a position to know, warned me
that the government intended to resume ruthless submarine war.
Ludendorf, they said, had declared in favour of this war and,
according to them, that meant its adoption.
At first I thought that Germany would approach the resumption of
ruthless submarine war _via_ the armed merchantman issue.
The case of the _Yarrowdale_ prisoners seemed to bear out
this theory. A German raider captured and sunk a number of enemy
vessels and sent one of the captured boats, the _Yarrowdale_,
with a prize crew to Swinemunde. On board, held as prisoners,
were a number of the crews of the captured vessels; and among
those men I learned "under the rose," were some Americans. The
arrival of the _Yarrowdale_ was kept secret for some time,
but as soon as I received information of its arrival, I sent
note after note to the Foreign Office demanding to know if there
were any Americans among the prisoner crews.
For a long time I received no answer, but finally Germany admitted
what I knew already, that Americans taken with the crews of captured
ships were being held as prisoners of war, the theory of the
Germans being that all employed on armed enemy merchant ships
were enemy combatants. I supposed that possibly Germany might
therefore approach the submarine controversy by this route and
claim that armed merchantmen were liable to be sunk without notice.
Instructed by the State Department, I demanded the immediate
release of the _Yarrowdale_ prisoners. This was accorded
by Germany, but, after the breaking of relations, the prisoners
were held back; and it was not until after we left Germany that
they were finally released.
I asked permission to visit these prisoners and sent Mr. Ayrault
and Mr. Osborne to the place where I knew they were interned.
The permission to visit them arrived, but on the same day orders
were given to remove the prisoners to other camps. Mr. Osborne
and Mr. Ayrault, however, being on the ground, saw the prisoners
before their removal and reported on their conditions.
On January sixth the American Association of Commerce and Trade
gave me a dinner at the Hotel Adlon. This was made the occasion
of a sort of German-American love-feast. Zimmermann, although
he had to go early in the evening to meet the Foreign Minister
of Austria-Hungary, was present; Helfferich, Vice-Chancellor
and Secretary of the Interior; Dr. Solf, the Colonial Minister;
Sydow, Minister of Commerce; Dernburg; von Gwinner of the Deutsche
Bank; Gutmann of the Dresdener Bank; Under Secretary von der
Busche of the Foreign Office; the Mayor and the Police President
of Berlin; the President of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce; Under
Secretary von Stumm of the Foreign Office; and many others of
that office. There were present also Under Secretary Richter
of the Interior Department; Lieutenant Colonel Doeutelmoser of
the General Staff; the editors and proprietors of the principal
newspapers in Berlin; Count Montgelas, who had charge of American
affairs in the Foreign Office; naval officers like Captain Lans;
the American correspondents in Germany; and Prince Isenburg;
rubbing shoulders with the brewers, George Ehret and Krueger,
of New York and Newark. There were literary lights like Ludwig
Fulda, Captain Persius, Professor Hans Delbruck, Dr. Paasche,
Vice-President of the Reichstag, and many others equally celebrated
as the ones that I have named. Speeches were made by Mr. Wolf,
President of the American Association of Commerce and Trade,
Helfferich, Zimmermann, von Gwinner and me. A tone of the greatest
friendliness prevailed. Zimmermann referred to our personal
friendship and said that he was sure that we should be able to
manage everything together. Helfferich in his speech said that
I, by learning German and studying the life of the German people,
was one of the few diplomats that had come to Germany who had
learned something of the real life and psychology of the Germans.
Von Gwinner made a speech in English that would have done credit
to any American after-dinner speaker; and I, in my short address,
said that the relations between the two countries had never been
better and that so long as my personal friends like Zimmermann
and other members of the government, who I named, were in office,
I was sure that the good relations between the two countries
would be maintained. I spoke also of the sums of money that I had
brought back with me for the benefit of the widows and orphans
The majority of the German newspapers spoke in a very kindly
way about this dinner and about what was said at it. Of course,
they all took what I said as an expression of friendliness, and
only Reventlow claimed that, by referring to the members of the
government, I was interfering in the internal affairs of Germany.
The speeches and, in fact, this dinner constituted a last desperate
attempt to preserve friendly relations. Both the reasonable men
present and I knew, almost to a certainty, that return to ruthless
submarine war had been decided on and that only some lucky chance
could prevent the military, backed by the made public opinion, from
insisting on a defiance of international law and the laws of humanity.
The day after the dinner the Chancellor sent for me and expressed
approval of what I said and thanked me for it and on the surface
it seemed as if everything was "as merry as a marriage bell."
Unfortunately, I am afraid that all this was only on the surface,
and that perhaps the orders to the submarine commanders to recommence
ruthless war had been given the day preceding this love-feast.
The Germans believed that President Wilson had been elected with
a mandate to keep out of war at any cost, and that America could
be insulted, flouted and humiliated with impunity. Even before
this dinner we had begun to get rumours of the resumption of
ruthless submarine war and within a few days I was cabling to
the Department information based not upon absolute facts but upon
reports which seemed reliable and which had been collected through
the able efforts of our very capable naval attache, Commander
And this information was confirmed by the hints given to me by
various influential Germans. Again and again after the sixth of
January, I was assured by Zimmermann and others in the Foreign
Office that nothing of the kind was contemplated.
Now were the German moves in the direction of peace sincere or not?
From the time when the Chancellor first spoke of peace, I asked
him and others what the peace terms of Germany were. I could
never get any one to state any definite terms of peace and on
several occasions when I asked the Chancellor whether Germany
was willing to withdraw from Belgium, he always said, "Yes, but
with guarantees." Finally in January, 1917, when he was again
talking of peace, I said, "What are these peace terms to which
you refer continually? Will you allow me to ask a few questions
as to the specific terms of peace? First are the Germans willing
to withdraw from Belgium?" The Chancellor answered, "Yes, but
with guarantees." I said, "What are these guarantees?" He said,
"We must possibly have the forts of Liege and Namur; we must
have other forts and garrisons throughout Belgium. We must have
possession of the railroad lines. We must have possession of the
ports and other means of communication. The Belgians will not
be allowed to maintain an army, but we must be allowed to retain
a large army in Belgium. We must have the commercial control of
Belgium." I said, "I do not see that you have left much for the
Belgians except that King Albert will have the right to reside in
Brussels with an honor guard." And the Chancellor said, "We cannot
allow Belgium to be an outpost (_Vorwerk_) of England"; and
I said, "I do not suppose the English, on the other hand, wish
it to become an outpost of Germany, especially as von Tirpitz
has said that the coast of Flanders should be retained in order
to make war on England and America." I continued, "How about
Northern France?" He said, "We are willing to leave Northern
France, but there must be a rectification of the frontier." I
said, "How about the Eastern frontier?" He said, "We must have
a very substantial rectification of our frontier." I said, "How
about Roumania?" He said, "We shall leave Bulgaria to deal with
Roumania." I said, "How about Serbia?" He said, "A very small
Serbia may be allowed to exist, but that is a question for Austria.
Austria must be left to do what she wishes to Italy, and we must
have indemnities from all countries and all our ships and colonies
Of course, "rectification of the frontier" is a polite term for
On the twenty-second of January, 1917, our President addressed
the Senate; and in his address he referred to his Note of the
eighteenth of December, sent to all belligerent governments. In
this address he stated, referring to the reply of the Entente
Powers to his Peace Note of the eighteenth of December, "We are
that much nearer to the definite discussion of the peace which
shall end the present war."
He referred to the willingness of both contestants to discuss
terms of peace, as follows: "The Central Powers united in reply
which stated merely that they were ready to meet their antagonists
in conference to discuss terms of peace. The Entente Powers have
replied much more definitely and have stated, in general terms,
indeed, but with sufficient definiteness to imply details, the
arrangements, guarantees and acts of reparation which they deem
to be the indispensable conditions of a satisfactory settlement.
We are that much nearer a definite discussion of the peace which
shall end the present war." The President further referred to a
world concert to guarantee peace in the future and said, "The
present war must first be ended, but we owe it to candour and
to a just regard for the opinion of mankind to say that so far
as our participation in guarantees of future peace is concerned,
it makes a great deal of difference in what way and upon what
terms it is ended." He said that the statesmen of both of the
groups of nations at war had stated that it was not part of the
purpose they had in mind to crush their antagonists, and he said
that it must be implied from these assurances that the peace
to come must be "a peace without victory."
In the course of his address he said: "Statesmen everywhere are
agreed that there should be a united, independent and autonomous
Poland." In another place he said: "So far as practicable, moreover,
every great people now struggling toward a full development of
its resources and its powers should be assured a direct outlet
to the highways of the sea." Where this cannot be done by cession
of territory it can no doubt be arranged by the neutralisation
of direct rights of way; and he closed by proposing in effect
that the nations of the world should adopt the Monroe Doctrine
and that no nation should seek to explain its policy for any
other nation or people.
After the receipt of the Ultimatum of January thirty-first from
Germany, the Chancellor, in a conversation I had with him, referred
to this Peace Note of December eighteenth and to the speech of
[Illustration: A POSTER FROM THE CHARLEVILLE DISTRICT, SHOWING
THE ALLOTMENT OF FOOD TO EACH PERSON FOR THE FIRST FIFTEEN DAYS
OF MAY, 1916.]
I must say here that on my return to Germany I went very far
in assuring the Chancellor and other members of the Government
of the President's desire to see peace established in the world;
and I told them that I believed that the President was ready
to go very far in the way of coercing any nation which refused
a reasonable peace; but I also impressed on all the members of
the Government with whom I came in contact my belief that the
election had not in any way altered the policy of the President,
and I warned them of the danger to our good relations if ruthless
submarine warfare should be resumed.
Von Bethmann-Hollweg, however, at this interview after the
thirty-first of January, said that he had been compelled to take
up ruthless submarine war because it was evident that President
Wilson could do nothing towards peace. He spoke particularly of
the President's speech of January twenty-second and said that
in that speech the President had made it plain that he considered
that the answer of the Entente Powers to his Peace Note formed a
basis for peace, which was a thing impossible for Germany even
to consider; and said further (and this was a criticism I heard
not only from him, but also from many Germans), that when the
President spoke of a united and independent Poland he evidently
meant to take away from Germany that part of Poland which had been
incorporated in the Kingdom of Prussia and give it to this new
and independent Kingdom, thereby bringing the Eastern frontier of
Germany within two hours by motor from Berlin; and that, further,
when the President spoke of giving each nation a highway to the
sea, he meant that the German port of Dantzig should be turned over
to this new State of Poland, thereby not only taking a Prussian
port but cutting the extreme Eastern part of Prussia from the
remainder of the country. I said that these objections appeared
to me very frivolous; that the President, of course, like a clever
lawyer endeavouring to gain his end, which was peace, had said
that all parties were apparently agreed that there should be a
peace; that if Germany were fighting a merely defensive war,
as she had always claimed, she should be greatly delighted when
the President declared that all the weight of America was in
favor of a peace without victory, which meant, of course, that
Germany should be secured from that crushing and dismemberment
which Germany's statesmen had stated so often that they feared.
I said, further, that I was sure that when the President spoke
of the united and independent State of Poland he had not, of
course, had reference to Poland at any particular period of its
history, but undoubtedly to Poland as constituted by Germany
and Austria themselves; and that, in referring to the right of
a nation to have access to the sea, he had in mind Russia and
the Dardanelles rather than to any attempt to take a Prussian
port for the benefit of Poland.
Von Bethmann-Hollweg said that one of the principal reasons why
Germany had determined upon a resumption of ruthless submarine
warfare was because of this speech of the President to the American
Senate. Of course, the trouble with this feeling and the criticism
of the President's speech made by the Chancellor is that the
orders for the resumption of ruthless submarine warfare had been
given long before the news of the speech came to Germany.
I had cabled the information collected by Commander Gherardi
as to the orders given to submarines long before the date of
the President's speech, and it happened that on the night after
I had received the German note announcing this resumption I was
taking a walk after dinner about the snow-covered streets of
Berlin. In the course of this walk I met a young German woman of
my acquaintance who was on intimate terms with the Crown Princess.
She was on her way on foot from the opera house, where she had
been with the Crown Princess, to the underground station, for
by this time, of course, taxis had become an unknown luxury in
Berlin, and I joined her. I told her of the Ultimatum which, I
had received at six o'clock that evening from Zimmermann and I
told her that I was sure that it meant the breaking of diplomatic
relations and our departure from Germany. She expressed great
surprise that the submarine warfare was set to commence on the
thirty-first of January and said that weeks before they had been
talking over the matter at the Crown Princess's and that she
had heard then that the orders had been given to commence it on
the fifteenth. In any event it is certain that the orders to the
submarine commanders had been given long prior to the thirty-first
and probably as early as the fifteenth.
I sincerely believe that the only object of the Germans in making
these peace offers was first to get the Allies, if possible, in
a conference and there detach some or one of them by the offer
of separate terms; or, if this scheme failed, then it was believed
that the general offer and talk about peace would create a sentiment
so favourable to the Germans that they might, without fear of
action by the United States, resume ruthless submarine warfare
A week or two before the thirty-first of January, Dr. Solf asked
me if I did not think that it would be possible for the United
States to permit the resumption of ruthless submarine warfare
against Great Britain. He said that three months time was all
that would be required to bring Great Britain to her knees and end
the war. And in fact so cleverly did von Tirpitz, Grand Admiral
von Meuster, the Conservatives and the enemies of the Chancellor
and other advocates of submarine war carry on their propaganda
that the belief was ingrained in the whole of the German nation
that a resumption of this ruthless war would lead within three
months to what all Germans so ardently desired--peace. It was
impossible for any government to resist the popular demand for
the use of this illegal means of warfare, because army and navy
and people were convinced that ruthless submarine war spelled
success and a glorious peace.
But this peace, of course, meant only a German peace, a peace
as outlined to me by the Chancellor; a peace impossible for the
Allies and even for the world to accept; a peace which would
leave Germany immensely powerful and ready immediately after
the war to take up a campaign against the nations of the Western
hemisphere; a peace which would compel every nation, so long
as German autocracy remained in the saddle, to devote its best
energies, the most fruitful period of each man's life, to
preparations for war.
On January thirtieth, I received a definite intimation of the
coming Ultimatum the next day and, judging that the hint meant
the resumption of ruthless submarine war, I telegraphed a warning
to the American Ambassadors and Ministers as well as to the State
Department. On January thirty-first at about four o'clock in the
afternoon I received from Zimmermann a short letter of which
the following is a copy:
"The Secretary of State of the Foreign Office, Zimmermann,
requests the honor of the visit of his Excellency, the
Ambassador of the United States of America, this afternoon
at six o'clock in the Foreign Office, Wilhelmstrasse 75/76.
"Berlin, the 31st January, 1917."
Pursuant to this letter, I went to the Foreign Office at six
o'clock. Zimmermann then read to me in German a note from the
Imperial Government, announcing the creation of the war zones
about Great Britain and France and the commencement of ruthless
submarine warfare at twelve P. M. that night. I made no comment,
put the note in my pocket and went back to the Embassy. It was
then about seven P. M. and, of course, the note was immediately
translated and despatched with all speed to America.
After the despatch of the note I had an interview with the Chancellor
in which he, as I have stated above, criticised both the Peace
Note of December eighteenth as not being definite enough and
the speech to the Senate of January twenty-second; and further
said that he believed that the situation had changed, that, in
spite of what the President had said in the note before the
_Sussex_ settlement, he was now for peace, that he had been
elected on a peace platform, and that nothing would happen.
Zimmermann at the time he delivered the note told me that this
submarine warfare was a necessity for Germany, and that Germany
could not hold out a year on the question of food. He further
said, "Give us only two months of this kind of warfare and we
shall end the war and make peace within three months."
Saturday, February third, the President announced to Congress
the breaking of diplomatic relations with Germany. The news of
this, of course, did not reach Berlin until the next day; and on
this Saturday afternoon Mrs. Gerard and I had an engagement to go
to the theatre with Zimmermann and Mrs. Friedlaender-Fuld-Mitford,
a young lady whose father is considered the richest man in Berlin,
and who had been married to a young Englishman, named Mitford, a
son of Lord Redesdale. Through no fault on the lady's part, there
had been an annulment of this marriage; and she was occupying a
floor of her own in the handsome house of her father and mother
on the Pariser-Platz in Berlin. We stopped for Mrs. Mitford and
took her to the theatre where we saw a very clever play, I think
by Thoma, called "Die Verlorene Tochter" (The Prodigal Daughter).
Zimmermann did not come to the play but joined us later at the
Friedlaender-Fuld House where we had a supper of four in Mrs.
Miiford's apartments. After supper, while I was talking to
Zimmermann, he spoke of the note to America and said: "During
the past month, this is what I have been doing so often at the
General Headquarters with the Emperor. I often thought of telling
you what was going on as I used to tell you in the old days,
but I thought that you would only say that such a course would
mean a break of diplomatic relations, and so I thought there was
no use in telling you. But as you will see, everything will be
all right. America will do nothing, for President Wilson is for
peace and nothing else. Everything will go on as before. I have
arranged for you to go to the Great General Headquarters and see
the Kaiser next week and everything will be all right."
The next day, Sunday, we had a German who is connected with the
Foreign Office and his American wife to lunch, and another German
who had been in America, also connected with the Foreign Office.
Just as we were going in to lunch some one produced a copy of the
"_B._Z._", the noon paper published in Berlin, which contained what
seemed to be an authentic account of the breaking of diplomatic
relations by America. The lunch was far from cheerful. The Germans
looked very sad and said practically nothing, while I tried to
make polite conversation at my end of the table.
The next day I went over to see Zimmermann, having that morning
received the official despatch from Washington, and told him
that I had come to demand my passports.
Of course, Zimmermann by that time had received the news and
had had time to compose himself. The American correspondents
told me that when he saw them on the day before, he had at first
refused to say anything and then had been rather violent in his
language and had finally shown great emotion. I am sure, from
everything I observed, that the break of diplomatic relations
came as an intense surprise to him and to the other members of
the government, and yet I cannot imagine why intelligent men
should think that the United States of America had fallen so low
as to bear without murmur this sudden kick in the face.
The police who had always been about our Embassy since the
commencement of the war, were now greatly increased in numbers;
and guarded not only the front of the house, but also the rear and
the surrounding streets; but there was no demonstration whatever
on the part of the people of Berlin. On Tuesday afternoon I went
out for a walk, walking through most of the principal streets
of Berlin, absolutely alone, and on my return to the Embassy
I found Count Montgelas, who, with the rank of Minister, was
at the head of the department which included American affairs
in the Foreign Office. I asked Montgelas why I had not received
my passports, and he said that I was being kept back because
the Imperial Government did not know what had happened to Count
Bernstorff and that there had been rumours that the German ships
in America had been confiscated by our government. I said that
I was quite sure that Bernstorff was being treated with every
courtesy and that the German ships had not been confiscated. I
said, moreover, "I do not see why I have to disprove your idea that
Bernstorff is being maltreated and the German ships confiscated. It
seems to me it is for you to prove this; and, at any event, why
don't you have the Swiss Government, which now represents you,
cable to its Minister in Washington and get the exact facts?" He
said, "Well, you know, the Swiss are not used to cabling."
He then produced a paper which was a re-affirmation of the treaty
between Prussia and the United States of 1799, with some very
extraordinary clauses added to it. He asked me to read this over
and either to sign it or to get authority to sign it, and said
that if it was not signed it would be very difficult for Americans
to leave the country, particularly the American correspondents.
I read this treaty over and then said, "Of course I cannot sign
this on my own responsibility and I will not cable to my government
unless I can cable in cipher and give them my opinion of this
document." He said, "That is impossible." This treaty was as
Agreement between Germany and the United States of America
concerning the treatment of each other's citizens and their
private property after the severance of diplomatic relations.
After the severance of diplomatic relations between Germany and
the United States of America and in the event of the outbreak of
war between the two Powers the citizens of either party and their
private property in the territory of the other party shall be
treated according to Article 23 of the treaty of amity and
commerce between Prussia and the United States of 11 July, 1799,
with the following explanatory and supplementary clauses.
German merchants in the United States and American merchants
in Germany shall so far as the treatment of their persons and
their property is concerned be held in every respect on a par
with the other persons mentioned in Article 23. Accordingly
they shall even after the period provided for in Article 23 has
elapsed be entitled to remain and continue their profession in
the country of their residence.
Merchants as well as the other persons mentioned in Article 23
may be excluded from fortified places or other places of military
Germans in the United States and Americans in Germany shall
be free to leave the country of their residence within the
times and by the routes that shall be assigned to them by the
The persons departing shall be entitled to take along their
personal property including money, valuables and bank accounts
excepting such property the exportation of which is prohibited
according to general provisions.
The protection of Germans in the United States and of Americans
in Germany and of their property shall be guaranteed in accordance
with the laws existing in the countries of either party. They
shall be under no other restrictions concerning the enjoyment of
their private rights and the judicial enforcement of their rights
than neutral residents; they may accordingly not be transferred
to concentration camps nor shall their private property be subject
to sequestration or liquidation or other compulsory alienation
except in cases that under the existing laws apply also to neutrals.
As a general rule, German property in the United States and
American property in Germany shall not be subject to sequestration
or liquidation or other compulsory alienation under other
conditions than neutral property.
Patent rights or other protected rights held by Germans in the
United States or Americans in Germany shall not be declared
void; nor shall the exercise of such rights be impeded nor shall
such rights be transferred to others without the consent of the
person entitled thereto; provided that regulations made exclusively
in the interest of the State shall apply.
Contracts made between Germans and Americans either before or
after the severance of diplomatic relations, also obligations
of all kinds between Germans and Americans shall not be declared
cancelled, void or in suspension except under provisions applicable
Likewise the citizens of either party shall not be impeded in
fulfilling their liabilities arising from such obligations either
by injunctions or by other provisions unless these apply also to
The provisions of the sixth Hague Convention relative to the
treatment of enemy merchant ships at outbreak of hostilities
shall apply to the merchant vessels of either party and their
The aforesaid ships may not be forced to leave port unless at
the same time they be given a pass recognised as binding by all
the enemy sea powers to a home port or a port of an allied country
or to another port of the country in which the ship happens to be.
The regulations of chapter 3 of the eleventh Hague Convention
relative to certain restrictions in the exercise of the right
of capture in maritime war shall apply to the captains, officers
and members of the crews of merchant ships specified in Article
7 and of such merchant ships that may be captured in the course
of a possible war.
This agreement shall apply also to the colonies and other
foreign possessions of either party.
Berlin, February, 1917.
I then said, "I shall not cable at all. Why do you come to me with
a proposed treaty after we have broken diplomatic relations and
ask an Ambassador who is held as a prisoner to sign it? Prisoners
do not sign treaties and treaties signed by them would not be
worth anything." And I also said, "After your threat to keep
Americans here and after reading this document, even if I had
authority to sign it I would stay here until hell freezes over
before I would put my name to such a paper."
Montgelas seemed rather rattled, and in his confusion left the
paper with me--something, I am sure, he did not intend to do
in case of a refusal. Montgelas was an extremely agreeable man
and I think at all times had correctly predicted the attitude
of America and had been against acts of frightfulness, such as
the torpedoing of the _Lusitania_ and the resumption of
ruthless submarine war. I am sure that a gentleman like Montgelas
undertook with great reluctance to carry out his orders in the
matter of getting me to sign this treaty.
I must cheerfully certify that even the most pro-German American
correspondents in Berlin, when I told them of Montgelas' threat,
showed the same fine spirit as their colleagues. All begged me
not to consider them or their liberty where the interests of
America were involved.
As soon as diplomatic relations were broken, and I broke them
formally not only in my conversation with Zimmermann of Monday
morning but also by sending over a formal written request for my
passports on the evening of that day, our telegraph privileges were
cut off. I was not even allowed to send telegrams to the American
consuls throughout Germany giving them their instructions. Mail
also was cut off, and the telephone. My servants were not even
permitted to go to the nearby hotel to telephone. In the meantime
we completed our preparations for departure. We arranged to turn
over American interests, and the interests of Roumania and Serbia
and Japan, to the Spanish Embassy; and the interests of Great
Britain to the Dutch. I have said already that I believe that
Ambassador Polo de Bernabe will faithfully protect the interests
of America, and I believe that Baron Gevers will fearlessly fight
the cause of the British prisoners.
We sold our automobiles; and two beautiful prize winning saddle
horses, one from Kentucky and one from Virginia, which I had
brought with me from America, went on the stage, that is, I sold
them to the proprietor of the circus in Berlin!
The three tons of food which we had brought with us from America
we gave to our colleagues in the diplomatic corps,--the Spaniards,
Greeks, Dutch and the Central and South Americans. I had many
friends among the diplomats of the two Americas who were all
men of great ability and position in their own country. I think
that most of them know only too well the designs against Central
and South America cherished by the Pan-Germans.
Finally, I think on the morning of Friday, Mr. Oscar King Davis,
correspondent of the _New_York_Times_, received a wireless
from Mr. Van Anda, editor of the _New_York_Times_, telling
him that Bernstorff and his staff were being treated with every
courtesy and that the German ships had not been confiscated. In
the evening our telephone was reconnected, and we were allowed to
receive some telegrams and to send open telegrams to the consuls,
etc. throughout Germany; and we were notified that we would probably
be allowed to leave the next day in the evening.
Always followed by spies, I paid as many farewell visits to my
diplomatic colleagues as I was able to see; and on Saturday I
thought that, in spite of the ridiculous treatment accorded us in
cutting off the mail and telephone and in holding me for nearly
a week, I would leave in a sporting spirit: I therefore, had
my servant telephone and ask whether Zimmermann and von
Bethmann-Hollweg would receive me. I had a pleasant farewell
talk of about half an hour with each of them and I expressly told
the Chancellor that I had come to bid him a personal farewell,
not to make a record for any White Book, and that anything he
said would remain confidential. I also stopped in to thank Dr.
Zahn, of the Foreign Office, who had arranged the details of our
departure and gave him a gold cigarette case as a souvenir of
the occasion. At the last moment, the Germans allowed a number
of the consuls and clerks who had been working in the Embassy,
and the American residents in Berlin, to leave on the train with
us; so that we were about one hundred and twenty persons in all
on this train, which left the Potsdamer station at eight-ten in
the evening. The time of our departure had not been publicly
announced, but although the automobiles, etc. in front of the
Embassy might have attracted a crowd, there was no demonstration
whatever; and, in fact, during this week that I was detained in
Berlin I walked allover the city every afternoon and evening,
went into shops, and so on, without encountering any hostile
There was a large crowd in the station to see us off. All the
Spanish Embassy, Dutch, Greeks and many of our colleagues from
Central and South America were there. There were, from the Foreign
Office, Montgelas, Dr. Roediger, Prittwitz and Horstmann. As the
train pulled out, a number of the Americans left in Berlin who
were on the station platform raised quite a vigorous cheer.
Two officers had been sent by the Imperial Government to accompany
us on this train; one, a Major von der Hagen, sent by the General
Staff and the other, a representative of the Foreign Office, Baron
Wernher von Ow-Wachendorf. It was quite thoughtful of the Foreign
Office to send this last officer, as it was by our efforts that
he had secured his exchange when he was a prisoner in England;
and he, therefore, would be supposed to entertain kindly feelings
for our Embassy.
I had ordered plenty of champagne and cigars to be put on the
train and we were first invited to drink champagne with the officers
in the dining car; then they joined us in the private salon car
which we occupied in the end of the train. The journey was
uneventful. Outside some of the stations a number of people were
drawn up who stared at the train in a bovine way, but who made
no demonstration of any kind.
We went through Wurttemburg and entered Switzerland by way of
Schaffhausen. The two officers left us at the last stop on the
German side. I had taken the precaution before we left Berlin to
find out their names, and, as they left us, I gave each of them
a gold cigarette case inscribed with his name and the date.
At the first station on the Swiss side a body of Swiss troops
were drawn up, presenting arms, and the Colonel commanding the
Swiss army (there are no generals in Switzerland), attended by
several staff officers, came on the train and travelled with
us nearly to Zurich.
I started to speak French to one of these staff officers, but
he interrupted me by saying in perfect English, "You do not have
to speak French to me. My name is Iselin, many of my relations
live in New York and I lived there myself some years."
At Zurich we left the German special train, and were met on the
platform by some grateful Japanese, the American Consul and a
number of French and Swiss newspaper reporters, thus ending our
exodus from Germany.
LIBERALS AND REASONABLE MEN
I have already expressed a belief that Germany will not be forced
to make peace because of a revolution, and that sufficient food
will be somehow found to carry the population during at least
another year of war.
What then offers a prospect of reasonable peace, supposing, of
course, that the Germans fail in the submarine blockade of England
and that the crumbling up of Russia does not release from the
East frontier soldiers enough to break the lines of the British
and French in France?
I think that it is only by an evolution of Germany herself toward
liberalism that the world will be given such guarantees of future
peace as will justify the termination of this war.
There is, properly speaking, no great liberal party in the political
arena in Germany. As I have said, the Reichstag is divided roughly
into Conservatives, Roman Catholics, or Centrum, and Social
Democrats. The so-called National Liberal party has in this war
shown itself a branch of the Conservative party, and on some issues
as bitter, as conservative, as the Junkers themselves. Herr
Bassermann and Herr Stresemann have not shown themselves leaders of
liberal thought, nor has their leadership been such as to inspire
confidence in their political sagacity.
It was Stresemann who on May thirtieth, 1916, said in the Reichstag
referring to President Wilson as a peacemaker, "We thrust the
hand of Wilson aside." On the day following, the day on which
the President announced to Congress the breaking of diplomatic
relations, news of that break had not yet arrived in Berlin and
Herr Stresemann on that peaceful Sunday morning was engaged in
making a speech to the members of the National Liberal party
in which he told them that as a result of his careful study of
the American situation, of his careful researches into American
character and politics, he could assure them that America would
never break with Germany. As he concluded his speech and sat
down amid the applause of his admirers, a German who had been
sitting in the back of the room rose and read from the noon paper,
the "_B._Z._", a despatch from Holland giving the news that
America had broken relations with Germany. The political skill
and foresight of Herr Stresemann may be judged from the above
The Socialists, or Social Democrats, more properly speaking,
have shown themselves in opposition to the monarchical form of
government in Germany. This has put them politically, militarily
and socially beyond the pale.
After a successful French attack in the Champagne, I heard it
said of a German woman, whose husband was thought to be killed,
that her rage and despair had been so great that she had said she
would become a Social Democrat; and her expression was repeated
as showing to what lengths grief had driven her. This girl was
the wife of an ordinary clerk working in Berlin.
The Social Democrats are not given offices, are not given titles:
they never join the class of "_Rat_," and they cannot hope
to become officers of the army. Did not Lieutenant Forstner,
the notorious centre of the Zabern Affair, promise a reward to
the first one of his men who in case of trouble should shoot
one "of those damn Social Democrats"?
There is, therefore, no refuge at present politically, for the
reasonable men of liberal inclinations; and it is these liberal
men who must themselves create a liberal party: a party, membership
in which will not entail a loss of business, a loss of prospects
of promotion and social degradation.
There are many such men in Germany to-day; perhaps some of the
conservative Socialists will join such a party, and there are
men in the government itself whose habits of mind and thought
are not incompatible with membership in a liberal organisation.
The Chancellor himself is, perhaps, at heart a Liberal. He comes
of a banking family in Frankfort and while there stands before
his name the "von" which means nobility, and while he owns a
country estate, the whole turn of his thought is towards a
philosophical liberalism. Zimmermann, the Foreign Secretary,
although the mental excitement caused by his elevation to the
Foreign Office at a time of stress, made him go over to the advocates
of ruthless submarine war, lock, stock and barrel, is nevertheless
at heart a Liberal and violently opposed to a system which draws
the leaders of the country from only one aristocratic class.
Dr. Solf, the Imperial Colonial Minister, while devoted to the
Emperor and his family is a man so reasonable in his views, so
indulgent of the views of others, and indulgent without weakness,
that he would make an ideal leader of a liberalised Germany.
The great bankers, merchants and manufacturers, although they
appreciate the luscious dividends that they have received during
the peaceful years since 1870, nevertheless feel under their
skins the ignominy of living in a country where a class exists
by birth, a class not even tactful enough to conceal its ancient
contempt for all those who soil their hands business or trade.
In fact such a party is a necessity for Germany as a buffer against
the extreme Social Democrats.
At the close of the war the soldiers who have fought in the mud
of the trenches for three years will most insistently demand a
redistricting of the Reichstag and an abolition of the inadequate
circle voting of Prussia. And when manhood suffrage comes in
Prussia and when the industrial population of Germany gets that
representation in the Reichstag out of which they have been brazenly
cheated for so many years, it may well be that a great liberal
party will be the only defence of private property against the
assault of an enraged and justly revengeful social democracy.
The workingmen of Germany have been fooled for a long time. They
constitute that class of which President Lincoln spoke, "You
can fool some of the people all of the time"; and the middle
class of manufacturers, merchants, etc. have acquiesced in the
system because of the profits that they have made.
The difficulty of making peace with Germany, as at present
constituted, is that the whole world feels that peace made with
its present government would not be lasting; that such a peace
would mean the detachment of some of the Allies from the present
world alliance against Germany; preparation by Germany, in the
light of her needs as disclosed by this war; and the declaration
of a new war in which there would be no battle of the Marne to
turn back the tide of German world conquest.
For a long time before this war, radicals in Great Britain pinned
a great faith to the Socialist party of Germany. How little that
faith was justified appeared in July and August of 1914 when the
Socialist party tamely voted credits for the war; a war declared
by the Emperor on the mere statement that it was a defensive
war; declared because it was alleged that certain invasions of
German territory, never since substantiated, had taken place.
The Socialist party is divided. It is a great pity that the world
cannot deal with men of the type of Scheidemann, who, in other
democracies, would appear so conservative as to be almost
reactionary. But Scheidemann and his friends, while they have,
in their attempted negotiations with the Socialists of other
countries, the present protection of the Imperial Government,
will have no hand in dictating terms of peace so long as that
government is in existence. They are being used in an effort
to divide the Allies.
As President Wilson said in his message to Russia of May
twenty-sixth, 1917: "The war has begun to go against Germany,
and, in their desperate desire to escape the inevitable ultimate
defeat, those who are in authority in Germany are using every
possible instrumentality, are making use even of the influence of
the groups and parties among their own subjects to whom they have
never been just or fair or even tolerant to promote a propaganda on
both sides of the sea which will preserve for them their influence
at home and their power abroad, to the undoing of the very men
they are using."
There is an impression abroad that the Social Democratic party
of Germany, usually known abroad as the Socialist party, partakes
of at least some of the characteristics of a great liberal party.
This is far from being the case. By their acts, if not by their
express declarations, they have shown themselves as opposed to
the monarchical form of government and their leaders are charged
with having declared themselves openly in favour of free love
and against religion. The Roman Catholic Church recognises in
Social Democracy its greatest enemy, and has made great efforts
to counteract its advance by fostering a sort of Roman Catholic
trades-union for a religious body of Socialists. The Social Democrat
in Germany is almost an outcast. Although one third of the members
of the Reichstag belong to this party, its members are never
called to hold office in the government; and the attitude of
the whole of the governing class, of all the professors,
school-teachers, priests of both Protestant and Roman Catholic
religions of the prosperous middle classes, is that of violent
opposition to the doctrines of Social Democracy. The world must
entertain no illusion that the Social Democratic leaders speak
If the industrial populations had their fair share of representation
in the Reichstag they might perhaps even control that body. But,
as I have time and again reiterated, the Reichstag has only the
power of public opinion; and the Germany of to-day is ruled by
officials appointed from above downwards. All of these officials in
Germany must be added to the other classes that I have mentioned.
There are more officials there than in any other country in the
world. As they owe their very existence to the government, they
must not only serve that government, but also make the enemies
of that government their own. Therefore, they and the circle
of their connections are opponents of the Social Democrats.
All this shows how difficult it is at present for the men of
reasonable and liberal views, who do not wish to declare themselves
against both religion and morality, to find a political refuge.
The Chancellor, himself a liberal at heart, as I have said, has
declared that there must be changes in Germany. It is perhaps
within the bounds of probability that a great new liberal party
will be formed to which I have referred, composed of the more
conservative Social Democrats, of the remains of the National
Liberal and Progressive parties and of the more liberal of the
Conservatives. The important question is then whether the Roman
Catholic party or Centrum will voluntarily dissolve and its members
cease to seek election merely as representatives of the Roman
It is perhaps too much to expect that the Centrum party, as a
whole and as at present constituted, will declare for liberalism
and parliamentary government and for a fair redistricting of
the divisions in Germany which elect members to the Reichstag,
but there are many wise and farseeing men in this party; and
its leaders, Dr. Spahn and Erzberger, are fearless and able men.
For some years a movement has been going on in the Centrum party
looking to this end. Many members believed that the time had
come when it was no longer necessary that the Roman Catholics
in order to safeguard their religious liberties continue the
political existence of the Centrum, and attempts were made to
bring about this change. It was decided adversely, however, by
the Roman Catholics. But the question is not dead. Voluntary
dissolution of the Centrum as a Roman Catholic party would
immediately bring about a creation of a true liberal party to
which all Germans could belong without a loss of social prestige,
without becoming declared enemies of the monarchy and without
declaring themselves against religion and morality.
At the Congress which will meet after the war it will be easy
for the nations of the world to deal with the representatives
of a liberal Germany, with representatives of a government still
monarchical in form, but possessed of either a constitution like
that of the United States or ruled by a parliamentary government.
I believe that the tendency of German liberalism is towards the
easiest transition, that of making the Chancellor and his ministers
responsible to the Reichstag and bound to resign after a vote
of want of confidence by that body.
At the time of the Zabern Affair, Scheidemann claimed that the
resignation of the Chancellor must logically follow a vote of
want of confidence; and it was von Bethmann-Hollweg who refused
to resign, saying that he was responsible to the Emperor alone.
It requires no violent change to bring about this establishment
of parliamentary government, and, if the members of the Reichstag
should be elected from districts fairly constituted, the world
would then be dealing with a liberalised Germany, and a Germany
which has become liberalised without any violent change in the
form of its government.
Of course, coincident with this parliamentary reform, the vicious
circle system of voting in Prussia must end.
This change to a government by a responsible ministry can be
accomplished under the constitution of the German Empire by a
mere majority vote of the Reichstag and a vote in the Bundesrat,
in which less than fourteen votes are against the proposed change
in the constitution. This means that the consent of the Emperor
as Prussian King must be obtained, and that of a number of the
rulers of the German States.
In the reasonable liberalisation of Germany, if it comes, Theodor
Wolff and his father-in-law, Mosse, will play leading parts.
The great newspaper, the _Tageblatt_, which Mosse owns and
Wolff edits, has throughout the war been a beacon light at once
of reason and of patriotism. And other great newspapers will
take the same enlightened course.
I am truly sorry for Georg Bernhard, the talented editor of the
_Vossiche_Zeitung_, who, a Liberal and a Jew, wears the
livery of Junkerdom, I am sure to his great distaste.
After I left Germany the _Vossiche_Zeitung_ made the most
ridiculous charges against me, such as that I issued American
passports to British subjects. The newspaper might as well have
solemnly charged that I sent notes to the Foreign Office in sealed
envelopes. Having charge of British interests, I could not issue
British passports to British citizens allowed to leave Germany,
but, according to universal custom in similar cases and the express
consent of the Imperial Foreign Office, I gave these returning
British, American passports superstamped with the words "British
subject." A mare's nest, truly!
The fall of von Bethmann-Hollweg was a triumph of kitchen intrigue
and of Junkerism. I believe that he is a liberal at heart, that
it was against his best judgment that the ruthless submarine
war was resumed, the pledges of the _Sussex_ Note broken
and Germany involved in war with America. If he had resigned,
rather than consent to the resumption of V-boat war, he would
have stood out as a great Liberal rallying point and probably
have returned to a more real power than he ever possessed. But
half because of a desire to retain office, half because of a
mistaken loyalty to the Emperor, he remained in office at the
sacrifice of his opinions; and when he laid down that office no
title of Prince or even of Count waited him as a parting gift.
In his retirement he will read the lines of Schiller--a favourite
quotation in Germany--"Der Mohr hat seine Schuldigkeit gethan,
der Mohr kann gehen." "The Moor has done his work, the Moor can
go." And in his old age he will exclaim, as Shakespeare makes
the great Chancellor of Henry the Eighth exclaim, "Oh Cromwell,
Cromwell! Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served
my King, He would not, in mine age, have left me naked to mine
enemies." But this God is not the private War God of the Prussians
with whom they believe they have a gentlemen's working agreement,
but the God of Christianity, of humanity and of all mankind.
It would have been easier for Germany to make peace with von
Bethmann-Hollweg at the helm. The whole world knows him and honours
him for his honesty.
Helfferich remained as Vice-Chancellor and Minister of the Interior:
a powerful, and agile intellect, a man, I am sure, opposed to
militarism. Reasonable in his views, one can sit at the council
table with him and arrive at compromises and results, but his
intense patriotism and surpassing ability make him an opponent
to be feared.
Kuhlmann has the Foreign Office. Far more wily than Zimmermann,
he will continue to strive to embroil us with Japan and Mexico,
but he will not be caught. Second in command in London, he reported
then that England would enter the war. The rumours scattered
broadcast, as he took office, to the effect that he was opposed
to ruthless V-boat war were but evidences of a more skilful hand
in a campaign to predispose the world in his favour and, therefore,
to assist him in any negotiations he might have on the carpet.
Beware of the wily Kuhlmann!
Baiting the Chancellor is the favourite sport of German political
life. No sooner does the Kaiser name a Chancellor than hundreds
of little politicians, Reichstag members, editors, reporters
and female intriguers try to drive him from office. When von
Bethmann-Hollweg showed an inclination towards Liberalism, and
advocated a juster electoral system for Prussia, the Junkers, the
military and the upholders of the caste system joined their forces
to those of the usual intriguers; and it was only a question of
time until the Chancellor's official head fell in the basket.
His successor is a Prussian bureaucrat. No further description
Of course no nation will permit itself to be reformed from without.
The position of the world in arms with reference to Germany is
simply this. It is impossible to make peace with Germany as at
present constituted, because that peace will be but a truce,
a short breathing space before the German military autocrats
again send the sons of Germany to death in the trenches for the
advancement of the System and the personal glory and advantage
of stuffy old generals and prancing princes.
The world does not believe that a free Germany will needlessly
make war, believe in war for war's sake or take up the profession
of arms as a national industry.
The choice lies with the German people. And how admirably has
our great President shown that people that we war not with them
but with the autocracy which has led them into the shambles of
THE GERMAN PEOPLE IN WAR
With the declaration of war the ultimate power in Germany was
transferred from the civil to the military authorities.
At five o'clock on the afternoon of Friday, and immediately after
the declaration of a State of War, the Guard of the Grenadier
Regiment Kaiser Alexander, under the command of a Lieutenant with
four drummers, took its place before the monument of Frederick
the Great in the middle of the Unter den Linden. The drummers
sounded a ruffle on their drums and the Lieutenant read an order
beginning with the words "By all highest order: A State of War
is proclaimed in Berlin and in the Province of Brandenburg."
This order was signed by General von Kessel as Over-Commander
of the Mark of Brandenburg; and stated that the complete power
was transferred to him; that the civil officials might remain
in office, but must obey the orders and regulations of the
Over-Commander; that house-searchings and arrests by officials
thereto empowered could take place at any time; that strangers
who could not show good reason for remaining in Berlin, had
twenty-four hours in which to leave; that the sale of weapons,
powder and explosives to civilians was forbidden; and that civilians
were forbidden to carry weapons without permission of the proper
The same transfer of authority took place in each army
corps--_Bezirk_, or province or district in Germany; and
in each army corps district or province the commanding general
took over the ultimate power. In Berlin it was necessary to create
a new officer, the Over-Commander of the Mark, because two army
corps, the third and the army corps of the guards, had their
head-quarters in Berlin. These army corps commanders were not
at all bashful about the use of the power thus transferred to
them. Some of them even prescribed the length of the dresses
to be worn by the women; and many women, having followed the
German sport custom of wearing knickerbockers in the winter sports
resorts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Generalkommando, or
Headquarters for Bavaria issued in January, 1917, the following
order: "The appearance of many women in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
has excited lively anger and indignation in the population there.
This bitterness is directed particularly against certain women,
frequently of ripe age, who do not engage in sports, but nevertheless
show themselves in public continually clad in knickerbockers. It
has even happened that women so dressed have visited churches
during the service. Such behaviour is a cruelty to the earnest
minds of the mountain population and, in consequence, there are
often many disagreeable occurrences in the streets. Officials,
priests and private citizens have turned to the Generalkommando
with the request for help; and the Generalkommando has, therefore,
empowered the district officials in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to
take energetic measures against this misconduct; if necessary
with the aid of the police."
I spent two days at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in February, 1916.
Some of the German girls looked very well in their "knickers,"
but I agree with the Generalkommando that the appearance of some
of the older women was "cruelty" not only to the "earnest mountain
population" but to any observer.
These corps commanders are apparently responsible direct to the
Emperor; and therefore much of the difficulty that I had concerning
the treatment of prisoners was due to this system, as each corps
commander considered himself supreme in his own district not
only over the civil and military population but over the prison
camps within his jurisdiction.
On the fourth of August, 1914, a number of laws were passed,
which had been evidently prepared long in advance, making various
changes made necessary by war, such as alteration of the Coinage
Law, the Bank Law, and the Law of Maximum Prices. Laws as to
the high prices were made from time to time. For instance, the
law of the twenty-eighth of October, 1914, provided in detail
the maximum prices for rye in different parts of Germany. The
maximum price at wholesale per German ton of native rye must
not exceed 220 marks in Berlin, 236 marks in Cologne, 209 marks
in Koenigsberg, 228 marks in Hamburg, 235 marks in Frankfort a/M.
The maximum price for the German ton of native wheat was set at
forty marks per ton higher than the above rates for rye. This
maximum price was made with reference to deliveries without sacks
and for cash payments.
The law as to the maximum prices applied to all objects of daily
necessity, not only to food and fodder but to oil, coal and wood.
Of course, these maximum prices were changed from time to time,
but I think I can safely state that at no time in the war, while
I was in Berlin, were the simple foods more expensive than in
The so-called "war bread," the staple food of the population,
which was made soon after the commencement of the war, was composed
partially of rye and potato flour. It was not at all unpalatable,
especially when toasted; and when it was seen that the war would
not be as short as the Germans had expected, the bread cards
were issued. That is, every Monday morning each person was given
a card which had annexed to it a number of little perforated
sections about the size of a quarter of a postage stamp, each
marked with twenty-five, fifty or one hundred. The total of these
figures constituted the allowance of each person in grammes per
week. The person desiring to buy bread either at a baker's or in
a restaurant must turn in these little stamped sections for an
amount equivalent to the weight of bread purchased. Each baker
was given a certain amount of meal at the commencement of each
week, and he had to account for this meal at the end of the week
by turning in its equivalent in bread cards.
As food became scarce, the card system was applied to meat, potatoes,
milk, sugar, butter and soap. Green vegetables and fruits were
exempt from the card system, as were for a long time chickens,
ducks, geese, turkeys and game. Because of these exemptions the
rich usually managed to live well, although the price of a goose
rose to ridiculous heights. There was, of course, much underground
traffic in cards and sales of illicit or smuggled butter, etc.
The police were very stern in their enforcement of the law and
the manager of one of the largest hotels in Berlin was taken to
prison because he had made the servants give him their allowance
of butter, which he in turn sold to the rich guests of the hotel.
No one over six years of age at the time I left could get milk
without a doctor's certificate. One result of this was that the
children of the poor were surer of obtaining milk than before
the war, as the women of the Frauendienst and social workers
saw to it that each child had its share.
The third winter of the war, owing to a breakdown of means of
transportation and want of laborers, coal became very scarce.
All public places, such as theatres, picture galleries, museums,
and cinematograph shows, were closed in Munich for want of coal.
In Berlin the suffering was not as great but even the elephants
from Hagenbeck's Show were pressed into service to draw the coal
carts from the railway stations.
Light was economized. All the apartment houses (and all Berlin
lives in apartment houses) were closed at nine o'clock. Stores
were forbidden to illuminate their show windows and all theatres
were closed at ten. Only every other street electric light was
lit; of the three lights in each lamp, only one.
As more and more men were called to the front, women were employed
in unusual work. The new underground road in Berlin is being
built largely by woman labour. This is not so difficult a matter
in Berlin as in New York, because Berlin is built upon a bed
of sand and the difficulties of rock excavation do not exist.
Women are employed on the railroads, working with pickaxes on
the road-bed. Women drive the great yellow post carts of Berlin.
There were women guards on the underground road, women conductors
on the tramways and women even become motor men on the tramcars.
Banks, insurance companies and other large business institutions
were filled with women workers who invaded the sacred precincts
of many military and governmental offices.
A curious development of the hate of all things foreign was the
hunt led by the Police President of Berlin, von Jagow (a cousin
of the Foreign Minister), for foreign words. Von Jagow and his
fellow cranks decided that all words of foreign origin must be
expunged from the German language. The title of the Hotel Bristol
on the Unter den Linden disappeared. The Hotel Westminster on
the same street became Lindenhof. There is a large hotel called
"The Cumberland," with a pastry department over which there was
a sign, the French word, _Confisserie_. The management was
compelled to take this sign down, but the hotel was allowed to
retain the name of Cumberland, because the father-in-law of the
Kaiser's only daughter is the Duke of Cumberland. The word
"chauffeur" was eliminated, and there, were many discussions as
to what should be substituted. Many declared for Kraftwagenfuhrer
or "power wagon driver."
But finally the word was Germanised as "Schauffoer." Prussians
took down the sign, _Confektion_, but the climax came when
the General in command of the town of Breslau wrote a confectioner
telling him to stop the use of the word "_bonbon_" in selling
his candy. The confectioner, with a sense of humour and a nerve
unusual in Germany, wrote back to the General that he would gladly
discontinue the use of the word "_bonbon_" when the General
ceased to call himself "General," and called the attention of
this high military authority to the fact that "General" was as
much a French word as "_bonbon_."
Unusual means were adopted in order to get all the gold coins
in the country into the Imperial Bank. There were signs in every
surface and underground car which read, "Whoever keeps back a
gold coin injures the Fatherland." And if a soldier presented
to his superiors a twenty mark gold piece, he received in return
twenty marks in paper money and two days leave of absence. In
like manner a school boy who turned in ten marks in gold received
ten marks in paper and was given a half holiday. Cinematograph
shows gave these patrons who paid in gold an extra ticket, good
for another day. An American woman residing at Berlin was awakened
one morning at eight o'clock by two police detectives who told
her that they had heard that she had some gold coins in her
possession, and that if she did not turn them in for paper money
they would wreck her apartment in their search for them. She,
therefore, gave them the gold which I afterwards succeeded in
getting the German Government to return to her. Later, the export
of gold was forbidden, and even travellers arriving with gold
were compelled to give it up in return for paper money.
While, of course, I cannot ascertain the exact amounts, I found,
nevertheless, that great quantities of food and other supplies
came into Germany from Holland and the Scandinavian countries,
particularly from Sweden. Now that we are in the war we should
take strong measures and cut off exports to these countries which
export food, raw material, etc. to Germany. Sweden is particularly
active in this traffic, but I understand that sulphur pyrites
are sent from Norway, and sulphuric acid made therefrom is an
absolute essential to the manufacture of munitions of war.
Potash, which is found as a mineral only in Germany and Austria,
was used in exchange of commodities with Sweden and in this way
much copper, lard, etc. reached Germany.
Early in the summer of 1915, the first demonstration took place
in Berlin. About five hundred women collected in front of the
Reichstag building. They were promptly suppressed by the police
and no newspaper printed an account of the occurrence. These
women were rather vague in their demands. They called von Buelow
an old fat-head for his failure in Italy and complained that the
whipped cream was not so good as before the war. There was some
talk of high prices for food, and the women all said that they
wanted their men back from the trenches.
* * * * *
Early summer brought also a number of cranks to Berlin. Miss Jane
Addams and her fellow suffragists, after holding a convention
in Holland, moved on Berlin. I succeeded in getting both the
Chancellor and von Jagow to consent to receive them, a meeting to
which they looked forward with unconcealed perturbation. However,
one of them seems to have impressed Miss Addams, for, as I write
this, I read in the papers that she is complaining that we should
not have gone to war because we thereby risk hurting somebody's
* * * * *
On July twenty-seventh, 1915, I reported that I had learned that
the Germans were picking out the Revolutionists and Liberals
from the many Russian prisoners of war, furnishing them with
money and false passports and papers, and sending them back to
Russia to stir up a revolution.
* * * * *
A German friend of mine told me that a friend of his who manufactured
field glasses had received a large order from the Bulgarian
Government. This manufacturer went to the Foreign Office and
asked whether he should deliver the goods. He was told not only
to deliver them but to do it as quickly as possible. By learning
of this I was able to predict long in advance the entry of Bulgaria
on the side of the Central Powers.
* * * * *
Even a year after the commencement of the war there were reasonable
people in Germany. I met Ballin, head of the great Hamburg American
Line, on August ninth. I said to him, "When are you going to
stop this crazy fighting?" The next day Ballin called on me and
said that the sensible people of Germany wanted peace and that
without annexation. He told me that every one was afraid to talk
peace, that each country thought it a sign of weakness, and that
he had advised the Chancellor to put a statement in an official
paper to say that Germany fought only to defend herself and was
ready to make an honourable peace. He told me that the Emperor at
that time was against the annexation of Belgium.
* * * * *
In calculating the great war debt built up by Germany, it must
not be forgotten that German municipalities and other political
districts have incurred large debts for war purposes, such as
extra relief given to the wives and children of soldiers.
* * * * *
In November, 1915, there were food disturbances and a serious
agitation against a continuance of the war; and, in Leipzig,
a Socialist paper was suppressed.
* * * * *
The greatest efforts were made at all times to get in gold; and
some time before I left Germany an advertisement was published
in the newspapers requesting Germans to give up their jewelry for
the Fatherland. Many did so: among them, I believe, the Empress
and other royalties.
* * * * *
In December, 1915, a prominent banker in Berlin said to me that
the Germans were sick of the war; that the Krupps and other big
industries were making great sums of money and were prolonging
the war by insisting upon the annexation of Belgium; and that
the Junkers were also in favour of the continuance of the war
because of the fact that they were getting four or five times
the money for their products while their work was being done by
prisoners. He said that the _Kaufleute_ (merchant middle class)
will have to pay the cost of the war and that the Junkers will
not be taxed.
* * * * *
In December, butter became very scarce and the women waiting
in long lines before the shops often rushed the shops. In this
month many copper roofs were removed from buildings in Berlin.
I was told by a friend in the Foreign Office that the notorious
von Rintelen was sent to America to buy up the entire product of
the Dupont powder factories, and that he exceeded his authority
if he did anything else.
In December, on the night of the day of the peace interpellation
in the Reichstag a call was issued by placards for a meeting
on the Unter den Linden. I went out on the streets during the
afternoon and found that the police had so carefully divided
the city into districts that it was impossible for a crowd of
any size to gather on the Unter den Linden. There was quite a
row at the session in the Reichstag. Scheidemann, the Socialist,
made a speech very moderate in tone; but he was answered by the
Chancellor and then an endeavour was made to close the debate.
The Socialists made such a noise, however, that the majority gave
way and another prominent Socialist, Landsberger, was allowed
to speak for the Socialists. He also made a reasonable speech
in the course of which he said that even Socialists would not
allow Alsace-Lorraine to go back to France. He made use of a
rather good phrase, saying that the "Dis-United States of Europe
were making war to make a place for the United States of America."
* * * * *
The banks sent out circulars to all holders of safe deposit boxes,
asking them to disclose the contents. This was part of the campaign
to get in hoarded gold.
* * * * *
In January, 1916, we had many visitors. S. S. McClure, Hermann
Bernstein, Inez Milholland Boissevain--all of the Ford Peace
Ship--appeared in Berlin. I introduced Mrs. Boissevain to Zimmermann
who admired her extremely.
* * * * *
In January, 1916, I visited Munich and from there a Bavarian
officer prison camp and the prison camp for private soldiers,
both at Ingolstadt. I also conferred with Archdeacon Nies of
the American Episcopal Church who carried on a much needed work
in visiting the prison camps in Bavaria.
* * * * *
The American Colony in Munich maintained with the help of friends
in America, a Red Cross hospital under the able charge of Dr.
Jung, a Washington doctor, and his wife. The nursing was done by
American and German girls. The American Colony at Munich also fed
a number of school children every day. I regret to say, however,
that many of the Americans in Munich were loud in their abuse of
President Wilson and their native country.
* * * * *
In March, 1916, I was sounded on the question of Germany's sending
an unofficial envoy, like Colonel House, to America to talk
informally to the President and prominent people. I was told that
Solf would probably be named.
* * * * *
In 1916, the importation of many articles of luxury into Germany
was forbidden. This move was naturally made in order to keep
money in the country.
* * * * *
A Dane who had a quantity of manganese in Brazil sold it to a
Philadelphia firm for delivery to the United States Steel Company.
The German Government in some way learned of this and the Dane
was arrested and put in jail. His Minister had great difficulty
in getting him out.
* * * * *
Liebknecht, in April of 1916, made matters lively at the Reichstag
sessions. During the Chancellor's speech, Liebknecht interrupted
him and said that the Germans were not free; next he denied that
the Germans had not wished war; and, another time, he called
attention to the attempts of the Germans to induce the Mohammedan
and Irish prisoners of war to desert to the German side. Liebknecht
finally enraged the government supporters by calling out that
the subscription to the loan was a swindle.
* * * * *
After the _Sussex_ settlement I think that the Germans wished
to inaugurate an era of better feeling between Germany and the
United States. At any rate, and in answer to many anonymous attacks
made against me, the _North_German_Gazette_, the official
newspaper, published a sort of certificate from the government
to the effect that I was a good boy and that the rumours of my
bitter hostility to Germany were unfounded.
* * * * *
In May, 1916, Wertheim, head of the great department store in
Berlin, told me that they had more business than in peace times.
* * * * *
Early in June 1 had two long talks with Prince von Buelow. He
speaks English well and is suspected by his enemies of having
been polishing it up lately in order to make ready for possible
peace conferences. He is a man of a more active brain than the
present Chancellor, and is very restless and anxious in some
way to break into the present political situation.
* * * * *
In June, the anonymous attacks on the Chancellor by pamphlet
and otherwise, incensed him to such a degree that he made an
open answer in the Reichstag and had rather the best of the
situation. Many anonymous lies and rumours were flying about
Berlin at this period, and even Helfferich had to deny publicly
the anonymous charges that he had been anonymously attacking
* * * * *
In July, the committee called the National Committee for an
Honourable Peace was formed with Prince Wedel at its head. Most
of the people in this League were friends of the Chancellor, and
one of the three real heads was the editor of the
_Frankfurter_Zeitung_, the Chancellor's organ. It was planned that
fifty speakers from this committee would begin to speak all over
Germany on August first, but when they began to speak their views
were so dissimilar and the speeches of most of them so ridiculous
that the movement failed.
* * * * *
In August, I spent two Saturdays and Sundays at Heringsdorf,
a summer resort on the Baltic. Before going there I had to get
special permission from the military authorities through the
Foreign Office, as foreigners are not allowed to reside on the
coast of Germany. Regulations that all windows must be darkened
at night and no lights shown which could be seen from the sea
were strictly enforced by the authorities.
There are three bathing places. In each of them the bath houses,
etc. surround three sides of a square, the sea forming the fourth
side. Bathing is allowed only on this fourth side for a space
of sixty-five yards long. One of these bathing places is for
women and one for men, and the third is the so-called Familienbad
(family bath) where mixed bathing is allowed. German women are
very sensible in the matter of their bathing costumes and do
not wear the extraordinary creations seen in America. They wear
bathing sandals but no stockings, and, as most of them have fine
figures but dress badly, they appear at their best at Heringsdorf.
Both sea and air seemed somewhat cold for bathing. On account
of their sensible dress, most of the German women are expert
I noticed one very handsome blonde girl who sat on her bathing
mantle exciting the admiration of the beach because of her fine
figure. She suddenly dived into the pockets of the bathing mantle
and produced an enormous black bread sandwich which she proceeded
to consume quite unconsciously, after which she swam out to sea.
No healthy German can remain long separated from food; and I
noticed in the prospectus of the different boarding-houses at
Heringsdorf that patrons were offered, in addition to about four
meals or more a day, an extra sandwich to take to the beach to
be consumed during the bathing hour.
* * * * *
There is a beautiful little English church in Berlin which was
especially favoured by the Kaiser's mother during her life. Because
of this, the Kaiser permitted this church to remain open, and
the services were continued during the war. The pastor, Rev. Mr.
Williams, obtained permission to visit the British prisoners,
and most devotedly travelled from one prison camp to another.
Both he and his sister, whose charitable work for the British
deserves mention, were at one time thrown into jail, charged
* * * * *
I at first attended the hybrid American church, but when, in
1915, I think, the committee hired a German _woman_ preacher
I ceased to attend. The American, the Reverend Dr. Crosser, who
was in charge when I arrived in Berlin left, to my everlasting
regret, in the spring before the war.
* * * * *
Poor Creelman, the celebrated newspaper correspondent, died in
Berlin. We got him in to a good hospital and some one from the
Embassy visited him every day.
The funeral services were conducted in the American Church by
the Rev. Dr. Dickie, long a resident of Berlin, whose wife had
presented the library to the American church. The Foreign Office
sent Herr Horstmann as its representative.
* * * * *
While to-day all royalties and public men pose for the movies,
Czar Ferdinand of Bulgaria and his family are probably the first
royalties to act in a cinematograph. In 1916, there was released
in Berlin a play in which Czar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, his wife
and two daughters by a former wife appeared, acting as Bulgarian
royalties in the development of the plot.
* * * * *
The difference between von Jagow and Zimmermann was that von
Jagow had lived abroad, had met people from all countries and
knew that there was much to learn about the psychology of the
inhabitants of countries other than Germany. Zimmermann, in the
early part of his career, had been consul at Shanghai; and, on
his way back, had passed through America, spending two days in
San Francisco and three in New York. He seemed to think that
this transcontinental trip had given him an intimate knowledge
of American character. Von Jagow, on the other hand, almost as
soon as war began, spent many hours talking to me about America
and borrowed from me books and novels on that country. The novel
in which he took the greatest interest was "Turmoil," by Booth
* * * * *
I think there must have been a period quite recently when the
German Government tried to imbue the people with a greater degree
of frightfulness, because all of us in visiting camps, etc. observed
that the _landsturm_ men or older soldiers were much more merciful
than the younger ones.
* * * * *
Alexander Cochran, a New York yachtsman, volunteered to become a
courier between the London Embassy and ours. On his first trip,
although he had two passports (his regular passport and a special
courier's passport), he was arrested and compelled to spend the
night on the floor of the guard-room at the frontier town of
Bentheim. This ended his aspirations to be a courier. He is now
a commander in the British Navy, having joined it with his large
steam yacht, the _Warrior_ some time before the United States
entered the war. In the piping times of peace he had been the
guest of the Emperor at Kiel.
* * * * *
A British prisoner, who escaped from Ruhleben, was caught in a
curious manner. Prisoners in Ruhleben received bread from outside,
as I have explained in the chapter on prisoners of war. This bread
is white, something unknown in Germany since the war. The escaped
prisoner took with him some sandwiches made of the bread he had
received in Ruhleben and most incautiously ate one of these
sandwiches in a railway station. He was immediately surrounded
by a crowd of Germans anxious to know where he had obtained the
white bread, and, in this way, was detected and returned to prison.
* * * * *
On our way out in September, 1916, we were given a large dinner
in Copenhagen by our skilful minister there, the Hon. Maurice
F. Egan, who has devoted many years of his life to the task of
adding the three beautiful Danish islands to the dominions of the
United States. He is an able diplomat, very popular in Copenhagen,
where he is dean of the diplomatic corps. At this dinner we met
Countess Hegerman-Lindencron, whose interesting books, "The Sunny
Side of Diplomatic Life" and "The Courts of Memory," have had
a large circulation in America. In Copenhagen, too, both on the
way out and in, we lunched with Count Rantzau-Brockedorff, then
German Minister there. Count Rantzau is skilful and wily, and not
at all military in his instincts; and, I should say, far more
inclined to arrive at a reasonable compromise than the average
German diplomat. He is a charming International, with none of the
rough points and aggressive manners which characterise so many
* * * * *
In judging the German people, we must remember that, while they
have made great progress in the last forty years in commerce
and chemistry, the very little liberty they possess is a plant
of very recent growth. About the year 1780, Frederick the Great
having sent some money to restore the burned city of Greiffenberg,
in Silesia, the magistrates of that town called upon him to thank
him. They kneeled and their spokesman said, "We render unto your
Majesty in the name of the inhabitants of Greiffenberg, our humble
thanks for the most gracious gift which your Majesty deigned to
bestow in aid and to assist us in rebuilding our homes.
"The gratitude of such dust as we, is, as we are aware, of no
moment or value to you. We shall, however, implore God to grant
your Majesty His divine favours in return for your royal bounty."
Too many Germans, to-day, feel that they are mere dust before
the almost countless royalties of the German Empire. And these
royalties are too prone to feel that the kingdoms, dukedoms and
principalities of Germany and their inhabitants are their private
property. The Princes of Nassau and Anspach and Hesse, at the
time of our Revolution, sold their unfortunate subjects to the
British Government to be exported to fight the Americans. Our
American soil covers the bones of many a poor German peasant
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