The Tools of Victory
OF COURSE most people will think that the main cause of the Allies' victory was the heroism displayed by their troops on French soil. Others will put on the same plane the elastic plasticity of America, England, and France promptly adapting their physical and spiritual resources to the unexpected necessities of the war. It goes without saying that these two great moral and intellectual factors played the master part in the drama. But, alone, they would have been insufficient. Outside of heroism Victory needed certain tools without which the most admirable outbursts of patriotism and of the spirit of sacrifice would have been in vain.
We are living in a mechanical age in which the inventions of the engineer enormously extend the scope of man's action. However great and noble may be the share of the soldier's spirit in the result of the battle, it may be stated that it is only a small fraction of the part played by certain mechanisms, by what may be termed the "Tools of Victory."
THE "75" WHIPS THE GERMAN MACHINE GUN
The principal tool that the Prussians had prepared to finish in 1914 the conquest of Europe, which they had begun in 1619, was the machine gun. To this deadly weapon they had assigned the task of wiping out the unprepared French legions. They relied on it to open to the triumphant Kaiser the highroad nach Paris, within a couple of weeks from the opening of hostilities.
The first clash between German and French troops entirely justified the hopes laid on the machine guns. In Alsace, in Lorraine, in Belgium at Charleroi and at Mons---the French regiments were mown down as hay by a mowing machine. The perfection of the new weapon was equal to the perfection of the method with which it was employed in order to obtain the highest efficiency. On certain battlefields one could see dead French soldiers fallen in regular alignments, to all appearance as if lying down ready to spring to their feet and storm the enemy's lines. Prussia had the machine gun ready for her aggression of 1914, as she had the needle-gun ready for her aggressions of 1866 and 1870. But on the other side France had prepared a magnificent weapon of defence, the famous "75" gun, the saviour of humanity.
The military genius of Joffre inspired him to retire toward the Marne after the defeat of Charleroi, which was entirely due to the German machine gun. He withdrew the whole French army from contact with the deadly new weapon, and brought it back one hundred and fifty miles. He had resolved to meet the enemy in the valley of the Seine with an adequate volley of "75" shells.
During the progress of this monumental movement, however, he modified this decision. He decided to stop the Boche before he should reach the valley of the Seine and to throw him back when passing the plateaux between the Marne and the Seine. There, on a gigantic front such as never had been seen before in any war, took place the historic duel between the German machine gun and the French "75."
The French "75" won; the machine gun was thoroughly beaten. The German hordes were thrown back---not in one point but on all points: (a) east of Meaux, between the Marne and the Ourcq, by General Maunoury; (b) at Fère Champenoise, between the Marne and the Seine, by General Foch; (c) at Verdun, by General Sarrail; (d) at Nancy, by General de Castelnau.
The "75" was everywhere triumphant. It saved France; it saved civilization. It had beaten and repulsed the most famous German divisions, whipped the most illustrious German generals. It forced the Chief of the Imperial Staff, Von Moltke, to exclaim to his master these fateful words: "Majesty, the war is lost!"
French heroism had obeyed Joffre's celebrated order of the sixth of September, 1914:
At the moment when a battle is engaged on the result of which rests the life of our country, it is important to remind all that it is no longer time to look behind.
All efforts must be employed to attack and drive back the enemy. A force which cannot advance any farther shall, no matter at what cost, retain the conquered ground and be killed on the spot rather than to fall back.
If every French soldier was not killed at his post; if, on the contrary, death mowed down the Germans and forced them to look behind, it was due to the "75." To this magnificent creation of French mechanical genius must go out the gratitude of the world. It was the great tool of the Victory in the First Battle of the Marne, the glorious mechanism that drove back the Boche from Meaux to Nancy in 1914. It was the great tool of Victory which held the Boche at bay before Verdun in 1916, before Amiens in 1918. It was the famous gun which finally drove back into Germany, broken and disrupted, the plague army which in 1914 had triumphantly violated the "scrap of paper," the very object of which had been the protection of Belgium by Germany.
HOW FRANCE ACQUIRED THE "75"
Toward the end of the decade following the war of 1870-71, French genius effected a radical transformation in the military value of the artillery. Turpin discovered mélinite, the high explosive which was sufficiently stable to be employed in a shell. The high explosives hitherto known, such as dynamite, would have exploded in the gun, owing to the jerk caused by the impulsion transmitted by the combustion of the powder.
Turpin discovered that picric acid, otherwise termed melinite, was the ideal body. Its force at the moment of explosion equalled that of dynamite and its stability was such that it remained unchanged during the critical instant of its passage through the gun. It was found, too, that mélinite could be handled with perfect security. No risk attended the filling of the shells which, when fired, acquired almost instantaneously a muzzle velocity of 3,000 feet per second. Turpin had solved the great military problem of showering on the enemy, by gunfire, unlimited quantities of high explosives enclosed in shells.
But another great problem remained to be solved.
Artillery without accuracy is the greatest of delusions. To accomplish a military result, to stop the advance of enemy troops, artillery must spray them, and the ground ahead of them, with shells. But these shells must spread death and terror not only by their explosion, but also by the rapidity and accuracy of their fall. And to discover a means to ensure such accuracy and rapidity of fire was the problem still to be solved.
Prior to 1890 all guns were entirely displaced by the recoil. They had to be put back again in approximately the same place after each shot, and this necessitated a series of movements that had to be effected by the gunners. It is hardly necessary to say that, even during peace manoeuvres, a gun could never be replaced precisely in its previous position; but that, during a battle, under the enemy's fire, such an operation was always a pure chimera.
Toward the end of the second decade following the war of 1870-71 various artillery staffs began to study the great problem of devising an automatic return of the gun to its original position after firing. The principle to be resorted to was soon devised. The solution consisted in establishing, between the gun proper and its carriage, as intermediary, an elastic appliance a sort of shock absorber. This elastic system was to store, while bringing the gun to a standstill, the momentum of the gun during its recoil. The automatic return of the gun to its original position, thanks to the elasticity of the recoil absorber, naturally followed. It was a simple restitution of a part of the energy absorbed during the recoil, the remainder of the energy being expended in heat and friction.
This could be arrived at either by the employment of springs, or by a system consisting of a combination of air and of a fluid matter such as water. It was the system known by the name of "hydro-pneumatic brake."
In either case the carriage, which was to be anchored to the ground by a spade driven into it, was to remain immovable during the firing.
The spring system, being the simplest, was easier to devise and construct but was also a very inferior solution. The absorption of the momentum of the recoiling gun could not be effected so as entirely to avoid jerks---and, consequently, the slight displacement of the carriage and of the gun.(1)
The combination of air and water---the so-called hydro-pneumatic brake---on the contrary, was a much more satisfactory invention. But there were, on the other hand, great practical drawbacks in its construction and operation. The Krupp's works at Essen initiated the experiments but, after many efforts, found it impracticable and rejected this device.
French artillery officers, however, under the direction of Colonel Deport, conducted experiments along similar lines, and succeeded admirably.
They evolved slowly but surely the marvellous weapon which was to save France and the world from the horrible yoke of brutal Prussian tyranny.
When the gun was ready the question was: How will it be put in use in the French army?
HOW PRESIDENT FAURE SAVED FRANCE, THANKS TO THE "75"
The expense involved for equipping the artillery with the new field gun was about $100,000,000. To spend such a sum, or even a much smaller amount, it was necessary to open a debate in the House and in the Senate in order to get the credits. Such a debate could not but expose to world-wide publicity the masterpiece evolved in the laboratories of the French Ordnance Department. To obey the precepts of the Constitution would have been to place in jeopardy the very life of the nation.
At that time the head of the French Government was not---as is almost invariably the case---a lawyer. He was a merchant, a business man, the head of a firm dealing in leather; he was President Félix Faure.
If the head of the State had been a lawyer he would certainly have been dominated by respect for the majesty of constitutional law. He would have requested the Parliament to vote a statute authorizing the new artillery and to open the corresponding credits. His professional ethics would not have allowed him even to consider any other solution.
But Félix Faure's professional conscience did not conceal from his eyes, behind the majestic garb of the Law, the exceptional and high responsibility thrown upon him by circumstances. To preserve France he violated the constitutional law. To save France he broke his primary and essential obligation to protect the Constitution and to enforce its laws. And Félix Faure thus accomplished the act which, a quarter of a century later, saved France and the world.
No man deserves a greater tribute of gratitude from humanity than this one-time obscure merchant. The accidents of politics brought him to the highest office of France. His term of office at the Élysée was not conspicuous except for this single remarkable and extraordinary act. He violated his oath of office in order to endow France with the weapon which later permitted her to beat back the German aggressor. Without that weapon---or with a Germany possessing an identical one---France and the world would have become the martyred slave of the Teutonic Knights.
In order to safeguard his honour Félix Faure took as witnesses of his action the members of the Committee of Ways and Means of the House. He summoned them to the Élysée and bound them by oath not to reveal to any one what was going to happen. He then unfolded before his astonished audience his determination to spend one hundred million dollars of the public money without any authorization of the Parliament.(2) Thus, without attracting the enemy's attention, was France ensured the creation of that precious artillery which was eventually to be the safeguard of civilization. It may be added, to the honour of the members of the Committee of Ways and Means, that the secret was scrupulously kept, and only leaked out many years later---when the "75" was accomplishing its providential task.
The necessity to keep absolutely secret the decision to transform our field artillery is obvious, in view of the following facts:
1. Germany, a few years before, had reconstructed all her field artillery and created the 77-millimetre gun. It was mounted on the ordinary rigid carriage of old days.
2. The studies made in France and in Germany to obtain the elastic intermediary between the gun proper and the carriage could lead either to the inferior (but more simple) method of using steel recoil springs, or to the superior (and perfect) method of the hydro-pneumatic brakes.
3. As we know, the tentative application of the second method had failed at Essen but later succeeded in the French arsenals.
4. The public discussion of the credits necessary for the new guns would certainly have shown to our enemies our technical success in the solution of the problem. It would have whipped their vanity.
5. They would have made new experiments and possibly succeeded where previously they had failed. Following in our footsteps they would have remade all their field artillery and acquired a position of equality with the French army on this vital point.
The strict secrecy with which the "75" was adopted concealed the situation for a long time from the German eyes.
Simultaneously a very clever ruse de guerre was carried out in order entirely to mislead the constantly spying Boche.
A gun of our then-existing field artillery---a 90-millimetre calibre with rigid carriage---was transformed into a new type provided with steel recoil springs. It was the inferior system France wished Germany to adopt for her "77" field gun. The transformed field gun was carefully packed, covered with two successive strata of planks and cloth, all carefully scaled, and then shipped to the direction of the artillery at Nancy, France.
During the night a German spy, conveniently and properly misled by clever agents of our counter-espionage, attached the car to a train leaving Nancy for Metz. The car and its supposedly precious contents never were returned and some weeks later it became known that Germany had decided to transform her "77" field gun with the simple system of steel recoil springs.
The shark had swallowed the bait!
This is how, about a quarter of a century in advance, the result of the great war was predetermined! Thus France got her marvellous weapon the "75".
We shall speak later on of another creation of the French genius, the Panama Canal. It was begun approximately ten years before the "75" began to be studied. It had a vital part in developing the political conditions which made it possible to feed the "75" in powder and in high explosive shells.
This is how France was saved from the impending disaster of a German onrush.
This also explains how Germany, abused by her own method of espionage, was cleverly enticed to adopt the secondary, the faulty method.
The encirclement of Germany's enemies by the dye industry
THE romantic story of the adoption of the hydro-pneumatic brake for the "75" by France, and of the steel spring for the "77" by Germany is typically French. Resourcefulness, quickness of decision, scientific spirit, cleverness of action, devotion to duty in the highest sense of the word, all that is to be found in the preceding lines.
In those that follow we shall see, on the opposite, the French faults. The incredible blindness of her administration, the complete lack of method, of system, and of initiative in a question of such capital importance is simply amazing. All the advance which the French genius, the spirit of self-sacrifice of her first magistrate had given her, was almost reduced to naught by the incredible torpidity of her government.
We have seen that the invention of Turpin had made it possible to fill the shells of the "75" with a high explosive, mélinite. France owed to the irradiating brains of her sons the possession of the best field gun and the best shell. She entered the war, which was unchained in 1914 by the criminal ambition of the Teutonic Knights, with about 4,000 "75" guns. She had some ammunition to begin with, but for the all-important mélinite she had to get the greater part of her new supplies from sources outside of France. It may seem beyond belief, but this source was---Germany!
This seems incredible, but it is a fact!
The blindness of the French Administration, the deceiving songs of the pacifists as to the impossibility of a European war, had gradually led France to get engulfed in the methodic and devilish entanglement of the German dyestuff industry.
HYPOCRISY OF THE PEACEFUL DYE INDUSTRY
The terrible situation in which France, as well as Great Britain and Russia, was placed by the lack of ammunitions after the earlier battles of the war is explained thus:
"Who makes dyes to-day can to-morrow make high explosives---with the same men, with the same plant, with the same materials, provided he disposes also of oxidized nitrogen."
The dye industry and the high-explosive industry are so intimately connected as to be virtually one. In fact, mélinite and trinitrotoluene are nothing but hydrocarbides, extracted from distilled coal tar, in which is incorporated oxidized nitrogen.
Germany had established all over the world the monopoly of her apparently innocent dye industry. It was the scientific noose which was going to strangle all her enemies after, the first months of war owing to the famine of explosives.
The vile methods of warfare admirably condensed by the celebrated Count Luxburg, the minister of Germany to Argentina---suggesting neutral ships should be sunk "without leaving traces"---were also followed in peace. The same men who enjoyed the hospitality of the United States, while depositing bombs with time fuses in the ships leaving the American wharves, were active during peace times also.
The dye industry being for everybody, except Germany, a peaceful one, and, for Germany only, a war industry, it was protected against competition by German war methods.
Whenever a non-German dye appeared either in France, Great Britain or America, immediately it was stifled under an avalanche of German goods.
If, however, the competitor resisted the business pressure he was soon put out of commission by purely Boche trickery.
Suitable additions of nocuous substances were made by criminal hands in the mills of the users of non-German dyes. Everybody was soon convinced that non-German dyes did not possess the standard qualities necessary for their industrial use. By this double method in time of peace---dumping and sabotage---the Boche acquired the practical monopoly of the dye industry. Free-trade nations were glad of it. The innocent economists and the candid pacifists were conveniently misled while in fact the monopoly of the dye industry constituted the control of explosives by Prussia. She alone was capable of making the explosives on a large scale, when she should decide to let loose her dogs of war and to complete the task which she had begun in 1619. This monopoly was to ensure her conquest of the world.
Everybody remembers the universal complaints about the absence of dyes when the war was declared by Germany. Nobody, of course, remembers any complaint about the absence of explosives. It was, however, the very same question. The manufacture of dyes was the manufacture of explosives. The various nations abstained, naturally, from exposing their incredible blindness and the almost criminal neglect of their governments in not having taken, during peace, adequate protective measures. Their stock of material for providing their artillery with high-explosive shells was practically just sufficient for the first weeks of the war.
Germany alone was capable of the industrial effort necessary to furnish the large masses of explosives required for the war. She had of the plant, she had of the personnel, she had of the raw material.
GERMANY'S DOMESTIC NITRATE SUPPLY
She had also succeeded in freeing herself from the necessity of importing nitrates from Chili. Chili, on the contrary, was the only source open to Germany's blind enemies for obtaining the oxidized nitrogen which is the essential element of high explosive, or of gunpowder.
Thanks to supreme technical efforts she had succeeded in devising the proper scientific and industrial methods to extract from the atmosphere the oxidized nitrogen necessary for the manufacture of her explosives. It is safe to say that Germany alone among the nations at war could produce an unlimited quantity of explosives on her own soil and with products generated within her own frontiers. It may be added that her enemies would have been crushed in a few months under the strategic superiority resulting from such a monopoly if, thanks to the political conditions due to the Panama enterprise, they had not found an extended and helping hand in the United States.(3)
France had no chemical factory capable of providing what she needed to load her shells except in an insignificant proportion. She was, on the other hand, depending exclusively on the transportation to her harbours of the Chilean nitrates to obtain the indispensable oxidized nitrogen to make explosives at home. The negligence of her governmental administration had condemned France to an immediate lack of explosives a few weeks after the declaration of war.
The same remarks apply to Great Britain.
If the artfully engineered explosives famine in France, Great Britain, America, and Russia did not suffice to ensure Germany's triumph, even after her defeat at the Marne, humanity owes it entirely to the United States.
Panama and the influence of America
IT WAS America's magnificent industrial power that broke the ring closed by Germany and helped France and Great Britain out of their almost desperate situation.
Long before America drew her sword she had cooperated with the Allies in providing them with the most essential elements of the actual war: powder and explosives. This explains the desperate efforts made by Germany to induce America to cease supplying war material to the Allies. Had Germany obtained that apparently natural and simple proof of absolute neutrality the war would have ended by the utter defeat of France, Great Britain, and Russia, before the end of 1914.
It is practically certain that if the United States had adopted the principle of a neutrality entailing the non-delivery of war material, Chili would have followed. The only source of oxidized nitrogen would have been cut off, thus making impossible the manufacture of any powder and of any explosive by the opponents of German tyranny.
Why did America reject this request, presented as it was under such plausible colours and sustained by such a seductive argument?
"Why," said the Boche spokesmen in the United States, "you have declared your intention of being sincerely neutral, yet, actually, you break that theoretical neutrality. You are furnishing implements of war to the combatants engaged on one side of the great contest, while those on the other side cannot receive anything! Is that neutrality? Certainly not!"
PANAMA'S INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN NEUTRALITY
This plausible argument would certainly have won over public opinion in the United States had it remained in 1914 what it had been during the last third of the nineteenth century. It appealed to the American sense of justice and fair play. It denounced at the same time a prima-facie injustice against a race counting in America twenty millions of representatives and in favour of a group of nations none of which enjoyed the sympathy of the United States.
It is known that Great Britain was the object of a continuous and antagonistic propaganda by the powerful Irish element. Russia was the object of active and violent denunciations by the still more powerful Hebrew element which concentrates on Russia the same energy of execrations which their ancestors in biblical times focussed on the Assyrian Empire. As for France, the great error of Napoleon III---the foundation of the Mexican Empire in defiance of the Monroe Doctrine---had placed her in a bad position. She had lost in 1870 the sympathy if not the friendship of the United States. Naturally the always-active German propaganda was making constant use of these antagonistic dispositions of the various sections of American opinion against France, Great Britain, and Russia respectively. The result was the creation of an anti-Anglo-Franco-Russian and pro-German sentiment in the United States up to 1900.
Had the war broken out at the end of the nineteenth century there is no doubt that the Boche hypocritical predication for sincere neutrality would have succeeded. But in 1914-15, Boche diplomacy had been beaten in the United States. The conditions were no longer the same as in 1900. The propaganda against France had struck a gigantic obstacle: PANAMA!
The great work of the inter-oceanic canal---which was in France certainly given its quietus by Boche intrigue---had been resurrected. Its failure had been made use of, in France, to destroy all confidence of the nation in herself, and, in America, to demonstrate that the French were a contemptible and decadent nation. But the resurrection of the Panama Canal enterprise by the American Government had wiped out the traces of the Boche predications.
Theodore Roosevelt had not only honoured the French name in giving France credit for her great accomplishment, but at the same time he had exhibited the scandalous enormity of the injustice done to the French honour in this matter. The greatness, the disinterestedness, the generosity of the French mind, appeared to him and to the United States in their true light.
A gradual and total inversion of the American sentiment for France was effected during the ten years which lapsed between 1904 and 1914. This space of time has for origin the moment I exchanged at Washington (26th of February, 1904) the ratifications of the treaty which I had signed with the Secretary of State, Mr. Hay, on behalf of the Republic of Panama, for the construction of the Canal. Its end is the day of the declaration of war (3rd of August, 1914) which is also the day of the passage of the first great ocean steamer from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Panama Canal.
On that memorable day facts had spoken eloquently on behalf of Franco-American mutual respect and friendship. There was no longer an ear to listen to the Boche predication about the decadence of France.
If France had been attacked in 1900, the United States would have seen in this fact the sad but irremediable spectacle of the forced disappearance of an old, worn-out nation before a young and growing country. At that time the sympathy of America would have been for Germany---against France, Great Britain, and Russia.
In 1914, however, Panama had lifted from before American eyes the veil which German propaganda had lowered, and France was restored in America's affection and in her respect. The common enterprise of Panama---in which the genius of each nation had played so important and so conspicuous a part---had reunited the hearts of France and America. That friendship had an eloquent and powerful living expression. It was Theodore Roosevelt whose pro-Ally energy had its roots also in the Panama enterprise.
Not only had Panama revived American regard for France but Germany's operations in the Caribbean, the result of Panama, had begun to open American eyes to Germany's true character and intentions.
It can, therefore, safely be asserted that Panama had a direct and most important effect upon the attitude of the United States during its neutrality and in its actual entering of the war. It helped very materially to maintain America in the frame of mind to furnish France with explosives, and also the Canal itself provided a means for the nitrates of Chile to reach the battlefront in France. To French genius France owes the creation of the "75"; she also owes to her genius the creation of the great international highway which, thanks to its resurrection by American hands, made possible the feeding of the "75."
PANAMA AND AMERICA'S HELP
The importance of the service rendered by America and the significance of the befriending influence of the Great Adventure of Panama may be judged by the following figures:
During the war America furnished France with a quantity of powder about equal to that necessary for firing 250,000,000 shots with the "75" gun. This means a quantity of powder sufficient to use up 25,000 "75" guns, each one having fired 10,000 times.
To conceive the enormous quantity of powder thus provided we must realize that when the war began we had scarcely 4,000 of these "75" guns and nobody supposed they could stand shooting more than 5,000 times.
Of course the high explosives sent by America were in quantity proportionate with that of the gunpowder.
It may be convenient also to recall that the Panama Canal---which was closed almost a year during the war on account of the slides at Culebra ---has given passage to more than seven and a half billion pounds of nitrates. This makes about a billion pounds of nitrogen, the greater part of which went to the United States to be used in the powder and high-explosives mills.
The foregoing will suffice to indicate the extraordinary importance of the part played by the Panama Canal in the providential defeat of the Germans. The good feelings for France, sown in the United States by the adoption and completion of the great work initiated by France, had prevented the prohibition of exports of war material. Later, because of the power of predication of Theodore Roosevelt, of his enthusiastic support, and of the development of admiration for the heroic resistance of France, the conception of a higher duty was built up in American hearts.
The great Republic understood finally what Theodore Roosevelt has told her from the outset: that neutrality before crime was as much a moral as a physical suicide. She went to war with all her might. She made her power felt just at the moment when the German political gases had annihilated Russia, when the equilibrium of forces was consequently totally disturbed in our enemy's favour. She entered the active field of warfare when Germany seemed bound to triumph---owing to the collapse of Russia; and her entrance on the battlefield turned the scales of fate. Both at the beginning and at the end of the great war America's attitude determined the victory. In both cases that attitude resulted from the same cause: the moral link established between America and France by their common enterprise of Panama. The current of reciprocal confidence and good feeling which it created accomplished both these wonders, and saved the world.
It seems therefore entirely justified to study from the point of view of the Great War the specific conditions of the adoption of Panama by the United States, and to trace the history of the series of facts which led to this historical decision which forms the culminating point of the Great Adventure of Panama as we shall see later on.
It will be a most useful contribution to the history of the world to show how the Franco-American friendship was almost completely destroyed by the foundation of the Mexican Empire. No less important will be the history of the adoption of Panama by which this precious friendship was reconstituted. It will be for many people an interesting trip to follow the romantic events which led to that adoption.
I invite them to witness with me the different phases of the Great Adventure of Panama after having understood the network of Boche intrigues in Mexico, in France, in Colombia, in the United States. They will learn to worship the name of the great citizen Theodore Roosevelt who-with his eminent coadjutors John Hay and Francis B. Loomis---cleverly, audaciously, led the ship of State to a safe harbour through the treacherous concealed mines laid in the channel by Germany. They will learn to despise the dullards, the hypocrites who speak of this Panama Revolution---the origin of the salvation of humanity---as a "put-up job" or as a "staged affair." They will see that the Panama Revolution of November, 1903, was nothing but the legitimate expression of the right of a nation to dispose of herself. They will be convinced that the United States Government had no more hand in it than had the French Government, and that, therefore, if Colombia had a claim against Panama it was the claim of Shylock for the pound of flesh, a claim not receivable in court.
In spite of the concealed, disguised, or open accusations against the Roosevelt policy, nothing has been brought for sixteen years to support the slightest shadow of a proof of complicity between the American Government and the Panama revolutionists. The Boches, who have been the most active accusers because they were the greatest sufferers of President Roosevelt's straightforward action, continue to pump lies into credulous ears. They remain faithful to their motto: "Truth is anything you can make people believe."
WHAT DOES "I TOOK PANAMA" MEAN?
The only straw at which their drowning calumny could clutch was the celebrated phrase: "I took Panama," which Theodore Roosevelt pronounced in California.
When the sentence was reported by the papers I understood that it meant: "I took Panama because Panama offered herself in order to be protected against Colombia's tyranny and greed."
Recently in speaking to a distinguished visitor to Oyster Bay---William Morton Fullerton, the eminent writer on international problems---Theodore Roosevelt explained the sentence in this familiar way: "I took Panama because Bunau-Varilla brought it to me on a silver platter."
It is obvious that Theodore Roosevelt's own interpretation of his sentence harmonizes entirely with mine.
It does not mean as the advocates of Colombia say: "I took Panama away from her mother country Colombia because the interests of the United States wanted it." It means: "I protected Panama, at her pressing request, from the tyrannical greed of Colombia, because her preservation and the world's interests wanted it."
The occult power of Germany
BEFORE going into the history of the Boche conspiracies centred around the Panama Canal, it is necessary to make the reader acquainted with the conspirator himself. Though every school in the world should teach the record of this dangerous enemy of mankind, very few people know even the principal elements of the astounding history of Prussia.
Let us, for one moment, leave aside the preliminary period, the one buried in the darkness of the Middle Ages. Let us examine what took place in the last three centuries, and we will afterward cast a look on the preceding phase of German history. This will show us what a formidable enemy Prussia is; it will show what powerful organization humanity has still to face, what precaution it has to take for its future protection and defence.
The enemy who, since 1619, had successfully and persistently developed the plans which would have made him the master of Europe in 1919, if it had not been for the American intervention, is going to continue and to persist in spite of his temporary setback.
To look for the key of the future let us investigate the past. We shall find it there.
FIRST GROWTH OF THE PRUSSIAN OCTOPUS
In 1619---just three centuries ago---the Prussian octopus began to grow.
Then George William I, a prince belonging to the House of Hohenzollern, became the first sovereign of the electorate of Brandenburg and of the Dukedom of Prussia (East Prussia), from that day on permanently united.
We are going to review the successive increases of the Prussian octopus. The dates only will be mentioned, to avoid minute geographical details.
THE SUCCESSIVE INCREASES OF PRUSSIA
In 1648, twenty-nine years after the first increase, the second one takes place.
In 1707-13-20 we find three new ones forming, so to say, one mass of increases. (The period separating the second increase from the beginning of the third mass of increases is fifty-nine years.)
In 1772, after fifty-two years of apparent quietude, the fourth increase takes place.
In 1793-95, twenty-one years later, the fifth increase is registered.
In 1815, twenty years later, we find the gigantic step forward toward the west, which gives to Prussia the low Rhine valley. It is the sixth increase.
Forty-nine years later, in 1864, we see the origin of the group of increases, which began by the absorption of Schleswig-Holstein, and finished in 1871 by that of Alsace-Lorraine, after the expulsion, in 1866, of Austria out of Germany. This is the seventh increase.
After forty-three years of preparation began the ferocious aggression of 1914, the attempt at the eighth and final increase. This onslaught aimed not merely as the preceding ones at the conquest of provinces belonging either to German princes or to neighbour nations, but at the conquest of Europe, and, soon after, of the rest of the world.
This last and gigantic bandit's raid on friends' property has failed. It failed, thanks to American intervention. It failed, thanks to the helping hand that, before her own participation in the struggle, the United States extended to France in furnishing her with explosives and other munitions of war.
CAUSE OF THE EXPANSIONS OF PRUSSIA
The résumé just given shows that, after the first increase of Prussia, which took place three hundred years ago, a constant and permanent pressure was exerted by Prussia on her neighbours. It shows that after the quiescent periods---which lasted never more than fifty-nine years and not less than twenty, a new expansion always took place.
The maintenance of the same policy and the securing of similar results, during a period of 300 years, is a most extraordinary thing in the world's history. The permanence and the continuity of the phenomenon demonstrate that it is not the result of the action of the sovereign of an autocratic sovereign.
If the autocratic sovereign had been the cause, the results would have been influenced by the variations, the unavoidable variations, of the character of the successive generations in the same family. The permanence of the main features of the Prussian history demonstrates that the source of its political power did not flow from its sovereigns, but from another centre of influence.
THE CONTINUITY OF THE JUNKER OLIGARCHY
This continuity indicates that the real sovereign was not the king or the emperor, but a permanent force such as a collective body only could constitute, because such organizations alone can remain young and active for centuries, and defy that which destroys energy or genius among individuals.
It is certain that this permanent political entity is an aristocratic oligarchy, the Junker oligarchy.
The so-called Junker party is much more than a party; it is an essential---a vital---part of the form of government of Prussia. It is that part of the government which has made possible the conquest of Germany within 250 years, and almost that of Europe---not to say of the world---within 300 years.
After the Crusades, the Teutonic Knights "of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem" received a papal brief giving them the mission to conquer and convert to Christianity the population living east of the Elbe, which was then, more or less, the oriental frontier of the Germanic race.
The political power of the Teutonic Knights was broken by the Poles on the 15th of July, 1410, in the historical Battle of Tannenberg. This momentous victory placed Western Prussia, that is Danzig and the low valley of the Vistula, in Polish territory. It made East Prussia, the last dominion of the Teutonic Knights, a vassal of the Polish kings. Almost entirely broken by this defeat the Teutonic Order subsisted, however, while looking for a new equilibrium.
The Treaty of Peace of Cracow in 1525 registered the secularization of the Teutonic Order. Its Grand Master, Albert von Brandenburg, established the hereditary Dukedom of Prussia in what is now called East Prussia. The monastic order disappeared as a political entity, but all its constituent elements---that is, the members of the Prussian aristocracy---remained.
These Junkers had been linked by the discipline of the Monastic Order---they remained bonded together by national obligations when religious obligations had disappeared.
One can say that the Junker oligarchy is nothing but the contemporary form of the old Monastic Government of the Teutonic Order and that it has never ceased to be the invisible government of Prussia.
If one follows this line of thought it soon becomes apparent that a striking resemblance exists between the actual systems of the Prusso-Germans and those of the Teutonic Order in the Middle Ages. It is, for instance, easy to trace the source of the cruelty with which the World War was conducted on the German side if one remembers that these cruelties formed part of the principles of warfare of the Teutonic Order.
German historians record the work of the Teutonic Knights, in terms which strictly apply to the abominable conduct of the German armies in Belgium and in France.
Never was a pagan nation, good, brave, and generous, more maltreated by her new masters, the Teutonic Knights, than were the Borussians. The history of these fights to death may be cited as one of the most sinister episodes of humanity. It surpasses in duration and cruelty the history of the conquest of Mexico and of Peru.
Never was a pagan people exterminated under more atrocious conditions. Thirty years of death struggle, day after day, night after night, scarcely sufficed to break this small and energetic nationality.
Does not this apply exactly to the recent campaigns of the Germans against the Herreros in Southwest Africa, where a pagan population of 800,000 souls was exterminated and reduced after a few years to 15,000 by the Prussian method of warfare, which is nothing but the application of the principles of the Knights of the Teutonic Order, six hundred years ago?
THE FLAG OF THE UNDERTAKER
It is easy also to understand why Prussia has on her flag the colours of the undertaker---white and black; why her highest decorations are also marked with the undertaker's colours---white and black. It is because these two sad---and, when associated, ghastly looking---colours were the colours of the cross that the Teutonic Knights wore on their breast.
Prussia yesterday was marching ahead toward the conquest of the world under the flag that preceded the Teutonic Knights in their conquest of the territories east of the Elbe.
Having obtained, from the foregoing, a clear conception of the source of the continuous Prussian successes for three hundred years it is not out of place to quote here the celebrated phrase pronounced by the German patriot, Schleiermacher, in 1807, when Prussia seemed to be doomed forever, when the Treaty of Tilsit cut from her all provinces west of the Elbe. He said:
Germany is always there and her occult power is untouched.
He certainly meant Prussia is always there and her occult power is untouched.
We know now that the occult power resided in the occult government of the Junker oligarchy.
The victories of Napoleon had broken Prussia's military force but had left untouched the occult power of the Junkers. We can say, to-day that the victories of the Allies in 1914-18 have had the same result, and that the Junker oligarchy is still untouched, just as in 1807.
Prince Von Buelow, the former German Chancellor, in a book written before the war, recommends every loyal German to engrave the sentence of Schleiermacher on his heart.
I recommend to everyone who suffered from the sinister German aggression of 1914 to engrave---filter changing the word "Germany" to that of "Prussia"---the very same sentence twice on his brain: once in order to obtain an interpretation of the past, once in order to obtain an interpretation of the future.
When, with that sentence engraved on the brain, we look at the past, we better understand another recommendation of Prince Von Buelow to his countrymen: "The future of our history depends on the manner in which the German mind will be influenced by Prussian monarchy."
Of course, Prussian monarchy means Prussian government, and Prussian government means Junker government. But we must not attach an undue influence to the label placed on the bottle. It is the contents that must be carefully analyzed and examined.
"SANCTA GERMANICA STUPIDITAS"
This conception of the interior mechanism of the German Government explains also certain apparently unsolvable mysteries of the German politics.
When you analyze the main points of the history of the Great War you are struck by two discordant series of facts.
At first you cannot fail to be amazed by the wonderful and harmonic series of minute preparations made by the Prusso-Germans to secure victory within a few weeks after unchaining the war.
If you overlook the moral infamy which these preparations demonstrate; if you observe only the regularity and the enormity of the spider's web thrown over the whole globe, you cannot but feel a certain admiration for the perfection and completeness of the job. You suspect the presence of a criminal genius, but, after all, of a genius.
But if, on the other hand, you examine the decisions adopted by Germany at every critical phase of the war you are struck by an impression of unexampled stupidity.
Germany had made incredible and successful efforts to obtain the monopoly of the explosives and the practical monopoly of the extraction of nitrogen from the atmosphere. If England had not joined the war, Germany might have cut the transportation of the Chilean nitrates to France. This would have ended the war immediately, as no war could be continued without powder and high explosives.
The mastery of the sea was, for France, an indispensable condition of the possibility of fighting. Only England could ensure it.
What did Germany do? She practically slapped England in the face by the invasion of Belgium; she virtually forced England to fight; she deprived her numerous supporters residing in the British Isles of any argument to prevent England from going to war. Germany, therefore, by an inconceivable stupidity, so acted as to force England to give to France the benefit of this mastery of the sea without which any sustained struggle was impossible.
After the first battle of the war it became apparent that the gigantic power of America, if thrown on one of the scales of fate, would determine which side would win the victory.
It seems to any reasonable being that, on the part of Germany, not a stone should have been left unturned to prevent a break in her relations with the United States. Yet, on the contrary, by a fatuity scarcely credible, every class of Boche crime was freely committed on the territory of the United States, and on the high seas, against the dignity of the great American republic.
The most peaceable, the most neutral country would have been driven to exasperation by such treatment. The United States, it may confidently be affirmed, was pushed into the war by the German incurable stupidity.
It is a fact that submarine warfare enabled Germany to sink a tonnage equal to about one half of the total mercantile marine of Great Britain; that is to say, one quarter of the total mercantile marine of the world. It is also a fact that this huge destruction was effected by an insignificant number of submarine craft in actual fighting.
The number of submarines at work---not counting those coming from or returning to their base, those under repairs, etc.---was estimated by the highest naval authorities of America and Great Britain at between eight and twelve. This estimate was confirmed by German testimony.
What would have been the outcome of the war if Germany had understood, in 1904, the vital importance of the submersible, when it had just been created? What would have been the destiny of England if three hundred German submarines had blocked her access to the seas on the 5th of August, 1914?
Fortunately the amazing shortsightedness of Germany prevented her from seeing the light at the proper moment. Von Tirpitz understood the submarine ten years too late! German war preparations were complete for all land operations but were lacking for the one weapon which would have assured the Central Powers a complete and immediate mastery of the sea and would have practically strangled England at the very commencement of the war.
These few facts show the intellectual character of the invisible government of Germany.
Its action---as often happens with collective, well-disciplined bodies---is remarkably thorough, methodic, and complete, where a preparation of from twenty to fifty years is concerned, but it is absolutely lacking in these spontaneous flashes of intellectual light which make clearly visible for men of genius the horizons of the future in critical circumstances.
A humorous Frenchman has said that if, in the great invasion of the Huns, led by Attila, Paris was protected by Sainte-Genevieve, France herself was protected, in the recent invasion of the Germans, by a still more efficacious saint: "Sancta Germanica Stupiditas." To her the French, and consequently humanity, are indebted for the master blunders by which "German Stupidity" offset the results of a patiently, carefully, cunningly, treacherously prepared aggression, after half a century of constant endeavours, of the German superior sense of organization.
Boche conspiracy in Mexico (1861-63) preparing the provocation of 1870
IN ORDER to have a clear understanding of the reconciliation of America and France, through the medium of the Panama enterprise, it is necessary to understand how that precious friendship had been ruptured. There, also, we shall undoubtedly find the sly hand of the Boche.
Of course Germany's accomplices will raise their hands toward the heavens and say---as did the ninety-three German philosophers and scientists of 1914, the flower of German Intellectual Servility: "Das ist nicht wahr." ("That is not true.")
My answer to them is that where Boche interests call for the perpetration of an infamy, it is unhesitatingly committed, owing to the magnificent organization of Prussia for such purpose. I may add that where no material proofs can be furnished, it is because these infamies are committed according to the principle of Count Von Luxburg, the eminent spokesman of the German system of diplomacy by assassination, "without leaving traces."
But I can add further that if the trail of a snake on a rock leaves no visible trace, it does, however, leave a smell; and that smell proves just as certainly as if tangible evidence could be furnished, that the reptile has been there.
This being explained, let us pass to the facts which determined almost a state of war between France and America in 1865. Examination of them will undoubtedly reveal the certitude that this lamentable state of things was brought about by Boche intrigues.
In 1861, as everybody knows, the Civil War in the United States began. At the same time a punitive expedition was organized by England, France, and Spain against Mexico, to enforce certain claims for damages suffered in Mexico by citizens of these countries.
THE MEXICAN EXPEDITION UNDER PRIM
The expedition of these associated countries was placed under a Spanish general named Prim. Very soon after Prim withdrew from Mexico with the Spanish and English forces.
The French forces had been previously engaged in such a way as to render difficult their withdrawal without loss, if not of honour, at least of prestige. So the French remained.
In 1863---when the United States were torn asunder by the terrible conflict between North and South and therefore unable to react---a new phase opened.
An empire was established in Mexico with an Austrian prince as ruler.
Here we draw a very obvious inference of Boche diplomacy.
BISMARCK VICARIOUSLY TESTS MONROE DOCTRINE
In 1863, Bismarck was preparing a war against Austria which was to take place in 1866 and also a war against France which was to take place in 1870.
Is it not an uncanny and striking fact that in the very same year the emperors of France and Austria adopted a policy in defiance of the Monroe Doctrine? An empire of Mexico is created by the bayonets of France and the Emperor of Mexico is an archduke of Austria!
Who will believe that the foundation of the Mexican Empire was not a creation of Bismarck's mind? Who will believe that this monumental absurdity of Napoleon III's government was not concocted and devised in Berlin? Who will doubt that Bismarck did not try thereby to weaken his future adversaries by making them enter into a conflict with the United States?
Here, in the slight inflicted on the United States by the innocent but stupid diplomacy of Napoleon III, we have a first demonstration of a positive character of the Boche hand. It is the first scent disclosing the trail of the snake on the rock.
PRIM AND THE BOCHE GERM OF WAR IN 1870
If we look a little further into the history of that period; if we look into the very origin of the war of 1870-71, we are struck by another fact. Again it points straight toward Berlin as the source of the Mexican Expedition.
Everybody knows that Prussia always paves the way for her criminal wars by introducing a cause of intolerable friction, of which she pleads to be the innocent victim. Her wilfully credulous people can satisfy their inborn hypocritical patriotism by calling a cynical aggression by the name of Defensive War."
The cause of friction which permitted Prussia to launch the war of 1914, while professing to be forced to it by the Russian mobilization, was the ultimatum of Austria to Servia. Prince Lichnowski, Dr. Muehlon, the ambassador of Bavaria to Berlin, the ambassador of Germany to Turkey, all have willingly or unwillingly certified that the crime was decided on July 5, 1914, in Berlin.
The cause of friction which enabled Prussia to launch the war of 1870 was the not-less-infamous Hohenzollern candidature to the Spanish throne. Victory has since covered with its laurels the nudity of the crime then committed. But the historian can discover it just the same by citing the witnesses.
The man who advanced this candidature was undoubtedly a puppet in Bismarck's hands. Whether he was conscious or unconscious of his vile part in the drama matters little. He was an explicit agent of Prussia whether intentional or unintentional. He was the same Prim whom we know already, then a marshal and head of the provisional government of Spain.
It is another ominous coincidence that he who acted for Bismarck's obvious policy in 1870 was Prim whom we saw, nine years earlier, commanding the Mexican Expedition.
Who can believe that the man who so dexterously served the Prussian interests in 1870 had not served them equally well in Mexico, in 1861? He then attached the French to Mexican soil by military operations. Who will not suspect that he was then serving Bismarck's intentions of throwing France later into an imbroglio with the United States?
What use the Boche made, in America, of the stupid Mexican intervention of Napoleon III to support the Austrian prince is easy to conceive! The case was bad enough in itself, but it was made still infinitely worse by the simultaneous and convenient culture of irritating microbes!
GRANT'S FRIENDSHIP FOR GERMANY
In l871, General Grant, President of the American Republic, gave an historical expression of the bad feelings generated against France by sending to Congress, ten days after the surrender of Paris to the Germans, a message extolling the friendship of the United States for the German Empire. He considered the constitution of the new empire as a replica of that of the United States. He wrote that in the German Empire the head of the State would have the power necessary for a defensive war but not the, authority necessary for a war of conquest! (4)
It is clear that the terms employed in the message demonstrate the influence of the German propaganda. The President of the United States covers with his high authority and believes in the mendacious Boche statement of German love for peace and of German organization for fighting exclusively Defensive Wars.
Victor Hugo replied by a beautiful piece of poetry which can be read in "L'Année terrible" and which is entitled " Le message de Grant (Grant's message.")
We can scarcely believe that such a situation has ever been created between the two nations which seem to have been always linked by the closest bonds of friendship.
It is necessary to remember this historical fact in order to avoid similar dangers in the future and to keep the eyes open on the Boche.
The Franco-American friendship, founded by the common sacrifices of the soldiers of Washington and of Lafayette, seemed in 1871 eclipsed forever.
It had disappeared behind the cloud of poisoned gases emitted by Prussian diplomacy. The same gases, about half a century later, were identified during the Great War in the correspondence between Berlin and both Mexico and Tokio. That time the victim of the imbroglio, then in course of preparation, was to be the United States in order to keep her out of the European war.
If these infamous conspiracies to stir up trouble between America and Mexico or Japan had been carried out "without leaving traces" of their origin, they could have been denied with characteristic German indignation; but, unfortunately for the plotters, the activities of the American police seized and exhibited the threads of the Boche spider's web!
We can say to-day: "The same methods have always been in use for the promotion of Prussian politics." We can express the following recommendation for the future:
In every internal or external difficulty involving a nation which is or may be antagonistic to Germany, look for the skilful and adroit Boche hand. You will always see it preparing and paving the way for the next German aggression.
MEXICO THE ANTECHAMBER OF THE WAR OF 1870
The Boche triumph of 1870-71 was prepared by the Mexican Expedition of 1861 and the Mexican Empire of 1863. The momentous consequences of that expedition were twofold; one injuriously affected the exterior, the other the interior equilibrium of the French nation. It destroyed the friendship of America for France and shook the confidence of France in herself.
When the United States emerged from the Civil War she turned against France and demanded the immediate withdrawal of her troops from Mexico. It was legitimate, it was justified after the commission of the stupid act of the French Emperor. This act had not been inspired by any unfriendliness to America, but it was represented as such by the active German propagandists working in the United States.
The withdrawal of the French troops---which were the only support of the fragile throne of Maximilian---had the sinister consequence which everybody knows.
This tragic episode practically dismantled the moral armature of France. She was, from that moment on, beaten in advance. She had lost the esteem of her historical friend. She felt that the dishonour of defeat was hanging on her. She had lost, with the sense of her moral integrity, her confidence in herself, that most indispensable element of victory. Boche psychology had won the war against France---thanks to the Boche-suggested Mexican Expedition---long before a gun was fired on the Rhine.
Those who, like me, have seen with their eyes the catastrophe of 1870-71, never will forget the tragic spectacle.
What remains engraved in my memory is the indescribable difference between what history showed us about the invasion of 1814 and what we saw during the invasion of 1870. Though exhausted by a war which had practically lasted a quarter of a century, France in 1814 had confidence in herself and was proud of herself.
In 1870 she had lost both confidence and pride, thanks to the devilish campaign prepared before the actual war by the Boche intriguer.
For the new aggression which Prussia had devised for the beginning of the nineteenth century Panama was to play the part that Mexico had played for preparing the aggression of 1870.
The wrecking of the great enterprise and the cunning distillation in France of the most wicked accusations against every man holding a prominent position were meant to destroy the confidence of the nation in herself.
War is the period of life of the societies of men, when the nervous system of collectivity works at the highest tension. If the centres of organization and of command have lost control of the parts of the body which normally obey, if these parts are no more disciplined, victory cannot result.
Such was the fatal situation that the Boche had created in France over the Panama affair. He had utilized---as he always cleverly does---the mental weaknesses or intellectual errors of his enemies.
Panama was to be the antechamber of the aggression planned for the beginning of the twentieth century as the Mexican Expedition had been the antechamber of the aggression of the second half of the nineteenth. Let us see how that scheme failed.
The Boche conspiracy in France (1888-1892) to wreck the Panama Canal in order to create the depressed state of mind necessary for the premeditated aggression
AFTER the collapse of the Panama enterprise in 1889, 1 saw clearly the vital importance for France of saving from final failure the great work undertaken. Its political importance always was in my mind, after the suspension of the work, very much beyond the limits of the interest it deserved as a gigantic industrial undertaking.
When I saw, with unutterable sorrow, the destruction of the enterprise by the very agencies that ought to have sustained and defended it---Parliament, Press, Justice---I constantly suspected that some nefarious and concealed influence was at work. I saw the havoc created by the most extraordinary display of fanaticism against French interests that France has ever seen developed on her own soil. I was convinced that France would die of her self-inflicted wounds were Panama not saved from the infamous grave which political passion had opened at a foreign instigation.
I was convinced that if France should passively witness the final collapse of what had cost her so much blood and so much gold, she would be during a long time incapacitated for a new war. And it was obvious that the war was coming and that Prussia was preparing the final act of the gradual conquest of the world begun in 1619.
1 always clearly and definitely saw that the fate of France was linked with that of Panama, because that enterprise was a part of her honour and of her heart.
In the book I published in 1913, one year before the war: "Panama; The Creation, the Destruction, the Resurrection,"(5) I wrote in the dedication to my children:
No nation, any more than a man, can live without honour. It needs to materialize in the form of an absolute faith in a certain number of superior men. Otherwise no moral life is possible for it. Once calumny has persuaded a nation that she has been deceived in her ideal, that those whom she was wont to admire are only worthy of scorn, a great disaster has befallen her. She is prostrated like a mother who has lost faith in the honour of her sons.
It is this prostration which had seized France after the Mexican Expedition. It is in view of causing this same prostration that the intrigues of the Boche had led the weak-minded emperor, Napoleon III, into the wasps' nest of Mexico. France, once caught in the Mexican trap, had not been able to extricate herself without losing a part of her honour, that is to say of her very capacity of waging a victorious war.
It is the same prostration which the sinister diplomacy of the Boche employed to seal the doom of the Panama Canal thirty years later. It certainly determined the failure of the Panama enterprise and later cunningly encouraged the development of political passions around the great fallen undertaking.
THE MINE UNDER THE PANAMA COMPANY IN 1888
It is known that the financial fall of the Panama Canal was caused in 1888 by a criminal Bourse manoeuvre. The false news of the death of Ferdinand de Lesseps was wired all over France on the day of the great subscription of lottery bonds for 720 million francs. The success of the subscription would have ensured the completion of the Canal in 1891, without the slightest doubt, according to the plans I had laid down and to the regular enforcement of the construction rules resulting from an experience extending over more than seven years. The subscription was stopped by the false news. Only a little more than a third of the necessary total was subscribed. The sinews of the great undertaking had been suddenly cut and it soon after fell to the ground.
There is little doubt that the reptilian funds of Germany were employed to cause a disaster which so well served the plan to weaken France for the German aggression then in course of preparation.
It is still less doubtful that through the numerous channels which the Boche employed in Finance and Press he could sow calumny, fan the agitation, and bring it to an unexampled intensity.
To be sure 99 per cent. of the men who in France played the detestable game of politics against their country's interests never knew what master they were serving. Spasmodically as much as stupidly they denounced Panama as a demonstrated impossibility. It never entered their minds that they were destroying France for the benefit of the Kaiser of Germany and at his instigation.
THE PART OF ERNEST JUDET IN 1892
During these nefarious ten years extending from 1889 to 1899 I tried by every conceivable means to open my country's eyes to what was so obviously clear to myself.
In vain were my efforts.
At the end of the nineteenth century, however, it became possible to lift the veil---a little. The pressing need of a canal across the Central American isthmus had been demonstrated by the voyage of the Oregon around South America from San Francisco to Santiago de Cuba, during the Spanish War.
Everybody, the world over, then supposed that the Nicaragua Canal---the old American solution of the problem---would be carried out.
I determined thenceforth to centre my efforts toward the adoption of Panama by the United States.
The task seemed impossible of achievement!
After I had succeeded, after the great conception of French genius had been resuscitated, I was the object of renewed attacks from those who had assassinated it.
The most bitter attack came from a journalist called Ernest Judet. He had always been held as the principal tool in the hands of those who effected the ruin of the Panama enterprise by bringing about the monstrous prosecution against its creators, Ferdinand and Charles de Lesseps.
As Judet was indicted for high treason (on the 23rd of August, 1919), it is apropos here to reproduce the passages of the French editions of my book published in 1913, about the part he played in 1892. It will show an almost unknown page of the great international drama of which Panama was the centre.
The prosecution against Ferdinand and Charles de Lesseps was ordered, against the opinion and the report of the Attorney General of the Paris Court of Justice, by Minister of Justice Ricard, on the 15th of November, 1892.
On page 131 of the French edition of my book appears the following sentence:
Suddenly, on the 10th of November, 1892, on the eve of the day when M. Ricard answered the Attorney General in terms rendering the prosecution inevitable, a surprising article appeared in the Petit Journal. It was entitled: "We must see clear."
On the same page appears also this footnote:
There will be found in Appendix C the reprint from the Siecle of June 17, 1906, of a letter which I had directed a few days before, about this nefarious article of November 10, 1892, to its signatory M. Judet who, in 1906, had become director of the Eclair.
I am now to reproduce the attack which M. Judet made in the Éclair against me for having rescued Panama and obtained its adoption by America. My letter exposing his sinister acts of 1892 follows. The indictment of Judet for high treason; the fact that he left France in the most anguishing part of the war just before the German attack of the 21st of March, 1918, against the British Fifth Army, and just before the beginning of the bombardment of Paris by long-range guns; the fact that he then took a permanent residence in Switzerland and never came back to the place of honour and danger (that is to France), give a striking actuality to the acts of Judet in 1892 as exposed by my letter of 1906 which follows.
On June 9, 1906, the Éclair published the following article:
THE BANKRUPTCY OF PANAMA
There are dead that come back. I have read the following lines in a morning paper:
About two hundred persons have met at a banquet, at the Élysée Palace Hotel, to celebrate the work accomplished at Panama by M. Philippe Bunau-Varilla and offer him a medal by Chaplain which has been very much admired.
M. de Lanessan was presiding at this friendly banquet. The former minister pronounced a very eloquent speech in which he retraced the qualities of dogged energy thanks to which a Frenchman has been able to reconstitute, after twenty years of effort, an enterprise which had seemed to be lost forever.
M. Philippe Bunau-Varilla expressed his thanks with deep emotion and exposed, with a clearness which very much impressed his audience, the plans which must, if the United States adopt them, definitively ensure the success of the Interoceanic Canal.
It would be interesting to know the names of these two hundred persons who have given themselves the trouble of celebrating the greatest defeat of France since Fashoda.
M. Phillipe Bunau-Varilla . . . was a remarkable engineer. It is even probable that his technical ideas on the cutting of the Isthmus of Panama are among the boldest and the most practical. So much the better for the United States if she adopts his system. From that point of view M. Philippe Bunau-Varilla is a good American. But nobody ought to speak decently of a French interest in this affair.
We ought not to forget that at the end of 1903, the undertaking of Ferdinand de Lesseps, conceived and created by our nation, partly made with our moneys could still remain our personal property. The Washington Government grabbed it, thanks to a legerdemain, which left in the hands of the shareholders a ridiculous tip but which took away from them, with their capital, a property of inestimable value, which threw us away from the Isthmus, where we had planted our flag for Civilization and for Humanity.
The history is not yet written of the scandalous intrigues which preceded the staged insurrection of Panama, the dismemberment of Colombia, and the formation of a REPUBLIC PROVIDENTIAL FOR MR. ROOSEVELT.
It made a reality of the old dream of the Yankees. They wanted the military domination of the Isthmus---the monopoly of the maritime canal which was to ensure them the supremacy in the world's competition from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They are the masters.
France was beaten in that tragical comedy which was played at the cost of all her interests---thanks to our interior party divisions---through the surrender of our foreign policy.
Now that we have been cast aside; now that the grabbing has been consummated, why should we triumph if the Americans use for their exclusive advantage the works to be carried out in the places from where we are expropriated? It is easy to explain the historical reasons of the disaster, but how can we glorify an irreparable weakness?
We must not at least present to foreign nations who deride us the spectacle of a retreat devoid of glory and of childish haste to transform it into a victory.
There is more dignity in keeping silent, in studying, in patiently awaiting, some other revenge.
Such was the hypocritical expression of opinion of the man who fourteen years earlier had signed the article which had killed the Panama enterprise and who eleven years later left France at the moment of supreme danger, when the fact of going away to inhabit a foreign neutral country was a veritable civic desertion and who, to-day, indicted for high treason, has not come back to face the accusation.
I answered this base article by the letter which follows, and wherein will be found exposed the "enemies of Panama," whom we may now call by their names: "the Boches."
Paris, June 12, 1906.
To M. ERNEST JUDET
Chief Editor of the Éclair
In the autumn of 1899. the destiny of the immortal conception of Panama was in the balance. Its development bad been stopped for three years. It had been paralyzed when we were approaching the goal, when an effort of secondary importance remained to be made to secure to France the honour of having cut the two isthmuses of the planet and of having opened the eastern gate of the Pacific, as she had already done previously with its western gate.
It was necessary to know whether the opinion of the people would be concentrated on this luminous aim, whether a new call for energies and interests would decide the scientific battle against the impossible, and give to France at the same time a property at least equal to that of Suez multiplied by three, that is a property of a value of two billion dollars.
The judicial enquiry had, after various hesitations, determined in the mind of the magistrate, then occupying the post of attorney general of the Court of Paris, the final opinion that no misdemeanour of any kind could be established against the management of the old Company. He assumed responsibility for this decision.
This was putting an end to the period of anguish which had followed the stoppage of the work. This was permitting the bankers, the engineers, to resume the half-accomplished task and to finish it within three or four years.
All those whom the honour of their country and the love of the French name were inspiring waited with anxiety for this hour of deliverance---the hour of work and action.
Those, on the contrary, for whom patriotism is but a vain and deceiving tag; the soldiers who throw down their weapons in the midst of the battle and leave the front to bring to trial a quartermaster who has not caused sugar and coffee to be issued in time; those were not willing that the bell calling them back to work should be rung; all these wanted to raise a hue and cry and engender a hysterical and monumental scandal.
A minister of justice mortally wounded in its head the Panama undertaking by ordering a criminal prosecution of its living symbol, the glorious but unfortunate Ferdinand de Lesseps.
He substituted, at the same time, his personal decision for that of the responsible head of the prosecution, the Attorney General, his subordinate, and for that of the responsible head of the French policy, the Government of the Republic, his superior.
But this minister needed for carrying out this act to be supported by what is usually called: public opinion.
You were in these days, M. Judet, at the head of an organ of the press then enjoying unlimited power.
It is this organ, the Petit Journal, which, in an article that has remained famous, gave to that minister the support necessary to write on the following day, on the 11th of November, his letter to the Attorney General, which rejected this magistrate's conclusions, and ordered a prosecution which dishonoured the Standard of Panama and thereby destroyed all hope of ever seeing this great work completed by France.
This nefarious article had for its prelude a deceiving and illusory appeal for the completion of the works. It was but a tricky and seducing piece of rhetoric which aimed at concealing from public indignation the real aim, the political aim.
Such was your part at this historical moment! It is you who loaded the anarchist bomb which was to destroy the fortune of six hundred thousand honest people in order to give substance to the complaint of four share- or bond-holders; which was to plunge France into an unnamed anguish, to make of the word "Panama" a symbol of infamy, to wrap the noble history of the glorious struggles on the Isthmus in the shroud of a contemptible legend made of the misdeeds of a few scoundrels emptying on the battlefield the pockets of the dead fallen from the ranks of the great and victorious army of Science which they followed like wolves.
I have, sir, learned from my childhood to consider the service of France as the most enviable thing which may fill the career of a man, if that service consists in real facts and not in the emission of empty and sonorous words. I graduated from the École Polytechnique with its motto engraved in the heart: "For Country, Science, and Glory."
I have never for one minute stopped acting to dam that current of error which was carrying away, piece by piece, this precious structure cemented by the blood and the savings of our country---this current which you had let loose.
I have acted by every means that a man can use---by the speech, by the pen, by the deeds.
While yet there was time, in the spring of 1901, when it still would have been possible, by a rapid and supreme effort, to open the Canal before the time limit granted by the concessionary laws---that is before the autumn of 1904---I published two appeals to the Nation---one in April, one in May, 1901, in order to show her the truth and the way.
I published these appeals in all the newspapers of France, and paid for their publication as if they had been simple advertisements. The most important press organ---at the head of which you then were---published them as did the other papers.
If the prelude of your article of 1899 had been sincere, you would have acted then, but the hand which was editing the first page of the paper was not offered to the hand which, on the last page, was begging help and support for salving the gigantic moral and material French interest at the supreme and last hour when it was still physically possible, which salvation ought to have made every French heart beat with enthusiasm.
Nobody dared to advance at my side on this lake of mud which had been formed by the unchained torrent of human wickedness.
I continued my solitary work and in December, 1901, in a third appeal---also printed in the daily papers---I showed that only one road remained open: that of the sale to the United States.
Your paper this time also published my appeal, and again the first page remained dumb to the appeals of the last page. You persisted in your silence. This silence was intended to continue to conceal the crime against France, committed in 1892. You thought then that this corpse would never speak, which you are surprised to see emerging from the grave that you dug for it.
My inexorable determination and my unshakable fidelity have illumined again the life of the child of French genius at the moment when it seemed to be extinguished forever, and I have been happy enough to secure its adoption by the great sister republic beyond the Atlantic.
It may be convenient for you, sir, in order to forget your responsibilities, to affect to-day a patriotic sorrow and to depict the victory in America of the French idea of Panama over the American idea of Nicaragua as a prearranged comedy. Why did you not so describe it, if you thought it so, when the battle was going on?
What would a man of good faith think of this assertion when reading the conclusions, in 1876, of the investigations undertaken by the American Government at the end of seven years of surveys and explorations in all parts of the Isthmus? He would see there that among all the inter-oceanic highways the Nicaraguan one is proclaimed by the Commission formed in 1869 by President Grant as the one presenting least difficulties and the greatest facilities both for construction and for operation.
This was written at a time when the field was entirely free; when the initial elementary conception, which was later on to be transformed into the Panama undertaking, was not yet born in the brain of the Geographic Society of Paris; and when, consequently, no rivalry could be accused of influencing the scales of technical justice.
What will that man of good faith think when he sees the vote on the Spooner Bill, on the 19th of June, 1902, in the Senate of Washington, and which gave preference to the Panama route over that of Nicaragua? The decision would have been contrary if four senators less, of the ninety members of that high assembly, had been won to the idea of Panama by my inceasing demonstrations, to which the eruption of Mont Pelée furnished a terrible materialization.
Four senators less in favour of Panama, and the adoption of the Nicaraguan route already voted for in the preceding January by all but two of the House of Representatives---would have become an accomplished fact.
It may be convenient for you, sir, now that the work of error and calumny is consummated---so far as concerns the material interests of France---to anathematize the Panama Revolution, as well as the treaty which I, as the Minister Plenipotentiary of the new Republic, have signed with the United States, and to depict this diplomatic act as spoliating France!
What will this man of good faith think when reading the discussions before the Colombian Senate during the summer of 1903 which preceded the revolution? He will see there that the Hay-Herran Treaty was rejected which authorized the French Company to sell its property to the United States. He will see there the manifestation of the will to consider as null and void the prorogation of six years, to date from 1904, granted to that company by the Executive power without authority from the Legislative power.
The lack of ratification in 1903 of that prorogation was equivalent, for the French people, to the whole loss of all their rights of property on the works already carried out, on the plant and on the concession from the autumn of 1904.
As all the billions of the earth could not have opened the Canal in one year, I have the right to say that the Revolution of Panama and the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, for which I claim entire responsibility, saved at least forty million dollars to France.
But they saved something infinitely more precious, it is the undertaking itself of Panama. It is easy to see that because, after the rejection of the Hay-Herran Treaty by Colombia, the Spooner Law made it an imperative, explicit, and formal obligation to the Executive power of the United States to construct the Nicaragua Canal.
The loveless marriage of the American nation with the foreign solution of Panama was already gladly greeted as dissolved. The Nicaragua Canal---which the celebrated American financier Vanderbilt had begun in 1850 and which was ever afterward recommended by all the American commissions as the superior solution; which was constantly greeted by the unanimity of the press and of the political world as the national solution was going to enter its hour of triumph.
The Panaman Revolution has changed that hour of triumph into an hour of final defeat, and the final defeat of Nicaragua into the permanent and eternal triumph of the French idea of Panama. Simultaneously with the revivification of the generous French creation, the honour of the scientific genius of our country became safeguarded. It would have been besmirched by the final sterility of this great national effort. It will radiate more luminously than ever by this historic demonstration of the height and of the surety of its conceptions.
Those who acclaim this triumph of the Scientific Truth, served by the hearts and the brains of France for twenty-six years, are those whose consciences are filled by sincere love of France. Those who deplore it are those for whom this love is but an empty figure of speech---hollow as well as deceiving---or those whom this love, if it be sincere, oppresses with the crushing remorse of the past.
I conclude in begging you, sir, to receive the expression of the sentiments which this letter sufficiently translates, and in inviting you to insert it in answer to your article of June 9th published in the Éclair, this in conformity with the mandates of the law, expressing my obligation to pay the legal price for the surplus of the insertion.
When Judet received the letter he immediately declared in his paper that he was going to publish it. He wrote on the 15th of June, 1906:
This letter furnishes us with too good an opportunity to explain ourselves. We will not deprive our readers of that pleasure. Their curiosity shall not be disappointed.
But the curiosity of Judet's readers was disappointed. He never dared to publish a line of my letter nor to oppose the formal indictment it contained of having wilfully and hypocritically ruined the Panama enterprise for a secret interest.
THE INDICTMENT OF JUDET FOR HIGH TREASON
A question remained open.
For whose interest had Judet worked? Had he destroyed with his anarchist bomb the great and glorious enterprise of Panama; had he dishonoured Ferdinand and Charles de Lesseps, the engineers of France, her men of science, her political men; had he ruined 600,000 families; had he sown distrust and ill-will in the whole nation for the internal and infernal political ambition of a party excited by Boche intriguers unknown to him? Had he committed the still infinitely more odious crime of stabbing France in the back---knowingly---for the interest of Germany? Had he committed this crime in order to effect---knowingly---the enfeeblement of France and to weaken her resistance to the next great German attack?
The last-mentioned hypothesis was so horrible that I never dared to express it, and I now still ask the reader to postpone his final judgment until the sentence of the court martial shall have pronounced on the accusation of high treason brought against Ernest Judet.
This indictment has evoked the publication by the press of documents which, if corroborated, prove that he had relations with Germany at the very beginning of the war.(6)
This despatch, if expressing the truth, would demonstrate that Judet was disposed to betray at the very outset of hostilities. Its tone also implies the fact that Judet was not then for the first time at the Service of Germany.
The trial will clear the matter from which will result the answer to the question: In wrecking the Panama Canal, in 1892, was Judet---knowingly or unknowingly---the instrument of the Boche in Paris?
But a fact of the highest importance for contemporary history remains: the wrecking of the Panama enterprise by the Judet article in 1892---after its stranding by the bourse manoeuvre of 1888---was the fruit of Boche conspiracy. It was evolved in view of the onslaught projected for the beginning of the twentieth century just as the conspiracy for establishing an empire in Mexico was a preparation for the attack of 1870 on France.
Chapter VII. Campaign against the Nicaragau Canal
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