MY FOUR YEARS
JAMES W. GERARD
LATE AMBASSADOR TO THE GERMAN IMPERIAL COURT
Fig. 1. AMBASSADOR GERARD SAYING GOOD-BYE TO THE AMERICANS
LEAVING ON A SPECIAL TRAIN. AUGUST, 1914
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
TO MY SMALL BUT TACTFUL FAMILY
I am writing what should have been the last chapter of this book as a foreword because I want to bring home to our people the gravity of the situation; because I want to tell them that the military and naval power of the German ;Empire is unbroken; that of the twelve million men whom the Kaiser has called to the colours but one million, five hundred thousand have been killed, five hundred thousand permanently disabled, not more than five hundred thousand are prisoners of war, and about five hundred thousand constitute the number of wounded or those on the sick list of each day, leaving at all times about nine million effectives under arms.
I state these figures because Americans do not grasp either the magnitude or the importance of this war. Perhaps the statement that over five million prisoners of war are held in the various countries will bring home to Americans the enormous mass of men engaged.
There have been no great losses in the German navy, and any losses of ships have been compensated for by the building of new ones. The nine million men, and more, for at least four hundred thousand come of military age in Germany every year, because of their experience in two and a half years of war are better and more efficient soldiers than at the time when they were called to the colours. Their officers know far more of the science of this war and the men themselves now have the skill and bearing of veterans.
Nor should any one believe that Germany will break under starvation or make peace because of revolution.
The German nation is not one which makes revolutions. There will be scattered riots in Germany, but no simultaneous rising of the whole people. The officers of the army are all of one class, and of a class devoted to the ideals of autocracy. A revolution of the army is impossible; and at home there are only the boys and old men easily kept in subjection by the police.
There is far greater danger of the starvation of our Allies than of the starvation of the Germans. Every available inch of ground in Germany is cultivated, and cultivated by the aid of the old men, the boys and the women, and the two million prisoners of war.
The arable lands of Northern France and of Roumania are being cultivated by the German army with an efficiency never before known in these countries, and most of that food will be added to the food supplies of Germany. Certainly the people suffer; but still more certainly this war will not be ended because of the starvation of Germany.
Although thinking Germans know that if they do not win the war the financial. day of reckoning will come, nevertheless, owing to the clever financial handling of the country by the government and the great banks, there is at present no financial distress in Germany; and the knowledge that, unless indemnities are obtained from other countries, the weight of the great war debt will fall upon the people, perhaps makes them readier to risk all in a final attempt to win the war and impose indemnities upon not only the nations of Europe but also upon the United States of America.
We are engaged in a war against the greatest military power the world has ever seen; against a people whose country was for so many centuries a theatre of devastating wars that fear is bred in the very marrow of their souls, making them ready to submit their lives and fortunes to an autocracy which for centuries has ground their faces, but which has promised them, as a result of the war, not only security but riches untold and the dominion of the world; a people which, as from a high mountain, has looked upon the cities of the world and the glories of them, and has been promised these cities and these glories by the devils of autocracy and of war.
We are warring against a nation whose poets and professors, whose pedagogues and whose parsons have united in stirring its people to a white pitch of hatred, first against Russia, then against England and now against America.
The U-Boat peril is a very real one for England. Russia may either break up into civil wars or become so ineffective that the millions of German troops engaged on the Russian front may be withdrawn and hurled against the Western lines. We stand in great peril, and only the exercise of ruthless realism can win this war for us. If Germany wins this war it means the triumph of the autocratic system. It means the triumph of those who believe not only in war as a national industry, not only in war for itself but also in war as a high and noble occupation. Unless Germany is beaten the whole world will be compelled to turn itself into an armed camp, until the German autocracy either brings every nation tinder its dominion or is forever wiped out as a form of government.
We are in this war because we were forced into it: because Germany not only murdered our citizens on the high seas, but also filled our country with spies and sought to incite our people to civil war. We were given no opportunity to discuss or negotiate. The forty-eight hour ultimatum given by Austria to Serbia was not, as Bernard Shaw said, "A decent time in which to ask a man to pay his hotel bill." What of the six-hour ultimatum given to me in Berlin on the evening of January thirty-first, 1917, when I was notified at six that ruthless warfare would commence at twelve? Why the German government, which up to that moment had professed amity and a desire to stand by the Sussex pledges, knew that it took almost two days to send a cable to America! I believe that we are not only justly in this war, but prudently in this war. If we had stayed out and the war had been drawn or won by Germany we should have been attacked, and that while Europe stood grinning by: not directly at first, but through an attack on some Central or South American State to which it would be at least as difficult for us to send troops as for Germany. And what if this powerful nation, vowed to war., were once firmly established in South or Central America? What of our boasted isolation then?
It is only because I believe that our people should be informed that I have consented to write this book. There are too many thinkers, writers and speakers in the United States; from now on we need the doers, the organisers, and the realists who alone can win this contest for us, for democracy and for permanent peace!
Writing of events so new, I am, of course, compelled to exercise a great discretion, to keep silent on many things of which I would speak, to suspend many judgments and to hold for future disclosure many things, the relation of which now would perhaps only serve to increase bitterness or to cause internal, dissension in our own land.
The American who travels through Germany in summer time or who spends a month having his liver tickled at Homburg or Carlsbad, who has his digestion restored by Dr. Dapper at Kissingen or who relearns the lost art of eating meat at Dr. Dengler's in Baden, learns little of the real Germany and its rulers; and in this book I tell something of the real Germany, not only that my readers may understand the events of the last three years but also that they may judge of what is likely to happen in our future relations with that country.
|MY FIRST YEAR IN GERMANY|
|POLITICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL|
|DIPLOMATIC WORK OF FIRST WINTER IN BERLIN|
|MILITARISM IN GERMANY AND THE ZABERN AFFAIR|
|PSYCHOLOGY AND CAUSES WHICH PREPARED THE NATION FOR WAR|
|AT KIEL JUST BEFORE THE WAR|
|THE DAYS BEFORE THE WAR.|
|THE AMERICANS AT THE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES|
|PRISONERS OF WAR|
|FIRST DAYS OF THE WAR: POLITICAL AND DIPLOMATIC|
|WORK FOR THE GERMANS|
|LIBERALS AND REASONABLE MEN|
|THE GERMAN PEOPLE IN WAR|