JAMES W. GERARD
MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY
MY FIRST YEAR IN GERMANY
THE second day out on the Imperator, headed for a summer's vacation, a loud knocking woke me at seven A. M. The radio, handed in from a friend in New York, told me of my appointment as Ambassador to Germany.
Many friends were on the ship. Henry Morgenthau, later Ambassador to Turkey, Colonel George Harvey, Adolph Ochs and Louis Wiley of the New York Times, Clarence Mackay, and others.
The Imperator is a marvellous ship of fifty-four thousand tons or more, and at times it is hard to believe that one is on the sea. In addition to the regular dining saloon, there is a grill room and Ritz restaurant with its palm garden, and, of course, an Hungarian Band. There are also a gymnasium and swimming pool, and, nightly, in the enormous ballroom dances are given, the women dressing in their best just as they do on shore.
Colonel Harvey and Clarence Mackay gave me a dinner of twenty-four covers, something of a record at sea. For long afterwards in Germany, I saw everywhere pictures of the Imperator including one of the tables set for this dinner. These were sent out over Germany as a sort of propaganda to induce the Germans to patronise their own ships and indulge in ocean travel. I wish that the propaganda had been earlier and more successful, because it is by travel that peoples learn to know each other, and consequently to abstain from war.
On the night of the usual ship concert, Henry Morgenthau translated a little speech for me into German, which I managed to get through after painfully learning it by heart. Now that I have a better knowledge of German, a cold sweat breaks out when I think of the awful German accent with which I delivered that address.
A flying trip to Berlin early in August to look into the house question followed, and then I returned to the United States.
In September I went to Washington to be "instructed," talked with the President and Secretary, and sat at the feet of the Assistant Secretary of State, Alvey A. Adee, the revered Sage of the Department of State.
On September ninth, 1913, having resigned as justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, I sailed for Germany, stopping on the way in London in order to make the acquaintance of Ambassador Page, certain wise people in Washington having expressed the belief that a personal acquaintance of our Ambassadors made it easier for them to work together.
Two cares assail a newly appointed Ambassador. He must first take thought of what he shall wear and where he shall live. All other nations have beautiful Embassies or Legations in Berlin, but I found that my two immediate predecessors had occupied a villa originally built as a two-family house, pleasantly enough situated, but two miles from the centre of Berlin and entirely unsuitable for an Embassy.
There are few private houses in Berlin, most of the people living in apartments. After some trouble I found a handsome house on the Wilhelm Platz immediately opposite the Chancellor's palace and the Foreign Office, in the very centre of Berlin. This house had been built as a palace for the Princes Hatzfeld and had later passed into the possession of a banking family named von Schwabach.
The United States Government, unlike other nations, does not own or pay the rent of a suitable Embassy, but gives allowance for offices, if the house is large enough to afford office room for the office force of the Embassy. The von Schwabach palace was nothing but a shell. Even the gas and electric light fixtures had been removed; and when the hot water and heating system, bath-rooms, electric lights and fixtures, etc., had been put in, and the house furnished from top to bottom, my first year's salary had far passed the minus point.
The palace was not ready for occupancy until the end of January, 1914, and, in the meantime, we lived at the Hotel Esplanade, and I transacted business at the old, two-family villa.
There are more diplomats in Berlin than in any other capital in the world, because each of the twenty-five States constituting the German Empire sends a legation to Berlin; even the free cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen have a resident minister at the Empire's capital.
Invariable custom requires a new Ambassador in Berlin to give two receptions, one to the Diplomatic Corps and the other to all those people who have the right to go to court. These are the officials, nobles and officers of the army and navy, and such other persons as have been presented at court. Such people are called hoffähig, meaning that they are fit for court.
It is interesting here to note that Jews are not admitted to court. Such Jews as have been ennobled and allowed to put the coveted "von" before their names have first of all been required to submit to baptism in some Christian church. Examples are the von Schwabach family, whose ancestral house I occupied in Berlin, and Friedlaender-Fuld, officially rated as the richest man in Berlin, who made a large fortune in coke and its by-products.
Fig. 2. AMBASSADOR GERARD ON HIS WAY TO PRESENT HIS LETTERS OF CREDENCE TO THE EMPEROR
Fig. 3. THE HOUSE ON THE WILHELM PLATZ, RENTED FOR USE AS THE EMBASSY
These two receptions are really introductions of an Ambassador to official and court society.
Before these receptions, however, and in the month of November, I presented my letters of credence as Ambassador to the Emperor. This presentation is quite a ceremony. Three coaches were sent for me and my staff, coaches like that in which Cinderella goes to her ball, mostly glass, with white wigged coachmen, outriders in white wigs and standing footmen holding on to the back part of the coach. Baron von Roeder, introducer of Ambassadors, came for me and accompanied me in the first coach; the men of the Embassy staff sat in the other two coaches. Our little procession progressed solemnly through the streets of Berlin, passing on the way through the centre division of the arch known as the Brandenburger Thor, the gateway that stands at the head of the Unter den Linden, a privilege given only on this occasion.
We mounted long stairs in the palace, and in a large room were received by the aides and the officers of the Emperor's household, of course all in uniform. Then I was ushered alone into the adjoining room where the Emperor, very erect and dressed in the black uniform of the Death's Head Hussars, stood by a table. I made him a little speech, and presented my letters of credence and the letters of recall of my predecessor. The Emperor then unbent from his very erect and impressive attitude and talked with me in a very friendly manner, especially impressing me with his interest in business and commercial affairs. I then, in accordance with custom, asked leave to present my staff. The doors were opened. The staff came in and were presented to the Emperor, who talked in a very jolly and agreeable way to all of us, saying that he hoped above all to see the whole of the Embassy staff riding in the Tier Garten in the mornings.
The Emperor is a most impressive figure, and, in his black uniform surrounded by his officers, certainly looked every inch a king. Although my predecessors, on occasions of this kind, had worn a sort of fancy diplomatic uniform designed by themselves, I decided to abandon this and return to the democratic, if unattractive and uncomfortable, dress-suit, simply because the newspapers of America and certain congressmen, while they have had no objection to the wearing of uniforms by the army and navy, police and postmen, and do not expect officers to lead their troops into battle in dress-suits, have, nevertheless, had a most extraordinary prejudice against American diplomats following the usual custom of adopting a diplomatic uniform.
Some days after my presentation to the Emperor, I was taken to Potsdam, which is situated about half an hour's train journey from Berlin, and, from the station there, driven to the new palace and presented to the Empress. The Empress was most charming and affable, and presented a very distinguished appearance. Accompanied by Mrs. Gerard, and always, either by night or by day, in the infernal dress-suit, I was received by the Crown Prince and Princess, and others of the royal princes and their wives. On these occasions we sat down and did not stand, as when received by the Emperor and Empress, and simply made "polite conversation" for about twenty minutes, being received first by the ladies-in-waiting and aides. These princes were always in uniform of some kind.
At the reception for the hoffähig people Mrs. Gerard stood in one room and I in another, and with each of us was a representative of the Emperor's household to introduce the people of the court, and an army officer to introduce the people of the army. The officer assigned to me had the extraordinary name of der Pfortner von der Hoelle, which means the "porter of Hell." I have often wondered since by what prophetic instinct he was sent to introduce me to the two years and a half of world war which I experienced in Berlin. This unfortunate officer, a most charming gentleman, was killed early in the war.
The Berlin season lasts from about the twentieth of January for about six weeks. It is short in duration because, if the hoffähig people stay longer than six weeks in Berlin, they become liable to pay their local income tax in Berlin, where the rate is higher than in those parts of Germany where they have their country estates.
The first great court ceremonial is the Schleppencour, so-called from the long trains or Schleppen worn by the women. On this night we "presented" Mr. and Mrs. Robert K. Cassatt of Philadelphia, Mrs. Ernest Wiltsee, Mrs. and Miss Luce and Mrs. Norman Whitehouse. On the arrival at the palace with these and all the members of the Embassy Staff and their wives, we were shown up a long staircase, at the top of which a guard of honour, dressed in costume of the time of Frederick the Great, presented arms to all Ambassadors, and ruffled kettledrums. Through long lines of cadets from the military schools, dressed as pages, in white, with short breeches and powdered wigs, we passed through several rooms where all the people to pass in review were gathered. Behind these, in a room about sixty feet by fifty, on a throne facing the door were the Emperor and Empress, and on the broad steps of this throne were the princes and their wives, the court ladies-in-waiting and all the other members of the court. The wives of the Ambassadors entered the room first, followed at intervals of about twenty feet by the ladies of the Embassy and the ladies to be presented. As they entered the room and made a change of direction toward the throne, pages in white straightened out the ladies' trains with long sticks. Arrived opposite the throne and about twenty feet from it, each Ambassador's wife made a low curtsey and then stood on the foot of the throne, to the left of the Emperor and Empress, and as each lady of the Embassy, not before presented, and each lady to be presented stopped beside the throne and made a low curtsey, the Ambassadress had to call out the name of each one in a loud voice; and when the last one had passed she followed her out of the room, walking sideways so as not to turn her back on the royalties,---something of a feat when towing a train about fifteen feet long. When all the Ambassadresses had so passed, it was the turn of the Ambassadors, who carried out substantially the same programme, substituting low bows for curtsies. The Ambassadors were followed by the Ministers' wives, these by the Ministers and these by the dignitaries of the German Court. All passed into the adjoining hall, and there a buffet supper was served. The whole affair began at about eight o'clock and was over in an hour.
At the court balls, which also began early in the evening, a different procedure was followed. There the guests were required to assemble before eight-twenty in the ball-room. As in the Schleppencour, on one side of the room was the throne with seats for the Emperor and Empress, and to the right of this throne were the chairs for the Ambassadors' wives who were seated in the order of their husbands' rank, with the ladies of their Embassy, and any ladies they had brought to the ball standing behind them. After them came the Ministers' wives, sitting in similar fashion; then the Ambassadors, standing with their staffs behind them on raised steps, with any men that they had asked invitations for, and the Ministers in similar order. To the left of the throne stood the wives of the Dukes and dignitaries of Germany and then their husbands. When all were assembled, promptly at the time announced, the orchestra, which was dressed in mediaeval costume and sat in a gallery, sounded trumpets and then the Emperor and Empress entered the room, the Emperor, of course, in uniform, followed by the ladies and gentlemen of the household all in brilliant uniforms, and one or two officers of the court regiment, picked out for their great height and dressed in the kind of uniform Rupert of Hentzau wears on the stage,---a silver helmet surmounted by an eagle, a steel breast-plate, white breeches and coat, and enormous high boots coming half way tip the thigh. The Grand Huntsman wore a white wig, three-cornered hat and a long green coat.
On entering the room, the Empress usually commenced on one side and the Emperor on the other, going around the room and speaking to the Ambassadors' wives and Ambassadors, etc., in turn, and the Empress in similar fashion, chatting for a moment with the German dignitaries and their wives lined up on the opposite side of the room. After going perhaps half way around each side, the Emperor and Empress would then change sides. This going around the room and chatting with people in turn is called "making the circle", and young royalties are practised in "making the circle" by being made to go up to the trees in a garden and address a few pleasant words to each tree, in this manner learning one of the principal duties of royalty.
The dancing is only by young women and young officers of noble families who have practised the dances before. They are under the superintendence of several young officers who are known as Vortlänzer and when any one in Berlin in court society gives a ball these Vortänzer are the ones who see that all dancing is conducted strictly according to rule and manage the affairs of the ball-room with true Prussian efficiency. Supper is about ten-thirty at a court ball and is at small tables. Each royalty has a table holding about eight people and to these people are invited without particular rule as to precedence. The younger guests and lower dignitaries are not placed at supper but find places at tables to suit themselves. After supper all go back to the ball-room and there the young ladies and officers, led by the Vortänzer, execute a sort of lancers, in the final figure of which long lines are formed of dancers radiating from the throne; and all the dancers make bows. and curtsies to the Emperor and Empress who. are either standing or sitting at this time on the throne. At about eleven-thirty the ball is over, and as the guests pass out through the long hall, they are given glasses of hot punch and a peculiar sort of local Berlin bun, in order to ward off the lurking dangers of the villainous winter climate.
At the court balls the diplomats are, of course, in their best diplomatic uniform. All Germans are in uniform of some kind, but the women do not wear the long trains worn at the Schleppencour. They wear ordinary ball dresses. In connection with court dancing it is rather interesting to note that when the tango and turkey trot made their way over the frontiers of Germany in the autumn of 1913, the Emperor issued a special order that no officers of the army or navy should dance any of these dances or should go to the house of any person who, at any time, whether officers were present or not, had allowed any of these new dances to be danced. This effectually extinguished the turkey trot, the bunny hug and the tango, and maintained the waltz and the polka in their old estate. It may seem ridiculous that such a decree should be so solemnly issued, but I believe that the higher authorities in Germany earnestly desired that the people, and, especially, the officers of the army and navy, should learn not to enjoy themselves too much. A great endeavour was always made to keep them in a life, so far as possible, of Spartan simplicity. For instance, the army officers were forbidden to play polo, not because of anything against the game, which, of course, is splendid practice for riding, but because it would make a distinction in the army between rich and poor.
The Emperor's birthday, January twenty-seventh, is a day of great celebration. At nine-thirty in the morning the Ambassadors, Ministers and all the dignitaries of the court attend Divine Service in the chapel of the palace. On this day in 1914, the Queen of Greece and many of the reigning princes of the German States were present. In the evening there was a gala performance in the opera house, the entire house being occupied by members of the court. Between the acts in the large foyer, royalties "made the circle," and I had quite a long conversation with both the Emperor and Empress and was "caught" by the King of Saxony. Many of the Ambassadors have letters of credence not only to the court at Berlin but also to the rulers of the minor German States. For instance, the Belgian Minister was accredited to thirteen countries in Germany and the Spanish Ambassador to eleven. For some reason or other, the American and Turkish Ambassadors are accredited only to the court at Berlin. Some of the German rulers feel this quite keenly, and the King of Saxony, especially. I had been warned that he was very anxious to show his resentment of this distinction by refusing to shake hands with the American Ambassador. He was in the foyer on the occasion of this gala performance and said that he would like to have me presented to him. I, of course, could not refuse, but forgot the warning of my predecessors and put out my hand, which the King ostentatiously neglected to take, A few moments later the wife of the Turkish Ambassador was presented to the King of Saxony and received a similar rebuff; but, as she was a daughter of the Khedive of Egypt, and therefore a Royal Highness in her own right, she went around the King of Saxony, seized his hand, which he had put behind him, brought it around to the front and shook it warmly, a fine example of great presence of mind.
Fig. 4. A SALON IN THE AMERICAN EMBASSY
Fig. 5. THE BALLROOM OF THE EMBASSY. THIS WAS AFTERWARD TURNED INTO A WORKROOM FOR THE RELIEF OF AMERICANS IN WAR DAYS
Writing of all these things and looking out from a sky-scraper in New York, these details of court life seem very frivolous and far away. But an Ambassador is compelled to become part of this system. The most important conversations with the Emperor sometimes take place at court functions, and the Ambassador and his secretaries often gather their most useful bits of information over tea cups or with the cigars after dinner.
Aside from the short season, Berlin is rather dull; Bismarck characterised it as a "desert of bricks and newspapers."
In addition to making visits to the royalties, custom required me to call first upon the Imperial Chancellor and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The other ministers are supposed to call first, although I believe the redoubtable von Tirpitz claimed a different rule. So, during the first winter I gradually made the acquaintance of those people who sway the destinies of the German Empire and its seventy millions.
I dined with the Emperor and had long conversations with him on New Year's Day and at the two court balls.
All during this winter Germans from the highest down tried to impress me with the great danger which they said threatened America from Japan. The military and naval attachés and I were told that the German information system sent news that Mexico was full of Japanese colonels and America of Japanese spies. Possibly much of the prejudice in America against the Japanese was cooked up by the German propagandists whom we later learned to know so well.
It is noteworthy that during the whole of my first winter in Berlin I was not officially or semiofficially afforded an opportunity to meet any of the members of the Reichstag or any of the leaders in the business world. The great merchants, whose acquaintance I made, as well as the literary and artistic people, I had to seek out; because most of them were not hoffähig and I did not come in contact with them at any court functions, official dinners or even in the houses of the court nobles or those connected with the government.
A very interesting character whom I met during the first winter and often conversed with, was Prince Henkel-Donnersmarck. Prince Donnersmarck, who died December, 1916, at the age of eighty-six years, was the richest male subject in Germany, the richest subject being Frau von Krupp-Böhlen, the heiress of the Krupp cannon foundry. He was the first governor of Lorraine during the war of 1870 and had had a finger in all of the political and commercial activities of Germany for more than half a century. He told me, on one occasion , that he had advocated exacting a war indemnity of thirty milliards from France after the war of 1870, and said that France could easily pay it---and that that sum or much more should be exacted as an indemnity at the conclusion of the World War of 1914. He said that he had always advocated a protective tariff for agricultural products in Germany as well as encouragement of the German manufacturing interests: that agriculture was necessary to the country in order to provide strong soldiers for war, and manufacturing industries to provide money to pay for the army and navy and their equipment. He made me promise to take his second son to America in order that he might see American life, and the great iron and coal districts of Pennsylvania. Of course, most of these conversations took place before the World War. After two years of that war and, as prospects of paying the expenses of the war from the indemnities to be exacted from the enemies of Germany gradually melted away, the Prince quite naturally developed a great anxiety as to how the expenses of the war should be paid by Germany; and I am sure that this anxiety had much to do with his death at the end of the year, 1916.
Custom demanded that I should ask for an appointment and call on each of the Ambassadors on arrival. The British Ambassador was Sir Edward Goschen, a man of perhaps sixty-eight years, a widower. He spoke French, of course, and German; and, accompanied by his dog, was a frequent visitor at our house. I am very grateful for the help and advice he so generously gave me---doubly valuable as coming from a man of his fame and experience. Jules Cambon was the Ambassador of France. His brother, Paul, is Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Jules Cambon is well-known to Americans, having passed five years in this country. He was Ambassador to Spain for five years, and, at the time of my arrival, had been about the same period at Berlin. In spite of his long residence in each of these countries, he spoke only French; but he possessed a really marvellous insight into the political life of each of these nations.
Bollati, the Italian Ambassador, was a great admirer of Germany; he spoke German well and did everything possible to keep Italy out of war with her former Allies in the Triple Alliance.
Spain was represented by Polo de Bernabe, who now represents the interests of the United States in Germany, as well as those of France, Russia, Belgium, Serbia and Roumania. It is a curious commentary on the absurdity of war that, on leaving Berlin, I handed over the interests of the United States to this Ambassador, who, as Spanish minister to the United States, was handed his passports at the outbreak of the Spanish-American war! I am sure that not only he, but all his Embassy, will devotedly represent our interests in Germany. Sverbeeu represented the interests of Russia; Soughimoura, Japan; and Mouktar Pascha, Turkey. The wife of the latter was a daughter of the Khedive of Egypt, and Mouktar Pascha himself a general of distinction in the Turkish army.
An Ambassador must keep on intimate terms with his colleagues. It is often through them that he learns of important matters affecting his own country or others. All of these Ambassadors and most of the Ministers occupied handsome houses furnished by their government.
They had large salaries and a fund for entertaining.
During this first winter before the war, I saw a great deal of the German Crown Prince as well as of several of his brothers.
I cannot subscribe to the general opinion of the Crown Prince. I found him a most agreeable man, a sharp observer and the possessor of intellectual attainments of no mean order. He is undoubtedly popular in Germany, excelling in all sports, a fearless rider and a good shot. He is ably seconded by the Crown Princess. The mother of the Crown Princess is a Russian Grand Duchess, and her father was a Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She is a very beautiful woman made popular by her affable manners. The one defect of the Crown Prince has been his eagerness for war; but, as he has characterised this war as the most stupid ever waged in history, perhaps he will be satisfied, if he comes to the throne, with what all Germany has suffered in this conflict.
The Crown Prince was very anxious, before the war, to visit the United States; and we had practically arranged to make a trip to Alaska in search of some of the big game there, with stops at the principal cities of America.
The second son of the Kaiser, Prince Eitel Fritz, is considered by the Germans to have distinguished himself most in this war. He is given credit for great personal bravery.
Prince Adalbert, the sailor prince, is quite American in his manners. In February, 1914, the Crown Prince and Princes Eitel Fritz and Adalbert came to our Embassy for a very small dance to which were asked all the pretty American girls then in Berlin.
It is never the custom to invite royalties to an entertainment. They invite themselves to a dance or a dinner, and the list of proposed guests is always submitted to them. When a royalty arrives at the house, the host (and the hostess, if the royalty be a woman) always waits at the front door and escorts the royalties up-stairs.
Allison Armour also gave a dance at which the Crown Prince was present, following a dinner at the Automobile Club. Armour has been a constant visitor to Germany for many years, usually going in his yacht to Kiel in summer and to Corfu, where the Emperor goes, in winter. As he has never tried to obtain anything from the Emperor, he has become quite intimate with him and with all the members of the royal family.
The Chancellor, von Bethmann-Hollweg, is an enormous man of perhaps six feet five or six. He comes of a banking family in Frankfort. It is too soon to give a just estimate of his acts in this war. When I arrived in Berlin and until November, 1916, von Jagow was Minister of Foreign Affairs. In past years he had occupied the post of Ambassador to Italy, and with great reluctance took his place at the head of the Foreign Office. Zimmermann was an Under Secretary, succeeding von Jagow when the latter was practically forced out of office. Zimmermann, on account of his plain and hearty manners and democratic air, was more of a favourite with the Ambassadors and members of the Reichstag than von Jagow, who, in appearance and manner, was the ideal old-style diplomat of the stage.
Von Jagow was not a good speaker and the agitation against him was started by those who claimed that, in answering questions in the Reichstag, he did not make a forceful enough appearance on behalf of the government. Von Jagow did not cultivate the members of the Reichstag and his delicate health prevented him from undertaking more than the duties of his office.
As a matter of fact, I believe that von Jagow had a juster estimate of foreign nations than Zimmermann, and more correctly divined the thoughts of the American people in this war than did his successor. I thought that I enjoyed the personal friendship of both von Jagow and Zimmermann and, therefore, was rather unpleasantly surprised when I saw in the papers that Zimmermann had stated in the Reichstag that he had been compelled, from motives of policy, to keep on friendly terms with me. I sincerely hope that what he said on this occasion was incorrectly reported. Von Jagow, after his fall, took charge of a hospital at Libau in the occupied portion of Russia. This shows the devotion to duty of the Prussian noble class, and their readiness to take up any task, however humble, that may help their country.
POLITICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL
MY commission read, "Ambassador to Germany."
It is characteristic of our deep ignorance of all foreign affairs that I was appointed Ambassador to a place which does not exist. Politically, there is no such place as "Germany." There are the twenty-five States, Prussia, Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, etc., which make up the "German Empire," but there is no such political entity as "Germany."
These twenty-five States have votes in the Bundesrat, a body which may be said to correspond remotely to our United States Senate. But each State has a different number of votes. Prussia has seventeen, Bavaria six, Württemberg and Saxony four each, Baden and Hesse three each, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Brunswick two each, and the rest one each. Prussia controls Brunswick.
The Reichstag, or Imperial Parliament, corresponds to our House of Representatives. The members are elected by manhood suffrage of those over twenty-five. But in practice the Reichstag is nothing but a debating society because of the preponderating power of the Bundesrat, or upper chamber. At the head of the ministry is the Chancellor, appointed by the Emperor; and the other Ministers, such as Colonies, Interior, Education, Justice and Foreign Affairs, are but underlings of the Chancellor and appointed by him. The Chancellor is not responsible to the Reichstag, as Bethmann-Hollweg clearly stated at the time of the Zabern affair, but only to the Emperor.
It is true that an innovation properly belonging only to a parliamentary government was introduced some seven years ago, viz., that the ministers must answer questions (as in Great Britain) put them by the members of the Reichstag. But there the likeness to a parliamentary government begins and ends.
The members of the Bundesrat are named by the Princes of the twenty-five States making up the German Empire. Prussia, which has seventeen votes , may name seventeen members of. the Bundesrat or one member, who, however, when he votes casts seventeen votes. The votes of a State must always be cast as a unit. In the usual procedure bills are prepared and adopted in the Bundesrat and then sent to the Reichstag whence, if passed, they return to the Bundesrat where the final approval must take place. Therefore, in practice, the Bundesrat makes the laws with the assent of the Reichstag. The members of the Bundesrat have the right to appear and make speeches in the Reichstag. The fundamental constitution of the German Empire is not changed, as with us, by a separate body but is changed in the same way that an ordinary law is passed; except that if there are fourteen votes against the proposed change in the Bundesrat the proposition is defeated, and, further, the constitution cannot be changed with respect to rights expressly granted by it to any one of the twenty-five States without the assent of that State.
In order to pass a law a majority vote in the Bundesrat and Reichstag is sufficient if there is a quorum present, and a quorum is a majority of the members elected in the Reichstag: in the Bundesrat the quorum consists of such members as are present at a regularly called meeting, providing the Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor attends.
The boundaries of the districts sending members to the Reichstag have not been changed since 1872, while, in the meantime, a great shifting of population, as well as great increase of population has taken place. And because of this, the Reichstag to-day does not represent the people of Germany in the sense intended by the framers of the Imperial Constitution.
Much of the legislation that affects the everyday life of a German emanates from the parliaments of Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony, etc., as with us in our State Legislatures. The purely legislative power of the ministers and Bundesrat is, however, large. These German States have constitutions of some sort. The Grand Duchies of Mecklenburg have no constitution whatever.
It is understood that the people themselves do not want one, on financial grounds, fearing that many expenses now borne by the Grand Duke out of his large private income, would be saddled on the people. The other States have Constitutions varying in form. In Prussia there are a House of Lords and a House of Deputies. The members of the latter are elected by a system of circle votes, by which the vote of one rich man voting in circle number one counts as much as thousands voting in circle number three. It is the recognition by Bethmann-Hollweg that this vicious system must be changed that brought down on him the wrath of the Prussian country squires, who for so long have ruled the German Empire, filling places, civil and military, with their children and relatives.
In considering Germany, the immense influence of the military party must not be left out of account; and, with the developments of the navy, that branch of the service also claimed a share in guiding the policy of the Government.
The administrative, executive and judicial officers of Prussia are not elected. The country is governed and judged by men who enter this branch of the government service exactly as others enter the army or navy. These are gradually promoted through the various grades. This applies to judges, clerks of courts, district attorneys and the officials who govern the political divisions of Prussia, for Prussia is divided into circles, presidencies and provinces. For instance, a young man may enter the government service as assistant to the clerk of some court. He may then become district attorney in a small town, then clerk of a larger court, possibly attached to the police presidency of a large city; he may then become a minor judge, etc., until finally he becomes a judge of one of the higher courts or an over-president of a province. Practically the only elective officers who have any power are members of the Reichstag and the Prussian Legislature, and there, as I have shown, the power is very small. Mayors and City Councillors are elected in Prussia, but have little power; and are elected by the vicious system of circle voting.
Time and again during the course of the Great War when I made some complaint or request affecting the interests of one of the various nations I represented, I was met in the Foreign Office by the statement, "We can do nothing with the military. Please read Bismarck's memoirs and you will see what difficulty he had with the military." Undoubtedly, owing to the fact that the Chancellor seldom took strong ground, the influence which both the army and navy claimed in dictating the policy of the Empire was greatly increased.
Roughly speaking there are three great political divisions or parties in the German Reichstag. To the right of the presiding officer sit the Conservatives. Most of these are members from the Prussian Junker or squire class. They are strong for the rights of the crown and against any extension of the suffrage in Prussia or anywhere else. They form probably the most important body of conservatives now existing in any country in the world. Their leader, Heydebrand, is known as the uncrowned king of Prussia. On the left side the Social Democrats sit. As they evidently oppose the kingship and favour a republic, no Social Democratic member has ever been called into the government. They represent the great industrial populations of Germany. Roughly, they constitute about one-third of the Reichstag, and would sit there in greater numbers if Germany were again redistricted so that proper representation were given to the cities, to which there has been a great rush of population since the time when the Reichstag districts were originally constituted.
In the centre, and holding the balance of power, sit the members of the Centrum or Catholic body. Among them are many priests. It is noteworthy that in this war Roman Catholic opinion in neutral countries, like Spain, inclines to the side of Germany; while in Germany, to protect their religious liberties, the Catholic population vote as Catholics to send Catholic members to the Reichstag, and these sit and vote as Catholics alone.
Germans high in rank in the government often told me that no part of conquered Poland would ever be incorporated in Prussia or the Empire, because it was not desirable to add to the Roman Catholic population; that they had troubles enough with the Catholics now in Germany and had no desire to add to their numbers. This, and the desire to lure the Poles into the creation of a national army which could be utilised by the German machine, were the reasons for the creation by Germany (with the assent of Austria) of the new country of Poland.
This Catholic party is the result in Germany of the Kulturkampf, or War for Civilisation, as it was called by Bismarck, a contest dating from 1870 between the State in Germany and the Roman Catholic Church.
Prussia has always been the centre of Protestantism in Germany, although there are many Roman Catholics in the Rhine Provinces of Prussia, and in that part of Prussia inhabited principally by Poles, originally part of the Kingdom of Poland.
Baden and Bavaria, the two principal South German States, and others are Catholic. In 1870, on the withdrawal of the French garrison from Rome, the temporal Power of the Pope ended, and Bismarck, though appealed to by Catholics, took no interest in the defence of the Papacy. The conflict between the Roman Catholics and the Government in Germany was precipitated by the promulgation by the Vatican Council, in 1870, of the Dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope.
A certain number of German pastors and bishops refused to subscribe to the new dogma. In the conflict that ensued these pastors and bishops were backed by the government. The religious orders were suppressed, civil marriage made compulsory and the State assumed new powers not only in the appointment but even in the education of the Catholic priests. The Jesuits were expelled from Germany in 1872. These measures, generally known as the May Laws, because passed in May, 1873, 1874 and 1875, led to the creation and strengthening of the Centrum or Catholic party. For a long period many churches were vacant in Prussia. Finally, owing to the growth of the Centrum, Bismarck gave in. The May Laws were rescinded in 1886 and the religious orders, the Jesuits excepted, were permitted to return in 1887. Civil marriage, however, remained obligatory in Prussia.
Ever since the Kulturkampf the Centrum has held the balance of power in Germany, acting sometimes with the Conservatives and sometimes with the Social Democrats.
In addition to these three great parties, there are minor parties and groups which sometimes act with one party and sometimes with another, the National Liberals, for example, and the Progressives. Since the war certain members of the National Liberal party were most bitter in assailing President Wilson and the United States. In the demand for ruthless submarine war they acted with the Conservatives. There are also Polish, Hanoverian, Danish and Alsatian members of the Reichstag.
There are three great race questions in Germany. First of all, that of Alsace-Lorraine. It is unnecessary to go at length into this well-known question. In the chapter on the affair at Zabern, something will be seen of the attitude of the troops toward the civil population. At the outbreak of the war several of the deputies, sitting in the Reichstag as members from Alsace-Lorraine, crossed the frontier and joined the French army.
If there is one talent which the Germans superlatively lack, it is that of ruling over other peoples and inducing other people to become part of their nation.
It is now a long time since portions of the Kingdom of Poland, by various partitions of that kingdom, were incorporated with Prussia, but the Polish question is more alive to-day than at the time of the last partition.
The Poles are of a livelier race than the Germans, are Roman Catholics and always retain their dream of a reconstituted and independent Kingdom of Poland.
It is hard to conceive that Poland was at one time perhaps the most powerful kingdom of Europe, with a population numbering twenty millions and extending from the Baltic to the Carpathians and the Black Sea, including in its territory the basins of the Warta, Vistula, Dwina, Dnieper and Upper Dniester, and that it had under its dominion besides Poles proper and the Baltic Slavs, the Lithuanians, the White Russians and the Little Russians orRuthenians.
The Polish aristocracy was absolutely incapable of governing its own country, which fell an easy prey to the intrigues of Frederick the Great and the two Empresses, Maria Theresa of Austria and Catherine of Russia. The last partition of Poland was in the year 1795.
Posen, at one time one of the capitals of the old kingdom of Poland, is the intellectual centre of that part of Poland which has been incorporated into Prussia. For years Prussia has alternately cajoled and oppressed the Poles, and has made every endeavour to replace the Polish inhabitants with German colonists. A commission has been established which buys estates from Poles and sells them to Germans. This commission has the power of condemning the lands of Poles, taking these lands from them by force, compensating them at a rate determined by the commission and settling Germans on the lands so seized. This commission has its headquarters in Posen. The result has not been successful. All the country side surrounding Posen and the city itself are divided into two factions. By going to one hotel or the other you announce that you are pro-German or pro-Polish. Poles will not deal in shops kept by Germans or in shops unless the signs are in Polish.
The sons of Germans who have settled in Poland under the protection of the commission often marry Polish women. The invariable result of these mixed marriages is that the children are Catholics and Poles. Polish deputies voting as Poles sit in the Prussian legislature and in the Reichstag, and if a portion of the old Kingdom of Poland is made a separate country at the end of this war, it will have the effect of making the Poles in Prussia more restless and more aggressive than ever.
In order to win the sympathies of the Poles, the Emperor caused a royal castle to be built within recent years in the city of Posen, and appointed a popular Polish gentleman who had served in the Prussian army and was attached to the Emperor, the Count Hutten-Czapski, as its lord-warden. In this castle was a very beautiful Byzantine chapel built from designs especially selected by the Emperor. In January, 1914, we went with Allison Armour and the Cassatts, Mrs. Wiltsee and Mrs. Whitehouse on a trip to Posen to see this chapel.
Some of our German friends tried to play a joke on us by telling us that the best hotel was the hotel patronised by the Poles. To have gone there would have been to declare ourselves anti-German and pro-Polish, but we were warned in time. The castle has a large throne room and ball-room; in the hall is a stuffed aurochs killed by the Emperor. The aurochs is a species of buffalo greatly resembling those which used to roam our western prairies. The breed has been preserved on certain great estates in eastern Germany and in the hunting forests of the Czar in the neighbourhood of Warsaw.
Some of the Poles told me that at the first attempt to give a court ball in this new castle the Polish population in the streets threw ink through the carriage windows on the dresses of the ladies going to the ball and thus made it a failure. The chapel of the castle is very beautiful and is a great credit to the Emperor's taste as an architect.
While being shown through the Emperor's private apartments in this castle, I noticed a saddle on a sort of elevated stool in front of a desk. I asked the guide what this was for: he told me that the Emperor, when working, always sits in a saddle.
In Posen, in a book-store, the proprietor brought out for me a number of books caricaturing the German rule of Alsace-Lorraine. It is curious that a community of interests should make a market for these books in Polish Posen.
Although not so well advertised, the Polish question is as acute as that of Alsace-Lorraine.
After its successful war in 1866 against Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, Baden, Hanover, etc., Prussia became possessed of the two duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, which are to the south of Denmark on the Jutland Peninsula. Here, strangely enough, there is a Danish question. A number of Danes inhabit these duchies and have been irritated by the Prussian officials and officers into preserving their national feeling intact ever since 1866. Galling restrictions have been made, the very existence of which intensifies the hatred and prevents the assimilation of these Danes. For instance, Amundsen, the Arctic explorer, was forbidden to lecture in Danish in these duchies during the winter of 1913-14, and there were regulations enforced preventing more than a certain number of these Danish people from assembling in a hotel, as well as regulations against the employment of Danish servants.
In 1866, after its successful war, Prussia wiped out the old kingdom of Hanover and drove its king into exile in Austria. To-day there is still a party of protest against this aggression. The Kaiser believes, however, that the ghost of the claim of the Kings of Hanover was laid when he married his only daughter to the heir of the House of Hanover and gave the young pair the vacant Duchy of Brunswick. That this young man will inherit the great Guelph treasure was no drawback to the match in the eyes of those in Berlin.
There is a hatred of Prussia in other parts of Germany, but coupled with so much fear that it will never take practical shape. In Bavaria, for example, even the comic newspapers have for years ridiculed the Prussians and the House of Hohenzollern. The smashing defeat by Prussia of Austria and the allied German States, Bavaria, Saxony, Hesse, Hanover, etc., in 1866, and the growth of Prussianism since then in all of these countries, keep the people from any overt act. It is a question, perhaps, as to how these countries, especially Bavaria, would act in case of the utter defeat of Germany. But at present they must be counted on only as faithful servants, in a military way, of the German Emperor.
Montesquieu, the author of the "Esprit des Lois," says, "All law comes from the soil," and it has been claimed that residence in the hot climate of the tropics in some measure changes Anglo-Saxon character. It is, therefore, always well in judging national character to know something of the physical characteristics and climate of the country which a nation inhabits.
The heart of modern Germany is the great north central plain which comprises practically all of the original kingdom of Prussia, stretching northward from the Saxon and Hartz mountains to the North and Baltic seas. It is from this dreary and infertile plain that for many centuries conquering military races have poured over Europe. The climate is not so cold in winter as that of the northern part of the United States. There is much rain and the winter skies are so dark that the absence of the sun must have some effect upon the character of the people. The Saxons inhabit a more mountainous country; Württemberg and Baden are hilly; Bavaria is a land of beauty, diversified with lovely lakes and mountains. The soft outlines of the vine-covered hills of the Rhine Valley have long been the admiration of travellers.
The inhabitants of Prussia were originally not Germanic, but rather Slavish in type; and, indeed, to-day in the forest of the River Spree, on which Berlin is situated, and only about fifty miles from that city, there still dwell descendants of the original Wendish inhabitants of the country who speak the Wendish language. The wetnurses, whose picturesque dress is so noticeable on the streets of Berlin, all come from this Wendish colony, which has been preserved through the many wars that have swept over this part of Germany because of the refuge afforded in the swamps and forests of this district.
The inhabitants of the Rhine Valley drink wine instead of beer. They are more lively in their disposition than the Prussians, Saxons and Bavarians, who are of a heavy and phlegmatic nature. The Bavarians are noted for their prowess as beer drinkers, and it is not at all unusual for prosperous burghers of Munich to dispose of thirty large glasses of beer in a day; hence the cures which exist all over Germany and where the average German business man spends part, at least, of his annual vacation.
In peace times the Germans are heavy eaters. As some one says, "It is not true that the Germans eat all the time, but they eat all the time except during seven periods of the day when they take their meals." And it is a fact that prosperous merchants of Berlin, before the war, had seven meals a day; first breakfast at a comfortably early hour; second breakfast at about eleven, of perhaps a glass of milk or perhaps a glass of beer and sandwiches; a very heavy lunch of four or five courses with wine and beer; coffee and cakes at three; tea and sandwiches or sandwiches and beer at about five; a strong dinner with several kinds of wines at about seven or seven-thirty; and a substantial supper before going to bed.
The Germans are wonderful judges of wines, and, at any formal dinner, use as many as eight varieties. The best wine is passed in glasses on trays, and the guests are not expected, of course, to take this wine unless they actually desire to drink it. I know one American woman who was stopping at a Prince's castle in Hungary and who, on the first night, allowed the butler to fill her glasses with wine which she did not drink. The second evening the butler passed her sternly by, and she was offered no more wine during her stay in the castle.
Many of the doctors who were with me thought that the heavy eating and large consumption of wine and beer had unfavourably affected the German national character, and had made the people more aggressive and irritable and consequently readier for war. The influence of diet on national character should not be under-estimated. Meat-eating nations have always ruled vegetarians.
DIPLOMATIC WORK OF FIRST WINTER IN BERLIN
DURING this first winter in Berlin, I spent each morning in the Embassy office, and, if I had any business at the Foreign Office, called there about five o'clock in the afternoon. It was the custom that all Ambassadors should call on Tuesday afternoons at the Foreign Office, going in to see the Foreign Minister in the order of their arrival in the waiting-room, and to have a short talk with him about current diplomatic affairs.
In the previous chapter I have given a detailed account of the ceremonies of court life, because a knowledge of this life is essential to a grasp of the spirit which animates those ruling the destinies of the German Empire.
My first winter, however, was not all cakes and ale. There were several interesting bits of diplomatic work. First, we were then engaged in our conflict with Huerta, the Dictator of Mexico, and it was part of my work to secure from Germany promises that she would not recognise this Mexican President.
I also spent a great deal of time in endeavouring to get the German Government to take part officially in the San Francisco Fair, but, so far as I could make out, Great Britain, probably at the instance of Germany, seemed to have entered into some sort of agreement, or at any rate a tacit understanding, that neither country would participate officially in this Exposition.
After the lamentable failure of the Jamestown Exposition, the countries of Europe were certainly not to be blamed for not spending their money in aid of a similar enterprise. But I believe that the attitude of Germany had a deeper significance, and that certain, at least, of the German statesmen had contemplated a rapprochement with Great Britain and a mutual spanking of America and its Monroe Doctrine by these two great powers. Later I was informed, by a man high in the German Foreign Office, that Germany had proposed to Great Britain a joint intervention in Mexico, an invasion which would have put an end forever to the Monroe Doctrine, of course to be followed by the forceful colonisation of Central and South America by European Powers. I was told that Great Britain refused. But whether this proposition and refusal in fact were made, can be learned from the archives of the British Foreign Office.
During this period of trouble with Mexico, the German Press, almost without exception, and especially that part of it controlled by the Government and by the Conservatives or Junkers, was most bitter in its attitude towards America.
The reason for this was the underlying hatred of an autocracy for a successful democracy, envy of the wealth, liberty and commercial success of America, and a deep and strong resentment against the Monroe Doctrine which prevented Germany from using her powerful fleet and great military force to seize a foothold in the Western hemisphere.
Germany came late into the field of colonisation in her endeavour to find "a place in the sun." The colonies secured were not habitable by white men. Togo, Kameroons, German East Africa, are too tropical in climate, too subject to tropical diseases, ever to become successful German colonies. German Southwest Africa has a more healthy climate but is a barren land. About the only successful industry there has been that of gathering the small diamonds that were discovered in the sands of the beaches and of the deserts running back from the sea.
On the earnest request of Secretary Bryan, I endeavoured to persuade the German authorities to have Germany become a signatory to the socalled Bryan Peace Treaties. After many efforts and long interviews, von Jagow, the Foreign Minister, finally told me that Germany would not sign these treaties because the greatest asset of Germany in war was her readiness for a sudden assault, that they had no objection to signing the treaty with America, but that they feared they would then be immediately asked to sign similar treaties with Great Britain, France and Russia, that if they refused to sign with these countries the refusal would almost be equivalent to a declaration of war, and, if they did sign, intending in good faith to stand by the treaty, that Germany would be deprived of her greatest asset in war, namely, her readiness for a sudden and overpowering attack.
I also, during this first winter, studied and made reports on the commercial situation of Germany and especially the German discriminations against American goods. To these matters I shall refer in more detail in another chapter.
Opposition and attention to the oil monopoly project also occupied a great part of my working hours. Petroleum is used very extensively in Germany for illuminating purposes by the poorer part of the population, especially in the farming villages and industrial towns. This oil used in Germany comes from two sources of supply, from America and from the oil wells of Galicia and Roumania. The German American Oil Company there, through which the American oil was distributed, although a German company, was controlled by American capital, and German capital was largely interested in the Galician and Roumanian oil fields. The oil from Galicia and Roumania is not so good a quality as that imported from America.
Before my arrival in Germany the government had proposed a law creating the oil monopoly; that is to say, a company was to be created, controlled by the government for the purpose of carrying on the entire oil business of Germany, and no other person or company, by its provisions, was to be allowed to sell any illuminating oil or similar products in the Empire. The bill provided that the business of those engaged in the wholesale selling of oil, and their plants, etc., should be taken over by this government company, condemned and paid for. The German American Company, however, had also a retail business and plant throughout Germany for which it was proposed that no compensation should be given. The government bill also contained certain curious "jokers"; for instance, it provided for the taking over of all plants "within the customs limit of the German Empire," thus leaving out of the compensation a refinery which was situated in the free part of Hamburg, although, of course, by operation of this monopoly bill the refinery was rendered useless to the American controlled company which owned it.
Fig. 6. PROGRAMME.
OF THE MUSIC AFTER DINNER
WITH THE KAISER AT THE ROYAL PALACE, BERLlN
In the course of this investigation it came to light that the Prussian state railways were used as a means of discriminating against the American oil. American oil came to Germany through the port of Hamburg, and the Galician and Roumanian oil through the frontier town of Oderberg. Taking a delivery point equally distant between Oderberg and Hamburg, the rate charged on oil from Hamburg to this point was twice as great as that charged for a similar quantity of oil from Oderberg.
I took up this fight on the line that the company must be compensated for all of its property, that used in retail as well as in wholesale business, and, second, that it must be compensated for the good-will of its business, which it had built up through a number of years by the expenditure of very large sums of money. Of course where a company has been in operation for years and is continually advertising its business, its good-will often is its greatest asset and has often been built up by the greatest expenditure of money. For instance, in buying a successful newspaper, the value does not lie in the real estate, presses, etc., but in the good-will of the newspaper, the result of years of work and expensive advertising.
I made no objection that the German government did not have a perfect right to create this monopoly and to put the American controlled company entirely out of the field, but insisted upon a fair compensation for all their property and good-will. Even a fair compensation for the property and good-will would have started the government monopoly company with a large debt upon which it would have been required to pay interest, and this interest, of course, would have been added to the cost of oil to the German consumers. In my final conversation on the subject with von Bethmann-Hollweg, he said, "You don't mean to say that President Wilson and Secretary Bryan will do anything for the Standard Oil Company?" I answered that every one in America knew that the Standard Oil Company had neither influence with nor control over President Wilson and Secretary Bryan, but that they both could and would give the Standard Oil Company the same measure of protection which any American citizen doing business abroad had a right to expect from his government. I also said that I thought they had done enough for the Germans interested in the Galician and Roumanian oil fields when they had used the Prussian state railways to give these oil producers an unfair advantage over those importing American oil.
Shortly after this the question of the creation of this oil monopoly was dropped and naturally has not been revived during the war, and I very much doubt whether, after the war, the people of liberalised Germany will consent to pay more for inferior oil in order to make good the investments of certain German banks and financiers in Galicia and Roumania. I doubt whether a more liberal Germany will wish to put the control of a great business in the hands of the government, thereby greatly increasing the number of government officials and the weight of government influence in the country. Heaven knows there are officials enough to-day in Germany, without turning over a great department of private industry to the government for the sole purpose of making good bad investments of certain financiers and adding to the political influence of the central government.
In May, 1914, Colonel House and his beautiful wife arrived to pay us a visit in Berlin. He was, of course, anxious to have a talk with the Emperor, and this was arranged by the Emperor inviting the Colonel and me to what is called the Schrippenfest, at the new -palace at Potsdam.
For many years, in fact since the days of Frederick the Great, the learning (Lehr) battalion, composed of picked soldiers from all the regiments of Prussia, has been quartered at Potsdam, and on a certain day in April this battalion has been given a dinner at which they eat white rolls (Schrippen) instead of the usual black bread. This feast has been carried on from these older days and has become quite a ceremony.
The Colonel and I motored to Potsdam, arrayed in dress-suits, and waited in one of the salons of the ground floor of the new palace. Finally the Emperor and the Empress and several of the Princes and their wives and the usual dignitaries of the Emperor's household arrived. The Colonel was presented to the royalties and then a Divine Service was held in the open air at one end of the palace. The Empress and Princesses occupied large chairs and the Emperor stood with his sons behind him and then the various dignitaries of the court. The Lehr Battalion was drawn up behind. There were a large band and the choir boys from the Berlin cathedral. The service was very impressive and not less so because of a great Zeppelin which hovered over our heads during the whole of the service.
After Divine Service, the Lehr Battalion marched in review and then was given food and beer in long arbours constructed in front of the palace. While the men were eating, the Emperor and Empress and Princes passed among the tables, speaking to the soldiers. We then went to the new palace Anere in the extraordinary hall studded with curious specimens of minerals from all countries, a long table forming three sides of a square was set for about sixty people. Colonel House and I sat directly across the table from the Emperor, with General Falkenhayn between us. The Emperor was in a very good mood and at one time, talking across the table, said to me that the Colonel and I, in our black dress-suits, looked like a couple of crows, that we were like two undertakers at a feast and spoiled the picture. After luncheon the Emperor had a long talk with Colonel House, and then called me into the conversation.
On May twenty-sixth, I arranged that the Colonel should meet von Tirpitz at dinner in our house. We did not guess then what a central figure in this war the great admiral was going to be. At that time and until his fall, he was Minister of Marine, which corresponds to our Secretary of the Navy Department, and what is called in German Reichsmarineamt. The Colonel also met von Bethmann-Hollweg, von Jagow, Zimmermann and many others.
There are two other heads of departments, connected with the navy, of equal rank with the Secretary of the Naval Department and not reporting to him. These are the heads of the naval staff and the head of what is known as the Marine Cabinet. The head of the naval staff is supposed to direct the actual operations of warfare in the navy, and the head of the Marine Cabinet is charged with the personnel of the navy, with determining what officers are to be promoted and what officers are to take over ships or commands.
While von Tirpitz was Secretary of the Navy, by the force of his personality, he dominated the two other departments, but since his fall the heads of these two other departments have held positions as important, if not more important, than that of Secretary of the Navy.
On May thirty-first, we took Colonel and Mrs. House to the aviation field of Joachimsthal. Here the Dutch aviator Fokker was flying and after being introduced to us he did some stunts for our benefit. Fokker was employed by the German army and later became a naturalised German. The machines designed by him, and named after him, for a long time held the mastery of the air on the West front.
The advice of Colonel House, a most wise and prudent counsellor, was at all times of the greatest value to me during my stay in Berlin. We exchanged letters weekly, I sending him a weekly bulletin of the situation in Berlin and much news and gossip too personal or too indefinite to be placed in official reports.
War with Germany seemed a thing not even to be considered when in this month of May, 1914, I called on the Foreign Office, by direction, to thank the Imperial Government for the aid given the Americans at Tampico by German ships of war.
Early in February, Mr. S. Bergmann, a German who had made a fortune in America and who had returned to Germany to take up again his German citizenship, invited me to go over the great electrical works which he had established. Prince Henry of Prussia, the brother of the Emperor, was the only other guest and together we inspected the vast works, afterwards having lunch in Mr. Bergmann's office. Prince Henry has always been interested in America since his visit here. On that visit he spent most of his time with German societies, etc. Of course, now we know he came as a propagandist with the object of welding together the Germans in America and keeping up their interest in the Fatherland. He made a similar trip to the Argentine just before the Great War, with a similar purpose, but I understand his excursion was not considered a great success, from any standpoint. A man of affable manners, no one is better qualified to go abroad as a German propagandist than he. If all Germans had been like him there would have been no World War in 1914.
On March eighteenth, we were invited to a fancy-dress ball at the palace of the Crown Prince. The guests were mostly young people and officers. The Crown Princess wore a beautiful Russian dress with its characteristic high front piece on the head. The Crown Prince and all the officers present were in the picturesque uniforms of their respective regiments of a period of one hundred years ago. Prince Oscar, the fifth son of the Kaiser, looked particularly well.
The hours for balls in Berlin, where officers attended, were a good example for hostesses in this country. The invitations read for eight o'clock and that meant eight o'clock. A cold dinner of perhaps four courses is immediately served on the arrival of the guests, who, with the exception of a very few distinguished ones, are not given any particular places. At a quarter to nine the dancing begins, supper is at about eleven and the guests go home at twelve, at an hour which enables the officers to get to bed early.
During the season there were balls at the British and French Embassy and performances by the Russian Ballet, then in Berlin, at the Russian Embassy.
The wonderful new Royal Library, designed by Ihne, was opened on March twenty-second. The Emperor attended, coming in with the beautiful Queen of Roumania walking by his side.
She is an exceedingly handsome woman, half English and half Russian. Some days later I was presented to her at a reception held at the Roumanian Minister's and found her as pleasant to talk to as good to look upon.
At the end of March there was a Horse Show. The horses did not get prizes for mere looks and manners in trotting and cantering, as here. They must all do something, for the horse is considered primarily as a war horse; such, for instance, as stopping suddenly and turning at a word of command. The jumping was excellent, officers riding in all the events. It was not a function of "society," but all "society" was there and most keenly interested; for in a warlike country, just as in the Middle Ages, the master's life may depend upon the qualities of his horse.
I have always been fond of horses and horseracing, and the race-tracks about Berlin were always an attraction for me.
Many of the drivers and jockeys were Americans. Taral was a successful jockey for my father-in-law, Marcus Daly. He is now the trainer of one of the best racing stables in Germany, that of the brothers Weinberg, who made a fortune in dye-stuffs. "Pop" Campbell, who trained Mr. Daly's Ogden, a Futurity winner, is also a Berlin trainer. The top notch jockey was Archibald of California. McCreery, who once trained for one of my brothers, had the stable which rivalled the Weinbergs', that of Baron Oppenheim, a rich banker of Cologne.
The German officers are splendid riders and take part in many races. The Crown Prince himself is a successful jockey and racing stable owner.
On June fifth, at the annual hunt race, the big steeplechase of the year, the Emperor himself appeared at the Grünewald track, occupying his private box, a sort of little house beyond the finish.
Bookmakers are not allowed in Germany. The betting is in mutual pools. About seventeen per cent of the money paid is taken by the Jockey Club, the State and charities, so that the bettor, with this percentage running always against him, has little chance of ultimate success.
Many of the races are confined to horses bred in Denmark and the Central Empires.
All of us in the Embassy joined the Red White Tennis Club situated in the Grünewald about five miles from the centre of Berlin. The Crown Prince was a member and often played there. He is an excellent player, not quite up to championship form, but he can give a good account of himself in any company short of the top class. He has the advantage of always finding that the best players are only too glad to have an opportunity to play with him. At this Tennis Club during all the period of the feeling of hatred against America we were treated with extreme courtesy by all our German fellow members.
We saw a great deal of the two exchange professors in the winter of 1913-14, Professor Paul Shorey of the University of Chicago and Professor Archibald Coolidge of Harvard. These exchange professors give courses and lectures in the universities and their first appearance is quite an event. On this first day in 1913, they each delivered a lecture in the University of Berlin, and on this lecture day Prince August Wilhelm, representing the Kaiser, attended. The Kaiser used invariably to attend, but of late years I am afraid has rather lost interest in this enterprise at first so much favoured by him.
The Cologne Gazette at one time after the commencement of the war, in an article, expressed great surprise that America should permit the export of munitions of war to the Allies and said, quite seriously, that Germany had done everything possible to win the favour of America, that Roosevelt had been offered a review of German troops, that the Emperor had invited Americans who came to Kiel on their yachts to dine with him, and that he had even sat through the lectures given by American exchange professors.
Before the war there was but one cable direct from Germany to America. This cable was owned by a German company and reached America via the Azore Islands. I endeavoured to obtain permission for the Western Union Company to land a cable in Germany, but the opposition of the German company, which did not desire to have its monopoly interfered with, caused the applications of the Western Union to be definitely pigeon-holed. In August, 1914, after the outbreak of the war, when I told this to Ballin of the Hamburg American Line and von Gwinner, head of the Deutsche Bank, and when they thought of how much they could have saved for themselves and Germany and their companies if there had been an American owned cable landing in Germany, their anger at the delay on the part of official Germany knew no bounds. Within a very short time I received an answer from the Foreign Office granting the application of the Western Union Company, providing the cable went direct to America. This concession, however, came too late and, naturally, the Western Union did not take up the matter during the war.
MILITARISM IN GERMANY AND THE ZABERN AFFAIR
IN 1913-1914 occurred a series of events known as the "Zabern Affair," which to my mind decided the "system"---the military autocracy---for a speedy war. In this affair the German people appeared at last to be opening their eyes, to recover in some degree from the panic fear of their neighbours which had made them submit to the arrogance and exactions of the military caste and to be almost ready to demilitarise themselves, a thing abhorrent to the upholders of caste, the system, the army and the Hohenzollerns.
This writing on the wall---these letters forming the word "Zabern"---the actions of the Social Democrats and their growing boldness, all were warnings to the autocracy of its waning power, and impelled that autocracy towards war as a bloodletting cure for popular discontent.
Prussia, which has imposed its will, as well as its methods of thought and life on all the rest of Germany, is undoubtedly a military nation.
More than one hundred and twenty-five years ago Mirabeau, the great French orator at the commencement of the Revolution, said, "War is the national industry of Prussia." Later, Napoleon remarked that Prussia "was hatched from a cannon ball," and shortly before the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 the French military attaché, in reporting to his government, wrote that "other countries possessed an army, but in Prussia the army possessed the country."
In practice the class of nobles in Prussia owns the army. Officers may enter the army in two ways, either by enlisting in the regiment, first as private and then being rapidly promoted to the position of non-commissioned officer, and then probationary ensign, or avantageur; or the young aspirant may come directly from a two years' course in one of the cadet schools and enter the regiment as probationary ensign. In both cases the young officer is observed by the officers during a period of probation and can become an officer of that regiment only by the consent of the regimental officers. In other words, each regiment is like a club, the officers having the right of black-ball.
This system has practically confined the professional officers to a class of nobles. It is not at all unusual to find in a regiment officers whose ancestors were officers of the same regiment two hundred years or more ago.
In addition to these officers who make the army their career, a certain number of Germans, after undergoing an enlistment in the army of one year and two periods of training thereafter, are made reserve officers. These reserve officers are called to the colours for manoeuvres and also, of course, when the whole nation is arrayed in war. These reserve officers seldom attain a rank higher than that of captain. They may, however, while exercising civil functions, be promoted, and in this manner the Chancellor, while occupying civil positions, has gradually been promoted to the rank of General and von Jagow, during the war, to the rank of Major. As a rule reserve officers are the one-yearers, or Einjähriger, who, because they have attained a certain standard of education, serve only one year with the army instead of the two required from others. The Bavarian army is in a sense independent of Prussia, but is modelled on the same system.
For years officers of the army, both in the discharge of their duties and outside, have behaved in a very arrogant way toward the civil population. Time and again, while I was in Germany waiting in line at some ticket office, an officer has shoved himself ahead of all others without even a protest from those waiting. On one occasion, I went to the races in Berlin with my brother-in-law and bought a box. While we were out looking at the horses between the races, a Prussian officer and his wife seated themselves in our box. I called the attention of one of the ushers to this, but the usher said that he did not dare ask a Prussian officer to leave, and it was only after sending for the head usher and showing him my jockey Club badge and my pass as Ambassador, that I was able to secure possession of my own box.
There have been many instances in Germany where officers having a slight dispute with civilians have instantly cut the civilian down. Instances of this kind and the harsh treatment of the Germans by officers and under-officers, while serving in the army, undoubtedly created in Germany a spirit of antagonism not only to the army itself but to the whole military system of Prussia. Affairs were brought to a head by the so-called Zabern Affair. In this affair the internal antagonism between the civil population and professional soldiers, which had assumed great proportions in a period of long peace, seemed to reach its climax. Of course this antagonism had increased with the increase in 1913-14 Of the effective strength of the standing army, bringing a material increase in the numbers of officers and non-commissioned officers who represent military professionalism.
The Imperial Provinces or Reichsland, as Alsace and Lorraine are called, had been in a peculiar position within the body politic of Germany since their annexation in 1870. The Reichsland, as indicated by its name, was to be considered as common property of the German Empire and was not annexed to any one German State. Its government is by an Imperial Viceroy, with a kind of cabinet consisting of one Secretary of State, Civil and Under Secretaries and Department heads, assisted by a legislative body of two chambers, one elected by popular vote and the other consisting of members partly elected by municipal bodies, universities, churches and so forth, and partly appointed by the Imperial Government. The Viceroy and his cabinet are appointed by the Emperor in his capacity of the sovereign of the Reichsland. Until the thirty-first of May, 1911, the Reichsland had no constitution of its own, the form of its government being regulated by the Reichstag and Federal Council (Bundesrat) in about the same way as the territories of the United States are ruled by Congress and the President. In 1911, Alsace-Lorraine received a constitution which gave it representation in the Federal Council, representation in the Reichstag having already been granted as early as 1871.
The sympathy of Alsace-Lorraine for France had been increased by the policy of several of the German viceroys,---von Manteuffel, Prince Hohenlohe, Prince Münster and Count Wedel, who had, in their administrations, alternated severe measures with great leniency and had not improved conditions, so that the population, essentially South German, was undoubtedly irritated by the tone and manner of the North German officials.
Great industries had been developed by the Imperial Government, especially textile and coal mining, and the industrial population centering in Mülhausen was hotly and thoroughly Social Democratic. The upper or well-to-do classes were tied to France by family connections and by religion. The bourgeois remained mildly anti-German, more properly speaking, anti-government, for similar reasons, and the working men were opposed to the government on social and economic grounds. The farming population, not troubling much about the politics, but being affected by the campaign of the nationalistic press, were in sympathy with France; so the atmosphere was well prepared for the coming storm.
Zabern, or in French, Saverne, is a little town of between eight and nine thousand inhabitants, beautifully situated at the foot of the Vosges Mountains on the banks of the Rhine-Marne Canal. Its garrison comprised the staff and two battalions of Infantry Regiment, Number Ninety-nine, commanded by von Reuter, and among its officers was a Lieutenant von Forstner, a young man only twenty years old, whose boyish appearance had excited the school children and boys working in nearby iron factories to ridicule him. It became known that this young officer, while instructing his men, had insulted the French flag and had called the Alsatian recruits Wackes, a nick-name meaning "square-head," and frequently used by the people of Alsace-Lorraine in a jocular way, but hotly resented by them if used towards them by others. It was further reported that he had promised his men a reward of ten marks if one of them, in case of trouble, should bring down a Social Democrat. Forstner had told his men to beware, and warned them against listening to French foreign agents, whom the Germans claimed were inducing French soldiers to desert in order to join the French legion. It is probable that Forstner, in talking to his men of the French Foreign Legion, used language offensive to French ears. He admitted that he had used the word Wackes in defiance of an order of the commanding general, and for this he had been punished with several days' confinement in a military prison. Lieutenant von Forstner, who was ordered to instruct his squad about the regulations in case of trouble with the civil population. claimed that he had only added to the usual instructions a statement that every true soldier should do his best to suppress any disturbances and that he, Forstner, would give a special reward to any of his men who would arrest one of "those damned Social Democrats."
Reports of the acts of Forstner and other officers were rapidly spread among the population. The two newspapers of Zabern published articles. The excitement grew, and there were demonstrations against the officials and especially against Forstner. Finally, conditions became so bad that Colonel von Reuter requested the head of the local civil administration, Director Mahler, to restore order, stating that he would take the matter into his own hands if order was not restored. The director, a native of a small village near Zabern, replied coolly that he saw no necessity for interfering with peace loving and law abiding people. On November twenty-ninth, 1913, a large crowd assembled in front of the barracks. Colonel von Reuter ordered Lieutenant Schad, commanding the Guard as officer of the day, to disperse the crowd. Accordingly Lieutenant Schad called the Guard to arms and three times summoned the crowd to disperse and go home. The soldiers charged and drove the multitude across the Square and into a side street and arrested about fifteen persons, among them the President, two judges and the State Attorney of the Zabern Supreme Court, who had just come out from the court building and who were caught in the crowd. They were subsequently released. The rest of the persons arrested were kept in the cellar of the barracks over night.
The report of these occurrences caused immense excitement throughout Germany. A great outcry went up against militarism, even in quarters where no socialistic tendencies existed. This feeling was not helped by the fact that the General commanding the fifteenth army to which the Zabern regiment belonged was an exponent of extreme militaristic ideas; a man, who several years before, as Colonel of the Colonial troops, representing the war ministry before the Reichstag and debating there the question of the number of troops to be kept in German South West Africa, had most clearly shown his contempt for the Reichstag.
Colonel von Reuter and Lieutenant Schad, when court-martialled for their acts in ordering the troops to move against the civil population, claimed the benefit of a Prussian law of 1820, which provided that in any city, town or village, the highest military officer in command must assume the authority, usually vested in the civil government, whenever for any reason the civil administration neglects to keep order. The Colonel and Lieutenant were subsequently acquitted on the ground that they had acted under the provisions of this law.
The excitement throughout Germany was further increased by other circumstances. The Emperor remained during these critical days at Donaueschingen, the princely estate of his friend and favourite, Prince Fürstenberg, enjoying himself with fox-hunting, torch-light processions and cabaret performances. Of course, all this had been arranged long before any one dreamed of any trouble in Zabern, and the Emperor could scarcely be expected to realise the gravity of the situation which suddenly arose. But this very fact created a bad impression. It was even rumoured that the Empress, alarmed by the situation, had ordered a train to be made ready in order to go to him and try to convince him of the necessity of returning to Berlin.
The newly appointed minister of war, Falkenhayn, went to Donaueschingen, where he was joined by von Deimling. This action aggravated the situation, because the public concluded that the Emperor would hear the advice and report of military officers only. The sudden death, by heart failure, of the Emperor's closest friend, von Hulsen, chief of the Emperor's Military Cabinet, during a banquet at Donaueschingen, gave the rapidly developing events a tragic and mysterious colouring, and these conferences in Donaueschingen resulted in the tendering of their resignations by the Viceroy, von Wedel, and Secretary of State Zorn von Bulach, Viceroy and Secretary of State of Alsace-Lorraine, who felt that the military party had gained an upper hand in the conflict with the civil authorities. The Chancellor then hurried to Donaueschingen, arriving a few hours before the departure of the Emperor; and a subsequent order of the Emperor to General von Deimling to see to it that the military officers did not overstep their authority and directing him to investigate the occurrences and take measures to punish all guilty parties, somewhat quieted the nation and caused the two highest civil officials of Alsace-Lorraine to withdraw their resignations.
Fig. 7. THE GLORY WHICH IS POTSDAM. SUMMER RESIDENCE OF THE KAISER IN THE PARK OF SANS SOUCI
Fig. 8. DEMONSTRATION OF SYMPATHY FOR THE AMERICANS, AT THE TOWN HALL, AUGUST, 1914
Zabern, where a brigadier-general had been sent by von Deimling to restore civil government, had begun to quiet down. But the Chancellor had hardly returned to Berlin when another incident stirred Germany. While practising field service in the neighbourhood of Zabern and marching through a village, Lieutenant von Forstner had an altercation with a lame shoemaker and cut him down. This brutal act of militarism caused a new outburst throughout Germany. Forstner was tried by a court-martial for hitting and wounding an unarmed civilian, and sentenced by the lower court to one year's imprisonment, but acquitted by the higher court as having acted in "supposed self-defence."
No less than three parties, the Centrum, the Progressives and the Social Democrats, addressed interpellations to the Chancellor about this occurrence at Zabern. I was present at the debate in the Reichstag, which took place on the fourth, fifth and sixth of December, 1913. Three South Germans, a member of the Centrum., Hauss, a Progressive named Roser, and the Socialist deputy from Mülhausen in Alsace, Peirotes, commenced by moving and seconding the interpellation and related in vehement language the occurrences at Zabern. The Chancellor replied in defence of the government. Unfortunately he had that morning received family news of a most unpleasant character, which added to his nervousness. He spoke with a low voice and looked like a downhearted and sick man. It was whispered afterwards in the lobbies that he had forgotten the most important part of his speech. The unfavourable impression which he made was increased by von Falkenhayn, appearing for the first time before the Reichstag. If the Reichstag members had been disappointed by the Chancellor, they were stirred to the highest pitch of bitterness by the speech of the War Minister. In a sharp, commanding voice he told them that the military officers had only done their duty, that they would not be swerved from their path by press agents or hysterical individuals, that Forstner was a very young officer who had been severely punished, but that this kind of courageous young officer was the kind that the country needed, etc. Immediately after this speech the Progressive party moved that the attitude of the Chancellor did not meet the approval of the representatives of the people, and it became evident that, for the first time in the history of the German Empire, a vote of censure directed against the government would be debated. The debate was continued all the next day, the Chancellor making another speech and saying what he probably had intended to say the day before. He related what he had achieved at Donaueschingen; that the Emperor had issued a cabinet order saying that the military authorities should be kept within legal bounds, that all the guilty persons would be punished, that the Regiment, Number Ninety-nine, had been removed from Zabern, that the absolute law of 1820 had been abolished for Alsace-Lorraine, and that no Chancellor should for one moment tolerate disregard of law by any government officials, civil or military, and remain in his position.
This second speech of the Chancellor made a better impression and somewhat affected the more extreme members of the Reichstag, but it came too late to prevent the passage of the vote of censure by the remarkable majority of two hundred and ninety-three to fifty-four. Only the Conservatives voted against it. A few days later, when the Social Democrats demanded that the Chancellor take the consequence of the vote of distrust and resign, the attitude of the members of all the other parties, who had been favourably impressed by the second speech of the Chancellor, showed that they were not yet prepared to go the length of holding that a vote of distrust in the Reichstag must necessarily mean the resignation of the Chancellor.
Public excitement gradually calmed down, and a complete change of the officials at Zabern helped to bring about a normal condition of affairs. The Viceroy, Count Wedel, and Secretary of State Zorn von Bulach, resigned and were replaced by von Dallwitz and Count Rödern.
However, the everlasting question came up again a little later during the regular budget debate of the Reichstag. The Chancellor made his speech, giving a review of the political international situation. He was followed by Herr Scheidemann, leader of the Social Democrats, who mercilessly attacked the Chancellor and stated that if the Chancellor still thought that he was the right man at the helm, he, Scheidemann would show that the contrary was the case. He then enumerated what he called the many political failures of the Chancellor, the failure of the bill to amend the Prussian franchise law, and stated that the few bills which had been passed, such as the bill giving Alsace-Lorraine a real constitution, had been carried only with the help of the Social Democratic party. The speaker then once more rehashed the incidents of the Zabern matter, referred to the attitude of the Emperor, who, he said, had evidently been too busy with hunting and festivities to devote time to such trivial matters as the Zabern Affair, and also said that, if the Chancellor had refused to withdraw, the only possible conclusion from the vote of the two hundred and ninety-three Reichstag members, who were certainly not influenced by personal feelings against the Chancellor, was that the Chancellor must be sticking to his post only because of the mistaken idea of the Emperor's authority and because he must believe in the fetish of personal government. Scheidemann begged that the same majority which had passed the vote of censure should now follow it up by voting down the Chancellor's salary and thus force him out of office.
The Chancellor immediately replied, saying that he needed no advice from Herr Scheidemann, and that when the government had consented to change the rules of the Reichstag he had expressly reserved the authority either to regard or disregard any resolution passed after an interpellation, and that formerly, after discussing an interpellation and the answer of the government, no vote could be taken to approve or reject a resolution expressing its opinion of such course of action. Such resolutions might be considered as valuable material, but it had been agreed that they could have no binding effect either upon the government or any member of it, and that nobody had ever dreamed that by a mere change of business rules the whole constitution of the Empire was being changed and authority given to the Reichstag to dismiss ministers at will; that in France and Great Britain conditions were different, but that parliamentary government did not exist in Germany; that it was the constitutional privilege of the Emperor to appoint the Chancellor without any assistance or advice from the Reichstag; that he, the Chancellor, would resist with all his might every attempt to change this system; and that he, therefore, refused to resign because the resolution had no other effect than to make it evident that a difference of opinion existed between the Reichstag and the government.
This debate took place on December ninth, 1913, and, with the exception of the Social Democrats and the Polish deputies, the leaders of all parties supported the view of the Chancellor. The motion to strike out the Chancellor's salary was voted down, only the Social Democrats and Poles voting in favour of it.
It is unquestioned, however, that this Zabern Affair and the consequent attitude of the whole nation, as well as the extraordinary vote in the Reichstag, greatly alarmed the military party.
It was perhaps the final factor which decided the advocates of the old military system of Germany in favour of a European war. Usually in past years when the Reichstag in adjournments had risen and cheered the name of the Emperor, the Social Democrats absented themselves from the Chamber, but when the Reichstag adjourned on May twentieth, 1914, these members remained in the Chamber and refused either to rise or to cheer the Emperor. The President of the Reichstag immediately called attention to this breach of respect to the Emperor, upon which the Socialists shouted, "That is our affair," and tried to drown the cheers with hoots and hisses at which the other parties applauded tumultuously.
This occurrence I know greatly incensed the Emperor and did much, I believe, to win his consent to the war.
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