Part 2 out of 5
had against the Russians died in East Prussia. It was buried
forever the following winter when I was with the Russian Army in
the memorable retreat through the Bukowina. In East Prussia I was
in an entirely different position from a man investigating
conditions in Belgium, for I was in the German's own country after
he had driven out the invader. I tried to see some youth whose
hand had been cut off, but could not find a single case, although,
everybody had heard of such mutilations. The fact that no doctor
whom I questioned knew of any case was sufficient refutation, since
a person whose hand had been cut off would need something more than
a bandage tied on at home.
When the Russians entered the province they struck yellow and black
posters everywhere announcing that it was annexed to Russia. In
view of this the Russian officers were instructed to restrain their
men and to treat the natives well. Isolated cases of violence, for
the most part murder and robbery of the victim, had occurred where
men had broken away from restraint, but they were surprisingly few.
After I returned to Berlin I met an American correspondent who was
in East Prussia when I was. His sympathies were pro-German, but he
was an, open and fair-minded man, who, like me, had left Berlin
with a deep feeling against the Russians, thanks to the excellent
German propaganda. "I went especially to get some good stories of
Russian atrocities," he said. "I thought that every mile would be
blood-marked with evidence, but I came back defeated. Some petty
larceny and robbery, a Red Cross flag torn to shreds by a Russian
shell, two old men murdered and robbed by Cossacks, and a woman in
the hospital at Soldau, who had been outraged by five Cossacks, was
all that I could find, even though I was aided by the German
My own first-hand investigations convinced me that it would be
difficult for any army in the world to conduct a cleaner campaign
than Russia conducted in her first invasion of East Prussia. I
remind the reader that I am speaking of the _first_ invasion, for I
have no personal knowledge of the second. Subsequently in Germany
when. I spoke of the matter I was always told that it was the
_second_ invasion which was so bad. Perhaps! But I had been
fooled when Berlin cried wolf the first time.
By a stroke of fortune while in East Prussia I became "assistant"
for two days to a Government moving picture photographer who had a
pass for himself and assistant in those happy days of inexactitude.
We formed the kind of close comradeship which men form who are
suffocated but unhurt by a shell which kills and maims others all
about them. That had been our experience. He had, moreover, been
over much of the ground covered by me behind the front.
"I am instructed to get four kinds of pictures," he explained.
"(1) Pictures which show German patriotism and unity. (2) Pictures
which show German organisation and efficiency. (3) Pictures which
show evidence of humanity in the German Army. (4) Pictures which
show destruction by the enemy. Some of my pictures are kept by the
_Kriegsministerium_ for purposes of studying the war. The greater
part, however, are used for propaganda both at home and abroad.
Furthermore, I must be careful to keep an accurate record of what
each picture is. The pictures are then arranged and given suitable
titles in Berlin,"
I thought of all this in the London display-room when the familiar
picture of the ruined church flashed before my eyes with the title
_Beautiful Church at Allenburg Destroyed by the Russians_--a
deliberate lie on the film.
I have nothing to say against the Germans for knocking their own
town to pieces or against the British and French for knocking
French towns to pieces. That is one of the misfortunes of war.
The point is, that the propaganda department of the Wilhelmstrasse
fully understands that people who do not see the war, especially
neutrals, are shocked at the destruction of churches. The Germans
have been taught an unpleasant lesson in this in the case of
Rheims. Therefore they answer by falsifying a film when it suits
their purpose with just as little compunction as they repudiate
"A little thing!" you might say.
That adds to its importance, for it is attention to detail which
characterises modern Germany. It is the subtle things which are
difficult to detect. The Government neglects nothing which will
aid in the ownership of public opinion at home and the influencing
of neutrals throughout the world.
THE IDEA FACTORY
A group of diplomats and newspaper correspondents were gathered at
lunch in a German city early in the war, when one of the latter, an
American, asked how a certain proposition which was being discussed
would suit public opinion. "Will public opinion favour such a
move?" he questioned.
"Public opinion! Public opinion!" a member of the German Foreign
Office repeated in a tone which showed that he was honestly
perplexed. "Why, we create it!"
He spoke the truth. They certainly do.
The State-controlled professor, parson and moving-picture producer
appeal to limited audiences in halls and churches, but the
newspaper is ubiquitous, particularly in a country where illiteracy
is practically unknown, and where regulations bidding and
forbidding are constantly appearing in the newspapers--the reading
of which is thus absolutely necessary if one would avoid friction
with the authorities.
In a free Press, like that of the United States or Great Britain,
the truth on any question of public interest is reasonably certain
to come to light sooner or later. Competition is keen, and if one
paper does not dig up and publish the facts, a rival is likely to
do so. The German Press was gaining a limited degree of freedom
before the war, but that has been wiped away. As in other
belligerent countries news of a military nature must quite properly
pass the censor. But in Germany, unlike Great Britain, for
example, all other topics must be written in a manner to please the
Government, or trouble ensues for the writer and his paper. To a
certain extent the Press is a little unmuzzled during the sittings
of the Reichstag--not much, but somewhat, for the reports of the
Reichstag proceedings are strictly censored. The famous speech of
Deputy Bauer in May, 1916, was a striking example, for not a word
of his speech, the truth of which was not questioned, was allowed
to appear in a single German newspaper. The suppression of most of
Herr Hoffmann's speech in the Prussian Diet in January, 1917, is
another important case in point. This is in striking contrast to
the British Parliament, which is supreme, and over whose reports
the Press Bureau has no control. The German Press Bureau, on the
other hand, revises and even suppresses the publication of
speeches. When necessary, it specially transmits speeches by
telegram and wireless to foreign countries if it thinks those
speeches will help German propaganda.
The Berlin and provincial editors are summoned from time to time to
meetings, when they are addressed by members of the Government as
to what it is wise for them to say and not to say. These meetings
constitute a hint that if the editors are indiscreet, if they, for
example, publish matter "calculated to promote disunity," they may
be subject to the increasingly severe penalties now administered.
If a newspaper shows a tendency to kick over the traces, a
Government emissary waits upon the editor, calls his attention to
any offending article or paragraph, and suggests a correction. If
a newspaper still offends, it is liable to a suspension for a day
or even a week, or it may be suppressed altogether.
But in peace, as well as in war, editors all over Germany were
instructed as to the topic on which to lay accent for a limited
period, and just how to treat that topic. For example, during the
three months preceding the war, Russia was bitterly attacked in the
German Press. From August 1 to August 4, 1914, the German people
had it crammed down their throats that she was the sole cause of
the war. On August 4 the Government marshalled the editors and
professors and ordered them to throw all the responsibility on
Britain, and the hate was switched from one to the other with the
speed and ease of a stage electrician throwing the lever from red
How do the editors like being mere clerks for the Government? The
limited numbers of editors of independent thought, such as the
"relentless" Count Reventlow, Maximilian Harden, and Theodor Wolff,
detest such a role, and struggle against it. After sincere and
thorough investigation, however, I am convinced the average German
editor or reporter, like the average professor, prefers to have his
news handed to him to digging it up for himself.
In this connection the remark made to me by the editor of a little
paper in East Prussia is interesting. After the Russians had
fallen back he told me of two boys in a neighbouring village whose
hands had been cut off. He said that he was going to run the
story, and suggested that I also use it. I proposed that we make a
little trip of investigation, as we could do so in a couple of
He looked surprised. "Why, we have the story already," he declared.
"But I am not going to write it unless I can prove it," I replied.
A moment later I heard him sigh with despair as he half whispered
to a cavalry captain: "Yes, yes, alas, over there the Press is in
the hands of the people!"
Many newspaper readers run more or less carelessly through
articles, and many more simply read the headlines and headings.
The Official Press Bureau, for which no detail is too minute,
realises this perfectly, with the result that German newspaper
headings are constructed, less with a view to sensationalism, as in
some British and American papers, or with a view to condense
accurately the chief news feature of the day, as to impress the
reader--or the hearer, since the headlines are cried shrilly in
Berlin and other cities--with the idea that Germany is always
making progress towards ultimate victory. The daily reports of the
General Staff have been excellent, with a few notable exceptions
such as the Battle of the Marne and the Battle of the Somme.
During reverses, however, they have shown a tendency to pack
unpalatable truths in plenty of "shock absorber," with the result
that the public mind, as I know from my personal investigations, is
completely befogged as to the significance of military operations
which did not go in a manner satisfactory to the German leaders.
In all this the headline never failed to cheer. When the Russians
were smashing the Austrians in the East, while the British and
French were making important gains and inflicting much more
important losses on the Somme, the old reliable headline--TERRIBLE
RUSSIAN LOSSES--was used until it was worn threadbare.
What would you think, you who live in London or Hew York, if you
woke up some morning to find every newspaper in the city with the
same headlines? And would you not be surprised to learn that
nearly every newspaper throughout your country had the same
headlines that day? You would conclude that there was wonderful
central control somewhere, would you not?
Yet that is what happens in Germany repeatedly. It is of special
significance on "total days." Those are the days when the
Government, in the absence of fresh victories, adds the totals of
prisoners taken for a given period, and as only the totals appear
in the headlines the casual reader feels nearer a victorious peace.
On the morning of March 13, 1916, most of the papers had "total"
headlines for Verdun.
Not so the _Tageblatt_. Theodor Wolff, its editor, has had so much
journalistic experience, outside of Germany, and is, moreover, a
man of such marked ability, that he is striving to be something
more than a sycophantic clerk of the Government. He is not a
grumbler, not a dissatisfied extremist, not unpatriotic, but
possesses a breadth of outlook patriotic in the highest sense. On
the morning after the Liebknecht riots in the Potsdamer Platz, his
paper did not appear. The reason given by the Commandant of the
Mark of Brandenburg was that he had threatened the _Burgfriede_ by
charging certain interests in Germany with attempting to make the
war a profitable institution. But there are those who say that the
police were very watchful in the newspaper offices that night, and
that the _Tageblatt_ did not appear because of its attempt to print
some of the happenings in the Potsdamer Platz.
It has been the custom of Herr Wolff to write a front-page article
every Monday morning signed T. W. On the last Monday morning in
July, 1916, in a brilliantly written article, the first part of
which patted the Government on the back for some things, he
delicately expressed a desire for reform in diplomatic methods
which would render war-making less easy. Then he added that if
some statesman, such as Prince Bulow, had been called as adviser in
July, 1914, a way to avert the war might have been found.
This so angered the Government, which has successfully convinced
its great human sheep-fold that Germany is the innocent victim of
attack, that the _Tageblatt_ was suppressed for nearly a week, and,
like the ex-Socialist paper _Vorwaerts_, was permitted to reappear
only after it promised "to be good." Theodor Wolff was personally
silenced for several months. This was his greatest but not his
only offence. All over Germany the people have been officially
taught to regard this great war time as _die grosse Zeit_. Wolff,
however, sarcastically set the expression in inverted
commas--thereby committing a sacrilege against the State.
Throughout Germany monuments have been reared and nails driven into
emblems marked DIE GROSSE ZEIT. I have often wondered just what
thoughts these monuments will arouse in the German's mind if his
country is finally beaten and all his bloodshed and food
deprivation will have been in vain.
The Press has, of course, been the chief instrument, reinforced by
the schoolmaster, professor and parson, in spreading the doctrine
of scientific hatred. It is not generally known that Deputy Cohn,
speaking in the Reichstag on April 8, 1916, sharply criticised the
method of interning British civilians at Ruhleben. He went on to
say that, "reports of the persecutions of Germans in England were
magnified and to some extent invented by the German Press in order
to stir up war feeling against England."
I saw a brilliant example of the German Press Bureau's attention to
details in the late autumn of 1914. I was on a point of vantage
half way up the Schlossberg behind Freiburg during the first aerial
attack by the French in that region. In broad daylight a solitary
airman flew directly over the town and went on until he was
directly over the extensive barracks just outside. Freiburg is a
compact city of 85,000 inhabitants, and it would have been easy to
have caused damage, and probably loss of life to the civilian
population. It was clear to me in my front-row position and to the
natives, with many of whom I afterwards discussed the matter, that
the Frenchman was careful to avoid damaging the town, and circled
directly over the barracks on which he dropped all his bombs. The
Freiburg papers said little about the raid, but to my surprise when
I reached Frankfurt and Cologne a week later, newspaper notices
were still stuck about the cities calling upon Germans to witness
again the dastardly methods of the enemy who attack the inhabitants
of peaceful towns outside of the zone of operations.
The French very properly and effectively practised reprisals later,
but the Germans believe that the shoe is on the other foot. And so
it is in, everything connected with the war. The Germans tell you
that they use poisonous gas because the French used it; in fact,
only their good luck in capturing some of the French gas generators
enabled them to learn the method. Britain, not Germany, violates
the laws of the sea. It was the Belgians who were cruel to German
troops, especially the Belgian women and the Belgian children.
When the Verdun offensive came to a standstill a spirit of
restlessness developed which was reflected in the Reichstag, where
a few Social Democrats attacked the Government because they
believed that Germany could now make peace if she wished, and that
further bloodshed would be for a war of conquest, advocated by the
During the succession of German military victories, especially in
the first part of the war, there was plenty of "front copy" both as
news and filler. Some of the accounts were excellent. The reader
seldom got the idea, however, that German soldiers were being
killed and wounded, and after a time most of the battle
descriptions contained much of soft nocturnal breezes whispering in
the moonlight, but precious few real live details of fighting.
Regarding this point, a German of exceptional information of the
world outside his own country expressed to me his utter amazement
at the accounts appearing in the British Press of the hard life in
the trenches. "I don't see how they hope to get men to enlist when
they write such discouraging stuff," he said. After the Battle of
the Somme opened, the German newspapers used to print extracts from
the London papers in which British correspondents vividly described
how their own men were mown down by German machine-guns after they
had passed them, so well was the enemy entrenched. On that
occasion one of the manipulators of public opinion said to me, "The
British Government is mad to permit such descriptions to appear in
the Press. They will have only themselves to blame if their
soldiers soon refuse to fight!"
This is one of the many instances which I shall cite throughout
this book to show that because the German authorities know other
countries they do not necessarily know other subjects.
As weeks of war became months and months became years, the
censorship screws were twisted tighter than ever, with the result
that docile editors were often at their wits' end to provide even
On July 14, for example, with battles of colossal magnitude raging
east and west, the _Berliner Morgenpost_ found news so scarce that
it had to devote most of the front page to the review of a book
called "Paris and the French Front," by Nils Christiernssen, a
Swedish writer. I had read the book months before, as the
Propaganda Department of the Foreign Office had sent it to all
It became noticeable, however, that as food portions diminished,
soothing-syrup doses for the public increased. Whenever a wave of
complaints over food shortage began to rise the Press would build a
dyke of accounts of the trials of meatless days in Russia, of
England's scarcity of things to eat, and of the dread in France of
another winter. The professors writing in the Press grew
particularly comforting. Thus on June 30 one of them comforted the
public in a lengthy and serious article in the evening edition, of
the _Vossische Zeitung_ with "the revelation that over-eating is a
cause of baldness."
The cheering news of enemy privations continued to such an extent
that many Americans were asked by the more credulous if there were
bread-tickets in Kew York and other American cities. In short,
Germany is being run on the principle that when you are down with
small-pox it is comforting to know that your neighbour has cholera.
The key-note of the German Press, however, has been to show that
the war was forced on peace-loving Germany. Of the Government's
success in its propaganda among its own people I saw evidence every
day. The people go even one step farther than the Government, for
the Government sought merely to show that it was forced to declare
war upon Russia and France. Most of the German people are
labouring under the delusion that Russia and France actually
declared war on Germany. This misconception, no doubt, is partly
due to the accounts in the German papers during the first days of
August, 1914, describing how the Russians and French crossed the
frontier to attack Germany before any declaration of war.
A German girl who was in England at the outbreak of war, and who
subsequently returned to her own country, asked her obstinate,
hard-headed Saxon uncle, a wealthy manufacturer, if Germany did not
declare war on Russia and France. She insisted that Germany did,
for she had become convinced not only in England but in Holland.
Her uncle, in a rage, dismissed the matter with: _Du bist falsch
unterrichtet_. (You are falsely informed.)
An American in Berlin had a clause in his apartment lease that his
obligations were abruptly and automatically terminated should
Germany be in a state of war. Yet when he wished to pack up and go
his German landlord took the case to court on, the ground that
Germany had not declared war.
The hypnotic effect of the German newspapers on the German is not
apprehended either in Great Britain or in the United States. Those
papers, all directed from the Foreign Office in the Wilhelmstrasse,
can manipulate the thoughts of these docile people, and turn their
attention to any particular part of the war with the same celerity
as the operator of a searchlight can direct his beam at any part of
the sky he chooses. For the moment the whole German nation looks
at that beam and at nothing else.
* * * * *
In the late afternoon of an autumnal day I stopped at a little
wayside inn near Hildesheim. The place had an empty look, and the
woman who came in at the sound of my footsteps bore unmistakable
lines of trouble and anxiety.
No meat that day, no cheese either, except for the household. She
could, not even give me bread without a bread-ticket--nothing but
Before the war business had been good. Then came one misfortune
after another. Her husband was a prisoner in Russia, and her
eldest son had died with von Kluck's Army almost in sight of the
"You must find it hard to get along," I said.
"I do," she sighed. "But, then, when fodder got scarce we killed
all the pigs, so bother with them is over now."
"You are not downhearted about the war?" I asked.
"I know that Germany cannot be defeated," she replied. "But we do
so long for peace."
"You do not think your Government responsible at all for the war?"
"I don't, and the rest of us do not," was her unhesitating reply.
"We all know that our Kaiser wanted only peace. Everybody knows
that England caused all this misery." Then she looked squarely and
honestly into my eyes and said in a tone I shall never forget: "Do
you think that if our Government were responsible for the war that
we should be willing to bear all these terrible sacrifices?"
I thought of that banquet table more than two years before, and the
remark about creating public opinion. I realised that the road is
long which winds from it to the little wayside inn near Hildesheim,
but that it is a road on which live both the diplomat and the
lonely, war-weary woman. They live on different ends, that is all.
CORRESPONDENTS IN SHACKLES
Towards the end of 1915 the neutral newspaper correspondents in
Berlin were summoned to the _Kriegs-Presse-Bureau_ (War Press
Bureau) of the Great General Staff. The official in charge, Major
Nicolai, notified them that the German Government desired their
signature to an agreement respecting their future activities in the
war. It had been decided, Major Nicolai stated, to allow the
American journalists to visit the German fronts at more or less
regular intervals, but before this was done it would be necessary
for them to enter into certain pledges. These were, mainly:--
1. To remain in Germany for the duration of the war, unless given
special permission to leave by the German authorities.
2. To guarantee that dispatches would be published in the United
States precisely as sent from Germany, that is to say, as edited
and passed by the military censorship.
3. To supply their own headlines for their dispatches, and to
guarantee that these, and none others, would be printed.
After labouring in vain to instruct Major Nicolai that with the
best of intentions on the part of the correspondents it was beyond
their power to say in exactly what form the _Omaha Bee_ or the _New
Orleans Picayune_ would publish their "copy," they affixed their
signatures to the weird document laid before them. It was signed,
without exception, by all the important correspondents permanently
stationed in Berlin. Two or three who did not desire to hand over
the control of their personal movements to the German Government
for an unlimited number of years did not "take the pledge," with
the result that they were not invited to join the personally
conducted junkets to the fronts which were subsequently organised.
Nothing that has happened in Germany during the war illustrates so
well the vassalage to which neutral correspondents have been
reduced as the humiliating pledges extorted from them by the German
Government as the price of their remaining in Berlin for the
practice of their profession.
It was undoubtedly this episode which inspired the American
Ambassador, Mr. Gerard, to tell the American correspondents last
summer that they would do well to obtain their freedom from the
German censorship before invoking the Embassy's good offices to
break down the alleged interference with their dispatches by the
British censorship. When the Germans learned of the rebuff which
Mr. Gerard had administered to his journalistic compatriots, the
Berlin Press launched one of those violent attacks against the
Ambassador to which he has constantly been subject in Germany
during the war.
As I have shown in a previous chapter the German Government
attaches so much importance to the control and manufacture of
public opinion through the Press that it is drastic in the
regulation of German newspapers. It is therefore comprehensible
that it should strive to enlist to the fullest possible extent the
Press of other countries. At least one paper in practically every
neutral country is directly subsidised by the German Foreign
Office, which does not, however, stop at this. The attempt to
seduce the newspapers of other nations into interpreting the
Fatherland as the Wilhelmstrasse wishes it to be interpreted leads
the investigators to a subterranean labyrinth of schemes which
would fill a volume.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914. Long
before that Dr. Hammann, head of the _Nachrichtendienst_ of the
German Foreign Office, had organised a plan for the successful
influencing of the Press of the world. In May, 1914, the work of a
special bureau under his direction and presided over by a woman of
international reputation was in full operation.
The following incident, which is one of the many I might cite,
throws interesting light on one method of procedure. The head of
the special bureau asked one of the best known woman newspaper
reporters of Norway if she would like to do some easy work which
would take up very little of her time and for which she would be
The Norwegian reporter was interested and asked for particulars.
"Germany wishes to educate other countries to a true appreciation
of things German. Within a year, or at most within two years, we
shall be doing this by sending to foreign newspapers articles which
will instruct the world about Germany. Of course, it is not
advisable to send them directly from our own bureau; it is much
better to have them appear to come from the correspondents of the
various foreign newspapers. Thus, we shall send you articles which
you need only copy or translate and sign."
This has been the practice in German journalism for years, and its
extension to other countries was merely a chain in the link of
Germany's deliberate and thorough preparations for the war.
With a few exceptions, German reporters and correspondents are
underpaid sycophants, mere putty in the hands of the Government.
Therefore, the chagrin of the officials over the independence and
ability of the majority of the American correspondents is easy to
understand. The Wilhelmstrasse determined to control them, and
through them to influence the American Press. Hence the rules
When a man signs an agreement that he will not leave Germany until
the end of the war, without special dispensation, he has bound
himself to earn his livelihood in that country. He cannot do this
without the consent of the Government, for if he does not write in
a manner to please them they can slash his copy, delay it, and
prevent him from going on trips to such an extent that he will be a
failure with his newspaper at home. His whole success depends
therefore upon his being "good" much after the manner in which a
German editor must be "good." If he expresses a wish to leave
Germany before the end of the war and the wish is granted, he feels
that a great favour has been conferred upon him and he is supposed
to feel himself morally bound to be "good" to Germany in the future.
The American journalistic colony in Germany is an entirely
different thing from what it used to be in pre-war days. Before
1914 it consisted, merely of the representatives of the Associated
Press and United Press, half a dozen New York papers (including the
notorious _New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung_), and the well-known and
important Western journal, the _Chicago Daily News_. To-day many
papers published in the United States are represented in Berlin by
special correspondents. The influx of newcomers has been mostly
from German-language papers, printed in such Teutonic centres as
Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Milwaukee, etc. Journals like the
_Illinoiser Staats-zeitung_, of Chicago, which for years past has
barely been able to keep its head above water, have suddenly found
themselves affluent enough to maintain correspondents in Europe
who, for their part, scorn lodgings less pretentious than those of
the _de luxe_ Hotel Adlon in Unter den Linden.
The bright star in the American journalistic firmament in Berlin is
Karl Heinrich von Wiegand, the special representative of the _New
York World_. The _New York World_ is not pro-German, but von
Wiegand is of direct and noble German origin. Apart from his
admitted talents as a newspaper man, his Prussian "von" is of no
inconsiderable value to any newspaper which employs him. Von
Wiegand, I believe, is a native of California. Persons unfriendly
to him assert that he is really a native of Prussia, who went to
the United States when a child. Wherever he was born, he is now
typically American, and speaks German with an unmistakable
Transatlantic accent. He is a bookseller by origin, and his little
shop in San Francisco was wiped out by the earthquake. About
forty-five years of age, he is a man of medium build, conspicuously
near-sighted, wears inordinately thick "Teddy Roosevelt
eye-glasses," and is in his whole bearing a "real" Westerner of
unusually affable personality. Von Wiegand claims, when taunted
with being a Press agent of the German Government, that he is
nothing but an enterprising correspondent of the _New York World_.
I did not find this opinion of himself fully shared in Germany.
There are many people who will tell you that if von Wiegand is not
an actual attache of the German Press Bureau, his "enterprise"
almost always takes the form of very effective Press agent work for
the Kaiser's cause. He certainly comes and goes at all official
headquarters in Germany on terms of welcome and intimacy, and is a
close friend of the notorious Count Reventlow.
My personal opinion, however, is that he is above all a journalist,
and an exceedingly able one.
Von Wiegand's liaison with the powers that be in Berlin has long
been a standing joke among his American colleagues. Shortly after
the fall of Warsaw in August, 1915, when the stage in Poland was
set for exhibition to the neutral world, he was roused from his
slumbers in his suite at the Adlon by a midnight telephone message,
apprising him that if he would be at Friedrichstrasse Station at
4.30 the next morning, with packed bags, he would be the only
correspondent to be taken on a staff trip to Warsaw. Wiegand was
there at the appointed hour, but was astonished to discover that he
had been hoaxed. The perpetrators of the "rag" were some of his U.
Von Wiegand for nearly two years has been the recipient of such
marked and exclusive favours in Berlin that Mr. Hearst's _New York
American_ (the chief rival of the _New York World_, and the head of
the "International News Service" which has been suppressed in Great
Britain, where it has been proved to have maliciously lied on
divers occasions) decided to send to Germany a special
correspondent who would also have a place in the sun. The
gentleman appointed to crowd Mr. von Wiegand out of the limelight
was a former clergyman named Dr. William Bayard Hale, a gifted
writer and speaker, who obtained some international notoriety eight
years ago by interviewing the Kaiser. That interview was so full
of blazing political indiscretions that the German Government
suppressed it at great cost by buying up the entire issue of the
New York magazine in which the explosion was about to take place.
Enough of the contents of the interview subsequently leaked out to
indicate that its main feature was the German Emperor's insane
animosity to Great Britain and Japan and his determination to go to
war with them.
Dr. Hale also enjoyed the prestige of having once been an intimate
of President Wilson. He had written the latter's biography, and
later represented him in Mexico as a special emissary. Shortly
before the war he married a New York German woman, who is, I
believe, a sister or near relative of Herr Muschenheim, the owner
of the Hotel Astor, which in 1914 and 1915 was inhabited by the
German propaganda bureau, or one of the many bureaus maintained in
New York City. From the date of his German matrimonial alliance
Dr. Hale became an ardent protagonist of _Kultur_. One of his last
activities before going to Germany was to edit a huge "yellow book"
which summarised "Great Britain's violations of international law"
and the acrimonious correspondence on contraband and shipping
controversies between the British and American Governments. This
publication was financed by the German publicity organisation and
widely circulated in the United States and all neutral countries.
Dr. Hale, a tall, dark, keen-looking, smooth-shaven, and
smooth-spoken American, received in Berlin on his arrival a welcome
customarily extended only to a new-coming foreign Ambassador. He
came, of course, provided with the warmest credentials Count
Bernstorff could supply. Long before Hale had a chance to present
himself at the Foreign Office, the Foreign Office presented itself
to him, an emissary from the Imperial Chancellor having, according
to the story current in Berlin, left his compliments at Dr. Hale's
hotel. He had not been in Berlin many days before an interview
with Bethmann-Hollweg was handed to him on a silver plate.
Forthwith the _New York American_ began to be deluged with the
journalistic sweetmeats--Ministerial interviews, Departmental
statements, and exclusive news tit-bits--with which Karl Heinrich
von Wiegand had so long and alone been distinguishing himself.
I have told in detail these facts about von Wiegand and Hale
because between them the two men are able to flood the American
public with a torrent of German-made news and views, whose volume
and influence are tremendous. The _New York World's_ European news
is "syndicated" to scores of newspapers throughout the American,
continent, and the service has "featured" von Wiegand's Berlin
dispatches to the exclusion, or at least almost to the eclipse, of
the _World's_ other war news. Hale's dispatches to the Hearst
Press have been published all the way across the Republic, not only
in the dailies of vast circulation owned by Mr. Hearst in New York,
Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, but
also in a great many other papers like the prominent _Philadelphia
North American_, which subscribed to the "International News
The German authorities understand all this perfectly well. That
explains their unceasing attentions to von Wiegand and Hale, and to
other valuable correspondents. One of these recently undertook to
compile a book on Belgium in war-time for the purpose of
white-washing Germans in American estimation. Accompanied by his
wife, he was motored and wined and dined through the conquered
country under the watchful chaperonage of German officers. He has
returned to Berlin to write his book, although it is common
knowledge there that during his entire stay in Belgium he was not
permitted to talk to a single Belgian.
Although nominally catered to and fawned upon by the German
authorities, the American correspondents cut on the whole a
humiliating figure, although not all of them realise it. It is
notorious they are spied upon day and night. They are even at
times ruthlessly scorned by their benefactors in the
Wilhelmstrasse. One of the Americans who essays to be independent,
was some time ago a member of a journalistic party conducted to
Lille. He left the party long enough to stroll into a jeweller's
shop to purchase a new glass for his watch. While making the
purchase he asked the Frenchman who waited on him how he liked the
Germans. "They are very harsh, but just," was the reply. A couple
of weeks later, when the correspondents were back in Berlin, Major
Nicolai, of the War Press Bureau, sent for the correspondent, said
to him that he knew of the occasion on which the American
journalist had "left the party" in Lille, and demanded to know what
had occurred in the watchmaker's shop. The correspondent repeated
precisely what the Frenchman had said. "Well," snarled Major
Nicolai, "why didn't you send that to your papers?" I may mention
here that these parties of neutral correspondents are herded rather
than conducted when on tour.
The American correspondents had a sample of the actual contempt in
which the German authorities hold them on the day when the
commercial submarine _Deutschland_ returned to Bremen, August 23.
For purposes of glorifying the _Deutschland's_ achievement in the
United States, the American correspondents in Berlin were
dispatched to Bremen, where they were told that elaborate special
arrangements for their reception and entertainment had been
completed. Count Zeppelin, two airship commanders, who had just
raided England, and a number of other national heroes would be
present, together with the Grand Duke of Oldenburg at the head of a
galaxy of civil, military, and naval dignitaries. The grand climax
of the _Deutschland_ joy carnival was to be a magnificent banquet
with plenty of that rare luxury, bread and butter, at the famous
Bremen _Rathaus_ accompanied by both oratorical and pyrotechnical
fireworks. The correspondents were given an opportunity to watch
the triumphal progess of the _Deutschland_ through the Weser into
Bremen harbour, but at night, when they looked for their places at
the _Rathaus_ feast, they were informed that there was no room for
them. An overflow banquet had been arranged in their special
honour in a neighbouring tavern. This was too much even for some
of the War Press Bureau's best American friends, and the overflow
dinner party was served at a table which contained many vacant
chairs. Their intended occupiers had taken the first train back to
Berlin, thoroughly disgusted.
It is fair to say that several of the principal American
correspondents in Berlin are making a serious effort to practise
independent journalism, _but it is a difficult and hopeless
struggle_. They are shackled and controlled from one end of the
week to the other. They could not if they wished send the
unadorned truth to the United States. _All they are permitted to
report is that portion of the truth which reflects Germany in the
light in which it is useful for Germany to appear from time to
Germany has organised news for neutrals in the most intricate
fashion. A certain kind of news is doled out for the United
States, a totally different kind for Spain, and still a different
brand, when emergency demands, for Switzerland, Brazil, or China.
There is a Chinese correspondent among the other "neutrals" in
Germany. The "news" prepared for him by Major Nicolai's department
would be very amusing reading in the columns of Mr. von Wiegand's
or Dr. Hale's papers.
There is a celebrated and pro-Ally newspaper in New York whose
motto is "All the news that's fit to print." The motto of the
German War Press Bureau is "All the news that's safe to print."
ANTON LANG OF OBERAMMERGAU
While I was at home on a few weeks' visit in October, 1915, I read
in the newspapers a simple announcement cabled from Europe that
Anton Lang of Oberammergau had been killed in the great French
offensive in Champagne. This came as a shock to many Americans,
for the name of this wonderful character who had inspired people of
all shades of opinion and religious belief in his masterful
impersonation of Christ in the decennial Passion Play was almost as
well known in the United States and in England as in his native
Bavaria, and better, I found than in Prussia.
British and American tourist agencies had put Oberammergau on the
map of the world. The interest in America after the Passion Play
of 1910 was so great, in fact, that some newspapers ran extensive
series of illustrated articles describing it. The man who played
the part of Christ was idealised, everybody who had seen him liked
him, respected him and admired him. Thousands had said that
somehow a person felt better after he had seen Anton Lang. As a
supreme test of his popularity, American vaudeville managers asked
him to name his own terms for a theatrical tour.
And now the man who had imbued his life with that of the Prince of
Peace had thrown the past aside, and with the spiked helmet in
place of the Crown of Thorns had gone to his death trying not to
save but to slaughter his fellow-men.
Truly, the changes wrought by war are great!
* * * * *
In Berlin I inquired into the circumstances of Anton Lang's death.
Nobody knew anything definite. Berlin knew little of him in life,
much less than London, New York or Montreal.
Munich is different. There his name is a household word. Herr von
Meinl, then Director of the Bavarian Ministry, now member of the
Bundesrat, told me that he believed that there was a mistake in the
report that Anton had been killed.
Later, when tramping through the Bavarian Highlands, I walked one
winter day from Partenkirchen to Oberammergau, for I had a whim to
know the truth of the matter.
On the lonely mountain road that winds sharply up from Oberau I
overtook a Benedictine monk who was walking to the monastery at
Ettal. We talked of the war in general and of the Russian
prisoners we had seen in the saw-mills at Untermberg. I was
curious to hear his views upon the war, and I soon saw that not
even the thick walls of a monastery are proof against the
idea-machine in the Wilhelmstrasse. Despite Cardinal Mercier's
denunciation of German methods in Belgium, this monk's views were
the same as the rest of the Kaiser's subjects. He did, however,
admit that he was sorry for the Belgians, although, in true German
fashion, he did not consider Germany to blame. He sighed to think
that "the Belgian King had so treacherously betrayed his people by
abandoning his neutrality and entering into a secret agreement with
France and Great Britain." He recited the regular story of the
secret military letters found by the Germans after they had invaded
Belgium, the all-important marginal notes of which were maliciously
left untranslated in the German Press.
We parted at Ettal, and I pushed on down the narrow valley to
Oberammergau. The road ahead was now in shadow, but behind me the
mountain mass was dazzling white in the rays of the setting sun.
"What a pity," I thought, "that the peasant must depart from these
beautiful mountains and valleys to die in the slime of the
The day was closing in quiet and grandeur, yet all the time the
shadow of death was darkening the peaceful valley of the Ammer. I
became aware of it first as I passed the silent churchyard with its
grey stones rising from the snow. For there, on the other side of
the old stone wall that marks the road, was a monument on which the
Reaper hacks the toll of death. The list for 1870 was small,
indeed, compared with that of _die grosse Zeit_. I looked for Lang
and found it, for Hans had died, as had also Richard.
I passed groups of men cutting wood and hauling ice and grading
roads, men with rounder faces and flatter noses than the Bavarians,
still wearing the yellowish-brown uniform of Russia. That is, most
of them wore it. Some, whose uniforms had long since gone to
tatters, were dressed in ordinary clothing, with flaming red R's
painted on trousers and jackets.
An old woman with a heavy basket on her back was trudging past a
group of these. "How do you like them?" I asked. "We shall really
miss them when they go," she said. "They seem part of the village
now. The poor fellows, it must be sad for them so far from home."
Evidently the spirit of new Germany had not saturated her.
I went through crooked streets, bordered with houses brightly
frescoed with biblical scenes, to the _Pension Dahein_, the home of
the man I wished to see. As he rose from his pottery bench to
welcome me, I felt that beneath his great blue apron and rough garb
of the working man was true nobility. I did not need to ask if he
was Anton Lang. I had seen his picture and had often been told
that his face was the image of His Who died on the Cross. I
expected much, but found infinitely more. I felt that life had
been breathed into a Rubens masterpiece. No photograph can do him
justice, for no lens can catch the wondrous light in his clear blue
I was the only guest at the _Pension Daheim_; indeed, I was the
only stranger in Oberammergau. I sat beside Anton Lang in his work
room as his steady hands fashioned things of clay, I ate at table
with him, and in the evening we pulled up our chairs to the
comfortable fireside, where we talked of his country and of my
country, of the Passion Play and of the war.
I had been sceptical about him until I met him. I wondered if he
was self-conscious about his goodness, or if he was a dreamer who
could not get down to the realities of this world, or if he had
been spoiled by flattery, or if piety was part of his profession.
When I finally went from there I felt that I really understood him.
His life has been without an atom of reproach, yet he never poses
as pious. He does not preach, or stand aloof, or try to make you
feel that he is better than you, but down in your heart you know
that he is. He has been honoured by royalty and men of state, yet
he remains simple and unaffected, though quietly dignified in
manner. He is truly Nature's Nobleman, with a mind that is pure
and a face the mirror of his mind.
To play well his role of _Christus_ is the dominating passion of
his life. Not the make-up box, but his own thoughts must mould his
features for the role, which has been his in 1890, 1900 and 1910.
His travels include journeys to Rome and to the Holy Land. He is
well read, an interesting talker, and an interested listener. He
commented upon the great change in the spirit of the people, a
change from the intoxicating enthusiasm of victory to a war-weary
feeling of trying to hold out through a sense of duty. To my
question as to when he thought the war would end, he answered:
"When Great Britain and Germany both realise that each must make
concessions. Neither can crush the other."
The doctrine that "only through hate can the greatest obstacles in
life be overcome" has not reached his home, nor was there hanging
on the wall, as in so many German homes, the famous order of the
day of Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria, which commences with
"Soldiers of the army! Before you are the English!" in which he
exhorts his troops with all the tricky sophistry of hate.
Anton Lang has worked long hard hours to bring up his family,
rather than accept fabulous offers for a theatrical tour of
America. He refused these offers through no mere caprice.
"I admit that the temptation is great," he said to me. "Here I
must always work hard and remain poor; there I quickly could have
grown rich. But the Passion Play is not a business," he continued
earnestly. "Nearly three hundred years ago, when a terrible plague
raged over the land, the people of Oberammergau vowed to Almighty
God that if He would save their village, they would perform every
ten years in His glory the Passion of His Divine Son. The village
was saved and Oberammergau has kept its promise. You see, if I had
accepted those theatrical offers I could never again live in my
native village, and that would break my heart."
There is carefully preserved in the town hall at Oberammergau an
old chronicle which tells of the plague. There will undoubtedly be
preserved in the family of Lang a new chronicle, a product of the
war, printed in another country, a chronicle which did not rest
content with a notice of Anton's obituary, but told the details of
his death in battle.
Frau Lang showed me this chronicle. She seemed to have something
on her mind of which she wished to speak, after I told her that I
was an American journalist. At length one evening, after the three
younger children bad gone to bed, and the eldest was industriously
studying his lessons for the next day, she ventured. "American
newspapers tell stories which are not at all true, don't they?" she
half stated, half asked.
My natural inclination was to defend American journalism by
attacking that of Germany, but something restrained me, I did not
know what. "Of course," I explained, "in a country such as ours
where the Press is free, evils sometimes arise. We have all kinds
of newspapers. A few are very yellow, but the vast majority seek
to be accurate, for accuracy pays in the long run in
self-respecting journalism." I thought that perhaps she was
referring to the announcement of the death of the man who was
sitting with us in the room. We both agreed, however, that such a
mistake was perfectly natural since two Langs of Oberammergau had
already been killed. In fact, Anton had read of his own death
notice in a Munich paper. The American correspondent who had
cabled the news on two occasions had presumably simply "lifted" the
announcement from the German papers. Frau Lang could understand
that very well when I explained, but how about the stories that
Anton had been serving a machine-gun, and other details which were
She had trump cards which she played at this point. Two gaudily
coloured "Sunday Supplements" of a certain newspaper combination in
the United States were spread before me. The first told of how
Anton Lang had become a machine-gunner of marked ability, and that
he served his deadly weapon with determination. Could the
Oberammergau Passion Play ever exert the old influence again, after
this? was the query at the end of the article.
A second had all the details of Anton's death and was profusely
illustrated. The story started with Anton going years ago into the
mountains to try out his voice in order to develop it for his
histrionic task. There was a brief account of how he had followed
in the path of the Prince of Peace, and of the tremendous effect he
had upon his audiences.
Then came the war, which tore him from his humble home. The battle
raged, the Bavarians charged the French lines, and the spot-light
of the story was played upon a soldier from Oberammergau who lay
wounded in "No-Man's Land." Another charging wave swept by this
soldier, and as he looked up he saw the face of the man he had
respected and loved more than all other men, the face of Anton
Lang, the _Christus_ of Oberammergau. The soldier covered his eyes
with his hands, for never had Anton Lang looked as he did then.
The eyes which had always been so beautiful, so compassionate, had
murder in them now.
The scene shifted. A French sergeant and private crouched by their
machine-gun ready to repel the charge, the mutual relationship
being apparently somewhat that of a plumber and his assistant.
They sprayed the oncoming Bavarians with a shower of steel and
piled the dead high outside the French trenches. The charge had
failed, and the sergeant began to act strangely. At length he
broke the silence. "Did you see that last _boche_, Jean?" he
asked. "Did you see that face?" Jean confessed that he did not.
"You are fortunate, Jean," said the sergeant. "Never have I seen
such a face before. I felt as if there was something supernatural
about it. I felt that it was wrong to kill that man. I hated to
do it, Jean.--But then the butcher was coming at us with a knife
two feet long."
I finished reading and looked up at the questioning eyes of Frau
Lang and at the wonderful, indescribable blue eyes of the "butcher"
across the table, who, I may add, is fifty-two years of age, and
has not had a day's military training in his life.
"And look," said Frau Lang, "these men are not even
She pointed to one of the illustrations which depicted a small
group of rather vicious-looking Prussians, with rifles ready
peering over the rim of a trench. The picture was labelled "Four
apostles now serving at the Front."
"And see," continued the perplexed woman, "there is Johann Zwinck,
the Judas in the play. It says that he is at the front. Why, he
is sixty-nine years old, and is still the village painter. Only
yesterday I heard him complain that the war was making it difficult
for him to get sufficient oil to mix his paint."
I was at a loss for words. "When one compares such terrible
untruths with our German White Book," declared Frau Lang, "it is
indeed difficult for the American people to understand the true
I felt that it would be useless for me at that moment to explain
certain very important omissions in the German White Book.
Anything would look _white_ in comparison with the yellow journal I
had just read. But I knew, and tried to explain that the
particular newspaper combination which printed such rubbish was
well known in America for its inaccuracies and fabrications, and
although it was pro-German, it would sacrifice anything for
sensation. But the good woman, being a German, and consequently
accustomed to standardisation, could not dissociate this newspaper
from the real Press.
The German submarines are standardised. The draughts and blue
prints of the most important machinery are multiplied and sent, if
necessary, to twenty different factories, while all the minor
stampings are produced at one or other main factory. The
"assembling" of the submarines, therefore, is not difficult.
During the war submarine parts have been assembled at Trieste,
Zeebrugge, Kiel, Bremerhaven, Stettin, and half a dozen other
places in Germany unnecessary to relate. With commendable
foresight, Germany sent submarine parts packed as machinery to
South America, where they are being assembled somewhere on the west
The improvement, enlargement, and simplification of the submarine
has progressed with great rapidity.
When I was in England after a former visit to Germany I met a
number of seafolk who pooh-poohed extensive future submarining, by
saying that, no matter how many submarines the Germans might be
able to produce, the training of submarine officers and crew was
such a difficult task that the "submarine menace," as it was then
called in England, need not be taken too seriously.
The difficulty is not so great. German submarine officers and men
are trained by the simple process of double or treble banking of
the crews of submarines on more or less active service. Submarine
crews are therefore multiplied probably a great deal faster than
the war destroys them. These double or treble crews, who rarely go
far away from German waters, and are mostly trained in the safe
Baltic, are generally composed of young but experienced seamen.
There are, however, an increasing number of cases of soldiers being
transferred abruptly to the U-boat service.
The education of submarine officers and crew begins in thorough
German fashion on land or in docks, in dummy or disused submarines,
accompanied by much lecture work and drill. Submarine life is not
so uncomfortable as we think. With the exception of the
deprivation of his beer, which is not allowed in submarines, or,
indeed, any form of alcohol, except a small quantity of brandy,
which is kept under the captain's lock and key, Hans in his
submarine is quite as comfortable as Johann in his destroyer.
Extra comforts are forwarded to submarine men, which consist of
gramophone records (mostly Viennese waltzes), chocolate, sausages,
smoked eels, margarine, cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco, a small
and treasured quantity of real coffee, jam, marmalade, and sugar.
All these, I was proudly told, were extras. There is no shortage
in the German Navy.
I learned nothing of value about the largest German submarines,
except that everybody in Germany knew they were being built, and by
the time the gossip of them reached Berlin the impression there was
that they were at least as large as Atlantic liners.
Now as to German submarine policies. The part that has to do with
winning the war will be dealt with in the next chapter. But there
is also a definite policy in connection with the use of submarines
for winning the "war after the war."
The National Liberal Party, of which Tirpitz is the god, is at the
head of the vast, gradually solidifying mammoth trust, which
embraces Krupps, the mines, shipbuilding yards, and the
manufactures. Now and then a little of its growth leaks out, such
as the linking up of Krupps with the new shipbuilding.
The scheme is brutally simple and is going on under the eyes of the
British every day. These people believe that _by building ships
themselves and destroying enemy and neutral shipping_, they will be
the world's shipping masters at the termination of the war. In
their attitude towards Norwegian shipping, you will notice that
they make the flimsiest excuse for the destruction of as much
tonnage as they can sink. It was confidently stated to me by a
member of the National Liberal Party, and by no means an
unimportant one, that Germany is building ships as rapidly as she
is sinking them. That I do not believe; but that a great part of
her effort is devoted to the construction of mercantile vessels I
ascertained beyond the shadow of a doubt.
I have met people in England who refuse to believe that Germany,
battling on long lines east and west, and constructing with
feverish haste war vessels of every description, can find
sufficient surplus energy to build ships which will not be of the
slightest use until after the war is finished. I can only say that
I personally have seen the recently completed Hamburg-America
liners _Cap Polonio_ and _Cap Finisterre_ anchored in the Elbe off
Altona. They are beautiful boats of 20,000 and 16,000 tons, a
credit to the German shipbuilding industry, which has made such
phenomenal strides in recent years. At Stettin I passed almost
under the stem of the brand new 21,000 ton Hamburg-South America
liner, _Tirpitz_--which for obvious business reasons may be
re-named after the war.
Both at Hamburg and Lubeck, where the rattle of the pneumatic
riveter was as incessant as in any American city in course of
construction, I was amazed at the number of vessels of five or six
thousand tons which I saw being built. Furthermore, the giant
North German, Lloyd liner, _Hindenburg_, is nearing completion,
while the _Bismarck_, of the Hamburg-America Line will be ready for
her maiden trip in the early days of peace.
Another part of the National Liberals' policy is the keeping alive
of all German businesses, banks and others, in enemy countries.
Some people in England seem to think that the Germans are anxious
to keep these businesses alive in order to make money. Many
Germans regard John Bull as extremely simple, but not so simple as
to allow them to do that. So long as the businesses are kept going
until after the war, when they can again start out with redoubled
energy, the Germans desire nothing more. The Deutsche Bank, for
example, which bears no comparison to an English or American bank,
but which is an institution for promoting both political and
industrial enterprise, is entrenched behind so powerful an
Anglo-German backing in London, I was informed on many occasions,
that the British Government dare not close it down. The mixture of
spying and propaganda with banking, with export, with manufacture,
seems so foreign to Anglo-Saxon ways as to be almost inconceivable.
Coincident with the destruction of foreign shipping, and the
maintenance of their businesses in enemy countries (England and
Italy especially) is the exploitation of the coal and other mines,
oil wells, and forests in occupied enemy territory. The French and
Belgian coalfields are being worked to the utmost, together with
the iron mines at Longwy and Brieux. Poland is being deforested to
such an extent that the climate is actually altering.
It is a vast and definite scheme, with such able leaders as Herr
Bassermann, the real leader of the National Liberal Party, Herr
Stresemann, and Herr Hirsch, of Essen. "We have powerful friends,
not only in London, Milan, Rome, Madrid, New York, and Montreal,
but throughout the whole of South America, and everywhere except in
Australia where that _verdammter Hooges_ (Hughes) played into the
hands of our feeble, so-called leader, von Bethmann-Hollweg, by
warning the people that the British people would follow Hughes'
So much for the commercial part of submarining.
U-boating close to England has long ceased to be a popular
amusement with the German submarine flotilla, who have a thoroughly
healthy appreciation of the various devices by which so many of
them have been destroyed. The National Liberals believe that the
British will not be able to tackle long-distance submarines
operating in the Atlantic and elsewhere. Their radius of action is
undoubtedly increasing almost month by month. From remarks made to
me I do not believe that these submarines have many land bases at
great distances--certainly none in the United States. They may
have floating bases; but this I do know--that their petrol-carrying
capacity altogether exceeds that of any earlier type of submarine,
and that their surface speed, at any rate in official tests, runs
up to nearly 20 knots.
The trip of the _Deutschland_ was not only for the purpose of
bringing a few tons of nickel and rubber, but for thoroughly
testing the new engines (designed by Maybach), for bringing back a
hundred reports of the effects of submersion in such cold waters as
are to be found off the banks of Newfoundland, for ascertaining how
many days' submerged or surface travelling is likely to be
experienced, and, indeed, for making such a trial trip across the
Atlantic and back as was usual in the early days of steamships.
THE EAGLE AND THE VULTURE
AS enthusiastic, war-mad crowd had gathered about an impromptu
speaker in the Ringstrasse, not far from the Hotel Bristol, in
Vienna, one pleasant August evening in 1914. His theme was the
military prowess of Austria-Hungary and Germany.
"And now," he concluded, "Japan has treacherously joined our
enemies. Yet we should not be disturbed, for her entrance will but
serve to bring us another ally too. You all know of the
ill-feeling between the United States and Japan. At any moment we
may hear that the great Republic has declared war." He called for
cheers, and the Ringstrasse echoed with _Hoch! Hoch! Hoch_! for
the United States of America.
That was my introduction to European opinion of my country during
the war. During my four weeks in the Austro-Serbian zone of
hostilities, I had heard no mention of anything but the purely
military business at hand.
The following evening from the window of an
"American-Tourist-Special Train" I looked down on the happy
Austrians who jammed the platform, determined to give the Americans
a grand send-off, which they did with flag-waving and cheers. A
stranger on the platform thrust a lengthy typewritten document into
my hands, with the urgent request that I should give it to the
Press in New York. It was a stirring appeal to Americans to
"witness the righteousness of the cause of the Central Powers in
this war which had been forced upon them." Three prominent
citizens of Vienna had signed it, one of whom was the famous Doctor
Berlin, in an ecstasy of joyful anticipation of the rapid and
triumphal entrance into Paris, was a repetition of Vienna. True,
in the beginning, Americans, mistaken for Englishmen by some of the
undiscerning, had been roughly treated, but a hint from those in
high authority changed that. In like manner, well-meaning patriots
who persisted in indiscriminately mobbing all members of the yellow
race were urged to differentiate between Chinese and Japanese.
So I found festive Berlin patting Americans on the back, cheering
Americans in German-American meetings, and prettily intertwining
the Stars and Stripes and the German flag.
"Now is your opportunity to take Canada," said the man in the
street. In fact, it was utterly incomprehensible to the average
German that we should not indulge in some neighbouring
land-grabbing while Britain was so busy with affairs in Europe.
The German Foreign Office was, of course, under no such delusion,
although it had cherished the equally absurd belief that England's
colonies would rebel at the first opportunity. The Wilhelmstrasse
was, however, hard at work taking the propaganda which it had so
successfully crammed down the throats of the German citizen and
translating it into English to be crammed down the throats of the
people in America. This was simply one of the Wilhelmstrasse's
numerous mistakes in the psychological analysis of other people.
But the Wilhelmstrasse possesses the two estimable qualities of
perseverance and willingness to learn, with the result that its
recent propaganda in the United States has been much more subtle
and very much more effective.
The American newspapers which reached Germany after the outbreak of
war gave that country its first intimation that her rush through
Belgium was decidedly unpopular on the other side of the Atlantic.
Furthermore, many American newspapers depicted the Kaiser and the
Crown Prince in a light quite new to German readers, who with their
heads full of Divine Right ideas considered the slightest
caricature of their imperial family as brutally sacrilegious.
But the vast majority of Germans never saw an American newspaper.
How is it, then, that they began to hate the United States so
intensely? The answer is simple. In the early winter of 1914-15,
the German Government with its centralised control of public
opinion turned on the current of hatred against everything American
as it had already done against everything British, for the war had
come to a temporary stalemate on both fronts, and the
Wilhelmstrasse had to excuse their failure to win the short, sharp
pleasant war into which the people had jumped with anticipation of
easy victory. "If it were not for American ammunition the war
would have been finished long ago!" became the key-note of the new
gospel of hate, a gospel which has been preached down to the
Just before I left Germany the "Reklam Book Company" of Leipzig
issued an anti-American circular which flooded the country. The
request that people should enclose it in all their private letters
was slavishly followed with the same zest with which the Germans
had previously attached _Gott strafe England_ stickers to their
The circular represented a 7000-ton steamer ready to take on board
the cargo of ammunition which was arranged neatly on the pier in
the foreground. The background was occupied by German troops,
black lines dividing them into three parts, tagged
respectively--30,000 _killed_, 40,000 _slightly wounded_, 40,000
_seriously wounded_. This, then, is the graphic illustration of
the casualties inflicted upon the German Army by a single cargo of
one moderate-sized liner.
Since at such a rate, it would take less than two hundred cargoes
of this astoundingly effective ammunition to put the entire German
Army out of action, one wonders why Britain troubles herself to
convert her industries.
Ere the first winter of war drew to a close the official
manipulators of the public opinion battery had successfully
electrified the nation into a hate against the United States second
only to that bestowed on Great Britain. And so it came about that
the Government had the solid support of the people when the
original submarine manifesto of February 4th, 1915, warning neutral
vessels to keep out of the war zone, threatened a rupture with the
United States. When two weeks later Washington sent a sharp note
of protest to Berlin, the Germans became choleric every time they
spoke of America or met an American.
"Why should we let America interfere with our plan to starve
England?" was the question I heard repeatedly. Their belief that
they could starve England was absolute. What could be simpler than
putting a ring of U-boats round the British Isles and cutting off
all trade until the pangs of hunger should compel Britain to yield?
I heard no talk then about the "base crime of starving women and
children," which became their whine a year later when the knife
began to cut the other way.
In 1915 it was immaterial to the mass of Germans whether America
joined their enemies or not. Their training had led them to think
in army corps, and they frankly and sneeringly asked us, "What
could you do?" They were still in the stage where they freely
applied to enemies and possible enemies the expression, "They are
afraid of us." "The more enemies, the more glory," was the inane
motto so popular early in the war that it was even printed on post
The _Gulflight_, flying the Stars and Stripes, was torpedoed in the
reign of submarine anarchy immediately inaugurated. But two can
play most games, and when the British Navy made it increasingly
difficult for U-boats to operate in the waters near the British
Isles, the German Foreign Office and the German Admiralty began to
entertain divergent opinions concerning the advisability of pushing
the submarine campaign to a point which would drag the United
States into the war.
Only a few people in Germany know that von Bethmann-Hollweg
strenuously opposed the plan to sink the Lusitania. That is, he
opposed it up to a point. The advertisement from the German
Embassy at Washington which appeared in American newspapers warning
Americans could not have appeared without his sanction. In the
last days of July, 1914, backed by the Kaiser, he had opposed the
mobilisation order sufficient to cause a three days' delay--which
his military opponents in German politics claim was the chief cause
of the failure to take Paris--but in the case of the Lusitania he
was even more powerless against rampant militarism.
For nearly a year after the colossal blunder of the Lusitania,
there existed in the deep undercurrents of German politics a most
remarkable whirlpool of discord, in which the policy of von Tirpitz
was a severe tax on the patience of von Bethmann-Hollweg and the
Foreign Office, for it was they who had to invent all sorts of
plausible excuses to placate various neutral Powers.
The Kaiser after disastrously meddling with the General Staff
during the first month of the war, subsequently took no active hand
in military, naval and political policies unless conflicts between
his chosen chieftains forced him to do so.
One striking instance of this occurred when the Wilhelmstrasse
discovered that Washington was in possession of information in the
"_Arabic_ incident" which made the official excuses palpably too
thin. After the German authorities became convinced that their
failure to guarantee that unresisting merchantmen would not be sunk
until passengers and crew were removed to a place of safety would
cause a break with the United States, Tirpitz asserted that the
disadvantages to Germany from America as an enemy would be slight
in comparison with the advantages from the relentless submarining
which in his opinion would defeat Britain. He therefore advocated
that no concessions be made to Washington. Von Bethmann-Hollweg
was of the opposite opinion. A deadlock resulted, which was broken
when the Kaiser summoned both men to separate and secret
conferences. He decided in favour of the Chancellor, whereupon
Washington received the famous "_Arabic_ Guarantees." It is highly
significant that these were never made known to the German people.
Then followed six months of "frightfulness," broken pledges, notes,
crises, semi-crises, and finally the great crisis _de luxe_ in the
case of the _Sussex_. When, a few days after my return to England
from Germany, I used the expression "_Sussex_ Crisis" to a leading
Englishman, he expressed surprise at the term "crisis." "We did
not get the impression in England that the affair was a real
crisis," he said.
My experiences in Germany during the last week in April and the
first four days in May, 1916, left no doubt in my mind that I was
living through a crisis, the outcome of which would have a
tremendous effect upon the subsequent course of the war. Previous
dealings with Washington had convinced the German Government as
well as the German people that the American Government would stand
for anything. Thus the extraordinary explanation of the German
Foreign Office that the Sussex was not torpedoed by a German
submarine, since the only U-boat commander who had fired a torpedo
in the channel waters on the fateful day had made a sketch of the
vessel which he had attacked, which, according to the sketch, was
not the Sussex.
The German people were so supremely satisfied with this explanation
that they displayed chagrin which quickly changed to ugliness when
the German Press was allowed to print enough of the news from
Washington to prepare the public mind for something sharp from
across the Atlantic. I have seen Berlin joyful, serious, and sad
during the war; I have seen it on many memorable days; but never
have I seen it exactly as on Saturday, April 22nd, the day when the
_Sussex_ Ultimatum was made known through the Press. The news was
headlined in the afternoon editions. The eager crowds snapped them
up, stood still in their tracks, and then one and all expressed
their amazement to anybody near them, "President Wilson began by
shaking his fist at Germany, and ended by shaking his finger," was
the way one of the President's political opponents summarised his
Notes. That was the opinion in Germany. And now he had "pulled a
gun." The Germans could not understand it. When they encountered
any of the few Americans left in their country they either foamed
in rage at them, or, in blank amazement, asked them what it was all
It was extremely interesting to the student of the war to see that
the people really did not understand what it was all about.
Theodor Wolff, the brilliant editor of the _Berliner Tageblatt_,
with great daring for a German editor, raised this point in the
edition in which the Ultimatum was printed. He asserted that the
German people did not understand the case because they purposely
had been left in the dark by the Government. He said, among other
things, that his countrymen were in no position to understand the
feeling of resentment in the United States, because the meagre
reports permitted in the German Press never described such details
as the death agonies of women and children struggling helplessly in
This article in the _Tageblatt_ was the striking exception to the
rest of the Press comment throughout Germany, for the German
Government made one of its typical moves at this point. "To climb
down or not to climb down," was a question which would take several
days to decide. Public opinion was already sufficiently enraged
against America to give the Government united support in case of a
break, but it must be made more enraged and consequently more
united. Thus on Easter Sunday the full current of hate was turned
on in the German Press. President Wilson was violently attacked
for working in the interest of the Allies, whom he wished to save.
Germany would not bow to this injustice, she would fight, and
America, too, would be made to feel what it means to go to war with
Germany. The German Press did its part to inflame a united German
sentiment, and the Foreign Office, which believes in playing the
game both ways when it is of advantage to do so, with
characteristic thoroughness did not permit the American
correspondents to cable to their papers the virulent lies, such as
those in the _Tagliche Rundschau_, about the affair in general and
President Wilson in particular. These papers were furthermore not
allowed to leave Germany.
On the evening preceding the publication of the Ultimatum,
Maximilian Harden's most famous number of the _Zukunft_ appeared
with the title "If I Were Wilson." On Saturday morning it was
advertised on yellow and black posters throughout Berlin, and was
quickly bought by a feverish public to whom anything pertaining to
German-American relations was of the sharpest interest. The
remarkable article was directly at variance with all the
manufactured ideas which had been storming in German brains for
more than a year. The British sea policy was represented in a
light quite different from the officially incubated German
conception of it. President Wilson was correctly portrayed as
strictly neutral in all his official acts. This staggered Harden's
readers quite as much as his attacks on the brutal submarine policy
of his country.
A careless censor had allowed "If I Were Wilson," to appear. But a
vigilant Government, ever watchful of the food for the minds of its
children, hastened with the usual police methods to correct the
mistake. The _Zukunft_ was _beschlagnahmt_, which means that the
police hastily gathered up all unsold copies at the publishers,
kiosks, and wherever else they were to be found. If a policeman
saw one in a man's pocket he took it away.
Why did the Government do everything in its power to suppress this
article? The Government fully understood that there was nothing in
it that was not true, nothing in it of a revolutionary character.
It divulged no military or naval secrets. It was a simple
statement of political truths. But the German great Idea Factory
in the Wilhelmstrasse does not judge printed matter from its truth
or falsity. The forming of the public mind in the mould in which
it will best serve the interests of the State is the sole
consideration. While the Directors of Thought were deliberating on
the relative disadvantages of a curtailment of submarine activity
and America as an enemy, and the order of the day was to instill
hatred, no matter how, they decided that it would be inadvisable
for the people to read the true statements of Harden.
One American correspondent began to cable five thousand words of
"If I Were Wilson" to his paper. The Censor stopped him after he
had sent thirteen hundred. A rival correspondent, when he glanced
at the article immediately after it had appeared, decided that it
was more suitable for mail matter than cable matter, put it in an
envelope, and actually scored a scoop over all opponents.
During the following days, when the leaders of Germany were in
conference at the Headquarters of the General Staff, I travelled as
much as possible to find out German sentiment. The people were
intoxicated with the successes against Verdun, and were angrily in
favour of a break. One German editor said to me "The Government
has educated them to believe that the U-boat can win the war.
Their belief is so firm that it will be difficult for the
authorities to explain a backdown to Wilson."
It was not. The Government can explain anything to the German
people. The back-down came, causing sentiments which can be
divided into three groups. One, "We were very good to give in to
America. England would not be so good." Two, "Americans put us in
a bad position. To curtail our submarine weapon means a
lengthening of the war. On the other hand, to add America to the
list of our enemies would lengthen the war still more." Three, "We
shall wait our opportunity and pay back America for what she has
done to us." I heard the latter expression everywhere,
particularly among the upper classes. It was the expression of
Doctor Drechsler, head of the Amerika-Institut in Berlin, and one
of the powerful propaganda triumvirate composed of himself, Doctor
Bertling, and the late Professor Munsterberg.
With the increasing deterioration inside the German Empire the
resolve of the Chancellor to avoid a clash with the United States
strengthened daily. His opponents, however, most of the great
Agrarians and National Liberals, the men behind Tirpitz, continue
to work for a new submarine campaign in which all neutrals will be
warned that their vessels will be sunk without notice if bound to
or from the ports of Germany's enemies. They are practical men,
who believe that only through the unrestricted use of the submarine
can Britain, whom they call the keystone of the opposition, be
beaten. The Chancellor is also a practical man, who believes that
the entrance of America on the side of the Entente would seal the
fate of Germany. He is supported by Herr Helfferich, the
Vice-Chancellor, and Herr Zimmermann, the foreign Secretary, men
with a deep insight into the questions of trade and treaties. They
believe that peace will be made across the table and not at the
point of the sword, and they realise that it is much better for
Germany not to have the United States at the table as an enemy.
In September, 1916, the Chancellor began to lay the wires for a new
campaign, a campaign to enlist the services of Uncle Sam in a move
for peace. It is significant, however, that he and his Government
continue to play the game both ways. While Germany presses her
official friendship on the United States, and conducts propaganda
there to bring the two nations closer together, she at the same
time keeps up the propaganda of hate at home against America, in
order to have the support of the people in case of emergency.
The attacks against Washington in the _Continental Times_ show
which way the wind blows, for this paper is subsidised by the
German Foreign Office through the simple device of buying 30,000
copies of each issue--it appears three times weekly--at 2 1/2d.
per copy. The editors are Aubrey Stanhope, an Englishman who even
before the war could not return to his native country for reasons
of his own, and R. L. Orchelle, whose real name is Hermann
Scheffauer, who claims to be an American, but is not known as such
at the American Embassy in Berlin. He has specialised in attacks
against Great Britain in the United States. Some of the vicious
onslaughts against Washington in Germany were made by him.
American flags are scarce in Berlin to-day, but one always waves
from the window of 48, Potsdamerstrasse. It is a snare for the
unwary, but the League uses it here as in countless other instances
as a cloak for its warfare against the U.S.A.
The League started early in the war by issuing booklets by the ton
for distribution in Germany and America. Subscription blanks were
scattered broadcast for contributions for the cause of light and
truth. Donations soon poured in, some of them very large, from
Germans and German-Americans who wished, many of them sincerely, to
have what they considered the truth told about Germany.
The ways of the League, however, being crooked, some of the charter
members began to fall away from one another and many of the doings
of the ringleaders are now coming to light.
The League must be doing well financially, as William Martin, the
chief of the Potsdamerstrasse office, jubilantly declared that no
matter how the war ended he would come out of it with a million.
Any real American, whether at home or abroad, deeply resents the
degradation of his flag. Yet the League of Truth in Berlin has
consistently dragged the Stars and Stripes in the mire, and that in
a country which boasts that the police are not only omniscient but
A constant attempt, in accordance with the policy of most German
newspapers, I may add, is made to depict us as a spineless
jelly-fish nation. They have regarded principles of international
custom as little as the manipulators of submarines under the reign
Last fourth of July, Charles Mueller, a pseudo-American, hung from
his home in the busy Kurfurstendamm a huge American flag with a
deep border of black that Berlin might see a "real American's"
symbol of humiliation. On the same day, dear to the hearts of
Americans, a four-page flyer was spread broadcast through the
German capital with a black border on the front page enclosing a
black cross. The Declaration of Independence was bordered with
black inside and an ode to American degradation by John L. Stoddard
completed the slap in the face.
The League selected January 27th, 1916, the Kaiser's birthday, as a
suitable occasion for Mueller and Marten, not even hyphenates,
solemnly and in the presence of a great crowd to place an immense
wreath at the base of the statue of Frederick the Great on the
Linden, with the inscription "Wilson and his Press are not America."
The stern Police Department of Berlin does not permit the
promiscuous scattering of floral decorations and advertising matter
on the statues of German gods, and the fact that the wreath
remained there month after month proved that somebody high up was
sanctioning the methods of the League.
The protests of the American Ambassador were of no avail, until he
determined to make an end of the humiliation, after three months,
by threatening to go down to this busy section of Berlin, near the
Royal Palace, and remove the wreath himself. Force is the only
argument which impresses the Prussians, and we are extremely
fortunate that our Ambassador to Germany is a man of force.
The League, however, had printed a picture of the wreath in its
issue of _Light and Truth_, which it endeavours to circulate
Stoddard, mentioned above, is the famous lecturer. He has written
booklets for the League, one of which I read in America. His last
pamphlet, however, is a most scurrilous attack against his country.
He raves against America, and, after throwing the facts of
international law to the winds, he shrieks for the impeachment of
Wilson to stop this slaughter for which he has sold himself.
It is no secret in Berlin that the League have systematically
hounded Mr. Gerard. I do not know why they hate him, unless it is
because he is a member of the American Government. I have heard it
said that one way to get at Wilson was through his Ambassador.
Their threats and abuse became so great that he and one of the
American newspaper correspondents went to 48, Potsdamerstrasse
during the _Sussex_ crisis to warn the leaders. They answered by
swearing out a warrant against Mr. Gerard with the Berlin
police--paying no heed to international customs in such
matters--and circulating copies of the charge broadcast.
Readers who are familiar with Germany know that if a man does not
instantly defend himself against _Beleidigung_ society judges him
guilty. Thus this and countless other printed circulations of
falsehood against Mr. Gerard have cruelly hurt him throughout
Germany, as I know from personal investigation. Next to Mr. Wilson
and a few men in England he is the most hated man among the German
people. He finally felt obliged to deny in the German Press some
of the absurd stories circulated about him, such as that of Mrs.
Gerard putting a German decoration he received on her dog.
Mueller, however, was not content with mere printed attacks, but
has made threats against the life of the American Ambassador. A
prominent American has sworn an affidavit to this effect, but
Mueller still pursues his easy way. On the night that the farewell
dinner was being given to a departing secretary at our Embassy,
Mueller and a German officer went about Berlin seeking Mr. Gerard
for the professed purpose of picking a fight with him. They went
to Richards' Restaurant, where the dinner was being given, but
fortunately missed the Ambassador.
The trickery of the League would fill a volume, for Marten
especially is particularly clever. He leapt into fame in Berlin by
going to Belgium "at his own risk," as he says, to refute the
charges of German cruelty there. His book on Belgium, and a later
one claiming to refute the Bryce report, are unimpressive since
they fail to introduce facts, and the writer contents himself for
the main part with soliloquies on Belgian battlefields, in which he
attacks Russian aggression and Britain's perfidy in entering the
war. The Belgians, we gather, are more or less delighted with the
change from Albert to Wilhelm.
Marten prints testimonials of the book from leading Germans, most
of whom, such as General Falkenhayn, content themselves with
acknowledgment of receipt with thanks and statement of having read
the work. Count Zeppelin goes further, and hopes that the volume
will find a wide circulation, particularly in neutral countries.
And now for the vice-president of this anti-American organisation.
He is St. John Gaffney, former American Consul-General to Munich.
He belongs to the modern martyr series of the German of to-day.
All over Germany I was told that he was dismissed by Mr. Wilson
because he sympathised with Germany. The Germans as a mass know
nothing further, but I can state from unimpeachable authority that
he used rooms of the American Hospital in Munich, while a member of
the board of that hospital and an officer in the consular service
of the United States, for propaganda purposes. His presence became
so objectionable to the heads of the hospital, excellent people
whose sole aim is to aid suffering humanity, that he was ousted.
He returned from his American trip after his dismissal last year
and gave a widely quoted interview upon arrival in Germany which
sought to discredit America--through hitting Mr. Wilson and the
Press--in the most tense point of our last altercation in February
with Germany over the Lusitania. Such men as Gaffney are greatly
to blame for many German delusions.
Mr. Gerard is not the only official whose path has not been strewn
with roses in Germany. Our military attache has not been permitted
to go to the German front for nearly a year, and the snub is
apparent in the newspaper and Government circles of Berlin. He is
probably the only one left behind.
The big Press does not use League of Truth material and certain
other anti-American copy which would be bad for Germany, to reach
foreign critics' attacks. Many provincial papers, however,
furiously protested against the recent trip of the American
military attache through industrial Germany. It was only the
American, not other foreign attaches, to whom they objected.
All this is useful to the German Government, for it keeps the
populace in the right frame of mind for two purposes. In the first
place, a hatred of America inspired by the belief that she is
really an enemy, gives the German Government greater power over the
people. Secondly, should the Wilhelmstrasse decide to play the
relentless submarine warfare as its last hand it will have
practically united support.
IN THE GRIP OF THE FLEET
There is only one way to realise the distress in Germany, and that
is to go there and travel as widely as possible--preferably on
foot. The truth about the food situation and the growing
discontent cannot be told by the neutral correspondent in Germany.
It must be memorised and carried across the frontier in the brain,
for the searching process extends to the very skin of the
traveller. If he has an umbrella or a stick it is likely to be
broken for examination. The heels are taken from his boots lest
they may conceal writings. This does not happen in every case, but
it takes place frequently. Many travellers are in addition given
an acid bath to develop any possible writing in invisible ink.
In Germany, as it is no longer possible to conceal the actual state
of affairs from any but highly placed and carefully attended
neutrals travelling therein, the utmost pains are being taken to
mislead the outside world. The foreign correspondents are not
allowed to send anything the Government does not wish to get out.
They are, moreover, regularly dosed with propaganda distributed by
the _Nachrichtendienst_ (Publicity Service of the Foreign Office).
One of the books handed round to the neutrals when I was in Berlin
was a treatise on the German industrial and economic situation by
Professor Cassell, of the University of Upsala, Sweden.
He came upon the invitation of the German authorities for a three
weeks' study of conditions. In his preface he artlessly mentions
that he was enabled to accomplish so much in three weeks owing to
the praiseworthy way in which everything was arranged for him. He
compiled his work from information discreetly imparted at
interviews with officials, from printed statistics, and from
observations made on carefully shepherded expeditions. Neutral
correspondents are expected to use this sort of thing, which is
turned out by the hundredweight, as the basis of their
communications to their newspapers. We were supplied with a
similar volume on the "Great German naval victory of Jutland."
One feels in Germany that the great drama of the war is the drama
of the food supply--the struggle of a whole nation to prevent
itself being exhausted through hunger and shortage of raw materials.
After six months of war the bread ticket was introduced, which
guaranteed thirty-eight ordinary sized rolls or equivalent each
week to everybody throughout the Empire. In the autumn of 1915
Tuesday and Friday became meatless days. The butter lines had
become an institution towards the close of the year. There was
little discomfort, however.
For seventeen months Germany laughed at the attempt to starve her
out. Then, early in 1916 came a change. An economic decline was
noticeable, a decline which was rapid and continuous during each
succeeding month. Pork disappeared from the menu, beef became
scarcer and scarcer, but veal was plentiful until April. In March,
sugar could be obtained in only small quantities, six months later
the unnutritious saccharine had almost completely replaced it.
Fish continued in abundance, but became increasingly expensive. A
shortage in meat caused a run on eggs. In September egg cards
limited each person to two eggs per week, in December the maximum
became one egg in two weeks. Vegetables, particularly cabbage and
turnips, were plentiful enough to be of great help.
In Berlin the meat shortage became so acute in April, 1916, that
for five days in the week preceding Easter most butchers' shops did
not open their doors. This made it imperative that the city should
extend the ticket rationing system to meat. The police issued
cards to the residents of their districts, permitting them to
purchase one-half pound of meat per week from a butcher to whom
they were arbitrarily assigned in order to facilitate distribution.
The butchers buy through the municipal authorities, who contract
for the entire supply of the city. The tickets are in strips, each
of which represents a week, and each strip is subdivided into five
sections for the convenience of diners in restaurants.
Since the supply in each butcher's shop was seldom sufficient to
let everybody be served in one day, the custom of posting in the
windows or advertising in the local papers "Thursday, Nos. 1-500,"
and later, "Saturday, Nos. 501-1000," was introduced. A few
butchers went still further and announced at what hours certain
numbers could be served, thus doing away with the long queues.
Most of the competent authorities with whom I discussed the matter
agreed that the great flaw in the meat regulations was that, unlike
those of bread, they were only local and thus there were great
differences and correspondinng discontent all over Germany.
One factor which contributed to Germany's shortage of meat was the
indiscriminate killing of the livestock, especially pigs, when the
price of fodder first rose in the last months of 1914. Most of
this excess killing was done by the small owners. Our plates were
heaped unnecessarily. Some of the dressing was done so hurriedly
and carelessly that there were numerous cases of pork becoming so
full of worms that it had to be destroyed.
The great agrarian Junkers were not forced by lack of fodder to
kill; consequently they own a still larger proportion of the
live-stock than they did at the beginning of the war.
On October 1st, 1916, the regulation of meat was taken out of the
hands of the local authorities so far as their power to regulate
the amount for each person was concerned, and this amount was made
practically the same throughout Germany.
First and foremost in the welfare of the people, whatever may be
said by the vegetarians, is the vital question of the meat supply.
Involved in the question of cattle is milk, leather, other
products, and of course, meat itself.
One German statistician told me he believed that the conquest of
Roumania would add between nine and ten months to Germany's
capacity to hold out, during which time, no doubt, one or other of
the Allies would succumb.
At the beginning of 1917 the actual number of cattle in Germany
does not seem to be so greatly depreciated as one would expect.
After a very thorough investigation I am convinced that there are
in Germany to-day from three-fourths to four-fifths as many head of
cattle as there were before the war.
In the spring and summer these cattle did very well, but with the
passing of the grazing season new difficulties are arising. Cattle
must be fed, and unless sufficient grain comes from Roumania to
supply the bread for the people and the fodder for the cattle it is
obvious that there must be a wholesale slaughtering, and consequent
reduction of milk, butter, and cheese.
All these details may seem tiresome, but they directly concern the
length of the war.
To add to the shortage, the present stock of cattle in Germany was,
when I left, being largely drawn upon for the supply of the German
armies in the occupied parts of Prance, Belgium, and Russia, and
the winter prospect for Germany, therefore, is one of obviously
increased privation, provided always that the blockade is drastic.
Cattle are, of course, not the only food supply. There is game.
Venison is a much commoner food in Germany than in England,
especially now there is much of it left. Hares, rabbits,
partridges are in some parts of Germany much more numerous even
than in England. A friend of mine recently arrived from Hungary
told me that he had been present at a shoot over driven partridges
at which, on three successive days, over 400 brace fell to the
guns. Wherever I went in Germany, however, game was being netted.
Before the war, pork, ham, and bacon were the most popular German
food, but owing to the mistake of killing pigs in what I heard
called the "pork panic" the Germans are to-day facing a remarkable
shortage of their favourite meat. I am convinced that they began
1917 with less than one-fourth as many pigs as they had before the
The Berlin stockyards slaughtered over 25,000 pigs weekly before
August, 1914. During the first 10 months of the war the figure
actually rose to 50,000 pigs per week in that one city alone. In
one week in September last the figure had fallen to 350 pigs!
The great slaughter early in the war gave a false optimism not only
to Germans, but also to visitors. If you have the curiosity to
look back at newspapers of that time you will find that the great
plenty of pork was dilated upon by travelling neutrals.
To-day the most tremendous efforts are being made to increase the
number of pigs. You will not find much about this in the German
newspapers--in fact what the German newspapers do not print is
often more important than what they do print. In the rural
districts you can learn much more of Germany's food secrets than in
In one small village which I went to I counted no fewer than thirty
public notices on various topics. Hers is one:--
Fat is an essential for soldiers and hard workers.
Not to keep and fatten pigs
if you are able to do so is treason to the Fatherland.
No pen empty--every pen full.
These food notices may be necessary, but they are bringing about
intense class hatred in Germany. They are directed at the small
farmer, who in many cases has killed all his pigs and most of his
cows, because of his difficulty in getting fodder. As I have said,
the great agrarian junkers, the wealthy landowners of Prussia, have
in many cases more cows, more pigs, more poultry than before the
The facts of these great disparities of life are well known, and if
there were more individuality in the German character they would
lead to something more serious than the very tame riots, at several
of which I have been present.
That the food question is the dominating topic in Germany among all
except the very rich, and that this winter will add to the
intensity of the conversations on the subject, is not difficult to
understand. Most of the shopping of the world is done by women,
and the German woman of the middle class, whose maidservant has
gone off to a munition factory, has to spend at least half her day
waiting in a long line for potatoes, butter, or meat.
There is a curious belief in England and in the United States in
the perfection of German organisation. My experience of their
organisation is that it is absolutely marvellous--when there are no
unexpected difficulties in the way. When the Germans first put the
nation on rations as to certain commodities, the outside world
said, "Ah, they are beginning to starve!" or "What wonderful
As a matter of fact, they were not beginning to starve, and they
were not wonderful organisers. The rationing was done about as
badly as it could be done. It was arranged in such a fashion as to
produce plenty in some places and dearth in others. It was done so
that wealthy men made fortunes and poor men were made still poorer.
The inordinate greed and lack of real patriotism on the part of
influential parties in both Germany and Austria-Hungary have added
to the bad state of affairs. As if to make matters worse, the
whole vast machine of rationing by ticket was based on the
expectation of a comparatively quick and decisive victory for
Germany. This led to reckless consumption and a great rise in
prices. The fight that is now going on between the masses in the
towns and the wealthy land-owning farmers has been denounced in
public by food dictator Batocki (pronounced Batoski), who, in words
almost of despair, complained of the selfish landed proprietor, who
would only disgorge to the suffering millions in the great
manufacturing centres at a price greatly exceeding that fixed by
the food authorities.
All manner of earnest public men are endeavouring to cope with the
coming distress, and at this point I can do no better than quote
from an interview given me by Dr. Sudekum, Social Democratic member
of the Reichstag for Nuremberg, Bavaria. He is a sincere patriot,
and a prominent worker in food organisation.
"More than a year ago," he explained, "I worked out a plan for the
distribution of food, which provided for uniform food-cards
throughout the entire empire. For example, everyone, whether he
lived in a Bavarian village or in a Prussian city, would receive,
say, half a pound of meat a week. I presented my plan to the
Government, with whose approval it met. Nevertheless, they did not
see fit to adopt it for three reasons. In the first place because
they believed that the people might become unnecessarily alarmed.
Secondly, because our enemies might make capital out of such
measures. _Thirdly, because our leaders at that time believed that
the war might be over before the end of 1915_.
"But the war dragged on, and we were somewhat extravagant with our
supplies--I except bread, for which we introduced cards in
February, 1915--and instead of the whole Empire husbanding the
distribution of meat, for example, various sections here and there
introduced purely local measures, with the inevitable resulting
"Hunger has been a cause of revolution in the past," Dr. Sudekum
continued thoughtfully. "We should take lessons from history, and
do everything in our power to provide for the poor. I have worked
hard in the development of the 'People's Kitchens' in Berlin. We
started in the suburbs early in 1916, in some great central
kitchens in which we cook a nourishing meat and vegetable stew.
From these kitchens distributing vehicles--_Gulasch-kanonen_ (stew
cannons) as they are jocularly called--are sent through, the city,
and from them one may purchase enough for a meal at less than the
cost of production. We have added a new central kitchen each week
until we now have 30, each of which supplies 10,000 people a day
with a meal, or, more correctly, a meal and a half. In July,
however, the work assumed greater proportions, for the municipal
authorities also created great central kitchens. Most of the
dinners are taken to the homes and eaten there.