JAMES W. GERARD
FACE TO FACE WITH KAISERISM
SWITZERLAND---ANOTHER KIND OF NEUTRAL
FREE SWITZERLAND! You cannot imagine the feeling of relief I experienced as I passed from the lands of the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs to a free republic.
It was February 11, 1917. To go into the railroad station restaurant and order an omelette and fried potatoes without a food card and with chocolate on the side seemed in itself a return to liberty.
Our Minister, Mr. Stovall, gave us a dinner and evening reception so that we could meet all the notables and we lunched with the French Ambassador (for France maintains an Embassy in Switzerland) and dined with the British Minister, Sir Horace Rumbold, a very able gentleman who had been Chancellor of the British Embassy in Berlin before the war.
As war had not yet been declared between Germany and the United States the correspondents of German newspapers waylaid me. Some seemed to think that in spite of the insulting blow given us by Germany, we nevertheless, scared to whiteness by the U-boat ultimatum, would lend all our energies to bring about a German peace.
I received a letter from one of the editors of a Swiss newspaper published in Berne, probably inspired by the German Legation there, asking me if President Wilson, in spite of the break in relations, would not continue his work for peace.
We all know that Switzerland is a republic but even those of us who have travelled there, probably because we were on a holiday, gave little thought to the Swiss political system. Indeed before this war we cared little about the government Of any country except our own.
The present constitution of Switzerland was adopted in 1848 and in many particulars is modelled after that of the United States.
There are the same three great Federal powers, the Federal Assembly, representing the legislative branch, the Federal Council, representing the executive branch, and the Federal Court, representing the judicial branch.
The lower Chamber is made up of representatives elected directly by the people, and the other Chamber of members elected, as in our Senate, two by each canton or state. The Bundesrat or Federal Council which has all the executive powers, is elected by the Federal Assembly and it is the Chairman of this body who is known as the President of Switzerland. In reality he does not possess the powers of our President, but it is the Bundesrat as a whole which exercises the powers. Each member of this Council is minister or head of some separate department, such as Military, Justice and Police, Foreign Affairs, Posts and Railways, etc. The Swiss Cantons have much power, and there is a distinct jealousy by each canton of states' rights. It is in Switzerland that we encounter two little friends, sponsored by William Jennings Bryan---the Initiative and Referendum---means by which the Swiss people are given a direct voice in their government. By the Initiative a certain number of voters may propose new legislation and when the requisite number sign a petition the proposed law must then be submitted to popular vote. This rule applies both in the separate cantons and in the Republic as a whole.
The Referendum, more often used, provides that if the requisite number of signers be obtained any law passed by a cantonal legislative body or by the Federal Assembly shall he submitted to the voters. In certain cantons the Referendum is obligatory and every law is thus submitted to the people. In practice the Referendum has acted as a check to advanced legislation.
The Swiss have reason to fear the designs of Prussia. As late as 1856, Prussia and Switzerland were on, the edge of war. Prior to 1815 Neuchâtel acknowledged the King of Prussia as its overlord; the Congress of Vienna, however, included this territory in the Swiss Confederation as one of the Swiss Cantons. But Prussia, in spite of this formal arrangement, with its usual disregard of treaties, continued to claim Neuchâtel.
In 1848 the revolutionary influence resulted in more democratic rule in Neuchâtel but the Prussian propagandist of that day was at work and, in 1856, Count Pourtales' plot was discovered and several hundred prisoners seized by the Swiss government. All but a score were released. Frederick William IV of Prussia demanded their instant pardon and release and ordered the mobilisation of his army but, finally, through the intervention of Napoleon III, the affair was settled, the prisoners released by way of France, and the Prussian King renounced all rights over Neuchâtel.
The Kulturkampf of Bismarck, his contest against the Roman Catholics, had its echoes in Switzerland and it probably was due also to German influence that until 1866 full freedom was withheld from the Jews.
The Red Cross had its origin in Switzerland and the Geneva Conventions have done much to bring about the adoption of better rules of war. The Geneva Cross is the badge of international charity and help.
Switzerland always has opened her doors to the politically oppressed. Over ten thousand revolutionists from Baden took refuge in Switzerland in 1848. Austria, in 1853, as a reprisal for the alleged actions of Italians in Switzerland in conspiring against Austria, drove thousands of Swiss citizens from that part of Italy occupied by Austria. Also in the Franco-Prussian war the French General Bourbaki and his army of nearly one hundred thousand men sought an asylum in Switzerland.
The army of Switzerland is a true citizen army ---an army of universal service---and it is due to the existence of this force that Switzerland remains an independent state in the midst of Europe.
To stand apart in Europe is the very essence of life for Switzerland. It is regrettable therefore that German money and German propaganda and some sympathy for Germany among the officers of the army should have touched the fine flower of Swiss neutrality. A triumphant Prussia and a free Switzerland cannot exist in the same Europe.
In Switzerland, it is in the military that we find the greatest sympathy for Germany. In 1915, Swiss officers were discovered working out the ciphers of other nations for the benefit of the German armies and the punishment given, at the ensuing Court Martial, was not only incommensurate with the offence, but was a plain indication of the early sympathies of the Chiefs of the Swiss Staff.
The food question between the United States and Switzerland requires delicate handling. We like the Swiss and do not wish them to suffer, but the Swiss must understand that our food is our own and that we do not propose it shall go to nourish Germans or that it shall take the place, in Switzerland, of Swiss food sold by the Swiss to our enemies.
The President of Switzerland related to me the difficult position in which Switzerland found herself. Iron and coal, necessary to the industries of Switzerland, to keep the population warm and to cook the food, came, he said, from Germany, while food was shipped to the French Mediterranean port of Cette from America and the Argentine, and transported across part of France to Switzerland, so that since the war Switzerland, as the President explained, has been dancing about; first on one side, then on the other, in the attempt to get food through France and coal and iron through Germany.
Everything in the office of the President was the extreme of republican simplicity. He questioned me about the situation in Germany, especially from the food standpoint. And I learned of the difficulties of the Swiss. It must not be forgotten that in Switzerland about seventy per cent of the people speak German, twenty-three per cent, French, and seven per cent, Italian. Many of the German-speaking Swiss, of course, sympathise with Germany. They are the farmers, dairymen, etc., but in French-Switzerland, in the neighbourhood of Geneva and Lausanne, the industrial population sides with the Allies. Millions of the delicate fuses used on shells have been manufactured in that part of Switzerland for the Entente. In retaliation for this the Germans boycotted Swiss watches.
The usual German-paid propaganda newspapers operate in the principal towns. The army officers are the first to be influenced. It is the same in Switzerland as with the officers of many armies, solely because of the past reputation of the German military machine.
We and the civil authorities of South America must not forget that Japan copied German military methods, that the armies of Argentina and Chili have been trained, for years, by German officers sent there on temporary leave of absence from the German army.
Von Below, a German officer in Berlin who had been in the Argentine, used to make merry over the Argentine soldiers and said that they objected to drilling when it rained. I do not believe this officer, but I should like to have the brave Argentine officers hear his jokes and gibes.
We left, after three or four days in Berne, on the evening train, for the French frontier. In the train corridors, outside the compartments, spies stood staring at us, spies pretending to read newspapers came into each compartment; police spies, betrayed by heavy boots; general staff spies, betrayed by a military stiffness; women spies; spies assorted and special. And these gentry had followed me all over Berne---for in the neutral countries of Europe as well as the belligerents are we constantly reminded of the insidious methods of Kaiserism.
A GLIMPSE OF FRANCE
AT Pontarlier, on the French frontier, a special train was waiting for my party and into this train a German-American inserted himself after first mixing his baggage with mine. I went through the train and this enterprising gentleman and another German-American were detained for some days at Pontarlier. One of them, later, on reaching Spain, reported immediately to the head of the German secret service there, thus justifying my suspicions. Fortunately when he subsequently arrived in Spain we had already sailed, so that if he bore any sinister message from Berlin to the German agents in Spain to hinder our voyage, he was too late.
The night trip to Paris was uneventful. At the Gare St. Lazare we were met by our Ambassador, Mr. Sharp, with several of his staff and a representative of the French Foreign Office.
Paris was indeed a changed Paris since I had, last seen it in October of 1913. The pavement in the Place Vendôme, in front of the Hotel Ritz, where we stopped, was full of holes, but taxicabs, almost as extinct as the dodo in Berlin, rushed merrily through the crowded streets. The boulevards were lively, full of soldiers looking far more cheery, far more snappy, than the heavy footed German soldiers who so painfully tramped down Unter den Linden. Many soldiers were to be seen without an arm or leg, something impossible in Germany where, especially in Berlin, it has been the policy of the Government to conceal those maimed by war from the people at home. Although constantly walking the streets of Berlin I never saw a German soldier without an arm or leg. Once motoring near Berlin I came upon a lonely country house where, through the iron rails of the surrounding park, numbers of maimed soldiers peered out, prisoners of the autocratic government which dared not show its victims to the people.
At night in Paris the taxicabs and autos rushed dangerously through streets darkened to baffle the Zeppelins. In the hotel there was little heat, only wood fires in one's room. In the homes a single electric light bulb was permitted for each room; ,violation of this rule meant loss of electric light from that apartment for three weeks.
In the Ritz Restaurant there were lights on the table only. And the gloomy dining room, where a few Americans and British officers and their families conversed in whispers, resembled but little the gay resort so often filled, before the war, with American millionaires. Olivier, the head waiter, appeared only at night, absent during the day on war duties. No lights, no music, it is hard to think of Paris without these, Paris which calls itself the "Ville Lumière"---the City of Light.
On our first Sunday in Paris a grand concert was held in the Trocadero---a great government owned auditorium on the banks of the Seine,---under Canadian auspices. When Ambassador Sharp and I entered the centre box the vast audience rose and cheered---a new sensation for me to be so welcomed after my war-years in Berlin, where I had been harried and growled at, the representative of a hated people, of a people at once envied for their wealth, hated because they had dared to keep their rights and treaties and sell goods to the enemies of Germany, and despised because the Germans believed them too rich and cowardly, too fat and degenerate, to fight in the great war for the mastery of the world.
Lord Esher called on me at the hotel and invited me on behalf of Field Marshal Haig, to visit the British line. I am sorry that I did not have time to accept this invitation, especially as in Germany I had not even heard the distant firing of cannon.
The Great General Headquarters at Charleville-Mézières where I had visited Emperor William at the end of April, 1916, was only about seventy kilometres from the battle front near Rheims. I was naturally anxious to inspect, if not the front trenches, at least the vicinity of the front, but the army officers attached to the German Foreign Office, who had accompanied me, informed me that the Chancellor had telephoned all the Generals in the vicinity to ask permission for me to visit the lines but that not one of them would permit me to visit his sector. This was a fairly certain indication that sooner or later the hate for America must lead to war or that the U-boat settlement made at the time was only a stop gap until the increased number of submarines would enable Germany to commence ruthless U-boat war once more in defiance of law and humanity, and with a greater hope of military success.
Compared to Berlin, Paris seemed a land of abundance. In the restaurants, however, the customer was limited to two courses, but with the privilege of a second helping.
I called on Lord Bertie, the British Ambassador, to ask him to convey my acknowledgments to the Honourable Arthur James Balfour, from whom I had received a most complimentary communication. I found him in the beautiful home of the British Embassy on the Rue St. Honoré, a house so cold for want of coal that I was compelled to make my visit short for fear of pneumonia.
With Mrs. Gerard we lunched with our friends from Berlin, Jules Cambon, a former French Ambassador there, and his family, at the La Rue restaurant, opposite the Madelaine. Cambon seemed as game as ever, but fatigued.
Briand, who was then Premier, invited me to breakfast at the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The other guests included our Ambassador, Mr. Sharp, Cambon and the Ambassadors of Britain, Italy, Russia and Japan and several distinguished Frenchmen.
I did not sit next to Briand as I ranked after the Ambassadors accredited to France, but after lunch I sat alone with him before the fire in one of the large and beautiful salons and there we had a long talk, as, naturally, he wanted to know about the situation in Germany. He impressed me as a strong man, with the vigour of an orator, a man of temperament, a man endowed by nature to become a leader of the French---as the French were before the war.
Fig. 10. AMBASSADORS WILLIAM G. SHARP AND JAMES W. GERARD FROM A PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN IN PARIS, FEBRUARY, 1917
Lord Esher, at the request of General Lyautey, then at the head of the military force of France, took me to see that General. I had to wait for him some time, as he was appearing before a committee of the Chamber of the Senate. His inability to agree with the Chamber caused his resignation not long afterwards.
I was struck in France by the fact that the leaders, civil, military and naval, seemed older than those in similar positions in other countries.
The present Premier, Clemenceau, is an example of this fondness of the French for government by old men. Clemenceau is seventy-six years old, but is a vigorous fighter.
Mrs. Gerard and I lunched with Gabriel Hanotaux and his attractive wife at their home. Cambon was there, and Ribot, since become Premier of France, a good old man; also the Secretary of the Navy and several learned French philosophers and members of the Academy and one of the heads of the Credit Lyonnais, perhaps the greatest financial institution of France.
War, war---who could talk of anything else? Hanotaux said that in our time we had been unusually fortunate, unusually free from war, that there was underneath France, underneath even the fair city of Paris, under the smiling sunlit fields, another France, a France of caves and catacombs, excavated by the poor people, the plain people who, during the One Hundred Years' War, had sought in marching armies, the far-riding plunderers and the depths of the earth refuge from the harassing, camp followers, the roving bands of "White Companies," the robber barons who, English and French, Gascon and Norman, harried the lands of France.
I said that I had heard the statement made, and there seemed no reason to doubt it, that since the birth of Christ the world has only in one year out of every thirteen enjoyed a rest from war.
Mr. Fabre-Luce, Vice-President of the Credit Lyonnais, told us of an interesting book written by a Russian and published before the war which predicted much that has happened in this war with almost the foresight of a Cassandra. I was so impressed that I secured a copy.
This book, "The Future War," by Ivan Stanislavovich Bloch, counsellor of the Russian Empire, and published in 1892, had so great an effect on the Czar of Russia that it was the reading of it which impelled him to call the Peace Conference at The Hague. In the course of his book the author explains that it is impossible for the Powers to continue longer in the path of armaments and that they ought to look each other in the face and demand where these great armaments and this extension of forces are conducting them. He writes:
"How can one believe it possible to solve international questions by means of the veritable cataclysm which will constitute, with the present means of destruction, war waged between the five great Powers, by ten millions of soldiers ? . . . In this war explosives so powerful will be employed that every grouping of troops on the flat country or even under the protection of fortifications will become almost impossible and that,, therefore, the preparations of this character made in expectation of the war will become useless. . . .
"The future war will see the use of a great quantity of new aids to war, bicycles, pigeons, telegraph, telephones, optical instruments and photographic instruments for the purpose of mapping from a great distance the positions occupied by the enemy and means to observe the movements of the enemy such as observing ladders, balloons and so on. . . .
"In the future war every body of troops holding itself on the defensive or found taking the offensive, when it is not the question of sudden assault, will have to fortify itself in a chosen position and the war will be confined principally to the form of a series of combats in which the possession of fortified positions will be disputed, and in which the assailant will have to meet the accessory defensives in the neighbourhood of the fortifications such as barricades, barbed wire, etc., the destruction of these objects costing many victims. . . . The infantry, when on the defensive, will dig itself in. The conduct of the war will depend, in a large measure, on the artillery."
According to our author, who foresaw "No Man's Land" between the two opposing forces, "there will be formed a certain zone absolutely impassable in consequence of the terrible fire with which it will be inundated from a short distance from each side." Bloch adds: "This war will last a long time and entire nations will be seen in arms or rather the flower of each nation. Germany will begin the war by throwing itself on France and then, using the many German railroads, will turn against Russia. By virtue of its military force Germany will take the initiative of operations and will make the war on the two fronts."
His prophetic eye saw even the submarine war of the future. "It will happen, possibly, that the future war will produce engines of war completely unknown and unexpected up to the present time; in any event one can foresee the advent in a short time of submarines destined to carry below even ironclads, torpedoes powerful enough to wreck the strongest ships."
He quotes the opinions of Jomini, who says that future armies will not be composed of troops recruited voluntarily but of entire nations called by a law to arms and who will not fight for a change of frontier but for their existence. Jomini states "that this state of affairs will bring us back to the third and the fourth centuries, calling to our minds those shocks of immense peoples who disputed among themselves the European continent," and "that if a new legislation and a new international law do not come to put an end to these risings of whole peoples that it is impossible to foresee where the ravages of future war will stop. It will become a scourge more terrible than ever, because the population of civilised nations will be cut down, while in the interior of each nation the normal economic life will be arrested, communications interrupted and if the war is prolonged financial crises will come with a fearful rise in the price of everything and famine with all its consequences."
Bloch, in depicting the future war, says that "in 1870, the struggle was between two Powers, while in the war of the future at least five great nations will take part without speaking of the intervention of Turkey and England. . . . The comparing of the coming war with any war of the past is impossible because the increase in the effective fighting forces has been of a rapidity so unexampled and this increase brings with it so great an augmentation of expenditures and of victims that the future war will have the character of a struggle for the existence of nations. . . . It is true that the war of 1870 gave us something of an example of this character. That was a war without mercy, brought on by secular hate, a war of revenge on the part of the Germans because of the ancient victories of the French, a war where volunteers were shot and villages burned and where unheard of exactions were imposed on the conquered whom the conqueror sought to wrong and weaken for a long period of time. A new war in Central Europe will be a second edition of the same struggle but by how much will it not surpass the former wars by its magnitude and by its length and by the means of destruction employed."
Does not Bloch give a better prediction of this war than the often quoted Bernhardi?
The table conversation at Hanotaux's was in French; few Frenchmen and hardly any public men in France speak English.
At this lunch, Ribot, since Premier, said to me, "In men, in fighting, we can hold out, but we must have help on the credit side."
How much more than credit have we sent since to help beloved, beleaguered France!
My interview with President Poincaré of France was set for five-thirty in the Elysée Palace. I had to wait some minutes in an ante-room, hung with splendid tapestries, where the secretary in charge introduced me to Deschanel, the Secrétaire perpétuel of the Académie Française, with whom I had a few minutes' talk.
The President sat in a small, beautifully decorated room in this historical Elysée Palace. A small fire burned in the grate, a bit of grateful warmth in almost coalless Paris. He, too, plied me with questions, but not as closely as others, about the land I had left behind. He spoke of a great gift of money made by James Stillman, a fund to help the families of members of the Legion of Honour.
Poincaré is a man of fifty-seven, wears a small beard growing grey, and is a little under medium height (of this country) and has much the manner of an American lawyer. What a contrast those polite, agreeable Frenchmen were to the stiff, formal, overbearing Germans. There are "well born" Germans with charming international manners and the lower classes in Germany have kindly, natural manners, but the manners of the minor members of the merchant class and of the lesser officials is rude to boorishness.
And here I want to say a word about the democracy of my own countrymen. Before the war and during it we entertained countless Americans in the Embassy; all sorts and under a variety of conditions, Jew and Gentile, business men and students, travellers and musicians. They carried themselves with ease, whatever the occasion. I was proud of them always and of our system of education that had given them such pleasant equality.
After my arrival in Berlin a magnificent darkey, named George Washington Bronson, called in search of a job. Over six feet four and well built, I thought he would make an impressive appearance opening carriage doors or taking hats in the hall. So I engaged him. But he did not get on well with the other servants, and his discharge followed. Great consternation was caused shortly afterwards at our Lincoln day reception when Mrs. Gerard and the ladies of the Embassy were receiving the American Colony, by the report that George Washington, dressed up to the nines, accompanied by a coloured friend, presenting the appearance of a new red buggy, was on his way up stairs. I decided that on Lincoln's birthday all were welcome; so George Washington and his friend, resplendent, received the same greeting accorded all Americans and the manners of George Washington excelled those of a Grand Duke. But although one could see his mouth water, he did not approach the table where our local Ruggles presided over the refreshments. There was "that" about Ruggles' eye which told George Washington he would have to "go to the mat" before his former superior officer would serve him with champagne.
The cold in Paris was bitter, biting into the very bones, and all classes of the population suffered intensely from the lack of coal. In the theatres, for instance, there was absolutely no heat. Theatrical performances were permitted in each theatre three times a week. Evening dress was prohibited. I went to the Folies Bergères, arriving so late that the crowded house had warmed itself and it was possible to stay until the end in spite of the want of ventilation.
At one of the theatres I arrived early, but the cold was so bitter that even sitting in fur overcoat and with my hat on I was so chilled I had to leave after twenty minutes. This play was a revue, the actresses appearing in the scanty costumes peculiar to that form of entertainment, but the cold was of such intensity that they had added their street furs, presenting a curiously comical effect.
I spoke to many of the soldiers in the streets. All were animated by a new spirit in France, an obstinate calm, a determination to see this thing through, to end forever the fear of Prussian invasion which for so many years had impended. If any sign of weakness was apparent it was among the financiers; not among the poor and the men of the trenches.
At the railway station I talked with a blue-clad French soldier, calm, witty, but determined. He said, "My family comes from the East of France, my great grandfather was killed by the Prussians in 1814, my grandfather was shot in his garden by the Prussians in 1870, my father died of grief, in 1916, because my two sisters in Lille fell into Prussian hands and were taken as their slaves with all that that means. I have decided that we must end this horror once and for all, so that my children can cultivate their little fields without this constant haunting fear of the invading Prussian."
We left Paris on the evening train for the Spanish border. Newspaper men taking flashlights and "poilus" in uniform crowded the station platform as the train with our still numerous party pulled out.
How France has disappointed German expectations! France to-day is not the France that calls out, "We are betrayed," and runs away after the failure of its first assault. France to-day is a calm France that seeks out its traitors, and deliberately punishes them, that organises with an efficiency we once thought a Prussian monopoly, a France that bleeds but fights on, A France that, standing with its back to its beloved, sunny fields, with many of her dearest sons dead, facing the Kaiser across No Man's Land, cries boldly, bravely to the world, the war cry of Verdun, "They shall not pass!"
But even while war goes on, even while the French poilus hold fast the long battle line, the French people are beset within by agents of the Kaiser. Face to face they are with the secret agents, the spies, the informers, the buyers of newspapers and of public men, the traffickers in honour who, behind French citizenship or neutral passports, seek to divide France, to make the soldier at the front feel that he is betrayed by traitors at home, to render the French distrustful and suspicious of each other and thus to strike as mortal a blow at the French defence as was attempted at Verdun.
Bolo Pasha and all his tribe slip past trench and barbed wire and do more damage than a German army corps to the cause of Liberty.
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE KING OF SPAIN
NEUTRALS---how obsolete the word seems! Yet there are some nations in Europe which will remain neutral no matter how great the hardship. How much this is due to inherent weaknesses of government, fears that the people may acquire too much of the infectious spirit of liberalism that war brings and thereby overthrow royalty, is hard to judge. But I must say that Kaiserism has omitted no word or act to impress upon the royalty of those countries, which might otherwise be inclined to aid the entente, the advantages to them of keeping out of the war unless they become allies of. Germany.
You will meet Kaiserism in Spain and the other neutral countries of Europe as much as you will in Austria or Bulgaria or Turkey. I do not mean that Spain, for instance, is by any means an ally of Germany, but I do mean that the German propagandist has had free rein.
I shall never forget the fact that the King of Spain, during my talk with him, remarked: "Remember that while I am King of Spain, I am also an Austrian Archduke."
And not only is the King of Spain by descent and in the right of his father an Archduke of Austria but his mother was an Austrian Princess of the House of Hapsburg. Study, for the moment, the genealogy of the King and Queen of Spain and you will see how royalty is inter-related in this war.
The Queen of Spain was brought up at the court of the late Queen Victoria of England and is a Battenberg princess. In 1823, Alexander, Prince of Hesse and the Rhine, took in morganatic marriage a Countess von Hauke. He made her Countess of Battenberg and in 1858 she was given the title by the ruler of Hesse, of Princess Battenberg, her children and their descendants to take the same title. One of these Battenbergs, descendants of Countess von Hauke, married Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria, and the daughter of the marriage is the present Queen of Spain, who just before her marriage to Alfonso was created a Royal Highness by King Edward VII. Queen Victoria Eugenia has become quite Spanish. With a mantilla on her head, she attends bull fights and is very popular.
The father of Alfonso XIII, Alfonso XII, was very intimate with the German Court. In 1883, he visited the old Emperor William I in Germany and accepted the colonelcy of a Uhlan regiment then in garrison in Strassburg, one of the towns taken from France in 1870. On his return journey he stopped in Paris and was the object of a popular demonstration so violent that the President of France and his ministers called in a body to apologise.
Shortly thereafter the Crown Prince (later Emperor) Friedrich paid a visit to Spain and an intimacy was maintained between the two courts.
It is the inclination of those in the king business to keep together and a tradition of Prussia that fellow Kings must be sustained and, if possible, maintained against democracy. That's why the Kaiser finds reciprocal sympathy in Spain.
Our popular Ambassador, Mr. Willard, and his staff, with a representative of the Spanish Foreign Office, met us at the station at Madrid on my arrival from Paris.
Madrid is a handsome city, comparatively modern. From its highest point the great Royal Palace dominates the capital and from the palace the royal park stretches unbroken to the Guadarrama mountains sixty miles away.
In many respects Spain seems a land upside down. We arrived at Madrid just at the close of the Carnival season. Masked balls began at three in the afternoon and many theatres not until ten or even eleven at night. Madrid sleeps late. The rich people get up only in time for lunch. The streets are full of noise and people until four in the morning, the sellers of lottery tickets making special efforts to swell the volume of night sounds.
My visit to the King of Spain was at eleven in the morning. Ambassador Willard went with me. As we entered the palace and waited at the foot of an elevator, the car descended and one of the little Princes of Spain, about eight years old, dressed in a sailor suit, stepped out. Evidently he had been trained in royal urbanity for he immediately came up to us, shook hands and said, "Buenos dias."
And as we strolled down a long corridor where Palace guards in high boots and cocked hats stood guard with halberds in their hands another little Prince, about eleven, also in a sailor suit, came out of a room and walked ahead of us; behind followed two nuns, walking side by side at a respectful distance. As he appeared in the corridor one of the guards stamped his halberd on the floor, calling out in Spanish, "Turn out the guard---the Infant of Spain." And in the guardroom at the end of the corridor the guards, forming in line, clashing their arms, did honour to the baby Prince.
Ambassador Willard and I waited in the great, splendid room of the Palace. Inside, priests and officers, ladies, officials, diplomats, were waiting to present petitions or pay homage to their King. Outside in the court yard, the guard was being changed, infantry, cavalry and artillery all being represented. A tuneful band played during the ceremony of guard mount, which was witnessed by crowds of poor folk who are permitted to enter the Palace precincts as spectators.
While waiting I was presented to the Archbishop of Toledo, head of the Spanish Church, resplendent in his gorgeous ecclesiastical robes. Finally a court official came and said that I was to go into the King alone; that Mr. Willard was to see him later.
I found King Alfonso in a small room about twenty by fourteen feet. He wore a brown business suit, a soft shirt and soft collar fastened by a gold safety pin---quite the style of dress of an American collegian. He is tall and well built.
The King speaks perfect English---without a trace of accent. After we had talked a few moments, I noted the difference between Teuton and Latin, the vast abyss which separates the polite and courteous Spaniard, thinking of others, anxious to be hospitable, and the rough, conceited, aggressive Junker of Germany. How often have I found that we ourselves, although good hearted and easy going, in comparison with our friends in South and Central America, do not measure up to the standards of Castilian courtesy.
Some one knocked at the door and King Alfonso rose and answered. He returned with odd looking implements in his hands which I soon discovered to be an enormous silver cocktail shaker and two goblets. After a dexterous shake, the King poured out two large cocktails, saying, "I understand that you American gentlemen always drink in the morning."
I had not had a cocktail for years and if I had endeavoured to assimilate the drink so royally prepared for me I should have been in no condition to continue the conversation. I think King Alfonso himself was quite relieved when, after a sip, I put my cocktail behind a statue. I noticed that he camouflaged his in a similar manner.
Unfortunately, as Maximilian Harden said, the Germans think of us as a land of dollars, trusts and corruption; and other nations think of us as devotees of the cocktail and of poker. Their school boys dream of fighting Indians in Pittsburg and hunting buffalo in the deserts of the Bronx.
The characteristic of Alfonso which impresses one immediately is that of extreme manliness. He has a sense of humour that will save him from many a mishap in his difficult post. He has a wide knowledge of men and affairs and, above all, as the Spaniards would put it, is muy español (very Spanish), not only in appearance but in his way of looking at things, a Spaniard of the best type, a Spaniard possessing industry and ambition and bravery, a Spaniard, in fact, of the days when Spain was supreme in the world. His favourite sport is polo, which he plays very well. Indeed, the game, which requires dash, quickness of thought, nerve and good riding, is particularly suited to the Spanish character. The King showed at the time of the anarchistic outbreaks, that he was a brave man. Yet he must be careful at all times to remember that he is a constitutional king, that in a country like Spain leadership is dangerous, that he should always rather stand aside, let the representatives of the nation decide, thus taking no definite position himself. A king who abandons the council table to shoot pigeons or play polo is often acting with far more wisdom than a constitutional ruler who attempts by the use of his strong personality and lofty position to force upon his councillors a course which the majority of them do not recommend.
The Spaniards are politically an exacting people.
But it is to be hoped that they will not turn the heavy artillery of their criticism upon a king who serves them so gracefully and well.
The king has a natural desire to take a prominent part in the negotiations for peace, but here again is dangerous ground for him. He should be given a part, if possible, in the preliminaries of peace, but while I believe that he sympathises with one of the Entente countries, the Allies are forced to recognise the fact of which he himself reminded me, that he is not only King of Spain, but Archduke of one of the Central Empires, the son of an Austrian Archduchess.
The king told me that he was most desirous that American capital should become interested in the development of Spain. He did not tell me the reason for this desire but perhaps he fears that if German capital should take a great part in the development of industrial Spain that the tentacles of the German propaganda and spy system which go hand in hand with her commercial invaders would wrap themselves around the commercial, social and political life of Spain.
Perhaps King Alfonso, when he wishes capital other than German to become interested in Spain, is thinking of the occurrences of 1885, when Spain and Germany so nearly clashed. In that year the crew of a German warship hoisted the flag of the German Empire on the island of Yap, one of the Carolina group, an island long claimed by Spain. The act so stirred the people of Spain that a great meeting was held in Madrid, attended by over one hundred thousand people. Later the mob attacked the German Embassy and Consulate, tore down the shield and flag staff of the Consulate and burned them in the principal square of Madrid. In the end, Spain was compelled to humbly apologise to Germany for the insult to the German Ambassador.
Some years before the war the King sent to this country a special emissary to interest American capital in Spain. Means of transportation are very meagre. Great mineral districts are as yet undeveloped and many other opportunities for foreign capital present themselves.
I asked the Spaniards why Spain was not developed by Spanish capital and they told me that the rich put all their money in government bonds and lived as gaily as possible on the interest.
Our own Government, whether Democratic or Republican, must always be careful to see that taxes are not so high as to prevent the naturally enterprising American from risking part of his capital in new ventures and such protection must be given to American citizens that they will continue to try their luck at business in foreign countries for the immediate benefit, of course, of themselves, but also for the commercial supremacy of the United States.
The American who goes to Mexico and there develops a railroad or a plantation, a commercial business, a bank or a mine, is not only adding to the wealth of Mexico, but any money which he makes after paying his due share of taxes there, is brought back by him to the United States, is subject to taxation, and by just so much not only lightens the tax burden of other Americans, but adds to the power in trade of the whole country.
A business man who is taxed too much on any profits that he makes will, like the Spaniard, invest his capital in Government bonds. He will stop taking up new enterprises because if he loses no one compensates him for his loss, while if he wins most of his profit is taken in taxes by the State.
I do not think that the Spanish harbour any spirit of revenge against us because of the events of the Spanish-American war. There was nothing in that war to arouse particular resentment. No one used poison gas, or enslaved women or cut off the hands of babies. On our side, at least, there was an intense admiration for the splendid, chivalrous bravery of our enemies. Spain was, in reality, benefited by the loss of Cuba and the Philippines; in fact, they were practically lost to her before we entered the war. Thinking Spaniards believe the war with America benefited Spain; and the lower classes rejoice because their sons and husbands are not forced to serve in the Spanish Army in the fever-laden swamps of the tropics.
On the war Spain is hopelessly divided: Conservative against Conservative; Liberal against Liberal. The usual German propaganda is furiously at work, all the paraphernalia, bought newspapers---bribes. Roman Catholic prejudice against former French Governments is a great stumbling block in the way of the Allies in Spain, for that country became the refuge of many orders and priests driven from France. Many of the Spanish Catholics still resent the action of previous French Governments towards the Catholic Church.
But whatever may be the faults of the French Government in this particular, whether it or the teaching orders went too far---the Roman Catholics of Spain sooner or later will realise that, after all, the bulk of the French and Italian and Belgian people are their co-religionists, and they will recall the attempts of Bismarck to master the Roman Catholics of Germany and to bind its priests to the will of the Imperial Government, attempts recent enough to keep the Catholics of Germany still organised in the political party which they created in the dark days of Bismarck's "War for Civilisation," as he dared call his contest with the great Roman Catholic Church.
Spanish and other Catholics throughout the world will remember this and will remember, too, that from every valley of the Protestant section of the German Empire the eye can see a "Bismarck Thurm," or Bismarck Memorial Tower, erected on some commanding height by the admirers of the dead Iron Chancellor.
I believe that after the war the Roman Catholic Church in France and Belgium will be on a healthier, sounder basis, that it will have more and more influence with the people, that it will be more popular and respected than before, unless some act on the part of the Pope should lead the French and Belgians to believe that he favours Germany. Priests are not exempt from military service in France and these Abbés, fighting, dying, suffering wounds and privation, working cheek to cheek with the soldiers of France, will do much to bring about the change. I met a number of these priest-warriors in the prison camps of Germany. They are doing a great work and have earned the respect and love of their countrymen---their fellow prisoners.
Several of these soldier Abbés were prisoners in Dyrotz, near Berlin, and I remember how they were looked up to by all the soldiers. What a consolation were these noble warriors who fought a twofold winning fight---for their country and their faith.
Spain has suffered much from the war. In the northeast part called Catalonia are located the manufacturing industries of Spain, cloth weaving, cotton spinning, etc. In Barcelona, the principal industrial town, are many manufacturing industries. If these plants cannot obtain raw materials or a market for their finished products, then industrial depression ensues and thousands are thrown out of employment.
So in the north, where iron ore is produced, the submarine blockade of England, chief buyer of iron ore and the seller of coal, has made itself felt in every province; and in the south, the land of sun and gypsies, oranges and vines, the want of sea and land transportation, the diminished exports of wine and fruits to other countries have brought many of the inhabitants to the verge of ruin.
In the coast cities sailors and longshoremen are out of employment, and this condition-these hundreds of thousands without work through disturbance of industry,---has ripened the field for the German propagandist and agent who threatens the King with revolution, should he incline to the Allies.
In no country of the world has the German agent been so bold and no neutral government has been more forcibly reminded in its policy and conduct of the fact that it is always face to face with Kaiserism.
GERMAN SPIES AND THEIR METHODS
GERMAN spies who looked like "movie" detectives hung about and followed us on the journey from Berlin to Switzerland, France and Spain. There were even suspicious characters among the Americans with German accent who came on our special train from Germany to Switzerland.
Berne is now the champion spy centre of the world. Switzerland, a neutral country, bordering on Germany, France, Italy and Austria, is the happy hunting ground and outfitting point for myriads of spies employed by the nations at war. The Germans, however, use more spies than all the other nations together.
Bismarck said that there are male nations and female nations, and that Germany was a male nation---certainly the German has less of that heaven-sent feminine quality of intuition than other peoples. The autocrat, never mingling with the plain people of all walks of life, finds the spy a necessity.
Spy spies on spy---autocracy produces bureaucracy where men rise and fall not by the votes of their fellow citizens but by back stairs intrigue. The German office-holder fears the spies of his rivals. I often said to Germans holding high office during the war, "This strain is breaking you down, ---all day in your office. Take an afternoon off and come shooting with me." The invariable answer was, "I cannot---the others would learn it from their spies and would spread the report that I neglect business !"
While in Spain I met the then Premier, Count Romanones, a man of great talent and impressive personality. He told me of the finding of a quantity of high explosives, marked by a little buoy, in one of the secluded bays of the coast. And that day a German had been arrested who had mysteriously appeared at a Spanish port dressed as a workman. The workman took a first class passage to Madrid, went to the best hotel and bought a complete outfit of fine clothes. Undoubtedly the high explosive as well as the mysterious German had been landed from a German submarine. Whether the explosive was destined as a depot for submarines or was to help overturn the Spanish government was hard to guess, but Count Romanones was worried over the activity of the German agents in Spain.
It has been very easy for German agents in America to communicate with Germany through this submarine post from Spain to Germany, the letters from America being sent to Cuba and thence on Spanish boats to Spain.
At all times since the war the Germans have had a submarine post running direct from Germany to Spain. Shortly after our arrival in Spain Mrs. Gerard received mysteriously a letter written by a friend of hers, a German Baroness, in Berlin. This letter had undoubtedly been sent through the very efficient German spy system.
Sometime in 1915 a German soldier, in uniform, speaking perfect English, called one day at the Embassy. He said that his name was Bode and that he had at one time worked for my father-in-law, the late Marcus Daly. Of course, we had no means of verifying his statements and Mrs. Gerard did not remember any one of that name or recall Bode personally. He said that he was fighting on the East front and that he had a temporary leave of absence, I gave him some money and later we sent him packages of food and tobacco to the front, but never received any acknowledgment.
In Madrid one of my assistants, Frank Hall, while walking through the street, ran across Bode, who was fashionably attired. His calling cards stated that he was a mining engineer from Los Angeles, California. He told Hall a most extraordinary fairy story, saying that he had been captured by the Russians on the East front and sent to Siberia, that from Siberia he had escaped to China and from there he had gradually worked his way back to America and thence to Spain.
Of course, without any definite information on the subject it is impossible to say exactly what he was doing in Spain. But I am sure that it is far more likely he had landed from a German submarine on the coast of Spain and that he was posing as an American mining engineer---for a particular purpose.
I told certain people in Spain about Bode and of his intention to visit the mining districts of Spain where numbers of men are employed. Bode must have suspected that I had given information about him, for Hall and I received several postcards of a threatening character, evidently from him.
My cables to and from the State Department passed through our legation at Copenhagen, and, of course, if the Germans knew our cipher these messages were read by them. On special occasions I made use of a super-cipher the key to which I kept in a safe in my bedroom and which only one secretary could use. The files of cipher cables sent and received were kept in a large safe in the Embassy. But before leaving Germany, knowing the Germans as I did, and particularly what they had done in other countries and to other diplomats, knowing how easy it would be for them to burglarise the safe after we left, when the Spaniards and Dutch were out of the building at night, I tossed all these despatches as well as the code books into a big furnace fire. Commander Gherardi and Secretary Hugh Wilson stood by and personally saw that the last scrap was burned. Of course, copies of all the cables are in the State Department.
German spies are adepts at opening bags, steaming letters---all the old tricks. The easiest way to baffle them is to write nothing that cannot be published to the world.
For a long time after the beginning of war I was too busy to write the weekly report of official gossip usually sent home by diplomats. I suppose the Germans searched our courier bags for such a report vainly. Anyway, its absence finally got on the nerves of Zimmermann so much that one day he blurted out, "Don't you ever write reports to your Government?"
Sealed letters are opened by spies as follows:
by inserting a pencil or small round object in the envelope, steamed a little, if necessary; the envelope is opened at the end flap and the contents pulled out without disturbing the seal, the contents are then read, put in their place again, the end flap re-inserted, a little gum used and the envelope is as intact as before.
The only safe way to seal an envelope is thus:
Even then a clever spy can open the letter, read the contents and seal it again. This is done by cutting through the seals with a hot razor---the divided seals are then united by pressing the hot razor against each side of the cut and then pressing the two parts of the cut seal together. This is, however, a very delicate operation and doesn't always work.
From the outbreak of war we sent and received our official mail through England, and couriers carried it between Berlin and London through Holland via Flushing and Tilbury.
On account of the great volume of correspondence between Ambassador Page and myself on the affairs of German prisoners in England and English prisoners in Germany, there were many pouches every week. These were leather mail bags opened only by duplicate keys kept in London and Berlin and, for the American mail, in Berlin and Washington. Our couriers did their best to keep the numerous bags in their sight during the long journey but on many occasions our couriers were separated, I am sure with malicious purpose, from their bags by the German railway authorities and on some occasions the bags not recovered for days.
Undoubtedly at this time the Germans opened and looked over the contents of the bags. Later in the war our courier while on a Dutch mail boat, running between Flushing and England, was twice captured with the boat by a German warship and taken into Zeebrugge. Undoubtedly here, too, the bags were secretly opened and our uncoded despatches and letters read.
German spies were most annoying in Havana and one of them, a large dark man, followed me about at a distance of only six feet, with his eyes glued on the small bag which I carried from a thick strap hanging around my shoulder. I brought it from Germany in that way. I never let it out of my hands or sight.
What was in that bag? Among other things were the original telegrams written by the Kaiser in his own handwriting, facsimiles of which appear in my earlier book, "My Four Years in Germany," and the treaty which the Germans tried to get me to sign while they held me as a prisoner. Under the terms they proposed the German ships interned in America were to have the right in case of war, to sail for Germany under a safe conduct to be obtained from the Allies by the United States. Somewhat of a treaty! And quite a new, bright and original thought by some one in the Foreign Office or German Admiralty. There were also in this mysterious bag many other matters of interest that may some day see the light.
Poisonous propaganda and spying are the twin offspring of Kaiserism. There is in Mexico, for instance, one force that never sleeps,---the German propaganda. It is same method as that used by the Teutons in every country, the purchase or rental of newspaper properties, bribing public men and officers of the army and the insidious use of Germans who are engaged in commerce. This propaganda is backed by enormous sums of money appropriated by the German government which directs how all its officers and agents, high and low, shall participate in the campaign.
In the long run a paid propaganda always fails. It is like paying money to blackmailers. The blackmailer who has once received money becomes so insatiable that even the Bank of England will not satisfy him in the end. Sometimes the newspapers which are not bought, but are equally corrupt, become vehement in their denunciation of the country making the propaganda in the hope of being bought and in the hope that their bribe money will be in proportion to their hostility. Corrupted public men who are not bribed often become sternly virtuous and denunciatory with a similar hope. Those who have received the wages of shame, on the other hand, become more insistent in their demands, crying, "Give! Give!" like the daughter of the horseleech.
The blows of war must be struck quickly. Delays are dangerous and the temporary paralysis of one country by propaganda may mean the loss of the war. The United States has been at a great disadvantage because our officials have not had the authority, the means or the money to fight the German propaganda with effective educational campaigns, both offensive and defensive.
Bernstorff in this country disposed of enormous sums for the purpose of moulding American public opinion. I, in Berlin, was without one cent with which to place America's side before the German people. It is a conflict of two systems. In Berlin I did not even have money to pay private detectives and on the rare occasions when I used them as, for instance to find out who was connected with the so-called American organisation, the League of Truth, which was engaged in a violent propaganda against America inside Germany, I was obliged to bear the expense personally.
South of the Rio Grande the Germans are working against us, doing their best to prejudice the Mexicans against the United States, playing upon old hatreds and creating new ones and, in the meantime, by their purchase of properties and of mines creating a situation that will constitute for us in the future a most difficult and dangerous problem.
The Germans cannot understand why we do not take advantage of conditions in Mexico in order to conquer and hold that unfortunate country. They could not believe that we were actuated by a spirit of idealism and that we were patiently suffering much in order really to help Mexico. They could not believe that we were waiting in order to convince not only Mexico but the other States of Central America and the great friendly republics of South America, that it was not our policy to use the dissensions and weakness of our neighbours to gain territory.
On one occasion before the war I and several other Ambassadors were dining with the Kaiser and after dinner the conversation turned to the strange sights to be seen in America. One of the Ambassadors, I think it was Cambon, said that he had seen in America whole houses being moved along the roads, something of a novelty to European eyes where the houses, constructed of brick and stone, cannot be transported from place to place like our wooden frame house. The Emperor jokingly remarked: "Yes, I am sure that the Americans are moving their houses. They are moving them down towards the Mexican border."
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