ON my way from Berlin to America, in February, 1917, at a dinner in Paris, I met the celebrated Italian historian, Ferrero. In a conversation with him after dinner, I reminded him of the fact that both he and a Frenchman, named Huret, who had written on America, had stated in their books that the thing which struck them most in the study of the American people was the absence of hate.
Ferrero recalled this and in the discussion which followed and in which the French novelist, Marcel Prevost, took part, all agreed that there was more hate in Europe than in America; first, because the peoples of Europe were confined in small space and, secondly, because the European, whatever his rank or station, lacked the opportunities for advancement and consequently the eagerness to press on ahead, and that fixing of the thought on the future, instead of the past, which formed part of the American character.
In a few hours in Europe it is possible to travel in an automobile across countries where the people differ violently from the countries surrounding them, not only in language, customs and costumes, but also in methods of thought and physical appearance.
The day I left Berlin I went to see Herr von Gwinner, head of the Deutsche Bank, with reference to a charitable fund which had been collected for widows and orphans in Germany. In our talk, von Gwinner said that Europeans envied America because we seemed to be able to assimilate all those people who, as soon as they landed on our shores, sought to forget their old race hatreds and endeavoured, as speedily as possible, to adopt American clothes, language and thought. I told him I thought it was because in our country we did not try to force any one; that there was nothing to prevent a Pole speaking Polish and wearing Polish dress, if he chose; that the only weapon we used against those who desired to up-hold the customs of Europe was that of ridicule; and that it was the repressive measures such as, for example, the repressive action taken by Prussia against the Poles and the Danes, the Alsatians and the Lorrainers, that had aroused a combative instinct in these peoples and made them cling to every vestige of their former nationality.
At first, with the coming of war, the concentrated hate of the German people seemed to be turned upon the Russians. Even Liebknecht, when he called upon me in order to show that he had not been shot, as reported in America, spoke of the perils of Czarismus and the hatred of the German people for the Russians. But later, and directed by the master hand of the governing class, all the hatred of the Germans was concentrated upon England.
The cartoon in Punch representing a Prussian family having its morning “Hate” was, in some aspects, not at all exaggerated. Hate in Germany is cultivated as a noble passion, and, during the war, divines and generals vied with each other in its praise. Early in 1917, the Prussian General in command at Limburg made a speech in which he extolled the advantages of hate and said that there was nothing like getting up in the morning after having passed a night in thought and dreams of hate.
The phrase “Gott strafe England” seemed to be all over Germany. It was printed on stamps to be affixed to the back of letters like our Red Cross stamps. I even found my German body servant in the Embassy affixing these stamps to the back of all letters, official and other-wise, that were sent out. He was stopped when discovered. Paper money was stamped with the words: “Gott strafe England,” “und America” being often added as the war progressed and America refused to change the rules of the game and stop the shipment of supplies to the Allies.
Every one is familiar with Lissauer’s “Hymn of Hate.” It is not extraordinary that one man in a country at war should produce a composition of this kind; but it is extraordinary as showing the state of mind of the whole country, that the Emperor should have given him the high order of the Red Eagle of the Second Class as a reward for having composed this extraordinary document.
Undoubtedly at first the British prisoners of war were treated very roughly and were starved and beaten by their guards on the way from the front to the concentration camps. Officers, objects usually considered more than sacred in Germany, even when wounded were subjected to brutal treatment and in the majority of their prisons were treated more like convicts than officers and gentlemen.
As the Germans gradually awoke to the fact that President Wilson was not afraid of the German vote and that the export of supplies from America would not be stopped, this stream of hate was turned on America. There was a belief in Germany that President Wilson was opposed by a majority of people of the United States, that he did not represent the real sentiment of America, and that the sentiment there was favourable to Germany.
Unfortunately many Americans in Germany encouraged the German people and the German Government in this belief. Americans used to travel about, giving lectures and making speeches attacking their own country and their own President, and the newspapers published many letters of similar import from Americans resident in Germany.
One of the most active of these was a man named Maurice Somborn, a German American, who represented in Germany an American business house. He made it a practice to go about in Berlin and other cities and stand up in cafes and beer halls in order to make addresses attacking the President and the United States. So bold did he become that he even, in the presence of a number of people in my room, one day said that he would like to hang Secretary Bryan as high as Haman and President Wilson one foot higher. The American newspapers stated that I called a servant and had him thrown out of the Embassy. This statement is not entirely true : I selfishly kept that pleasure for myself.
The case of Somborn gave me an idea and I cabled to the Department of State asking authority to take up the passports of all Americans who abused their own country on the ground that they had violated the right, by their abuse, to the protection of a passport. The Department of State sustained my view and, by my direction, the consul in Dresden took up the passports of a singer named Rains and a gentleman of leisure named Recknagel who had united in addressing a letter to the Dresden news-papers abusing the President. It was some time before I got Somborn’s passport and I later on received from him the apologies of a broken and contrite man and obtained permission from Washington to issue him a passport in order to enable him to return to America.
Of course, these vilifiers of their own country were loud in their denunciations of me, but the prospect of losing the protection of their passports kept many of these men from open and treasonable denunciation of their own country.
The Government actually encouraged the formation of societies which had for their very object the scattering of literature attacking the President and the United States. The most conspicuous of these organisations was the so-called League of Truth. Permanently connected with it was an American dentist who had been in jail in America and who had been expelled from Dresden by the police authorities there. The secretary was a German woman who posed as an American, and had been on the stage as a snake dancer. The principal organiser was a German named Marten who had won the favour of the German authorities by writing a book on Belgium denying that any atrocities had taken place there. Marten secured subscriptions from many Germans and Americans resident in Germany, opened headquarters in rooms on the Potsdamerstrasse and engaged in the business of sending out pamphlets and leaflets attacking America. One of his principal supporters was a man named Stoddard who had made a fortune by giving travel lectures in America and who had retired to his handsome villa, in Meran, in Austria. Stoddard issued a pamphlet en-titled, “What shall we do with Wilson?” and some atrocious attempts at verse, all of which were sent broadcast by the League of Truth.
This was done with the express permission of the German authorities because during the war no societies or associations of any kind could meet, be formed or act without the express permission and superintendence of both the military and police authorities. Any one who has lived in Germany knows that it would be impossible even in peace times to hang a sign or a wreath on a public statue without the permission of the local authorities; and yet on the Emperor’s birthday, January twenty-seventh, 1916, this League of Truth was permitted to place an enormous wreath, over four feet high, on the statue of Frederick the Great, with an American flag draped in mourning attached, and a silk banner on which was printed in large letters of gold, “Wilson and his press are not America.” The League of Truth then had a photograph taken of this wreath which was sent all over Germany, again, of course, with the permission of the authorities. The wreath and attachments, in spite of frequent protests on my part to Zimmermann and von Jagow, remained in this conspicuous position until the sixth of May, 1916. After the receipt of the Sussex Note, again called von Jagow’s attention to the presence of this wreath, and I told him that if this continuing insult to our flag and President was not taken away that I would go the next day with a cinematograph operator and take it away myself. The next day the wreath had disappeared.
This League, in circulars, occasionally attacked me, and in a circular which they distributed shortly after my return to Germany at the end of December, 1916, it was stated, “What do you think of the American Ambassador? When he came to Germany after his trip to America he brought a French woman with him.” And the worst of this statement was that it was true. But the League, of course, did not state that my wife came with me bringing her French maid by the express permission of the German Foreign Office.
I have had occasion many times to wonder at the curious twists of the German mind, but I have never been able to understand on what possible theory the German Government permitted and even encouraged the existence of this League of Truth. Certainly the actions of the League, headed by a snake dancer and a dentist, would not terrorise the American Congress, President Wilson or me into falling in with all the views of the German Government, and if the German Government was desirous of either the President’s friendship or mine why was this gang of good-for-nothings allowed to insult indiscriminately their country, their President and their Ambassador?
One of the friends of Marten, head of this League, was ( ) ( ), a man who at the time he was an officer of the National Guard of the State of New York, accepted a large sum of money “for expenses” from Bernstorff.
Of course, in any country abroad acceptance by an officer of money from a foreign Ambassador could not be explained and could have only one result blank wall and firing party for the receiver of foreign pay. Perhaps we have grown so indulgent so soft and sa forgetful of the obligations which officers owe to their flag and country that on (, ‘)’s return from Germany he will be able to go on a triumphant lecture tour through the United States.
There was published in Berlin in English a rather ridiculous paper called the Continental Times, owned by an Austrian Jewess who had been married to an Englishman. The Foreign Office, after the outbreak of the war, practically took over this sheet by buying monthly many thousand copies. News coloured hysterically to favour the Central Empires was printed in this paper, which was headed “A Paper for Americans,” under the editorship of an Englishman of decent family named Stanhope, who, of course, in consequence did not have to inhabit the prison camp of Ruhleben. ( ) was a contributor to this newspaper, and scurrilous articles attacking President Wilson appeared. Finally (. ) wrote a lying article for this paper in which he charged that Conger of the Associated Press had learned of Sir Roger Casement’s proposed expedition, that Conger told me ; that I cabled the news to Washington to the State Department; and that a member of President Wilson’s Cabinet then gave the information to the British Ambassador. Later in a wireless which the Foreign Office permitted ( ) to send Senator O’Gorman of New York, ( ) varied his lie and charged that I had sent the information direct to Great Britain.
The Continental Times was distributed in the prison camps and after ( )’s article I said to von Jagow, “I have had enough of this nonsense which is supported by the Foreign Office and if articles of the nature of ( )’s appear again I shall make a public statement that the prisoners of war in Germany are subjected to a cruel and unusual punishment by having the lying Continental Times placed in their hands, a paper which purports to be published for Americans but which is supported by the Foreign Office, owned by an Austrian and edited by a renegade Englishman!”
This Continental Times business again caused one to wonder at the German psychology which seems to think that the best way to make friends is to attack them. The author of “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” must have attended a German school.
An Ambassador is supposed to be protected but not even when I filed affidavits in the Foreign Office, in 1916, made by the ex-secretary of the “League of Truth” and by a man who was constantly with Marten and the dentist, that Marten had threatened to shoot me, did the Foreign Office dare or wish to do anything against this ridiculous League. These affidavits were corroborated by a respectable restaurant keeper in Berlin and his assistants who testified that Marten with several ferocious looking German officers had come to his restaurant “looking” for me. I never took any precaution against these lunatics whom I knew to be a bunch of cowardly swindlers.
Marten and his friends were also engaged in a propaganda against the Jews.
The activities of Marten were caused by the fact that he made money out of his propaganda; as numerous fool Germans and traitorous Americans contributed to his war chest, and by the fact that his work was so favourably received by the military that this husky coward was excused from all military service.
It seemed, too, as if the Government was anxious to cultivate the hate against America. Long before American ammunition was delivered in any quantity to England and long before any at all was delivered to France, not only did the Government influence newspapers and official gazettes, but the official Communiqués alleged that quantities of American ammunition were being used on the West front.
The Government seemed to think that if it could stir up enough hate against America in Germany on this am-munition question the Americans would become terrorised and stop the shipment.
The Government allowed medals to be struck in honour of each little general who conquered a town “von Emmich, conqueror of Liège,” etc., a pernicious practice as each general and princeling wanted to continue the war until he could get his face on a medal even if no one bought it. But the climax was reached when medals celebrating the sinking of the Lusitania were sold through-out Germany. Even if the sinking of the Lusitania had been justified only one who has lived in Germany since the war can understand the disgustingly bad taste which can gloat over the death of women and babies.
I can recall now but two writers in all Germany who dared to say a good word for America. One of these, Regierungsrat Paul Krause, son-in-law of Field Marshal Von der Goltz, wrote an article in January, 1917, in the Lokal Anzeiger pointing out the American side of the question of this munition shipment; and that bold and fearless speaker and writer, Maximilian Harden, dared to make a defence of the American standpoint. The principal article in one of the issues of his paper, Die Zukunft, was headed “If I were Wilson.” After some copies had been sold the issue was confiscated by the police, whether at the instance of the military or at the instance of the Chancellor, I do not know. Every one had the impres sion in Berlin that this confiscation was by order of General von Kessel, the War Governor of the Mark of Brandenburg.
I met Harden before the war and occasionally conversed with him thereafter. Once in a while he gave a lecture in the great hall of the Philharmonic, always filling the hall to overflowing. In his lectures, which, of course, were carefully passed on by the police, he said nothing startling. His newspaper is a weekly publication; a little book about seven inches by four and a half, but wielding an influence not at all commensurate with its size.
The liberal papers, like the largest paper of Berlin, the Tageblatt, edited by Theodor Wolff, while not violently against America, were not favourable. But the articles in the Conservative papers and even some of the organs of the Catholic Party invariably breathed hatred against everything American.
In the Reichstag, America and President Wilson were often attacked and never defended. On May thirtieth, .1916, in the course of a debate on the censorship, Strasemann, of the National Liberal Party and of the branch of that party with Conservative leanings, violently opposed President Wilson and said that he was not wanted as a peacemaker.
Government, newspapers and politicians all united in opposing America.
I believe that to-day all the bitterness of the hate formerly concentrated on Great Britain has now been concentrated on the United States. The German-Americans are hated worse than the native Americans. They have deeply disappointed the Germans : first, because although German-Americans contributed enormously towards German war charities the fact of this contribution was not known to the recipients in Germany. Money sent to the German Red Cross from America was acknowledged by the Red Cross; but no publicity was given in Germany to the fact that any of the money given was from German-Americans. Secondly, the German-Americans did not go, as they might have done, to Germany, through neutral countries, with American passports, and enter the German army; and, thirdly, the most bitter disappoint-ment of all, the German-Americans have not yet risked their property and their necks, their children’s future and their own tranquillity, by taking arms against the government of America in the interest of the Hohenzollerns.
For years, a clever propaganda had been carried on in America to make all Germans there, feel that they were Germans of one united nation, to make those who had come from Hesse and Bavaria, or Saxony and Wurttemberg, forget that as late as 1866 these countries had been overrun and conquered by Prussian militarism.
When Prince Henry, the Kaiser’s brother, visited America, he spent most of his time with German-Americans and German-American societies in order to assist this propaganda.
Even in peace time, the German-American who returns to the village in which he lived as a boy and who walks down the village street exploiting himself and his property, does not help good relations between the two countries. Envy is the mother of hate and the envied and returned German-American receives only a lip welcome in the village of his ancestors.
Caricatures of Uncle Sam and of President Wilson were published in all German papers. A caricature representing our President releasing the dove of peace with one hand while he poured out munitions for the Allies with the other was the least unpleasant.
As I have said, from the tenth of August, 1914, to the twenty-fifth of September, 1915, the Emperor continually refused to receive me on the ground that he would not receive the Ambassador of a country which. furnished munitions to the enemies of Germany; and we were thoroughly black-listed by all the German royalties. I did not see one, however humble, after the outbreak of the war, with the exception of Prince Max of Baden, who had to do with prisoners of war in Germany and in other countries. On one occasion I sent one of my secretaries to the palace of Princess August Wilhelm, wife of one of the Kaiser’s sons, with a contribution of money for her hospital, she having announced that she would personally receive contributions on that day. She took the money from the secretary and spoke bitterly against America on account of the shipment of arms.
Even some boxes of cigarettes we sent another royalty at the front at Christmas time, 1914, were not acknowledged.
Dr. Jacobs, who was the correspondent in Berlin of Musical America, and who remained there until about the twenty-sixth of April, 1917, was called on about the sixteenth of April, 1917, to the Kommandantur and subjected to a cross-examination. During this cross-examination he was asked if he knew about the “League of Truth,” and why he did not join that organisation. Whether it was a result of his non-joining or not, I do not know, but during the remainder of his stay in Berlin he was compelled to report twice a day to the police and was not allowed to leave his house after eight o’clock in the evening. The question, however, put to him shows the direct interest that the German authorities took in the existence of this malodorous organisation.
It appears in some of the circulars issued by the League of Truth that I was accused of giving American passports to Englishmen in order to enable them to leave the country.
After I left Germany there was an interpellation in the Reichstag about this, and Zimmermann was asked about the charge which he said he had investigated and found untrue.
In another chapter I have spoken of the subject of the selling of arms and supplies by America to the Allies. No German ever forgets this. The question of legality or treaties never enters his mind: he only knows that American supplies and munitions killed his brother, son or father. It is a hate we must meet for long years.