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قراءة كتاب Germany, The Next Republic?

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‏اللغة: English
Germany, The Next Republic?

Germany, The Next Republic?

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

of the war. This was a typewritten letter signed by the Director of the Post and Telegraph. Because I was always watched by a soldier escort, I could never copy it. But after reading it scores of times I soon memorised everything, including the periods.

This document was as follows:

Office of the Imperial Post & Telegraph
August 2nd, 1914.

Announcement No. 3.

To the Chief Telegraph Office:

From to-day on, the Post and Telegraph communications between Germany on the one hand and:

1. England,
2. France,
3. Russia,
4. Japan,
5. Belgium,
6. Italy,
7. Montenegro,
8. Servia,
9. Portugal;

on the other hand are interrupted because Germany finds herself in a state of war.

(Signed) Director of the Post and Telegraph.

This notice, which was never published, shows that the man who directed the Post and Telegraph Service of the Imperial Government knew on the 2nd of August, 1914, who Germany's enemies would be. Of the eleven enemies of Germany to-day only Roumania and the United States were not included. If the Director of the Post and Telegraph knew what to expect, it is certain that the Imperial Government knew. This announcement shows that Germany expected war with nine different nations, but at the time it was posted on the bulletin board of the Haupttelegraphenamt, neither Italy, Japan, Belgium nor Portugal had declared war. Italy did not declare war until nearly a year and a half afterwards, Portugal nearly two years afterward and Japan not until December, 1914.

This document throws an interesting light upon the preparations Germany made for a world war.

The White, Yellow, Grey and Blue Books, which all of the belligerents published after the beginning of the war, dealt only with the attempts of these nations to prevent the war. None of the nations has as yet published white books to show how it prepared for war, and still, every nation in Europe had been expecting and preparing for a European conflagration. Winston Churchill, when he was First Lord of the Admiralty, stated at the beginning of the war that England's fleet was mobilised. France had contributed millions of francs to fortify the Russian border in Poland, although Germany had made most of the guns. Belgium had what the Kaiser called, "a contemptible little army" but the soldiers knew how to fight when the invaders came. Germany had new 42 cm. guns and a network of railroads which operated like shuttles between the Russian and French and Belgian frontiers. Ever since 1870 Europe had been talking war. Children were brought up and educated into the belief that some day war would come. Most people considered it inevitable, although not every one wanted it.

During the exciting days of August, 1914, I was calling at the belligerent embassies and legations in Washington. Neither M. Jusserand, the French Ambassador, nor Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador, nor Count von Bernstorff, the Kaiser's representative, were in Washington then. But it was not many weeks until all three had hastened to this country from Europe. Almost the first act of the belligerents was to send their envoys to Washington.

As I met these men I was in a sense an agent of public opinion who called each day to report the opinions of the belligerents to the readers of American newspapers. One day at the British Embassy I was given copies of the White Book and of many other documents which Great Britain had issued to show how she tried to avoid the war. In conversations later with Ambassador von Bernstorff, I was given the German viewpoint.

The thing which impressed me at the time was the desire of these officials to get their opinions before the American people. But why did these ambassadors want the standpoints of their governments understood over here? Why was the United States singled out of all other neutrals? If all the belligerents really wanted to avoid war, why did they not begin twenty years before, to prevent it, instead of, to prepare for it?

All the powers issued their official documents for one primary purpose--to win public opinion. First, it was necessary for each country to convince its own people that their country was being attacked and that their leaders had done everything possible to avoid war. Even in Europe people would not fight without a reason. The German Government told the people that unless the army was mobilised immediately Russia would invade and seize East Prussia. England, France and Belgium explained to their people that Germany was out to conquer the world by way of Belgium and France. But White Books were not circulated alone in Europe; they were sent by the hundreds of thousands into the United States and translated into every known language so that the people of the whole world could read them.

Then the word battles between the Allies and the Central Powers began in the United States. While the soldiers fought on the battlefields of Belgium, France, East Prussia and Poland, an equally bitter struggle was carried on in the United States. In Europe the object was to stop the invaders. In America the goal was public opinion.

It was not until several months after the beginning of the war that Sir Edward Grey and Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg began to discuss what the two countries had done before the war, to avoid it. The only thing either nation could refer to was the 1912 Conference between Lord Haldane and the Chancellor. This was the only real attempt made by the two leading belligerents to come to an understanding to avoid inevitable bloodshed. Discussions of these conferences were soon hushed up in Europe because of the bitterness of the people against each other. The Hymn of Hate had stirred the German people and the Zeppelin raids were beginning to sow the seeds of determination in the hearts of the British. It was too late to talk about why the war was not prevented. So each set of belligerents had to rely upon the official documents at the beginning of the war to show what was done to avoid it.

These White Books were written to win public opinion. But why were the people suddenly taken into the confidence of their governments? Why had the governments of England, France, Germany and Russia not been so frank before 1914? Why had they all been interested in making the people speculate as to what would come, and how it would come about? Why were all the nations encouraging suspicion? Why did they always question the motives, as well as the acts, of each other? Is it possible that the world progressed faster than the governments and that the governments suddenly realised that public opinion was the biggest factor in the world? Each one knew that a war could not be waged without public support and each one knew that the sympathy of the outside world depended more upon public opinion than upon business or military relations.


How America Was Shocked by the War

Previous to July, 1914, the American people had thought very little about a European war. While the war parties and financiers of Europe had been preparing a long time for the conflict, people over here had been thinking about peace. Americans discussed more of the possibilities of international peace and arbitration than war. Europeans lived through nothing except an expectancy of war. Even the people knew who the enemies might be. The German government, as the announcement of the Post and Telegraph Director shows, knew nine of its possible enemies before war had been declared. So it was but natural, when the first reports reached the United States saying that the greatest powers of Europe were engaged in a death struggle, that people were shocked and horrified. And it was but natural for thousands of them to besiege President Wilson with requests for him to offer his services as a mediator.

The war came, too, during the holiday season in Europe. Over 90,000 Americans were in the war zones.