German Reflections


THREE years ago the editor of the Atlantic Monthly wrote me a courteous letter, inquiring what objects Germany had in the war. This letter did not reach me until six months ago. Germany’s war aims in 1916 no longer have practical importance. But a person who wishes to understand the present condition of Germany will find it very essential to know what influence the war aims of 1914-1918 exercised upon the public mind of that country. No one will find the key to the revolution and to the present condition of Germany unless he knows that the German people entered the war in August, 1914, an absolute unit, but that, in the course of the four years, clear-cut divisions of opinion and sentiment destroyed this unity.

It is by no means easy to understand German conditions from a distance. We must start with the sentiment that prevailed in that country when the war broke out. The whole nation was convinced that Germany had been attacked. For more than ten years it had watched a ring of hostile nations closing around it. It is popularly believed abroad that the Germans cherished plans of conquest and dreams of world-empire before the war. This opinion of Germany is false, but it is very natural that it should exist to-day among non-German nations, because a powerful propaganda has cultivated it during the war. It finds apparent corroboration in the writings of the PanGermans and a few military men like General von Bernhardi. Bernhardi’s books were unknown before the war outside of a narrow military circle. I do not think that the number of copies in all Germany exceeded a few thousand. Your rarely saw them in bookshops; I never saw them in a private house. Very few German civilians even knew the general by name. The PanGermans were a small but noisy group, without official influence. They had so little effect upon international policies that the warning by those persons who considered Pan-German speeches and writings a source of national peril remained unheeded. It is easily comprehensible why propagandists should seize upon such material. But the idea that German public opinion before the war, and the classes which controlled the public policy of the empire, were Pan-German, is absolutely false. The world-war was for Germany a people’s war in the real sense.

What was the reason for this unanimity of public sentiment in regard to the war? It was due solely and entirely to the conviction that the war was a defensive one on Germany’s part. This conviction will perhaps seem strange to a non-German, especially to a man who has been fighting Germany for years and has been completely under the influence of the war propaganda against that country. However, it is absolutely necessary, if one is to understand the events that followed in Germany, to realize that in the summer of 1914 the nation was absolutely convinced that it had been attacked without reason by a group of hostile and encircling powers.

At the moment when the war broke out, and Italy refused to fulfill its engagements to the Triple Alliance, and Great Britain entered the ranks of Germany’s enemies, public opinion in our country was far from confident of a great triumph. The common people, the heads of the government, and the General Staff contemplated little more than a successful defense. The tremendous solicitude and tension of the first weeks were suddenly relieved by the important victories in Belgium, France, and East Prussia. The military authorities had promised that their reports would be frank and veracious, whether we were victorious or defeated. They fulfilled their promise up to the battle of the Marne. Our utter defeat in that battle, which represented the complete failure of the General Staff’s plan of campaign, was not made known to the people. We were told only that a different kind of war must now begin: that there would be no more brilliant victories, but a long-continued struggle against superior forces.

Notwithstanding our defeat on the Marne, the army leaders had tested the mighty power of their war-machine; but they underestimated the possibilities of growth in the forces of the enemy, and hoped ultimately to win a decisive victory. However, the people at large began to experience a reaction from their solicitude at the outbreak of the war, and the bitter feeling became general that Germany had been encircled and gratuitously attacked in the midst of its industrious and successful pursuit of the ways of peace. We began to hear the statement: ‘We must have guaranties that such an outrage shall not befall us again; and we now see that our army is strong enough to gain us such guaranties.’

Everything depended upon what was understood by guaranties. To Germany’s undoing, it was a false conception that thereupon mastered public thought — guaranties by direct or indirect annexation on the borders, especially in Belgium. That afforded an opportunity for the Pan-Germans. From this time dates the beginning of their influence in the press and among the educated classes.

The Pan-German war aim, of safety by annexation, captured part of the nation. Among the remainder there was growing resistance to the protraction of the war in order to gain new territories. This is the point where a clear division first showed itself in the unity of the German nation, and from this point began our descent into our present misfortune.

The longer the war continued, the greater the sacrifices. The more effective the famine blockade, the more urgent became the demand from the masses for some way of restoring peace. Gradually an opinion gained ground among a majority of the common people, who were suffering most from the war, that it would be possible to end the conflict, but that generals, princes, and war profiteers wanted to gain new conquests, and would not stop the struggle. This bitter opposition first manifested itself in 1917. It became stronger in 1918; and it was only temporarily weakened by the preparations and the initial success of the great offensive of the latter year. In July, 1918, it surged back with full force. It was much more powerful among the people at large than in Parliament. The feeling of the people at large was: ‘You people above could have relieved us of the calamity of the war long since if you would only have renounced your plans of conquest. You have not done so. You have prolonged our misery from year to year. You are guilty.’

This sentiment did not find full expression, on account of the censorship; but it was a decisive factor in causing the German revolution. The other factor was the complete prostration and unnerving of the nation by the famine blockade. The effect of years of insufficient nourishment upon the mass of the people was not only physical, but, above all, psychological. The only effective and salutary measure for warding off the impending catastrophe would have been to remember the old truth that Germany could not fight a war which was not supported by the united public opinion of the nation, and that no war could have this support, in view of the national character and the influence of universal service, unless it were a war of defense.

Over and above this there was a third factor in the revolution — the promise of President Wilson that, if Germany made peace, she would be dealt with in accordance with the Fourteen Points; and, in addition, America’s official attitude, which created the impression in Germany that the abolition of an autocratic form of government in general, and the removal of the House of Hohenzollern in particular, would make the peace terms easier for Germany. If the German people had not had faith in the Fourteen Points and in the assured alleviation of the peace conditions as compensation for renouncing the dynasty, it is probable that the revolution would not have taken the form of self-disarmament, and the enforced abdication of the Kaiser and of the other royal houses. Both moral and physical resistance to the revolution were crippled by the fearful exhaustion due to the famine blockade, and by the idea that it was a revolution for, first, a peace of goodwill and reconciliation, second, for freedom, and third, for bread.

Prince Max of Baden, who had become Imperial Chancellor, made a generous but vain attempt to salvage the monarchical idea in Germany, and to keep both the political and social revolution within peaceful limits. He exerted himself to the utmost to induce the Kaiser and the Crown Prince to abdicate voluntarily, and to leave to a constitutional convention, to be summoned immediately, the decision as to Germany’s future form of government. But the Kaiser was ill-advised. He withdrew himself from the influence of his Chancellor by a sort of flight to military headquarters; and when he was informed there, on the morning of November 9, by his own generals, that the army would not defend him, it was too late to have the announcement of his abdication stop the violent course of revolution in Berlin.


The most terrible misfortune which befell Germany, and which exhausted the remnant of her strength and power of recuperation, was the continuance of the blockade after the Armistice. The country was completely unprepared for the moral shock which this produced; for no one except the absolute pessimists, whose number was small, doubted that, after Mr. Wilson’s promise, Germany would be dealt with in accordance with the Fourteen Points. Naturally they expected nothing like the continuance of the blockade. At once it was evident that both economical and social ruin threatened. The physical exhaustion of the nation, its moral prostration by the famine blockade, and its disarmament, which involved the delivery of its heavy artillery, its aviation equipment, and other war materials, the greater part of its fleet, and all German territories on the left bank of the Rhine, to the victorious powers, made it absolutely impossible to resume the war. The whole nation realized that under no circumstances could it continue the struggle. It was so conscious of its own powerlessness that it could not interpret the continuation of the blockade except as the result of premeditated hostile malice, designed to cripple Germany for generations, if not for all time to come.

Whatever the true reasons for prolonging the blockade may have been, its effect was extremely cruel. In September, 1918, Dr. Saleeby, one of the most distinguished medical men and physiological experts in England reported: ‘The blockade is primarily responsible for Germany’s present frightful food-crisis, and consequently for the permanent effects which will follow in its wake.’

The German government did not completely suppress discussion as to the effect of the famine blockade during the war, but it discouraged references likely to depress the people. The results began to be serious after 1916. People residing in the country and the well-to-do in the cities were able to get along, but the poorer classes already suffered. The insufficiency of the official rations was demonstrated in institutions for the insane, public hospitals, and many prisons where the inmates were not able to procure additional food by indirect means.

The three most serious effects of the famine blockade upon Germany are: first, an increase in tuberculosis, according to the physicians, of between two and three hundred per cent, and inability to combat the disease, when once contracted, by scientific feeding. Second, several hundred children afflicted with rachitis. In the third place, undernourishment has permanently affected the health of thousands of parents, whose weakness will be transmitted to their descendants.

Germany was at war for four years and three months, and lost about two millions by death upon the battlefields and in hospitals. That amounts to an average of nearly thirteen hundred for every day of the war. Add to this another sixty per cent, or an average of eight hundred people who, since 1916, have died daily as a direct or indirect result of the famine blockade. This extra death-rate continued after the Armistice, on account of the prolongation of the blockade. We were not even permitted to carry on our coastal fisheries, and were prohibited from importing condensed milk from America for our suffering children.

Even had the famine blockade ended with the war itself, and had the same conditions that prevailed in the summer months of 1919 with respect to food-supplies existed in November and December, 1918, more than 100,000 lives would have been saved, and the moral recuperation of Germany would have already begun.

There is a limit to the resistance of any nation to suffering. So long as this limit is not exceeded, the average man retains his morale. The exaltation of national sentiment in war-time is an added resource. But if you exceed that limit, resistance speedily breaks down. With the Germans so exhausted in November, 1918, the sufferings imposed upon the people after that date, through the continuance of the famine blockade, fell upon a mass of human beings bereft of both physical and moral powers of resistance. The war has wrought moral ruin in every country of Europe. Its effects were obvious enough in Germany by the beginning of the fifth year of fighting. But what occurred during the famine months of the Armistice was the worst of all The results of those months were more disastrous to Germany’s morale than those of all the four years of combat.

However, we have not exhausted the subject with the food question. The embargo upon raw materials was likewise disastrous. German factories were kept busy during the war making munitions and other military supplies, although many raw materials were not to be had. This war-business stopped. The labors of peace could not take its place except in some branches of the metal industry and a few other lines of minor importance. Following the revolution the working people became more exacting. That was no misfortune in itself. Everyone recognizes that social conditions in Germany, as well as in the rest of the world, have been profoundly affected by the war, and that the economic and political demands of the working classes will be quite different from what they were formerly.

But the situation in Germany would have been far sounder if a great section of the country’s industrial plant had not been condemned to idleness after the Armistice. It was like a machine that overheats itself running without a burden. As a result of the revolution, wages and salaries were doubled at a stroke, and continued to increase subsequently. This applied to every laborer, every street-car employee, every clerk, every official. This sudden assault upon the revenues of the state and of private corporations could be met, in view of Germany’s complete isolation from the rest of the world, only by increasing the issues of paper money, and adding immense sums to our national indebtedness.

Such a palliative was of only transient effect. As the result of paper inflation, prices rapidly rose, and the rise of prices led to renewed demands for higher salaries and wages. The German government committed many errors, especially immediately after the Armistice, which had a depressing effect upon German exchange; but the beginning of the evil lay in the desperate conditions created by the Armistice. The revolution guaranteed every workingman his right to strike. That situation lasted about a year before the government recovered sufficient authority to justify an endeavor to protect from complete stoppage by striking employees at least those industries which were necessary to national existence, and to prevent striking laboring men from forcing their employers to pay their wages during the days and weeks they were on strike.

If it had been possible immediately after the conclusion of the Armistice to supply German manufacturers with enough raw materials to enable them to resume operations, and to furnish the population with food, for which our exchange — then about a third below par — would have enabled us to pay, the economic demands of the workers and employees could have been met by exporting manufactures instead of by issuing paper money and adding to our floating indebtedness. The high pricelevel in foreign markets would have made it possible to increase wages in Germany as soon as contact was established between the business world of that country and that of other lands. But as the situation actually developed, this was not possible. The increase of wages became a fearful calamity for Germany.

The greatest hardship falls upon the middle classes and small capitalists, who cannot increase their income by striking, and whose revenues are limited because they are unable to add to the price they charge for their services. These social groups are now gradually becoming part of the proletariat. They are being forced to relinquish one comfort and refinement of life after another. The purchasing power of money has fallen so that clothing and shoes cost at least six times as much as they did before the war, and ordinary provisions cost from three to ten times as much. Books are three times as expensive as formerly. Even the simplest luxuries are too costly to be considered. Therefore there is no opportunity to gratify artistic tastes or to take vacations and travel. For the same reason young people, unless they are wealthy, are practically prohibited from marrying.

Another great hardship is the lack of dwellings. During the war very few houses were built, and the cost of construction is at least six times what it was formerly. Everyone is waiting until prices fall. To-day it is impossible to get a fair interest on money invested in new buildings, so there is no construction whatever under way. We have planned small-farm colonies for returning soldiers. It has been decided to parcel out the extensive estates, especially in eastern Germany, so as to provide the largest possible number of farms for soldiers — in particular those who were slightly wounded. Still, it is necessary to build houses and barns on these small tracts — something which cannot be thought of at prevailing prices. So our splendid scheme for colonizing people on the land is at a standstill, and this in turn is contributing a great deal to the prevailing political unrest and discontent.


It is hard to say how Germany can work itself out of its present calamitous condition. The evils of the situation have made such headway that they cannot be overcome except with foreign help. The only country in a position to extend a large credit to Germany is America. Of course, I cannot discuss here whether American statesmen would consider such a measure, and what attitude they would take toward Germany in principle and practice. Everything would have been different and better if the blockade had been lifted with the Armistice, and raw materials permitted to reach us. The eight-months’ Armistice blockade is what crushed Germany beyond hope. Even to-day the question of raw materials is a vital one. Until Germany secures such materials, more than half of her industrial workers cannot be fully employed, and our exports will not be sufficient to pay for our subsistence.

As a counsel of desperation, we have begun to sacrifice abroad German securities and goods. The excessive fall in German exchange enables foreign countries to buy at very low prices anything that Germany has to offer — things that our own population cannot buy because they are too dear in our currency, although our people at home are in bitter need of them. Only a very few of our industries are operating at a profit, and those few are threatened with disaster in case the rich iron and coal resources in Upper Silesia should, as a result of the popular vote, be lost to Germany. If we can retain Upper Silesia, and procure a loan which will enable us to obtain on long credit raw materials for German manufacturers,— such as cotton, wool, and other textile fibres, hides and skins for our leather manufacturers, copper and tin, rubber and mineral oil, — then slow recovery is possible. Unless we do get these things, the situation in Germany will be just as desperate within a year at the utmost as it is now in Vienna, and in the German territories of the former Austrian monarchy.

The Bolsheviki, who are known in Germany as Spartacans (after Spartacus, the leader of the slave revolt in Ancient Rome), the Communists, and the Independent Social Democrats, are intent upon the complete overthrow of the government and the existing social order, upon abolishing all national boundaries and differences, upon annihilating private property, and upon the dictatorship of the proletariat. With the moderate Social Democrats, who up to the present retain the support of a great majority of the Socialists in Germany, we reach the group of parties which recognize the present form of government as desirable, and would continue in some form or other the present social order. Some would retain the latter as it is; some would transform it methodically and gradually into a Socialist organization. The radical parties I have mentioned are weak in the German National Assembly. But among the mass of voters, men and women alike, they have gained decidedly in strength since the election to the National Assembly in January, 1919, for the very reason that the economic situation has become so hopeless.

The Independent Socialists and their allies counted upon stopping the factories and railways during the present winter by creating a coal-famine, and thus preventing the payment of wages. Thereupon they proposed to demand that the government should pay unemployment relief to all the idle, who would number several millions. If the government refused, they would inaugurate a new revolution, confiscate all private property, and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat. Their plan has been defeated up to the present by our ability to keep coal-production at a point which enabled our factories to continue in partial operation. Whether we shall succeed in doing this through the winter is yet a question. Our hope that this may be so is greatly strengthened, especially by the fact that the recent strikes showed that the government troops are loyal, that they will apparently protect the men who want to work, and will prevent the plundering of the safes of the companies.

The critical factor is coal. Our production would be adequate if so much of the coal we mine did not have to be turned over to the Entente under the Peace Treaty, instead of to Germany. If the Entente would postpone its demand for deliveries from Germany for a period, this temporary relief would help us to keep control of the situation.

In a sense our extreme reactionaries are related to our radicals. Their objects are diametrically opposed, but their policy is the same, so far as utilizing the existing discontent and unrest is concerned. These reactionaries are the people who throughout the war insisted upon the so-called ‘guaranties’ for Germany. By this they meant the annexation of Belgium and certain French border districts. Only a few of these men contemplated the actual incorporation of Belgium into Germany. Most of them favored making that country a political dependency, with close military and economic ties with the Empire. These were the same people who failed to recognize how deep was the cleavage of opinion in the nation over the question whether our war was a defensive war or a war of conquest. These were the people who failed to comprehend the serious danger which the Kaiser’s throne and the monarchical idea had incurred through the excessive strain it had placed upon the nation, and our resulting moral disintegration. Among the most active and determined adherents of this party are the old Prussian Conservatives, the owners of large estates, old army officers, bureaucrats of the military school, and part of the academic circles, including clergymen, professors, and teachers. These elements alone are not numerous enough to form a party of significant proportions.

These reactionaries cannot hope to become a powerful political influence except by securing aid from the mass of voters. In old days they were able to use physical pressure on their dependents, the rural laborers, and on the petty bourgeoisie of the small country towns in Eastern Germany, to assure their supremacy. These two resources were taken away from them by the revolution. The one resource they still have may prove very effective under certain conditions. It is the dissatisfaction of all those classes of society which, by habit of thought, are unable to see any prospect of bettering their condition through radical Socialism, but would prefer to that a return of the earlier political régime. These people do not bethink themselves that their proposal is absolutely Utopian, and that the monarchy, if restored, could bring no relief to Germany in its present desperate situation. They have no regard for the fact that a monarchy could be restored against the resolute resistance of the workers only by civil war.

The tactics of these Conservatives are very simple. They are careful not to recall that they themselves are the ones who destroyed the unity of the nation by their insistence on annexations, and thus incurred the responsibility for Germany’s collapse. Of all the memories of the war, these Conservatives hate and abjure most the recollection that it would have been possible by timely political reforms at home, and by a policy hostile to annexations, to have brought into power in the enemy countries the parties favorable to peace. One of the greatest mistakes made by the present democratic government in Germany is that it has not forced the Conservatives to debate this question continuously.

The second item in the tactics of the reactionaries is to continue insisting, with skillful variations of phrase, with all the measures of propaganda that their wealth and their control of an important section of the press place in their hands, that formerly Germany had a monarchy, government authority, prosperity, order, and respect abroad; whereas to-day the country has no monarchy; the former discipline and obedience to law have disappeared; and dissatisfaction and misery prevail everywhere. They imply that, if you restore the monarchy, you will restore all the blessings of the past.

In judging what prospects of success this agitation has, we must first make clear to ourselves that a great majority of the German people have thoroughly discarded all thought of restoring a monarchy for a long time. Whether they will change this opinion in the future is hard to say. Everyone knows that the Kaiser cannot be restored, and that the Crown Prince is an impossibility. It is generally recognized that there is scarcely a man of the royal family who possesses the character and capacity to rule Germany. The only exception perhaps would be Prince Max of Baden. He might have rescued Germany if the Kaiser had made him Chancellor immediately after the retirement of Bethmann-Hollweg. The Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria is also highly esteemed. He is a valiant, frank man, and has been unjustly stigmatized in the Entente press as responsible for many atrocities during the war. However, neither of these men is a candidate for the throne of Germany. They are, both of them, too wise and patriotic to seek that honor at the expense of a civil war.

The opinion seems to be widely held abroad that the old military system still has large support in Germany. This opinion is false. It probably owes its existence to the fact that our extreme conservative parties are our most vehement and noisy political debaters. They control a number of very able journalists, and possess a certain talent for making themselves conspicuous, especially on such occasions as Hindenburg’s recent visit to Berlin, to appear before the Parliamentary investigating committee. Incidents like the resistance offered by the German volunteers to their retirement from the Baltic Provinces, whither they had been invited previously by the Lett government, with promises of land for settlement, go to confirm this belief. The situation, however, is not what these people think. The troops refused to obey because they had been promised land.

A third influence has been brought to bear upon foreign opinion regarding Germany. Most of the journalists who have visited us from other countries have fallen into the hands of the most radical of our public men, and have been worked upon by them to believe that reaction is a serious danger in Germany. Now these German radicals consider any sort of patriotism a reaction. The man they hate and attack with the most bitterness is the Social Democrat War Minister, Herr Noske. Germany has him to thank for the fact that it did not become a scene of chaos, arson, and destruction during the first two months of the revolution. It is completely contrary to the truth to consider him a suspicious champion of militarism, such as he is represented abroad to be by our radical extremists.

Militarism in Germany is a thing of the past. I mean by this that the sentiment which we called by that name is limited to a small group of old reactionaries whom the people do not trust or support. Only one thing can make this spirit again a danger. That would be a situation that would render those citizens who are not committed to strikes and socialist uprisings so desperate in their struggle for survival that they would lose their poise, and as a counsel of despair might give heed to the reactionary promises of the counter-revolutionists. The tragedy of this is that there are really fanatics among the extreme Conservatives who believe that a counter-revolution is possible, and are ready to employ force the moment the situation is favorable. There is not the slightest probability that a counter-revolution would succeed, for the supporters of monarchy have no forces behind them for an armed struggle. The common soldiers, most of the non-commissioned officers, and no small portion of the commissioned officers, came out of the war hostile to the monarchy; and it makes no practical difference so far as Germany is concerned whether this hatred is directed against the person of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince, or against monarchy in principle. An overwhelming majority of the old army would fight to prevent the restoration of the monarchy, but under no circumstances would they fight to restore it. The soldiers, moreover, are still deeply impressed with the idea that, if the Kaiser and his clique and the General Staff had not prolonged the war by their impracticable demands, we might have escaped the military disaster and political collapse that actually occurred.

Healthy democratic progress is, accordingly, dependent in Germany upon a recovery of economic health. There is an alliance between the Democrats and the modern Socialist party, which the Catholic or Centre party has joined, on the condition that its demands in regard to churchand school-legislation be considered. Among the Democrats in Germany the principal difference in opinion is in regard to the extent to which socialization is desirable and practicable, and how far it is necessary, to preserve individualism and private enterprise. It will not be difficult to reconcile these two groups on a basis of actual experience, just as soon as we can get back to normal working conditions. To restore the latter we must have raw materials and credit. Unless we do obtain them we are in constant danger of Bolshevism on the one hand and of counter-revolution on the other. Either of these would precipitate the final and complete ruin of Germany and constitute a common peril for all Europe; for the counter-revolution would ultimately result in Bolshevism.

Credit and raw materials are necessary, but they are not the only essentials. If they are to be effective, those points of the Peace Treaty must be revised which aim permanently to destroy Germany’s economic existence. My country is willing and anxious to restore Belgium and northern France, and to pay as much as she can in addition, if she is able to arrive at an understanding with her previous opponents that will permit a recovery of her economic vigor.

Up to the present, we see no prospect of the Entente meeting us here. After all that has occurred, we can easily understand that our enemies may distrust us. But there is a simple way of removing this distrust. Send sensible, fair-minded people to Germany, to investigate the situation, and they will learn that the Germans who have practical influence honestly desire to perform their obligations. The worst thing for Germany is to encounter, not only distrust, but also permanent hostility and a design to ruin the country. Such a design appears in many paragraphs of the Versailles treaty, although the public men of the Allied countries and the United States may quite well be unaware of the fact.

With such peace conditions enforced, it will not be possible to revive permanently Germany’s economic vigor. Our newspapers report an interview between Premier Clemenceau and a French statesman, which ended with: ‘There are twenty million Germans too many’ (vingt million de trop). These words appear to be well substantiated. There is general fear in Germany that peace will not be possible for our people, but that we still face a moral prolongation of the war, only conducted by a different method. This fear lies like a weight of lead upon every German heart, and will continue to do so until some of the most oppressive conditions imposed by the treaty have been revised. Until that happens, and so long as Germany’s economic life is rendered insecure by those conditions, and the whole situation is thus imperiled, the possibility of a desperate revolt continues. The German people understands full well that, for a long period to come, it is doomed, not only to the hardest toil, but also to a meagre and impoverished way of living. It is resigned to this, and feels that it is able to survive such conditions, thanks to its new democratic and social organization, but only if its obligations are made endurable, and are clearly defined, and are fundamentally just. Should it be otherwise, even democracy has no future in Germany; for a healthy plant can grow only in healthy soil and healthy air.


I do not know whether I have sucseeded in making myself perfectly clear to foreign readers. There are certain fields in which the members of different nations easily understand each other. Such, for instance, are those of pure science and commerce. But it is much more difficult for us to understand each other in matters of public policy. In commerce and science we do not encounter national prejudices. In matters of public policy we are constantly encountering such national sentiment. There are German prejudices against America and American prejudices against Germany. Germans know all too little of the power of political and moral ideals among the Americans, and the Americans are disposed to look upon every German as a militarist.

In 1913 I was in the United States, and was much interested in observing in the normal schools the method of teaching history, geography, politics (civics), and social science. In a city in Oklahoma, where relatives of mine reside, I bought a number of schoolbooks in one of the shops. They were the books ‘adopted for the high schools in Oklahoma.’ Among them was a book by the professor of history in the University of Minnesota, Willis West, entitled Modern History of Europe from Charlemagne to the Present Time, and a special edition of the Natural Advanced Geography, by J. W. Redway and Russell Hinman. Both were modern editions recently published. I assume that millions of young people in America derive their impressions of Germany from them.

In Professor West’s book I read, on pages 481 and 482, these two sentences: ‘ Prussia is almost as autocratic as Russia’; and ‘in Germany a policeman’s evidence is equal to that of five independent witnesses.’ I spent the first twenty years of my life in the Baltic Provinces under Russian rule, and most of the following thirty years in Prussia. Since my change of residence I have frequently been in Russia for considerable periods. I know the faults of the Prussian system, and opposed them vigorously even before the war. American readers can verify this from a translation of a book of mine, published by the Macmillan Company, in 1915, under the title German World-Policies. To compare Prussia with Russia, even allowing for all the evils of Prussian militarism, would be like comparing Boston and Seattle! The sentence regarding the testimony of policemen in court is absolutely false — as false of Germany before the war as it would have been if applied to the United States. German prosecutors were accustomed to discount the testimony of policemen in court precisely because they were policemen.

Now, when the author of this textbook of modern history criticizes Germany and German conditions in other matters, what authority does he possess for a reader who knows at first hand the blunders he has fallen into upon the points I have just mentioned? If a person were in doubt, he would be apt to assume that the author was in error in every case, and was merely wildly prejudiced against everything German.

The geography textbook has 152 large pages and many good maps. In most respects it is excellent. I am able to criticize it intelligently because geography is a subject of which I have made a scientific study. A little over half a page is devoted to Germany. The geographical description of Germany reads as follows: ‘The southern half of the German Empire lies on the Alpine plateau, from which rise several groups of low and much-worn volcanic mountains. The sandy lowlands of the north are covered with the drift of the old Scandinavian glacier.’

From this account it would be quite impossible to recognize either northern or southern Germany. The only volcanic mountains in our country are a couple of isolated and extinct mounds in southern Germany, and it is impossible to imagine what the author means by ‘Alpine plateau.’ I will cite only one more sentence: ‘Breslau and Cologne are great cotton-manufacturing centres.’ It would be just as accurate for an author writing about the United States to say, ‘ Los Angeles and Buffalo are the centres of the American textile industry.’

I quote these examples merely to show that false statements regarding Germany are frequently published in America and taught there, and become part of public opinion regarding my country. Where errors of this kind are possible in respect to geography, history, and social conditions, errors regarding political conditions are quite as likely to get abroad.

One of the greatest untruths under which the German nation is now suffering is that Germany has incurred the guilt for atrocities and reprehensible acts in connection with the origin and conduct of the war, and that every German citizen is responsible for the invasion of Belgium, the devastation of northern France, and the campaign for annexation. This is not true. The German people and the German government would in my opinion do wisely to insist and to continue insisting that all questions regarding the guilt for the war be heard before a neutral tribunal, a tribunal which should have the right to require the presentation, not only of German evidence, but also of documents and sworn statements from Germany’s opponents.

Germany is criticized for the manifesto issued by a group of professors early in the war, which denied the atrocities alleged in Belgium. This manifesto has been bandied about in the newspapers of the world for five years. However, on July 27, 1915, a declaration signed by ninety high officials, leading statesmen, professors, and publicists, was presented to the Imperial Chancellor, and later published, protesting against annexation, and demanding that any peace should be accepted which left Germany’s prewar status unimpaired. This document, which I personally signed, has remained practically unknown.

Before Germany is judged by foreign countries, their peoples must be made to understand that, even before the war and throughout the war, there were two Germanys — a military Germany and a democratic Germany. Military Germany is crushed and will not revive. A person who is intimidated by the spectre of its threatened resurrection either does not know the present conditions in Germany, or he wishes to utilize the peace in Germany to continue war against that country. Democratic Germany, however, will not be able to survive unless her former opponents, who were able to win complete success in the war only after the United States joined their coalition, grant her the material and moral conditions that make such survival possible. These conditions are raw materials, credit, and the removal of those provisions of the Versailles Treaty that stifle every hope of Germany’s recovery.