This book resolved itself from the first into a series of choices. The problem was, how to portray within the limits of a single volume the war psychology of the various European nations. That problem was not an easy one. The portrayal of national states of mind requires treatment differing radically from that employed in a narrative of events. The only satisfactory method of portraying thought and emotion is the use of direct evidence — the testimony of the people themselves This explains the numerous direct quotations which will be found in the succeeding pages. No words of a foreign observer could mirror the spirit of warring Europe as do the voices of its sons and daughters crying out from a full heart in the very hour of trial.
The evidence adduced has been of the most contemporary and popular character. Speeches, press-comment, pamphlets, brochures — the words of and for the moment: these best bespeak the stirrings of the national soul. Official utterances, carefully weighed and craftily spoken as they are, are never quoted save when they faithfully represent popular feeling or when they produce a marked effect upon public opinion.
Lastly, natives alone are permitted upon the witness stand. For example: in the chapter on England, only Englishmen speak; in the chapter on France, only Frenchmen; and so on. What other Europeans say about England or France may be discovered in subsequent chapters devoted to other peoples. The only departures from this direct-quotation rule are the closing chapters dealing with minor nationalities, where considerations of space made the employment of this method impracticable.
The great objection to our method is, of course, precisely this matter of space. But there is no other way of portraying with equal vividness the national temper, especially in times of intense emotion. For this reason I have elected to confine myself to a full presentation of the great currents of European thought and feeling regarding the war and future intra-European relations. Many interesting collateral issues have been thereby excluded from consideration, and important questions, such as Europe’s attitude toward America and the Far East, have been perforce entirely passed over. All this is unfortunate, but I have preferred to emphasize essentials rather than sacrifice clearness to detail.
T. Lothrop Stoddard
Brookline, Mass., March 14, 1917.
THE immediate reason for the Great War may have been a murder, a monarch, a clique, a policy, or a philosophy. The underlying cause was unquestionably a militant spirit of unrest. The preceding decades plainly heralded one of those great crises in Man’s historic evolution, such as the Reformation and the French Revolution, which stand forth as periods of “revaluation of all values.”
The twentieth century dawned upon a worn-out age, foredoomed to speedy dissolution. The omens clearly betokened its approaching end. All the ancient ideals and shibboleths were withering before the fiery breath of a destructive criticism. Everywhere the solid crust of tradition cracked and split under the premonitory tremors of the impending cataclysm. The old was patently about to make way for the new.
Many observers saw in all this the symptoms of decadence. They were wrong. A decadent age cannot regenerate itself; it must gain salvation from without. The Roman Empire awaited sullenly the cleansing fire of Barbarism. But twentieth century Europe was in no such supine mood.
Never had the race manifested a more superabundant energy. Never was thought more active or action more intense. A scant half-century had transformed a semi-rural continent into a swarming hive of industry, gorged with goods, capital and men. Its adventurous sons quartered the solid earth and scoured the seven seas for the wealth of the outer world. Its no less adventurous intellects invaded the unknown realms of science and speculation to wring from Nature her hidden treasures and enrich the mental life. Never was Europe so wealthy, so eager, so virile, as on the fateful First of August, 1914.
But — “Man does not live by bread alone.” All this prosperity, all this mighty edifice of material well-being, rested upon outworn and insecure foundations. The stupendous changes of the preceding half -century had created a mechanical environment differing not merely in degree but in kind from that of past generations. Material conditions had radically altered: the idealistic framework had remained fundamentally the same. The soul of Europe was like a youthful giant pinched in his swaddling-clothes. The archaic bonds galled and chafed at every turn. Hence the profound dissatisfaction, the universal unrest. Had the European been a weakling he would have resigned himself in fatalistic apathy, conformed to the cramping bands of the past, and sunk gradually into a bloodless mummy like the ancient Egyptian or the citizen of decadent Rome.
However, the twentieth century European was no weakling. He was every inch a man, instinct with virile life and resolved to attain a worthy future. Accordingly, he began to tug and strain at his swathings, and it was inevitable that some day he would cast this Nessus’ garment from him, even though in so doing he should tear the living flesh from his bones.
It is this revolt against the past, this determination to throw off cramping limitations even before the new ideal goals are yet in sight, which gives the key to recent European history. Everywhere we see bursting forth increasingly acute irruptions of human energy: a triumph of the dynamic over the static elements of life; a growing preference for violent and revolutionary, as contrasted with peaceful and evolutionary, solutions, running the whole politico-social gamut from “Imperialism” to “Syndicalism.” Everywhere we discern the spirit of unrest setting the stage for the final catastrophe.
Although a catastrophe was inevitable, its exact nature was up to the last moment somewhat uncertain. For instance, it might conceivably have taken the form of a series of local convulsions within the various European state bodies. When the Great War began England was actually on the verge of civil strife, Russia was in the throes of an acute social revolt, Italy had just passed through a “Red Week” threatening anarchy, and every European country was suffering from grave internal disorders. It was a strange, nightmarish time, that early summer of 1914, to-day quite overshadowed by subsequent events but which later ages will assign a proper place in the chain of world-history.
However, it is through the weakest spot in the earth-crust that the pent-up lava bursts its way, and since the international situation was the most dangerous point of Europe’s instability it was here that war’s eruption took place. The story of the events leading up to the Great War has been told and re-told ad nauseam, and need not here be repeated. We recollect all the moves in the diplomatic game. We remember the varied setting of the historic background: the rivalry of Briton and Teuton, the feud of Teuton and Slav, the vendetta of Gaul and German, the Roman dream of Italy, the Balkan bear-garden, the awakening East. This book is not a story of current events. It is a study of Europe’s state of mind. The point here emphasized is Europe’s incredibly volcanic psychology when the cataclysm began. The reactions of the various European peoples to that cataclysm will be the subject of the succeeding pages.
NO nation was more affected by the prevalent unrest than England just before the war. For years past Great Britain had been the scene of profound political and social disputes that had more than once threatened the country with armed strife. The Irish question in particular seemed fast degenerating into civil war, and during the opening phase of the great European crisis at the end of July, 1914, blood was actually flowing in Ireland between the Irish Nationalists and the British regular troops.
Indeed, so immersed was the British people in its internal difficulties that the first days of the European crisis passed almost unnoticed. Not until July 29 did the London “Times” urge British parties to “close ranks” and suspend their political strife in face of the external peril.
When the full gravity of the international situation was finally grasped, domestic disputes were quickly shelved; but even then public opinion was by no means united on the attitude which England was to assume. Strong opposition to war developed both in Parliament and in the country. The Liberal press emphatically urged the maintenance of neutrality, and the declaration of war on Germany, August 4, was preceded by three resignations from the Cabinet — Lord Morley, Mr. Charles Trevelyan, and the labor leader John Burns.
The cause of Serbia excited no enthusiasm. Serbia had long been in bad odor with Englishmen, and the British press did not hesitate to voice most unflattering opinions. The London “Outlook” laid the responsibility for the existing crisis flatly at Serbia’s door. It declared that country to be “frankly impossible as a neighbor,” and went on to say: “It must be contended that Serbia has been receiving an amount of sympathy which is quite unwarranted by circumstances. The highly colored portrayals of her as a gallant little nation fighting against odds in defense of downtrodden fellow nationals is utter fudge.” A North Country paper regretted that Serbia could not be “towed out to sea and sunk.”
Distrust of Russia was widespread. The recent Russian entente had never been really popular in England, and the British government’s complaisance toward Russian aggression in Persia, Armenia, and the near East generally had alarmed most Liberal and even some Conservative circles. A number of anti-Russian manifestos were now issued, notably one by a group of Cambridge intellectuals, declaring that war against Germany on behalf of Russia and Serbia would be a “sin against civilization.” The labor press unitedly condemned war in the interest of “Russian autocracy.”
“War once declared, however, the bulk of public opinion rallied round the Government in support and approval. The national temper was, on the whole, dignified and serious, jingo outbursts being surprisingly rare. The press voiced a stern, yet lofty, resolution. The prevailing note was that this was a “war to end war.” “The British people,” declared the London “Times” of August 10, “are fighting for the cause of an established and abiding peace,” and on August 16 it remarked, “If ever there was a war against war, it is the war we are entered upon to-day.” The London “Express” struck a sterner note: “Fighting must now go on until either Germany’s power to intimidate Europe has been taken from her forever or until Britain has been beaten to her knees and can fight no more. We are fighting for our own existence as a great world power.”
Although both resolute and confident, the British public seemed at first rather dazed. The English publicist, H. Fielding-Hall, writing in an American magazine, th…Century…declare…It is a war as passionless as if we were about to fight an earthquake, a whirlwind, or a volcano — the more determined for that. That is our present temper.” The general opinion was that the war would be a short one. When Lord Kitchener declared it would probably last three years he was almost universally disbelieved. The traditional British phlegm showed in the current shibboleth, “Business as usual!”
Continued opposition to the war was still voiced by extreme pacifists and by a portion of the labor press, while a number of prominent Radicals, although admitting that the struggle could not now be stopped, severely criticized the Government for bringing on the war, and urged its circumscription to definite objectives which would permit an early pacification. This opposition soon crystallized into an organization known as the “Union of Democratic Control,” which began an ardent propaganda for a speedy and moderate peace. The point of view of this school of thinkers is best expressed in an article by the well-known writer, H. N. Brailsford, in the “Contemporary Review” for September, 1914. “We are taking a parochial view of Armageddon,” he declared, “if we allow ourselves to imagine that it is primarily a struggle for the independence of Belgium and the future of France. The Germans are nearer the truth when they regard it as a Russo-German war…. We are neither Slavs nor Germans. … A mechanical fatality has forced France into this struggle, and a comradeship, translated by secret commitments into a defensive alliance, has brought us into the war in her wake. It is no real concern of hers or ours. It is a war for the Empire of the East. If our statesmanship is clear-sighted it will stop the war before it has passed from a struggle for the defense of France and Belgium into a colossal wrangle for the domination of the Balkans and the mastery of the Slavs. … To back our Western friends in a war of defense is one thing, to fling ourselves into the further struggle for the Empire of the East quite another. No call of the blood, no imperious calculation of self-interest, no hope for the future of mankind, requires us to side with the Slav against the Teuton. … It lies with public opinion to limit our share in this quarrel and to impose on our diplomacy, when victory in the West is won, a return to its national role of peacemaker and mediator in a quarrel no longer its own.”
This, however, was not the view taken by most Englishmen, who were fast coming to consider the war a life-and-death struggle between England and Germany. A decade of Anglo-German rivalry had diffused an immense amount of suspicion and ill-will among the British people, and the outbreak of hostilities quickly focused this previously latent, half-articulate feeling into intense hostility against England’s chief antagonist. Germany’s initial successes, British defeats, and tales of Teutonic atrocities in Belgium, quickly fanned this hostility to fever heat. Popular sentiment demanded the utter crushing of “Prussian militarism,” — what H. G. Wells called “this drilling, trampling foolery” led by Prussian junkers “with a taste for champagne and f rightfulness,” — and the German soldiers were generally dubbed “Huns.”
At first this hatred was directed against the Prussian leaders and military men rather than against the whole German people. The Kaiser and the Hohenzollern family were special targets for abuse which, in some of the popular organs, attained truly extraordinary virulence. Horatio Bottomley’s penny weekly, “John Bull,” termed Emperor William “The Butcher of Berlin,” “That mongrel Attila,” “The fiend of hell let loose on civilization,” and predicted that he would be “known to infamy forever as William the Damned…Another popular penny weekly…The Passing Show,” asserted that the Kaiser “is a Mohammedan, a Lutheran, and a Roman Catholic as the humor suits him; but his taste in neckties is vulgar; his mind is that of a third-rate Hooligan with three strains of madness in his blood.” According to this paper “the Hohenzollern brood must be exterminated. For if we leave to a time of peace the question of the treatment of the Lord High Hun, he will not only get off cheaply, but may remain on the throne of Prussia and be succeeded by a degenerate cracksman, who is neither gentleman nor sportsman, as some burglars have been known to be.”
But the tidings of German unanimity and hatred of England soon turned the stream of British wrath against the whole German people. “It is not a case of a refined and high-minded people overborne by a single ‘caste,’” exclaimed the “Pall Mall Gazette” early in October, 1914…We are fighting with a nation whose moral level is intrinsically low, which has little trace of humane instinct, and still less comprehension of the meaning of honorable obligation. … It is not only her rulers, but her people, who have to receive their lesson, and there is but one educational process to which the bully has ever been found susceptible.” That leading organ of the Anglican church…The Guardian,” was equally severe. “There is absolutely no room for magnanimity,” it declared about the same date. “It is imperative that the disease of militancy which has laid hold upon an entire people should be extirpated. It is absurd to say that conditions of peace must be such that a proud nation can accept them. We have to do, not with a proud, but with a criminal, nation…. She must finally be deprived of the power to do mischief. ‘Never again’ must be the motto of the Allies when the final reckoning comes.” Even so normally pacific an organ as the Nonconformist “British Weekly” exclaimed, “There may be those who think that German militarism is the gospel of only a few among the German people. For this we see no reason. Militarism is not a temporary flush of spirit. The color behind it has been prepared for with persistent assiduity, with infinite duplicity, with illimitable cunning, for a long term of years. In fighting the war lords of Germany we are fighting Antichrist. That arrogance must be crushed out with iron heels.” The noted critic, G. K. Chesterton, declared that the solution of the Teutonic enigma was that the Germans were “Barbarians,” “though the Prussians themselves cannot form a notion of what we mean — precisely because they are barbarians.”
Some voices, it is true, were raised against this rising tide of passion. The London “Labor Leader” deprecated the “efforts being made to arouse the hatred of British workers against the workers of Germany,” and added, “Any word now spoken by us against the German people will make our task, and their task, more difficult in the years to come.” And Dr. Conybeare of Oxford, in a letter to the New York “Nation,” asserted, “After all is said and done, the Germans are our natural allies in Europe; they are, after the Dutch, the only European race akin to us.” But these voices were few in number and found no popular echo.
During the autumn of 1914 the political settlement of Germany after the war was much discussed, and the idea of resolving the German Empire into its component fragments as these existed before 1866 found considerable favor. This idea was, however, scouted by most well-informed students of world-politics. “The Teutons are — and will remain — one united community,” declared that keen observer. Dr. E. J. Dillon, in the “Contemporary Review” for January, 1915. “Those among the Allies — and their name is legion — who anticipate a recrudescence of the separatist spirit which for centuries made Germany a house divided against itself are doomed to disappointment. Bavarians and Saxons, Schwabs and Prussians, are all tarred with the same Kultur brush. The corrosive ideas of the Prussian schemers have been imbibed and assimilated by all branches of the German race, including those of Austria, with whose patriotic sentiments they now blend indissolubly.”
The opening months of 1915 saw a distinct change in the popular moo…hardening of the war-temper, a broadening of aspirations, and a much more realistic attitude, Russian successes in Galicia and the Carpathians, and the spectacular attack on the Dardanelles threw Allied prospects into a bright light, and the spring found a thoroughly optimistic Great Britain.
The realist note was clear. In its leader of March 8, 1915, entitled “Why we are at war,” the London “Times” declared frankly: “There are still, it seems, some Englishmen and Englishwomen who greatly err as to the reasons that have forced England to draw the sword…. They do not reflect that our honor and our interest must have compelled us to join France and Russia, even if Germany had scrupulously respected the rights of her small neighbors. Why did we guarantee the neutrality of Belgium? For an imperious reason of self-interest…. We keep our word when we have given it, but … we do not set up to be international Don Quixotes, ready at all times to redress wrongs which do us no hurt…And on March 17, the “Morning Post” wrote: “This country did not go to war out of pure altruism, as some people suppose, but because her very existence was threatened…. That is what really underlies ‘the scrap of paper’ and all the talk of ‘German Militarism’!”
The rising war spirit of the nation was equally plain. “The absurd talk about this being a war against militarism has now subsided,” asserted the “Morning Post” After all, the British Empire is built up on good fighting by its army and its navy; the spirit of war is native to the British race.” Leading publicists like Archibald Hurd asserted that this war, far from ending armaments, would increase them even in the event of an Allied victory. The British Empire must not only retain its present naval preponderance, but must also maintain a much larger military establishment than ever before. Many voices also demanded the retention of Germany’s conquered colonies as necessary for the future safety and prosperity of the British Empire. Some plans went even further in their scope. One of the most ambitious of these was the demand of the English writer, D. L. B. Castle, for the annexation of Germany’s North Sea coast, which appeared in the “National Review” of July, 1915. Recognizing the impossibility of resolving the German Empire into its political fragments, Mr. Castle asserted that England must at all costs prevent a German war of revenge, which, owing to the rapid development of submarines, might be fatal to England by shutting off her food-supply.
These same months witnessed a further deepening of the gulf of hatred toward Germany. Just as the opening period of the war had seen the attack shift from the German leaders to the German people, so now the assault was broadened to include German ideas and cultural achievements. “I cannot see what is proposed by the German idea,” wrote Rudyard Kipling to the Paris “Temps,” “unless it is to march with parade-step across a series of hells philosophically constructed, with the object of self-adoration for the noise it makes with all its harness. At least the Arabs offer a choice between Islam and the sword, but the Boche has only the sword in his philosophy.” “The Germans,” wrote H. G. Wells in the London “Daily Chronicle,” “have been made into a kind of scientifically equipped Zulus.” Professor A. H. Sayce of Oxford, in the London “Times,” penned a sweeping indictment of German literary ability. Goethe was the exception to the rule, but Schiller was “a milk and water Longfellow,” Heine a Jew who “regarded the Germans as barbarians,” and Kant “more than half Scottish in origin.” “On the artistic side,” continued Professor Sayce, “perhaps the less said the better. German taste in architecture and dress is proverbial. A people who have destroyed the art treasures of Belgium and Eastern France are outside the pale of civilization. They are still what they were fifteen centuries ago, the barbarians who raided our ancestors and destroyed the civilization of the Roman Empire. For a thousand years the blight of German conquest hung over Western Europe, until at last the conquerors perished in internecine conflict or were absorbed into the older populations, and the Dark Ages came to an end. We must trust that they will not return under a new avalanche of Teutonic barbarism, and that the Germans may resume their old vocation as the intellectual ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ for Western Europe.” Another English scholar, Sir Clifford Allbutt, does not even except Goethe in his critique of German intellectual ability. Professor E. Ray Lankester asserted that Germany’s reputation in the field of scientific research “is due to the irresponsible gush of young men who have benefited by the numerous and well-organized laboratories of German universities.” Similar denials of German musical and artistic ability appeared from English pens at this same period.
The spring and summer of 1915 saw a further exacerbation of British public opinion against the German people. German naval bombardments of English coast towns, Zeppelin raids, and numerous sinkings of English passenger ships, culminating in the Lusitania disaster, roused a perfect wave of fury in England and evoked repeated calls for reprisal and revenge. Major-General Sir Alfred E. Turner wrote in the “Saturday Review” of September 18, 1915, “No terms can safely be made with such a people of outsiders, to whom the quality of mercy is not known, and who, like all other savages, regard generosity and forbearance as signs of weakness…. Germans are only to be subdued by force and frightfulness, their own weapons, and it is high time that velvet gloves should be taken off, as they were when we fought with the Dervishes of the Sudan, the Zulus, and the Boxers of China, who were akin in more than one sense to the Prussians.” “To avenge!” writes W. S. Lilly in the “Nineteenth Century and After” of July, 1915, “The words strike the keynote.” “However the world pretends to divide itself,” asserted Rudyard Kipling, “there are only two divisions in the world to-day, — human beings and Germans. And the German knows it. Human beings have long ago sickened of him and everything connected with him: of all he does, of all he says, thinks, or believes. From the ends of the earth to the ends of the earth they desire nothing more greatly than that this unclean thing should bo thrust out from the membership and the memory of the nations.” Edward Jenks, in the July “Contemporary Review,” urges the imposition of a lasting tabu upon everything German. “It is the most ancient of all social sanctions, and still the most terribly effective. If it does not now as formerly mean actual physical starvation or death from beasts of prey, it means commercial ruin, intellectual starvation, social extinction. Let no one think that such a punishment, applied to a nation, would be a light one…. There will be no appeal from the sentence; no possibility of condoning it. The ‘Everlasting No’ will then take on an entirely new aspect for its champions, when the Gorgon face shall be turned inwards, when those who have made an alliance w’ith the powders of darkness shall see the thick darkness descend upon the guarded Brandenburger Tor and the pillared eagles of Schonbrunn.”
This intense wave of anti-German feeling is of course also accounted for by British exasperation at the increasingly unfavorable state of affairs both abroad and at home. Italy’s adhesion to the Allies in May, 1915, was soon more than counterbalanced by a whole series of crushing disasters. The Austro-German offensive in Galicia, which began in the early days of June, never slackened till the Teutons were masters of all Poland, and Russia’s defeat was only the prelude to Germany’s great Balkan “drive,” which ground Serbia and Montenegro to dust, won Bulgaria to the Teutonic cause, and opened the road to Turkey and the near East. That rendered the Allied evacuation of Gallipoli inevitable, and this British disaster was obviously to be followed by another humiliation farther east, where the surrender of the British Mesopotamian army cooped up at Kut-el-Amara had become merely a question of time. Not even in the West was solace to be found, for the “big push” in northern France, kept up for months at a huge sacrifice of life, had yielded most meager results. The Allies’ military prospects, so bright in early 1915, had thus by the close of the year become gloomy in the extreme.
But even the military disasters, taken by themselves, did not tell the whole story. Despite a rigid censorship, the English public was gradually waking to the fact that these Allied reverses were due, in part at least, to British “muddling” and ineptitude. The humiliating failure in northern France was the logical fruit of Great Britain’s faulty munitions system. The disasters in Mesopotamia and at Gallipoli were the results of blundering British strategy. The Balkan collapse was bound up with short-sighted British diplomacy. Obviously, the British governmental mechanism was not standing up properly under the strain of the Great War.
That realization, to be sure, did not come in a day. It took time to penetrate the armor of British optimism. But the facts were too damning to be ignored, and a gradual process of disillusionment spread through ever-widening circles of the British people. Voices began to be raised criticizing the Government’s shortcomings, warning against the consequences of “muddle,” and demanding thorough-going reform.
As far back as January, 1915, Austin Harrison, editor of the influential “English Review,” had raised a warning note against the easy optimism which then prevailed. England, he asserted, did not yet realize the magnitude of her task, “the terrible nature of the war she is engaged upon,” while “ink-pot gibes at the Germans” and the “silly prattle” about cockney valor would never win victory. From that time on leading organs, and publicists like Dr. E. J. Dillion, J. Ellis Barker, etc., began a regular campaign of education under the slogan “Wake up, England!”
Criticism of the English governmental system grew continually sharper and more uncompromising. “The old mechanism of government which kept the British nation unprepared for the war is still in daily use unmodified,” wrote Dr. Dillon in the “Fortnightly Review” of January, 1916. “While everything and everybody around us is changed or changing, that remains as it was…. Its action is mischievous, not helpful. It works havoc with our best-laid plans, and belies our most reasonably hopeful forecasts…. Our effete system of governance, with its roots in a dead past and its blighting shadow flung across the present and future of the nation, must be swept away. The illusions with which it is warping British thought and sapping British force must be dispelled…. Unless that system, together with its old parliamentary doctrines, its cherished traditions of liberty, its sharply accentuated individualism, its conservative predilections, and its insular illusions, be speedily adjusted to the new conditions, much that is precious, not only to the race, but also to civilized man generally, will be swept away into history by the Teuton tide of which the present war is but the first inrush.” In the “Nineteenth Century and After” of February, 1916, Mr. J. Ellis Barker is equally severe: “The British Government, as at present constituted, is not the organization of efficiency, but its negation. It is an organization similar to that which caused the downfall of Poland. It is the organization of disorganization. Amateurs are bound to govern amateurishly, and their insufficiency will be particularly marked if they have to run an unworkable government machine and are pitted against perfectly organized professionals.” No mere replacement of a Liberal by a Conservative Cabinet would suffice, for “it is questionable whether another set of amateurs will do better than the present one. The fault lies chiefly with the system. Government by debating society has proved a failure. It should be abolished before it is too late.” The warning note grew more insistent as time went on. “Unless we quicken our movements,” cried Dr. Dillon in February, 1916, “damnation will fall on the sacred cause for which so much gallant blood has flowed. And as yet there are no signs of any quickening.” And in May, 1916, he wrote: “We are not winning the war, nor are we adopting the means to win it…. The result has been to inoculate the nation with the bacteria of general paralysis. A little while longer, and we shall be slouching into irreparable disaster.”
The cardinal reform which all these critics demanded was the transformation of cabinet government into a dictatorship. “Temporary autocracy…urged Dr. Dillon…is what we need during a struggle like the present. Respect for individual liberty and parliamentary rights should give way to considerations of a higher order for the sake of more momentous issues.”
The reasons for such drastic demands were to be found not only in governmental inefficiency but also in certain disquieting aspects of the national temper. We have already seen how strong had been the opposition to war in the summer of 1914. Now this opposition, while it had diminished with the course of the struggle, had by no means entirely died away. The extremely class-conscious British labor-unions persisted in regarding the war as the work of capitalist diplomacy, and labor leaders like Keir Hardie and Ramsay Macdonald formally refused to give it their blessing. Also radical groups such as the “Union of Democratic Control” joined the labor opposition in demanding an early and compromise peace, while extreme pacifists like Bertrand Russell denounced the war on principle, and refused to assist it in any way, shape, or manner. Lastly, symptoms of moral flabbiness and selfish indifference were unmistakably apparent in many circles, particularly in the lower middle classes. The result of all this was slacking and shirking in munition factories, dangerous strikes even in such vital industrial branches as the shipyards and coal mines, and failure of the most energetic recruiting campaigns to produce by voluntary enlistment the armies necessary for the further prosecution of the war. Even appeals like that of Minister Lloyd- George before the Trade-Union Congress at Bristol in the autumn of 1915 — “I beg you as a man brought up in a workman’s home, do not set the sympathy of the country against labor by holding back its might by regulations and customs when the poor old land is fighting for its life” — did not produce the desired effect.
But the second half of 1916 saw an almost startling change in the national consciousness. Stung to the quick by internal shortcomings and external failures, England at last roused to the peril, and before the year was out sweeping legislation had revolutionized the British governmental system and radically transformed the whole aspect of English life. The armies had been filled by compulsory military service, the munitions muddle had been solved by industrial conscription, and cabinet government had vanished before an omnipotent triumvirate headed by Lloyd-George. With the opening of 1917 England stood on an efficiency basis.
It must not be thought that this disheartening time had caused any perceptible abatement of the national longing for a decisive victory. Unquestionably there was much pessimism and some despair, but hatred and abhorrence of the German flamed up as hotly as before. “Unless the Allies grind to powder the lawless murderers in the red mill of war,” asserted Dr. Dillon, “the sands of civilization will have run down.” Writing in “Blackwood’s Magazine” for August, 1916, Major-General C. E. Callwell maintained that Germany must be beaten, crushed, and permanently kept down, for “the German nation is a nation of barbarians, a nation without honor, without chivalry, and without shame.” Normally, the victor may, and often should, grant terms that are not degrading, “but the Germans can no longer be accounted a civilized race…. Paper guarantees are worse than worthless when they are furnished by rogues…. We are dealing with a wild beast that has to be caged and that has to be kept in a cage until it is tamed.” Sir Harry Johnston, in the English “Review of Reviews” for April, 1916, wrote that Germany must be “punished to the full; whether we can accomplish this punishment in six months, in one year, in ten years, or in fifty.” And the eminent English philosopher, L. P. Jacks, stated in his organ, the “Hibbert Journal,” “I write with deliberation when I say that we are fighting hell…
Such being the prevalent English temper toward Germany, it was easy to foresee that the peace rumors which at this time began to be bruited abroad would not meet with a particularly warm reception from British public opinion. Peace had of course always been discussed in England—a peace, that is, based on the postulate of absolute Allied victory. But as time passed, and Teutonic staying-power became plainer, peace talk of a different sort began. It was clear that Germany could be crushed, if at all, only after a long war, the formula for which was expressed in the word “attrition.” But this word sounded unpleasant in many ears, for, as an anonymous wit expressed it, “it meant that after all the Huns were killed off there would be a few Allies left.” So the year 1916 saw a genuine discussion of peace possibilities—a discussion quickened by events like the German chancellor’s olive-branch speech at the close of the year and President Wilson’s pacific moves at the beginning of 1917.
The feeling of most Englishmen was evidently hostile to a compromise peace. British anti-German sentiment has been so fully analyzed that a few examples of this majority temper should suffice. To begin with. Premier Lloyd-George himself had early taken up a most uncompromising attitude. Speaking to an American newspaper man in October, 1916, Lloyd-George said: “Britain has only begun to fight; the British Empire has invested thousands of its best lives to purchase future immunity for civilization; this investment is too great to be thrown away…. The fight must be to the finish — to a knockout.” Whether or not the British government has since modified its attitude, certain it is that this official declaration elicited the warm approval of a majority of the British press, and no diminution of that approval is visible in these opening months of 1917. In late December the London “Daily Mail” remarked: “The Allies know that no peace with a nation of tigers, and murderers, and statesmen who regard all treaties as scraps of paper would be worth the paper and ink. So long as Germany has not been completely and decisively beaten, no peace with her can be more than a truce which she would violate the first moment it served her purpose.” And the London “Post” asserted: “There can be no compromise, and the war is there to prove it. What the German mind is at present incapable of understanding is the simple fact that German arrogance, German militarism, German ambition, German immorality, masquerading as the Higher Good, and German cruelty, are so intolerable to the civilized nations now in arms against these horrors that rather than accept them the Allies prefer death.” And Lord Curzon remarked in mid- January, 1917, “Our spirit cannot falter, since an inconclusive peace or a patched-up ponce means for us not only humiliation, but destruction.”
At the same time this uncompromising temper was by no means universal. The cost of “attrition” was intolerable to many persons, who expressed their belief that a victory gained by such means would involve all parties in a common ruin. Bertrand Russell wrote: “If the war lasts long, all that was good in the ideals of Germany, France, and England will have perished, as the ideals of Spartans and Athenians perished in the Peloponnesian War. All three races, with all that they have added to our civilization, will have become exhausted, and victory, when it comes, will be as barren and as hopeless as defeat.” That an avowed non-resister like Bertrand Russell should have thus written is no surprise, but what is of greater significance is the fact that similar sentiments were now expressed by prominent Englishmen like Earl Beauchamp, Lord Brassey, and Lord Loreburn, men not identified with extreme pacifist circles. Lord Loreburn, in the London “Economist” of June 10, 1916, expressed his fear that an “attrition” victory would mean general bankruptcy and “such a destruction of the male youth of Europe as will break the thin crust of civilization which has been built up since the Dark Ages… And Lord Loreburn’s point of view was emphatically endorsed by the editor of the “Economist,” the well-known economic writer, Francis W. Hirst, who remarked: “The time seems to have come when rulers will have to consider the true interests of their subjects or fellow-citizens in this regard, and when the State, which has claimed the right to exact from the individual his life or his property, will have to reduce its pretensions and abate the struggle for glory and prestige, not because they are worthless and undesirable, but because a State which had lost its men and its money could hardly call itself victorious; for after it had imposed peace as a conqueror, it would be compelled for years to play second fiddle to other powers. … Of course you want to crush your enemy in war. Of course you want victory. Of course you wish your enemy to admit that he is beaten, and to sue for peace. But equally, of course, unless you are misled by a false and flimsy rhetoric, you do not want to destroy the society, the traditions, the wealth, and the happiness of your own people. You do not want to see your allies ruined for the sake of reducing an enemy to abject despair. So when attrition and exhaustion have reached a certain point, you are willing to discount the future and to take counsel with the still small voices of reason and common sense.” The matter was put more pungently by George Bernard Shaw, who, writing in an American periodical, the “New Republic,” of January 6, 1917, said: “Non-German Europe is not going to spend the remainder of the duration of this planet sitting on Germany’s head. A head with the brains of sixty millions of people in it takes more sitting on than we shall have time for.”
Such pronouncements, however, though numerous and weighty, wore those of a minority, and aroused angry retorts from the bulk of English public opinion. In many quarters they were treated as near-treason and were accused of being inspired by the machinations of Judaeo-German “High Finance.” Mr. Hirst’s attitude, for example, which made a great sensation, cost him his editorship. Typical of these protests against compromise is one penned by L. J. Maxse, editor of the influential “National Review”: “The main object of peace should be to crush and permanently cripple Prussia, not only because she wantonly provoked war, but because of the horrors perpetrated wherever a Prussian foot has trod. The Prussians and their miscreant dynasty are the pariahs and lepers of civilization, and as such are unfit to be a Great Power. We might as well enthrone Satan as enable them to resume their bloodthirsty career whenever it suits the worshipers of might over right. On this all genuine Pacifists should be able to agree with all genuine Militarists. The former desire to prevent the recurrence of war, which can only be done by destroying the Prussian scorpion. The latter are no less anxious to prevent the honorable profession of arms ever being again degraded as in the present war by these coldblooded murderers of women and children, air-poisoners, well-poisoners, savages, besides whose record all recorded savagery pales. To-day all our public men, after their wont, shout with the largest crowd, and the largest crowd is determined to do justice by Prussia. But we know the Rt. Hon. Faintheart and the Rt. Hon. Feebleguts too well to suppose that the mood will last and that he will remain robust when the Rhine Whine sets in. Then our bleaters will give tongue and our ‘blighters’ will chip in. We shall see the old Potsdam Press in full working order, devoted by day and by night to the sacred cause of ‘letting off the Boche.’ Winners, we shall be told, can afford to be generous…. But surely if the Prussians lose it is for them to pay and for the Allies to receive the milliards? If the process of payment reduces German Kultur to be a hewer of wood and drawer of water for the rest of the century for European civilization, so much the better for the world…
Such is the present state of British public opinion toward the question of peace. What are the real beliefs and intentions of the British government we of course do not know, nor for our present purpose does it greatly matter. The point to be noted is that in these opening months of 1917 British public opinion is still predominantly for war and ready to make the sacrifices necessary to its continued prosecution.
Naturally every one recognizes that the struggle must end some time, and this raises the pregnant query, “After the war?” But in treating this vital matter we must carefully delimit the scope of our inquiry. A full analysis of England’s attitude toward European reconstruction would carry us too far into the realm of speculation. Of course nearly all Englishmen have very definite ideas as to how the political map of Europe should be redrawn, but since the specific points of that redrawal will be determined by the valor of armies and the skill of diplomats rather than by popular passion, extensive discussion of the shifting currents of contemporary public opinion thereon would be a rather profitless undertaking.
Much more useful is it to understand the degree of popular sympathy or antipathy which Englishmen to-day feel toward the various European peoples. This is a matter of practical importance. A pronounced trend of public sentiment regarding any foreign nation may harden the decisions of governments and influence statesmen in the laying out of future policies.
Of course the main line of cleavage runs between friends and enemies. The war has naturally tended to draw Englishmen ever closer to their Allies and to sunder them ever more widely from their foes. This process has, however, not operated in uniform fashion. Taking first the popular status of Great Britain’s allies, the outstanding feature is the profound English sympathy for France. Anglo-French relations had, it is true, been cordial since 1904, but the heroism and efficiency of France in the present war have deepened English liking into an enthusiastic admiration which appears to promise lasting friendship between the two peoples. Toward Russia, British feeling has sensibly warmed, and in some circles this rises to genuine enthusiasm. But English philo-Russian literature bears certain marks of artificial stimulation, and British critics accuse the extreme pro-Russian propaganda of Mr. Stephen Graham and others of being sicklied o’er with sentimentality. For Italy, British friendship seems rather casual and not without mental reservations. Belgium has received unstinted praise, and the traditional English policy of safeguarding her small neighbor from foreign conquest has been powerfully reinforced by ties of warm popular affection. As to Serbia, former English dislike has been quite effaced by the staunch fighting qualities of that little nation.
A word about neutrals. Convinced as they are that they are fighting the battle of civilization. Englishmen believe that the neutrals should be in the war “doing their bit,” and since Englishmen are inclined to ascribe neutrality either to selfish “profiteering” or to cowardice, the predominant British attitude tends to be a compound of dislike and contempt. Of course political exigencies and a strict censorship suppress the more violent manifestations, but Kipling’s phrase, “Damn all Neutrals!” undoubtedly expresses the predominant British feeling.
On its enemies English public opinion is generally severe, though the degree of bitterness varies considerably with the specific cases. Turkey was from the start condemned to death. Bulgaria, while usually accorded political life, is to be reduced to a negligible quantity. British dislike of Austria has waxed greatly with the course of time. At the beginning of the war Austria was regarded with contemptuous disdain as the senile dupe of Prussian militarism. To-day, however, many Englishmen regard her guilt as equal to Germany’s, and accordingly demand her political extinction, the deposition of Hapsburgs and Hohenzollerns being held alike necessary to the future well-being of Europe.
The arch-enemy, however, continues to be Germany, and upon Germany British wrath remains unwaveringly fixed. The desire to “smash” Germany is as keen as ever, but the difficulty of the process is becoming more and more recognized. Most thoughtful Englishmen now admit that the undoing of German unity is impossible, and many even forecast a junction of the Austrian Germans with their racial brethren. Since, however, they fear that defeat will work no change of heart in the German people, Englishmen are greatly concerned with the problem of averting a German war of revenge, and the general opinion seems to be that the only safe method is to “keep Germany down.” The popular plans for doing this are of course both numerous and varied. They embrace not merely military and political safeguards, but also radical economic measures, such as Allied boycotts of German goods, commerce, shipping, etc. This in turn involves the idea of the permanency of the present “Grand Alliance” and a general pooling of Allied resources.
English hatred of Germany and English friendship for France are, in fact, the two salient features of the British state of mind. So pronounced are they that they promise to be important factors in determining the course of European life after the war. To be sure, several influential elements of English thought refuse to contemplate a permanent estrangement of the British and German peoples, but the bulk of British public opinion plainly believes that any immediate healing of the breach is impossible. The eminent English essayist, Edmund Gosse, remarks: “I cannot imagine that the passions which the war stirs up can have any other effect but of deepening and widening the abyss. I fancy that at least for a generation no intellectual relations will be possible between France and England on the one side and Germany on the other. If I am not mistaken, the neutral nations will form the only link between the Allies and Germany after the war.” H. G. Wells, in his “What is Coming,” undoubtedly strikes a popular chord when he writes: “The primary business of the Allies is not reconciliation with Germany. Their primary concern is to organize a great league of peace…. There will be a bitterness in the memories of this and the next generation that will make the spectacle of ardent Frenchmen, or Englishmen, or Belgians, or Russians embracing Germans with gusto — unpleasant, to say the least of it. We may bring ourselves to understand, we may bring ourselves to a cold and reasonable forgiveness, but it will take sixty or seventy years for the two sides in this present war to grow kindly again. Let us build no false hopes nor pretend to any false generosities. These hatreds can die out only in one way: by the passing of a generation, by the dying out of the wounded and the wronged. Our business, our unsentimental business, is to set about establishing such conditions that they will so die out. And that is the business of the sane Germans, too….. That is not to be done by any conscientious sentimentalities, any slobbering denials of unforgettable injuries. We want no pro-German Leagues any more than we want anti-German Leagues. We want patience — and silence. My reason insists upon the inevitableness and necessity of this ultimate reconciliation. I will do no more than I must to injure Germany further, and I will do all that I can to restore the unity of mankind. None the less is it true that for me for all the rest of my life the Germans I shall meet, the German things I shall see, will be smeared with the blood of my people and my friends that the wilfulness of Germany has spilt.”
Many Englishmen take an even more pessimistic view. The eminent British scientist. Sir William Ramsay, for example, believes that no intercourse whatever with Germany can take place under a century. “I am afraid,” he writes, “that the horror of the whole civilized world at the moral decay of the Germans makes it most unlikely that international relations with individuals of that nation will be resumed before several generations have passed. Men of science will always recognize scientific achievements, independent of nationality. But should any attempt be made to resume friendly relations with Germany and Austria by means of invitations to scientific congresses, we shall certainly all resent it.”
Indeed, some English thinkers almost despair of the future and fear a permanent breakdown of European solidarity and civilization. In April, 1916, the London “Nation” remarked gloomily: “Europe is now being mentally conceived as inevitably and permanently dual…. We are ceasing to think of Europe…. The normal end of war (which is peace) is to be submerged in the idea of a war-series indefinitely prolonged. Soon the entire Continent will have but one longing — the longing for rest. The cup is to be dashed from its lips! For a world steeped in fear and ruled by the barren logomachy of hate, diplomatic intercourse would almost cease to be possible. … In the matter of culture. Modern Europe would tend to relapse to a state inferior even to that of Medieval Europe, and to sink far below that of the Renaissance.”
These are serious and weighty words on which we will do well to ponder. There is indeed much to arouse anxiety for the future of mankind. And yet before we a])andon ourselves to melancholy reveries we should remember certain facts. For one thing, England’s present implacable temper is no new or unprecedented phenomenon in the history of British national psychology. To him who doubts this assertion I recommend a perusal of Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France” or the “Letters of a Regicide Peace.” Assuredly current British cartoons of the Kaiser are no more virulent and certainly in better taste than British lampoons on the Corsican a hundred years ago.
Of course the answer to this is that Anglo-French hatreds took nearly a century to die away. That is true. But it is also true that the world moves faster now than ever before. Most of the Allies of to-day were enemies a generation ago. A couple of decades hence a turn of Fate’s rapidly revolving wheel — pan-Russianism, an awakened Orient, a general rising of the colored world, or some giant evolution as yet beyond our ken — may force Briton and Teuton fair into each other’s arms. Necessity, like politics, makes strange bedfellows. Who knows?
FRENCH national psychology exhibits a striking contrast between surface variability and underlying permanence: a combination of mobility and solidity — mobility of thought and feeling with solidity of character. This comes out strongly in the field of politics. Fickleness for forms is coupled with instinctive adhesion to traditional tendencies and policies.
During the generation which followed the Franco-Prussian War, to be sure, this truth was somewhat obscured. Eighteen seventy — “The Terrible Year” — acted like a blow in the solar plexus. The soul of France was temporarily paralyzed, and surface variability, freed from its stabilizer, went almost unchecked, acute factional broils, materialism, and pessimism long making France an uncertain quantity in European affairs.
But about the beginning of the present century France recovered from the shock of 1870 and determined to play a positive role in the world. Two general attitudes toward foreign policy were visible — both springing from the historic past. One of these, flowing from the humanitarian idealism of the eighteenth century and the Revolution, sought to make France once more the regenerative center of mankind by concentrating French energy upon constructive ideas and social reform. Aggressive foreign policies and “revenge” for 1870 were to be eschewed. An example of this party’s attitude toward European affairs is Francis Delaisi’s book, “The Inevitable War,” which appeared in 1911. Believing an Anglo-German war certain, Delaisi saw both sides courting France — Germany for money, England for men. His thesis was that France should aid neither, but should conserve her strength and emerge the moral arbiter and reconciler of Europe. The most prominent figure of this school in French political life was M. Joseph Caillaux. The party’s adherents were mostly drawn from the working classes of the towns, especially the great labor organization known as the “C. G. T.” (Confederation Generate du Travail) y and from the peasantry of the South — the Midi.
At the same time, however, another trend of French thought had become evident; one based upon traditions even older in the history of France. The French have always displayed strong likings for military prowess and an expansive foreign policy — especially toward the Rhine. They have before their eyes the vision of a glorious past and remember that up to the formation of German and Italian unity France was unquestionably the first Power in Europe — La Grande Nation. Also, for many Frenchmen, the humiliation and “mutilation” of 1870 was a perpetual agony. It is therefore not surprising that the reviving spirit of France expressed itself largely in terms of La Grande Nation, revenge upon Germany, and the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine. The Russian alliance and the entente with England powerfully stimulated this feeling, while the various colonial disputes with Germany quickened hostility against the Teutons. The chief political exponent of “The New France,” M. Theophile Delcasse, worked frankly for such a diplomatic isolation and encirclement of Germany that she would one day be faced with the alternative of either disgorging Alsace-Lorraine or being crushed in a hopeless war. The strength of the “Patriots” lay among the old nobility, the army, the bourgeoisie and intellectuals, and the peasantry of the East and North. Its optimistic temper is revealed by an abundant literature in the years preceding the present conflict, a good example being Colonel Arthur Boucher’s “La France victorieuse dans la Guerre de Demain” (1911).
The opening months of 1914 saw France torn by the struggles of these two parties, complicated by manifestations of France’s rather factious parliamentary life such as the Affaire Caillaux. The temper of “New France” was shown in the inaugural address of the eminent French writer, Maurice Barres, elected president of the Ligue des Patriotes .July 12, 1914, after the death of the poet, Paul Deroulede. On that occasion M. Barres said: “We shall all continue his (Deroulede’s) task — the union of all Frenchmen for the reclaiming of the lost provinces. The first act of the President of the League of Patriots will be to salute next Sunday the statue of Lorrainese Jeanne d’Arc on the very spot where the Saint of the Patrie poured out her blood, and to bring flowers of remembrance and hope to the statue of Strasburg. Vivent l’Alsace et la Lorraine, quand meme!”
Given so much optimistic sentiment, it is not strange that the rapid German invasion of Belgium and France in what Frenchmen regarded as a brutal attempt to dominate Europe and crush France into lasting insignificance, should have roused the deep patriotism of the French people to a peculiarly high pitch of exaltation. Before the German peril France rose as one man to defend the threatened soil of the Patrie.
The quick thrust of the French armies into Alsace during the opening days of the war evoked a veritable delirium of joy. The spirit of the nation was mirrored in the proclamation of General Joffre to the inhabitants of the invaded province; “Children of Alsace! After forty-four years of dolorous waiting, French soldiers again tread the soil of your noble land. They are the first laborers in the noble work of the revenge! For them, what emotion! what pride! To carry through this work they offer their lives; the French nation is behind them to a man, and in the folds of their battle flags are inscribed the magic words of Right and Liberty, Vive l’Alsace! Vive la France!” “At last it dawns!” cried Maurice Barres. “The day hoped for during forty-four years! The red trousers appear on the crest of the Vosges, and our soldiers reconquer Alsace distracted with joy!” And on August 10 he wrote: “It is a morning landscape, a sky of gold, silver and azure. August, 1914! The bugle resounds among the hills; the tricolor flag advances among the vineyards and woodlands; Alsace intones the Marseillaise. The fetters of Alsace are broken. Deroulede, we are at Mulhouse! Vive la Republique Frangaise!”
This jubilant mood was, however, of short duration. The brilliant sunrise was soon overcast by clouds. The mighty German tide crashed remorselessly through Belgium and surged almost to the walls of Paris. Yet France stood firm. In the early days of September, it is true, when things looked blackest, there seem to have been a few French politicians who were ready for a separate peace, but the popular watchword was everywhere, “Il faut tenir!” — “Hold out!” France held, and the German tide was borne back from the Marne to the Aisne.
The smoldering hatred for the Teuton flared up fiercely from the first. To quote two of the most moderate expressions of this feeling, the well-known French economist, Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, wrote in his organ, “L’Economiste Francais,” of August, 1914, “Such is the greed of the German ogre. Is it not quite time that all independent countries of Europe united in order to prevent the establishment of his growing tyranny and to stop the inroads of a country which is none other than a beast of prey?” And the eminent French philosopher, Henri Bergson, exclaimed: “The struggle against Germany which is now going on is no more or less than a struggle of civilization against barbarism…. The German ogre must be placed in such a condition that it will be impossible for him to devour his neighbors…
This feeling was speedily envenomed by the course of events. The huge death grapple of millions of fighting men over France’s northern provinces must under any circumstances have caused immense suffering and desolation. But the issue was now complicated by charges of wholesale German atrocities which the French government soon formulated in a series of official reports that roused horror and fury throughout the country. The Paris “Temps” called on the men of France to resist to the death this attack “directed against all human laws by the coalition of German and Austro-Hungarian barbarians raging, in a sort of criminal drunkenness, and leagued, like the Huns of Attila, to destroy the invincible supremacy of human civilization.” The publication of the first official atrocities’ report made a great sensation. Its language was severe, the preamble stating: “There has never been a war between civilized nations which has been of such a savage and ferocious nature. Pillage, rape, incendiarism, and murder are the practices current among the enemy.” The press comment may be judged by the words of the conservative “Journal des Debats.” On January 15, 1915, it said: “We are stricken as though under the blow of a collective dishonor to humanity by the mere enumeration of all these acts of premeditated bestiality, organized sadism, methodic rape, which appear as the day’s work of the German army.”
The destruction of historic monuments, particularly the bombardment of Rheims Cathedral, seemed to rouse as much popular fury as the reported atrocities upon the civilian inhabitants. “La France” (Paris), of late September, 1914, thus expressed the nation’s “Public horror and wrath”: “Can such a crime be pardoned? No, a thousand times no! Let there be a holy war that shall conquer at all costs and wipe out the immoral horde of Potsdam, The glorious chimes of Rheims will be heard no more, but Nemesis will surely come.” And the “Journal des Debats” of September 25 exclaimed, “After Louvain, after Rheims, what vengeance will not be permissible to make these barbarians expiate the shame of being Germans!”
“Barbarians” was, indeed, the word most often employed by Frenchmen to describe the Germans, just as the word “Hun” was rising into popularity across the Channel. Insistence was everywhere laid upon the savage qualities of the Teutons. In an article entitle…Barbarians: Past and Present,” the “Journal des Debats” of September 25, 1914, remarked: “Really, there is something to be said for the barbarians of old. In any case, they were infinitely better than their unworthy descendants; they aspired to become civilized, whereas the pseudo-civilized barbarians of to-day reveal the mentality of the cave-man beneath the masque of the pedagogue.”
Many Frenchmen found it hard to believe that their Frankish ancestors were of Teutonic blood, and attempted either to deny it or to apologize for it, ascribing their subsequent improvement to the saving grace of Latin culture. For example, the Abbe Stephen Coube, canon of Orleans, wrote: “You tell me that the Franks all had German blood in their veins. It is possible. I say, ‘It is possible,’ because many persons deny this, and perhaps they are right. But let us admit it, for the sake of argument. Well! This is an original sin, which we must confess with humility. But happily our forefathers were quickly purified in the baptism of Latin civilization. They thereby cleansed themselves of the primitive barbarism contracted in the Hyrcynian forest and de-Germanized themselves so well that the Germans have denied and cursed them ever since.”
Others, however, asserted positively that Frenchmen and Germans were not of the same race. In October, 1914, a writer in the Clerical organ, “La Croix,” denied that the Prussians were Aryans. Instead, they were descended from “certain nameless prehistoric tribes” of non-European origin. Such opinions were not confined to Clerical writers. In the spring of 1915 the famous savant Camille Flammarion asserted before the French Astronomical Society: “All the evidence tends to prove that this race is in its very blood the implacable enemy of our laborious and tranquil civilization which can develop only in labor and in peace. The present war is another stage in the struggle of the civilized against the barbarians, begun more than two thousand years ago. We are even justified in thinking that this race differs from our own in origin as well as in type of evolution. The unity of the human species has never been proven. We probably do not descend from the same race of simians, and furthermore we bear in us the element of Greco-Latin civilization, which differs sensibly from that of the Teutons. An abyss separates us, despite certain crossings and some psychic exceptions. No. Germans and Frenchmen do not speak the same intellectual language. They are not the same race. The vulture, bird of prey, is not of the same race as the skylark which soars singing into the luminous azure…. This is a question of life or death for modern civilization. Here is a beast which must be struck down. Delenda est Carthago!”
Given such a race as the Germans, who were not merely “barbarians” but “uncivilizable” barbarians, the presence among them of any true culture was obviously unthinkable. Accordingly, a widespread demand arose for the sundering of all intellectual and artistic bonds between the two peoples, since such contact would merely corrupt French culture as it had already been corrupted in the past. Professor Louis Reynaud of the University of Poitiers wrote a book to prove that every noteworthy feature in German life was of Latin, especially French, origin and inspiration. “The sole literary interpreter of the German spirit, Maurice Maeterlinck, writes in French,” remarked M. Maurice Barres. “I should never bother my head finding out what the ‘intellectuals’ over the Rhine were thinking.” A “League for French Culture” was formed, supported by such eminent litterateurs as M. Rene Doumic, for the purification of the national genius and its future development along genuine French lines.
For that matter, many persons saw in the war itself one of the main causes for such a development. The war’s regenerative action upon French life was widely noted. “Ah! How beautiful she is, this France of 1914!” exclaimed Maurice Barres. “What a universal freshness! It seems that all souls are become new and simple again. Before, we had known only the chrysalis. To-day, France opens her wings!” His idea of the future is equally optimistic: “How beautiful she will be after victory, this regenerated France. It is a new world which begins.” M. Georges Ohnet wrote in the “Gaulois” of March, 1915: “The virility of the race, the self-abnegation and devotion of the people, the simple heroism of our soldiers, the proud courage of our women, and the prudence of political parties — in a word, the whole firm and healthy national organism, justifies us in looking forward to a fruitful and magnificent renaissance.” The well-known Protestant pastor, Wilfred Monod, in a sermon preached about this same date at the Oratoire, Paris, said: “Who will deny that the French people have passed, during the last months, through one of those moral crises which can end in a radical and healing conversion? Let us have the courage to acknowledge that in more than one respect our nation offered certain alarming symptoms of anemia, and even of degeneracy…. Suddenly the trumpet sounded ‘To arms!’ Then were manifested in the social organism, with surprising spontaneity, those phenomena of defense which appear in sick persons reacting toward health…. The spectacle was wonderful. Such have been the fruits of the trial…
The deep emphasis laid upon “Latinism,” both as regards culture and blood, accounts for the spirit of the intense propaganda carried on during the first year of the war to sweep in the “Latin sister” Italy. This appeal made a profound impression upon Italian public opinion and was unquestionably one of the great reasons why Italy joined the Allies in May, 1915. The effect upon France was electrical. The utterances of her leaders reflected the popular emotion. On May 25, M. Paul Deschanel, president of the Chamber of Deputies, announced Italy’s decision as follows: “To-day, as fifty-six years ago, Italy is with us….France salutes fraternally the flight of the Roman eagles…. And now, glorious dead of Magenta and Solf erino, rise and fire with your generous breath the two immortal sisters, in justice forever reunited!” To this M. Viviani added: “In the name of the Government of the Republic, I salute the Italian nation in its unshakable firmness. … In this momentous hour France turns her gaze and her heart toward that august land of heroism and of beauty. Sons of the same race, let our lips utter the cry of our conscience and our heart — the unanimous, vibrating cry, ‘Vive la Italic! Vive la France!’ ” “It is not for naught that we have common origins,” said the “Journal des Debats,” September 10, “that centuries, yea, millenniums, of incessant interchange have formed the genius of two great peoples; that they have the same intellectual formation, the same sensibility, the same qualities and sometimes also the same defects. Special circumstances may cause family disagreements; but in critical hours the family discovers itself and the bonds are reknit more solidly than before…
In a previous chapter we noted the optimistic spirit of England during the first half of 1915. This was equally true of France, though French optimism was of a sterner and more exalted type, since France was suffering more directly from the war. Save for a handful of pacifists like Romain Rolland, public opinion was unanimous in demanding a fight to a finish. Indeed, M. Holland’s pacific utterances drew down upon him a storm of indignation. In his organ “La Revue” for July, 1915, the distinguished French publicist Jean Finot furiously denounced all pacifists everywhere and stigmatized pleas for mercy toward the Germans as practically lese-humanite. According to M. Finot the Kaiser, the Crown Prince and all the German leaders must be tried, condemned, and hanged. “What a moral solace for all to be able to be present at such a spectacle,” M. Finot concluded. “No Frenchman can now utter the word ‘Peace,’ ” asserted M. Paul Sabatier. “To use it would be akin to treason. … If our soldiers go down to the last man, everybody who has not yet taken up arms will fight to the last cartridge, to the last stone of our mountains that we can hurl against a ‘Kultur’ which is naught save worship of the sword and the golden calf.” M. Gabriel Hanotaux, in the “Revue Hebdomadaire” of January 2, 1915, asserted that this was not merely a politico-economic struggle but a genuine religious war. Germany must therefore be beaten to her very soul. The sentiment of the northern provinces was voiced by the “Petit Calaisien” (Calais), which said, in April, 1915, “This war shall continue until the enemies of the Triple Entente have been crushed into the dust.” M. Stephen Pichon in his organ, the Paris “Petit Journal,” thus apostrophized Germany: “You will have to reimburse the Allies for all the costs of the war, and this will be an enormous sum. But this is not all. You will have to pay for the cathedrals, the museums, the palaces, the huts. you bombarded and burned, the butcheries you committed, for the widows and orphans you have made. That will make billions and billions that you will have to pay us. Oh, no! Not at once, for you could not do that. … It will take you a long time — ten years, twenty years, thirty years….. Until Germany lias paid this off, Russian garrisons will occupy Breslau and Dresden, English garrisons Hamburg and Frankfort, a Belgian garrison shall occupy Cologne, a French one Coblenz and Mainz. Only after the last penny has been paid will the Allies withdraw, and even then not until after they have blown up the last German fortress.”
With regard to the future settlement of Germany, French opinion was practically unanimous in demanding that not merely the German imperial form of government but also German political unity must be destroyed. The superior population, wealth, and energy of Germany had pressed so heavily on France that a continuance of such conditions was deemed intolerable. A similar fate was decreed for Austria-Hungary, while Turkey was to be divided up among the Allied Powers, Syria falling to France. A typical pronouncement is that of the “Figaro,” “The empires of the barbarians must be shattered.”
At the beginning of the war the destruction of German unity was generally held to be an easy task, owing to the supposed survival of Teutonic separatism. In October, 1914, Maurice Barres wrote, “The German power will be broken, divided, converted to reason, and the Germans themselves, once more become Saxons, Bavarians, Badenese, Protestants, Catholics, etc., will kiss our knees as they thank us for having cured them of their costly collective delirium of pride.”
In face of the patent solidarity of German public opinion, however, such optimism quickly vanished. Nevertheless, France remained convinced of the necessity for the destruction of German unity, and the only result was that popular fury, hitherto concentrated upon the Prussians, was broadened to include all Germans. In January, 1915, the French publicist Jacques Daugny wrote an impassioned article in the “Nouvelle Revue” to disillusion “those naive souls who imagine that Germany, once purged of the Hohenzollerns, will become again the patriarchal and romantic land of Goethe and Schiller…. The German soul has been poisoned forever; it dreams of nothing but violence and domination. Let us, then, not commit the folly of leaving in the hands of our enemy the fragments of his sword. Like Siegfried, he would only reforge it to strike us once more.” The violence of French public opinion is revealed by the words of the well-known French author Onesime Reclus. In his book “Le Rhin Francais,” published in the summer of 1915, he exclaims: “The stinking beast is down! We are going to divide up its flesh and its bones. We will make of it [Germany] an insolvent debtor, a merchant walled off by prohibitive tariffs, an admiral commanding fishing boats, a generalissimo with not even a ridiculous national guard under his orders.”
The implacable temper displayed toward the German people is strikingly shown by an article’ of Louis Leger in the “Revue Hebdomadaire” for December 18, 1915. M. Leger is a distinguished specialist on Slavic affairs, and his article recommends the lopping off of all eastern Germany for the aggrandizement of powerful Polish and Bohemian kingdoms under the protection of Russia. The suggested pruning of Germany’s eastern frontier is drastic. Slav wedges must be driven into the heart of Saxony and to within a short distance of Berlin. The fate of the annexed German populations is not left in doubt: they must be incontinently Slavized or exterminated….Wel…’ exclaims M. Leger…as to the Germans, who have in the past Germanized so many peoples — it will be their turn to be Slavized. If they balk at this metamorphosis they will have just one thing to do — get out, slink back into Germania’s bosom, or go settle beyond the seas. Their reign has lasted long enough. But, though insolent in success, in adversity they have much suppler backbones than most people think.” The extirpative note comes out clearly: “‘Ausrotten‘ (‘root them out’) once cried Bismarck of the Poles in Prussia. Now, in our turn, let us cry ‘Ausrotten.’…. All these regions must be de-Germanized. When a tree spreads a harmful shade we cut it down; we do more — we tear it up by the roots. Well, just so must we tear up the Prussian tree by the roots. The regions so long infected by its shade must be colonized by Poles, Russians, and Lithuanians. All these peoples are prolific enough to quickly fill the gaps left by the disappearance of the descendants of the Teutonic knights whose successors have all too largely revenged themselves for the vow of chastity once professed by their predecessors.”
Such being the French temper toward the general post-war settlement of Germany, we are in a position to appreciate France’s attitude toward the re-drawing of Germany’s western frontier. On one point French public opinion is unanimous — Alsace-Lorraine must return to France. About that there is absolutely no discussion. This matter once settled, however, divergent views appear. Many Frenchmen declare themselves satisfied with the prospect of regaining Alsace-Lorraine and aver that the destruction of German unity would furnish sufficient guarantees against further trouble. A notable example of this way of thinking is the eminent economist Yves Guyot.
But such is emphatically not the opinion held by another powerful body of French thought, which demands extensive annexations in western Germany. These doctrines require our attention. Of course, the recent trend of the war makes an Allied conquest of western Germany a very remote possibility. Nevertheless, Rhineward expansion is the oldest of French policies, and the acquisition of the whole left bank of the Rhine (including Belgium and Holland) as France’s “natural” frontier has been the dream of Frenchmen for nearly a thousand years. When we remember the unchanging, even atavistic, character of French basic thinking, we must realize that such historic aspirations, once roused, will not easily sink to sleep again, and that no matter how cruelly these hopes may be deceived by the present course of events they will influence French national sentiment and foreign policy for a long time to come. The philosophy of what we may term French Neo-Imperialism is admirably set forth by that able specialist on world-politics. Professor Edouard Driault, in his recent book “La France et la Guerre: Les Solutions Frangaises” (1916). “We may as well say it, since we are at the end of the nightmare,” he begins. “For a century France was a conquered nation.” The weight of Waterloo bore down France’s spirit even before Sedan, and since 1870 the best proof of France’s moral abasement is the way she fixed her gaze upon Alsace-Lorraine, to the exclusion of her older and wider dreams. “How much more magnificent, how much more splendid in its imaginative flight, was the policy of Old France. Our forefathers had not the ‘souls of the conquered.’ They were naive and young. They did not trouble themselves with political philosophy, principles of nationalities, etc., they had the faith which moves mountains — which moves frontiers over mountains. What will give us back the faith of our fathers?” M. Driault’s answer is, “The image of Ancient Gaul”; that is, everything west of the Rhine. “Our forefathers remembered it. They had in their blood, in their very nature, the concept that Gaul, the image and model of France, stretched to the Pyrenees, to the Alps — to the Rhine; that for long centuries the Romans and Gallo-Romans had given to this admirable geographical figure a unity of language, institutions, and culture which has forever given its populations a common soul. Gaul was then closed to the Germans, to the barbarians…. But during the century since Waterloo, what a miserable spectacle! On the word of historians obsessed by defeat we have accepted the notion that the final frontier of France was that of 178…. a false impression, a pitiable doctrine of resignation!” To-day France is broad awake. But how shall this admirable spirit be sustained? How shall France be saved? “She will be saved only if she no longer has that soul of the vanquished which she got from Sedan and Waterloo; only if she takes up again the glorious tradition of Ancient Gaul, of Royal France, and of the soldiers of the First Republic…
The Neo-Imperialists adduce many arguments for their proposed annexations of German soil. Some lay stress on strategic necessities, not even Alsace-Lorraine being held sufficient to prevent new assaults of the “barbarians.” M. Driault holds that the safety of all western Europe, including England, is at stake. Other writers emphasize economic considerations. The vast coal and iron deposits of western Germany must pass under French control, both for the future economic prosperity of France and to prevent Germany from amassing new wealth for subsequent wars of revenge.
The objection that the inhabitants of these regions are Germans is rebutted either by asserting that the principle of nationality cannot be set up in favor of a people which has trampled the rights of others under foot, or by asserting that the populations on the left bank of the Rhine are not genuine Germans but Teutonized Gauls whose German veneer would quickly rub off under French rule. Says M. Driault: “We wish to reestablish the century old traditions of France’s history, momentarily broken by the Prussian accident. There is no Prussian ‘right’ to the left bank of the Rhine; there is only a Prussian usurpation. We have here a Rhineland, Celtic at bottom and with centuries of Gallo-Roman education.” “The occupation of the left bank of the Rhine by the Germans is the fruit of a long usurpation,” writes Paul Marmottan in his “Notre Frontiere Naturel” (1915). “Its territories were Gaulish. The Rhine is not a German river.” “We are merely following our most ancient, immutable, and glorious national tradition in claiming the left bank of the Rhine,” asserts Professor J. Dontenville in his “Apres la Guerre” (1915). While Senator Frank Chauveau in “La Paix et la Frontiere du Ehin” (1915) exclaims, “These are our necessary limits, traced by nature and by history…. We will have the Rhine frontier.”
The easy assimilation of these territories is emphasized. “It is in the name of their Latinism that we reclaim them,” insists Onesime Eeclus, and further remarks, “Do not regard the Cisrhenanes as pure Germans, but as half Frenchmen, half-brothers who wish to reenter the family.” “On these Cisrhenanes, men of a civilization at bottom identical with our own,” writes Professor Dontenville, “the charm of our culture, so finely and delicately superior to Kultur, will soon operate irresistibly.” “The French nationality, aureoled with the prestige of victory,” says M. Driault, “will radiate as in former days to the Rhine.” Some writers admit that there will be a minority among the annexed populations which will prove refractory to French assimilation. For such recalcitrants expulsion is widely recommended. “Those Germans who are not pleased with the new French supremacy may recross the Rhine,” writes M. Marmottan. “We shall not stop them.” And Onesime Reclus asserts: “Never will France have a better occasion of saying to the Germans of Mainz, Coblenz, Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle: ‘This is my house; if you don’t like it, get out!’ ” M. Reclus is also hopeful as to the effects of education: “We shall not neglect the school, as we did too often in Alsace-Lorraine; especially as it is by the school that the Germans have been turned into a pack of wild beasts. We shall teach these people French.”
The final argument of the Neo-Imperialists is the doctrine of “compensations.” Since all her allies will get something by the war, France must not be left out. “And we!” exclaims Senator Chauveau, “we, who have suffered the most, sacrificed the most, risked the most: we shall then have nothing!” “Go to!” cries M. Marmottan. “Are we going to let Germany be divided up without cutting our slice of the cak…’
The annexation of the whole left bank of the Rhine naturally involves the problem of France’s future relations with Belgium and Holland. To be sure, Belgium is frequently offered the territories lying between her present frontier and the Rhine, but the same writers invariably claim that the presence of so many Germans within her body politic would be too much for Belgian digestion, so Belgium is expected to refuse. Belgium is, however, to be consoled at Holland’s expense by the acquisition of the Maestricht salient, Dutch Flanders at the mouth of the Scheldt, and Holland’s suzerainty over Luxemburg. The Dutch are not expected to object, and are offered German territory as compensation. The virtual encirclement of Belgium and Holland by French territory would result in a close understanding between the three nations. Some writers call this new status “Restored Gaul,” others the “Gaulish Region.” Perhaps the censorship here hinders speculation.
The final problem which the French Neo-Imperialists attempt to solve is the attitude which their projected Greater France is to assume toward the various Germanic states beyond the Rhine. Most writers think that these should constitute a French sphere of influence. Some writers believe that France should take the principal strategic “bridge-heads” on the right bank, while one Neo-Imperialist, M. Jacques Daugny, asserts that the French frontier should go far beyond the Rhine to the crests of the Black Forest. “Germans have quite sufficiently told us,” writes M. Daugny, “that the Rhine is not a frontier. It is, indeed, merely a marvelous route traced by Nature between two fertile plains which in reality form only one whole from the Vosges to the Black Forest. To be developed in peace, this valley must know but one master. Our frontier must, therefore, follow the crest of the Black Forest, the watershed between the basins of the Rhine and the Danube.”
French Neo-Imperialism is the reflection of the optimistic period which reached its climax with Italy’s entrance into the war in May, 1915. However, the long series of German triumphs and Allied disasters which began in June gradually evoked less confident notes from the chorus of French public opinion. DoA\Tiright pessimism was, it is true, sternly repressed by the rigid censorship, but the sense of strain under which France was laboring could not be entirely denied a voice. “The Allies have failed since the Marne,” wrote M. Gustavo Herve in his organ the “Guerre Sociale” of early July, 1915. The paper was at once suppressed, but the words had been written.
So profound was the impression made by German resisting power that by the spring of 1916 a new thought-current was plainly visible in French public opinion. Its cardinal tenet was revealed in its watchword, “The War after the War!” Fundamentally, its aim was the same as that of the Neo-Imperialists: Germany must be “smashed,” German unity must be destroyed, and a regenerated France must take a leading position in the world. Hatred of the Teuton flamed as hotly as ever within the French heart. “The entire universe will charge the beast that menaces the universe,” cried Gabriel Hanotaux in the “Revue Hebdomadaire ” of January 3, 1916. “The chastisement is slow, but it is coming, coming. You have lusted after material well-being, booty, gold, women; your sadism was to foul the world with its ‘eugenics.’ You purposed to rape humanity through terror. Wait! This terror is coming back upon you. It is you who will tremble, you who will grow pale. Misery and despair will destroy in you the last vestige of your pride.”
The crushing of Germany thus remained the cardinal tenet of French thought. Nevertheless, many Frenchmen began to fear either that Germany could not now be crushed on the battlefield or that even were her sword shattered in the present conflict German energy would quickly amass fresh wealth and forge new weapons for a subsequent war of revenge. The logical conclusion was that Germany must be permanently kept down by a standing league of the Allied Powers which should be not only military but also economic in character. Similar opinions were of course being voiced in England, but “War after the War” projects were received much more enthusiastically in France than across the Channel. For this there were several reasons. To begin with, France had shown much less resisting power to Germany’s aggressive economic methods than had England, and French industry had suffered severely from German competition in the years immediately preceding the war. Frenchmen therefore felt that the elimination of this competition was necessary for the security of their industrial future. Again, the political destruction of Germany was in France generally held to be imperative, whereas in England the prevailing opinion was that it was impracticable. Lastly, Protectionist France felt no such wrench as did traditionally Free-trade England at the prospect of far-reaching international tariff agreements.
From the very beginning of the war an active propaganda had been carried on in France for the permanent exclusion of German economic activity within the boundaries of the Republic and its colonies. Proposals for concerted economic discrimination against Germany by all the Allies thus found the ground well prepared. The French press was enthusiastic from the first. In December, 1915, the well-known French writer, Jean Richepin, announced in the “Figaro”: “The idea of a commercial league which will continue after the war a tireless, merciless struggle against German hegemony after breaking it by force of arms, is one that I most heartily approve. On several occasions I have treated the subject under the significant title of ‘The Second War.’ I shall persevere in this campaign with so much the more energy now that I perceive the unanimous ardor of all the Allies in their determination to carry out this idea. By this means and by this alone will our victory be completely and absolutely consolidated.” About the same date the “Nouvelliste de Bordeaux” thus outlined the measures necessary to secure Germany’s economic downfall: “It is quite possible now to indicate some of the methods that seem essential: absolute refusal of naturalization to all Germans in the conquering countries; refusal to allow the establishment of commercial agencies; the stock exchanges of Paris, London, and Petrograd pitilessly closed to the stocks from beyond the Rhine. Above all, the Allies must seize by right of conquest certain territories the loss of which will mean to the German provinces a notable decrease in their economic wealth.” M. Sancholle-Heuraux, in “La Revue” for May, 1916, remarked, “At its last congress the French Socialist party declared that it did not desire the economic ruin of the Central empires. This idealistic affirmation was a deplorable error…The economic conference of the Allied governments held at Paris in June, 1916, and its recommendation for future economic collaboration excited the warm approval of nearly all the French press. A few Free Traders like Yves Guyot looked askance on principle, and other economic writers like Max Ploschiller and Henri Hauscr doubted its practicability, but the majority opinion ran obviously the other way.
An interesting pliase of this trend toward permanent politico-economic action against Germany is the movement known as “Pan-Latinism.” This movement had been in evidence from the very beginning of the war. We have already seen how powerfully French appeals to ethnic and cultural solidarity had influenced Italian sentiment in the opening months of 1915. But this propaganda had been only a part of a still wider appeal addressed to the whole Latin world. As early as February, 1915, a “Pan-Latin” congress had convened at the Paris Sorbonne, where prominent representatives of all the “Latin” nations, including Latin America and Greece, affirmed the ethnic and cultural solidarity of the Latin race and expressed the warmest sympathy for France. The French attitude was well expressed in the opening speech of the presiding officer, M. Paul Deschanel, president of the French Chamber of Deputies: “Behold, in our venerable Sorbonne, the whole Latin family reunited. … A family, one in its magnificent diversity. One, because the ancient rivalries between Latin peoples have no longer any raison d’etre; because their very shadows have disappeared; because all our interests are inseparable.
One, because throughout the ages every effort of the Hellenic and Latin conscience has been toward the same ideal: Liberty by Right…
Pan-Latin sentiment has unquestionably been of great benefit to France. Besides its effect upon Italy, it had much to do with the entrance of Rumania and Portugal into the war on the Allies’ side. The only refractory member of the Latin confraternity appears to be Spain, whose attitude will be discussed in a subsequent chapter.
The philosophy of Pan-Latinism is ably expounded by the well-known French publicist, Louis Bertrand, in the “Revue des Deux Mondes” of September 15, 1916. He regards the Teutonic peril as a standing menace to Latin civilization no matter how badly Germany may be defeated in the present war. For that reason Latin solidarity is an obvious measure of racial and cultural self-preservation. He urges Latinism’s best minds to an immediate working out of both theory and practical details. “In order that it may be possible, it must be believed in and desired. It must constitute a faith. Pan-Germanism is, at bottom, nothing but a mystic will…. For four hundred years, after a long period of hesitation and resistance, the Mediterranean world accepted the ‘Pax Romana,’ which was nothing but a perpetual struggle against barbarism. To-day, in order to continue this struggle, why should the Western world refuse to accept the ‘Latin peace”?”
Other French thinkers glimpse even broader unions against Teutonism. For example, M. Jean Finot, in his organ “La Revue” for December, 1915, recommends a lasting Franco-Anglo-Italian cultural solidarity. “In the great reconstruction after the war we must, first and foremost, break with the pretended German civilization, with the influence of its savants, philosophers, and writers. Europe must renew the traditions interrupted at the time of the Renaissance. In the intellectual and moral domain, all those treasures of which humanity is so proud have been above all created by the three peoples to-day, allies and friends: the English, the French, and the Italians. But their activity has always lacked cohesion and unity. The Germans, seizing upon the conquests of thought and imagination made by those three peoples, have made the world believe in their special genius and their great merits. Being merely propagators of others’ thought, they have nevertheless made us believe that they were its authors….. Under the beneficent influence of these three countries, human thought and inspiration have developed in harmonious fashion.” To carry on this development, conscious cooperation is necessary for the fulfillment of the “New Renaissance” which should follow the war. Of course this does not imply discrimination against other peoples. But it does imply a virtual “quarantine of the manifestations of ‘Kultur,’ which will doubtless continue to poison the universe for long years to come. And just as the security of nations must be guaranteed against the espionage and militarism of Germany, so the conscience of peoples must be defended against the moral contagion of a collectivity which will long retain the evil effects of the Great War.”
After all this we are not surprised to find most Frenchmen frankly pessimistic concerning the problem of future relations with the Teutonic Powers. A few French thinkers, it is true, like the pacifist Romain Rolland, assert the absolute necessity of speedily re-knitting the broken bonds of European solidarity, and predict that this will take place. In June, 1915, M. Rolland wrote: “The fate of mankind is above that of all patriots. The intellectual ties between the hostile nations are bound to be restored. Those who differ simply commit suicide.” But such is not the opinion of most Frenchmen. Much more representative of French public opinion were the words of Paul Sabatier, penned at about the same time: “It does not seem possible that these connections can ever be restored. It will hardly be possible to bridge the gap which has opened between French and German scientists; the grief of the conquered race can only widen it. Mutual hatred is so intense that it is to be feared that both Germans and Frenchman will see only the enemy in the scientists whom they have to review and criticize.”
At the close of the previous chapter we discussed the possibility of a fairly rapid subsidence of the present Anglo-German hatred. Regarding the future of Franco-German relations, however, we are avowedly pessimistic. The two cases are radically dissimilar. The English and German peoples have many common ties of blood, religion, and culture. This is their first real war with one another, and the present struggle, though desperate, is being waged at arm’s length, with no invasions of home territory and with few direct injuries inflicted upon the civilian populations. Also, both nations possess a realistic temper open to compromises and practical solutions.
The French and German peoples, on the other hand, have never been good neighbors. They have behind them a record of rivalry and intermittent warfare stretching back beyond recorded history which has left an evil legacy of mutual wrongs and humiliations. For the last half century their relations have been of the very worst, 1870 having been neither forgiven nor forgotten. To all this is now being added the present frightful war with its burden of suffering, destruction, and death unparalleled in modern history. All the old scars have been ripped wide open, and ideas and aspirations thought long dead stalk forth into the light of day. The terrible atrocity charges, whether exaggerated or no, are implicitly believed by Frenchmen, who to-day regard the Germans as irreclaimable savages. The national temperaments, manners, and customs are alike antipathetic, while material interests are generally opposed.
All this betokens a persistence of Franco-German hostility into the indefinite future, especially when we remember that the French are markedly traditionalist in their thinking, prone to fixed ideas, and instinctively averse to sacrifice cherished principles in realist compromise. As things now appear, nothing short of an imminent peril to western Europe would draw the two peoples together.
THE outstanding feature of German national psychology is its extreme complexity. German unity is so recent and so federal in type that there is no cultural or intellectual center which sets the tone for the whole country as London and Paris do for England and France. Of course the war has decisively proved that all Germans are agreed upon certain fundamentals, such as the preservation of German unity and the maintenance of the Empire’s territorial integrity, but beyond these axioms there is the widest diversity of aim and outlook, from extreme “Pan-German” imperialists and absolutist Prussian Junkers to extreme Social Democrats who deplore war on principle and oppose all territorial annexations.
Matters are still further complicated by the individual German’s habit of introspection. The mystical strain inherent in the Teutonic nature, the tendency toward self-analysis, and the willingness to look facts in the face no matter how disagreeable the conclusions, all lead the average German to react to a particular situation without much reference to the past. He is restrained neither by the Latin love of logical continuity nor by the Anglo-Saxon fear of inconsistency, and he will therefore talk and act very differently on different occasions. This comes out strikingly in the intellectual development of thinkers like Friedrich Naumann or in the writings of a strong personality like Maximilian Harden.
The eve of the Great War found Germany full of unrest. Her astonishing economic transformation had raised a whole series of internal problems which were being debated with great intellectual intensity, while the external political situation appeared so unfavorable that Germany’s future was regarded with profound apprehension. The sense of isolation and impending foreign peril during the years immediately preceding the war produced a highly alarmist literature, good examples being Colonel Frobenius’s “Germany’s Hour of Destiny” and General von Bernhardi’s “Germany and the Next War.”
Under these circumstances, the effect of the Austro-Serbian crisis of July, 1914, upon Germany was electrical. German public opinion regarded the menace to Austria as deadly and demanded that Germany’s one dependable ally should be supported at all costs. Serbia was not only thought to be aiming at the disruption of Austria-Hungary but was considered a mere cat’s paw of Russian Pan-Slavism and lust of world dominion. At the beginning of the crisis the normally mild-spoken Berlin “Vossische Zeitung” exclaimed warmly: “The bloody crime of Serajevo was only one link in the long train of assassination and horror by which the revolutionary propagandists in Belgrade were working to promote the official policy of Serbia.” And a little later the Berlin “Kreuzzeitung” declared: “No great Power can allow an insignificant neighbor to torment and injure it, especially when this insignificant Power relies on its ability to rattle the saber of another great Power.” The Teutonic attitude is well set forth in an article by the eminent German publicist Hans Delbruck, printed in an American periodical, the “Atlantic Monthly” for February, 1915, but written during the early months of the war. Referring to the “Greater Serbian” peril for both Austria and Germany, he wrote: “The danger to the Austrian Empire which arises from it is very considerable, not only because Serbia is Serbia, and because she has partizans in the Hapsburg monarchy itself, but because she is the advance guard of the Pan-Slavic idea and the outpost of mighty Russia. Nor should we speak of Austro-Hungarian craze for dominion; it is the instinct for self-preservation of a great Power, which cannot, without despairing of its own future, tolerate the existence of the Greater Serbian idea either within its borders or on its frontiers. A prospective Greater Serbia would not only sever large tracts of territory from the Austrian Empire, but would cut her off from the sea, which in these days means death to a great Power. The Greater Serbian idea and Austria cannot exist side by side. Austria would not only have ceased to be a great Power, but she would have been dismembered as a state, if she had not adopted vigorous measures. For the same reason it is a matter of course that the German Empire should stand at Austria’s side. Had we tolerated the subjugation and dismemberment of Austria by Russia we should have had to wage the next war against Russia and France alone. Under no circumstances could we leave this danger to our descendants; the preservation of the Hapsburg monarchy was therefore a vital issue for the German Empire.”
In those circles which had long held a European conflict to be inevitable, the prospect of war was hailed as the best way out of an intolerable situation. At the end of July the “Militarische Rundschau” declared: “If we do not decide for war, that war in which we shall have to engage at the latest in two or three years will be begun in far less propitious circumstances. At this moment the initiative rests with us: Russia is not ready, moral factors and right are on our side, as well as might. Since we shall have to accept the contest some day, let us provoke it at once. Our prestige, our position as a great Power, our honor, are in question; and yet more, for it would seem that our very existence is concerned.” This, however, does not represent the viewpoint of the mass of German public opinion. The German people as a whole showed no eagerness for war and approved their government’s reserved attitude until the Russian mobilization made quick action imperative.
Once the die was cast, however, the entire German people rallied round the Government in a passion of spontaneous loyalty. German unanimity is well shown by the following editorial in “Vorwarts,” the chief organ of the Social Democrats: “We were always open enemies of the monarchic form of government, and we always shall be…. But we have to acknowledge to-day that William II has shown himself the friend of universal peace.”
The great reconciler of the traditionally pacifist Social Democrats was the “Russian Peril.” On this point the party was absolutely united, save for a handful of ultra-pacifists like Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. “War in our country,” declared the Chemnitz “Volksstimme,” “compels all comrades to unite against the foe. All must set aside the aims and purposes of their party, and bear in mind one fact — Germany, and in a larger sense all Europe, is endangered by Russian despotism…. Germany’s women and children must not become the prey of Cossack bestiality; the German country must not be the spoil of Cossacks; because if the Allies should be victorious, not an English governor or a French republican would rule over Germany, but the Russian Czar. Therefore we must defend at this moment everything that means German culture and German liberty against a merciless and barbaric enemy.” Even so staunch a pacifist as the Socialist Deputy, Haase, made in the Reichstag the following declaration: “Germany is threatened with annihilation by Russian despotism, and to prevent this danger the Government can count on the support of the Social Democratic party.”
Fear and abhorrence of Russia were well nigh universal throughout Germany. For several years past, Russo-German relations had not been good, while the rising tide of Russian nationalism had quickened the traditional dread of this mighty neighbor into deep alarm. Hence the German people entered the struggle as in a crusade for the defense of Western civilization against Asiatic barbarism. The Teutonic attitude is well explained by the eminent German psychologist, Professor Hugo Munsterberg. In his book, “The War and America,” written in 1914, he asserted:…Germans know what a German defeat must mean to the ideal civilization of the world. The culture of Germany would be trampled down by the half-cultured Tartars.” And he paints this truly gloomy picture of the results of Russian victory: “If Russia wins to-day and Germany is broken down, Asia must win sooner or later, and if Asia wins, the achievements of the Western world will be wiped from the earth more sweepingly than the civilization of old Assyria. The anti-Asiatic work will and must appear sinful and treacherous; it will be obliterated from the globe and the darkness of old will reign again.”
This feeling against Russia in great part explains the subsequent German attitude toward England. At the outbreak of the European conflict the mass of the German people regarded it as essentially a Russo-German war and considered themselves the champions of Western culture. In such a struggle they believed that England must remain neutral. When, therefore, England joined Russia, the German people took it as the vilest treachery to the cause of civilization. The fact that, despite a decade of Anglo-German rivalry, many Germans still regarded the English as Teutonic kinsfolk, aggravated England’s shame of “cultural apostasy” by the guilt of “race-treason.”
The explosion of popular fury against England was therefore instantaneous and general. “What is happening to-day,” asserted Professors Ernst Haeckel and Rudolf Eucken in a joint manifesto, “will be inscribed in the annals of history as an indelible shame to England. England fights to please a half-Asiatic Power against Germanism. She fights not only on the side of barbarism, but also of moral injustice, for it is not to be forgotten that Russia began the war because it was not willing that there should be thorough expiation of a wretched murder. It is the fault of England that the present war is extended to a world war, and that all culture is thereby endangered. And why all this? Because she was envious of Germany’s greatness, because she wished at all costs to hinder a further extension of this greatness.” Professor Lamprecht declared that the war would result in the spread of German culture over all the world, from which only one country would be excluded — England. “The German world,” he wrote, “to-day is one. There is only one renegade brother. Up and at him! English culture must be in a bad way indeed when it allies itself with the Mongolians…. Germany is now the protector of European civilization, and after bloody victories the world will be healed by being Germanized.” And so convinced an opponent of Russia as Paul Rohrbach closed his book, “Der Krieg und die deutsche Politik” (1914), with the following words: “Russia, with her population of one hundred and seventy million, must at all hazards be reduced, and her ability to attack central Europe diminished. But the real enemy of Germany, and not only of Germany but of the culture and civilization of all Europe — that enemy is England. Peace with England is impossible until her power to do harm has been broken forever…. Then, and then only, Germany’s future will be assured. To display leniency toward England is now but to commit an act of treason against the future of the German Empire.”
Reports of anti-German outbursts in England lashed the waves of Teutonic hate to even greater fury. “Who was it that did conspire to bring about this war?” queried the eminent dramatist, Gerhart Hauptmann, in early October, 1914, “who even whistled for the Mongolian, for the Jap, that he should come to bite viciously and cowardly at Europe’s heels? It is with great pain and bitterness that I pronounce the word ‘England.’ I belong to those barbarians upon whom the English University of Oxford bestowed the degrees of doctor honoris causa…. Haldane, former English minister of war, and with him numerous Englishmen, undertook regular pilgrimages to the small barbarian city of Weimar, whore the barbarians, Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Wieland, and others, have exerted themselves for the humanity of the whole world.” “It is a fight between England and Germany to the bitter end — to the last German if need be,” declared Herr Witting, head of the Deutsche Bank, to an American journalist in late October, 1914. “It is a war of annihilation between two countries and nations. England has wanted it, so let it be. We want no quarter from England; we shall give none. We shall never ask England for mercy; we shall extend no mercy to her. England and England alone brought on this criminal war out of greed and envy, to crush Germany, and now it is death, destruction, and annihilation for one or the other of the two nations. Tell your American people that, and say that these words do not come from a fanatic, but from a quiet business man who knows the feeling of his people and who knows what is at stake in this titanic struggle brought on by that criminal nation. I tell you that it is a fight to the finish. God! How we hate England and the English, that nation of hypocrites and criminals which has brought this misery upon us and upon the world. And for what? For greed, greed and envy, to crush the German nation because she found herself decadent and felt her dominance and domineering in the world endangered. For the French there is no feeling in Germany except pity and regret. We must fight them, of course, but we have no feeling against France. She was forced into it. The feeling against Russia is subsiding. But against England there is growing among low and high the most fanatical hatred and contempt that one nation ever had toward another. Tell America not to be misled by peace talk. There is not going to be any peace — not for a long time. We are prepared for three years. In the end it will develop into a struggle between England and Germany. The English are determined to destroy the Fatherland. We have accepted the challenge.”
Herr Witting seems to have accurately gaged the German national temper in the autumn of 1914. To this period belongs the famous popular shibboleth, “Gott strafe England!” At this time also Ernst Lissauer wrote his famous “Hymn of Hate,” with its implacable closing lines:
“You will we hate with a lasting hate, We will never forego our hate. Hate by water and hate by land, Hate of the head and hate of the hand, Hate of the hammer and hate of the crown, Hate of seventy millions, choking down. We love as one, we hate as one, We have one foe, and one alone — England!”
And Lissauer’s hymn was not an isolated phenomenon. It was merely one of a whole poetic cycle, and was by no means the bitterest in tone, as witness this poem by Heinrich Vierordt, entitled, “Germany, Hate!”:
“Oh, Germany! Hate in cold, in icy blood, Kill millions on millions of the devilish brood. Let the bodies heap up mountain high And the smoke of the flesh ascend to the sky.
“Oh, Germany I Hate now, let this be your test — The bayonet thrust in the enemy’s breast. Take no one a prisoner, strike every one dead. And draw round the wastelands a girdle of red.”
This wave of hate seems not to have been confined to the civilian population at home but to have also affected the armies at the front. In March, 1915, the “Liller Kriegszeitung,” a soldiers’ paper published in the occupied French city of Lille, contained the following article entitled “Fire,” by Lieutenant-Colonel Kaden: “‘Gott strafe England!’ ‘May He punish her!’ This is the greeting that now passes when Germans meet. The fire of this righteous hate is all aglow! You men of Germany, from East and West, forced to shed your blood in the defense of your homeland through England’s infamous envy and hatred of German progress, feed the flame that burns in your souls. We have but one war cry — ‘Gott strafe England!’ Hiss this to one another in the trenches, in the charge; hiss as it were the sound of licking flames. Behold in every dead comrade a sacrifice forced from you by this accursed peopie. Take tenfold vengeance for each hero’s death!
“You German people at home, feed this fire of hate! You mothers, engrave this in the heart of the babe at your breast! You thousands of teachers, to whom millions of German children look up with eyes and hearts, teach HATE! unquenchable HATE! You homes of German learning, pile up the fuel on this fire! Tell the nation that this hate is not un-German, that it is not poison for our people. Write in letters of fire the name of our bitterest enemy. You guardians of the truth, feed this sacred HATE! You German fathers, lead your children up to the high hills of our homeland, at their feet our dear country bathed in sunshine. Your women and children shall starve: bestial, devilish conception. England wills it! Surely, all that is in you rises against such infamy! Listen to the ceaseless song of the German forest, behold the fruitful fields like rolling seas: then will your love for this wondrous land find the right word…HATE! unquenchable HATE! Deutschland, Deutschland Uber alles.”
Toward France, on the other hand, as Herr Witting had remarked, no popular hatred was visible in Germany. To be sure, there were numerous half -contemptuous quips at France’s supposed decadence, but there were also many testimonials of whole-hearted esteem. “I say it frankly. We have and we had no hatred against France,” remarked Gerhart Hauptmann in October, 1914.
“We have idolized the plastic art, sculpture, pictorial art, and the literature of that country…. It is to be greatly regretted that Germany and France could not be political friends. They should have been, since they are the administrators of the continental productions of the mind, and since they are the two great cultured European master-nations. Fate, however, would not have it so.” “It is one of the most painful necessities in the present situation,” wrote Professor Heinrich Schrors of the Catholic University of Bonn in the “Internationale Monatsschrift” of October, 1914, “that we have to draw the sword against nations such as France, with whom we are united by the highest cultural interests, and for whose science we have the deepest regard. We should greatly deplore the humiliation of France or the impairing of its position as a civilized nation. If in tbe present war we could detect any such object on the part of the German Government, even as a secret tendency, we should be the first to oppose it.”
Toward Belgium the German public seems at first to have felt unmixed pity, but later on German official assertions regarding the Belgian Government’s unneutral conduct before the war and its inciting of the Belgian civilian population to a franc-tireur warfare against the German troops changed German sentiment to one of hostility toward the Belgian governing class, while reports of Belgian civilian atrocities committed on German soldiers tended to broaden this new feeling to include the whole Belgian people. In late September, 1914, a manifesto of leading German Protestant theologians thus referred to these Belgian atrocity charges: “Unnamable horrors have been committed against Germans living peaceably abroad — against women and children — against wounded and physicians — cruelties and shamelessness such as many a heathen and Mohammedan war has not revealed…. Even the not unnatural excitement of a people whose neutrality — already violated by our adversaries — could under the pressure of implacable necessity not be respected, affords no excuse for inhumanities, nor does it lessen the shame that such could take place; in a land long ago Christianized.” Regarding the burning of Louvain, the Berlin “Vossische Zeitung” remarked: “The art treasures of the old town exist no more. It is true that art lovers will grieve, but there was no other way of punishing this population, whose devilish women poured boiling oil from their windows upon the passing German soldiers.” And the “Lokal Anzeiger” hoped the world would “realize that the blame for all the suffering of Louvain rests with the half-civilized men and women who live there.”
Regarding Allied counter-charges of atrocities committed by German troops, the German press entered a sweeping and indignant general denial. ” ‘Teutonic Barbarians! Vandals!’ ” exclaimed the “Kolnische Zeitung” scornfully. “Such are the terms which French and English speakingtrumpets are shrieking into the ears of the world. After lies comes calumnious opprobrium…. The irony of history, which is now dealing so terrible a blow to English hopes, will also clear up these lying calumnies against the ‘Teutonic barbarian.’…. Two things speak for us: The German good conscience, and — the convincing might of the German fist.” The famous manifesto of the German intellectuals asserte…’ Germany will fight to the end as a cultured nation, which has the might of Goethe, Beethoven, and Kant, who are to it just as holy as its hearths and homes…. Can any one point to an example of our ferocity? But in the East the earth has drunk the blood of hosts of women and children slain by the Russians. In the West dumdum bullets tear open the breasts of our warriors. Those who associate with Russians and Serbians and offer to the world the spectacle of letting loose mongrels and niggers on the white race have the least right to call themselves defenders of European civilization.” Gerhart Hauptmann remarked in an angry open-letter to the French pacifist, Romain Rolland, “The German soldier is unsullied by the loathsome and puerile were-wolf tales which your lying French press so zealously spreads abroad…. Let the idle Englishman call us ‘Huns’; you may, for all I care, characterize the warriors of our splendid landwehr as ‘sons of Attila.’ It is enough for us if this landwehr shatters to bits the ring of its merciless enemies. Far better that you call us ‘sons of Attila,’ cross yourself in fear — and remain outside our borders, than that you indict tender inscriptions upon the tomb of our German name, calling us ‘the beloved descendants of Goethe.’ The epithet ‘Huns’ is coined by people who, themselves Huns, find themselves disappointed in their criminal attacks on the life of a sound and valorous race, because this race knows how to parry a fearful blow with still more fearful force. The impotent take refuge in curses.”
For Allied charges of vandalism at the destruction of historical monuments such as the Rheims cathedral, the Germans had slight patience. That works of art should be destroyed was generally deplored, but that Germany should modify her campaign because of this was held ridiculous. “They call us barbarians. What of it?” wrote Major General von Ditfurth in the “Hamburger Nachrichten. ” “We scorn them and their abuse. For my part, I hope that in this war we have merited the title of barbarians. War is war, and must be waged with severity. The commonest, ugliest stone placed to mark the burial-place of a German grenadier is a more glorious and venerable monument than all the cathedrals in Europe put together. Let neutral peoples and our enemies cease their empty chatter, which may well be compared to the twitter of birds. Let them cease their talk of the Cathedral of Rheims and of all the churches and all the chateaux in France which have shared its fate. These things do not interest us. Our troops must achieve victory. What else matters?”
Toward the subject of the war in general, most Germans, as we have seen, maintained that it was a purely defensive struggle forced upon Germany by a league of malevolent foes. “Undoubtedly this is the most stupid, senseless and unnecessary war of modern times,” exclaimed the German Crown Prince to an American journalist in December, 1914. “It is a war not wanted by Germany, I can assure you, but was forced on us.” “We are fighting not only for the intellectual heritage of our fathers, but we fight for European culture, its very existence, and its future,” asserted Prince von Bulow to the Norwegian publicist, Bjorn Bjornson. “Victory for the German arms guarantees law and order, prosperity and civilization, for Europe and the whole world.” But here and there a bolder note was heard. In November, 1914, Maximilian Harden thus apostrophized German apologists: “Cease your pitiful attempts to excuse Germany’s action. No longer wail to strangers who do not care to hear, telling them how dear to us were the smiles of peace we had smeared like rouge upon our lips….. Because our statesmen failed to discover and foil shrewd plans of deception is no reason why we may hoist the flag of most pious morality. Not as weak-willed blunderers have we undertaken the fearful risk of this war. We wanted it. Because we had to wish it and could wish it. May the Teuton devil throttle those whiners whose pleas for excuses make us ludicrous in these hours of lofty experience. We do not stand, and shall not place ourselves, before the court of Europe. Our might shall create new law in Europe. Germany strikes. If it conquers new realms for its genius, the priesthoods of all the gods will sing songs of praise to the good war…
Even more than in France was emphasis laid upon the war’s deep regenerative effects. In many quarters German materialism and moral shortcomings before the war were frankly acknowledged, but nearly all asserted that the opening months of the struggle had wrought profound changes in the German character. “Gone is all the worship of Mammon,” exclaimed Professor Georg Simmel in the “Internationale Monatsschrift” of November, 1914. “Gone is the fetish of external success which finds expression only in money. The self-seeking of individuals and of classes, to whom the collective whole was but a chimera, has disappeared. … To be sure, these our failings will reappear in some form or other in the future. We shall not be angels. But for the present the causes or the results of cynicism have been eradicated from German life.” “All weeping and sorrow, all regret, are swallowed up by the mighty stream of a new national life which has gushed forth over our German Fatherland,” wrote Professor Theodor Elsenhans in the “Illustrirte Zeitung” of mid-November, 1914. Dr. Ludwig Schuller, in a sermon preached at Cologne early in 1915, sai…’ Suddenly the lightning fell. The war came. The hour of decision for our people was at hand. Now it was either into perdition or back to the living God. And our people have chosen the good part. We bowed under the mighty liand of God. The breaking out of the war suddenly found a praying people. It was such a change in the innermost soul of the German people as we all have never yet experienced… In previous chapters we have already noted the optimism which prevailed in France and England during the opening months of 1915. It is, therefore, not surprising to discover that the reverse was true of their opponents, and that German public opinion at that time showed a tendency toward pessimism. The Germans were abandoning their hopes of an early, triumphant peace and were settling down to the prospect of a long war. Save in extreme Social Democratic circles there was, it is true, no hint that Germany would accept any peace except one which offered ample guarantees for future security, but the German press now frankly admitted that these guarantees could be won only after a prolonged and desperate struggle. Maximilian Harden, in his organ, “Die Zukunft,” struck a distinctly pessimistic note sharply at variance with his bold optimism of the preceding autumn. “Beat us!” he cried in February, 1915, “drive us into the sea or into the Rhine! Starve us into submission! We shall die honorably, die standing up with clean arms. We do not know whether we shall win, but we do know we shall not end unworthily. We are conserving both our confidence and our nourishment for a very long struggle; yet, in a year we may be using thorns and thistles for a time, instead of bread. We are quieter than in the first torrent of war’s enthusiasm, but not more cowardly; nor are we to be intimidated. In prayer we are ever joyful, and we still hark to the German maxim; ‘Rely only on thyself; then wilt thou never deceive thyself.’ ” Most press comment was, however, more optimistic. In the Berlin “Tageszeitung…Count zu Reventlow wrote: “Germans will do much more than persevere. They will fight until everything complies with their will—will that vehemently and without scruple puts all means into its service by which it desires to arrive at its aim. Any termination of the war except by German victory is unthinkable.”
As may have been inferred from Herr Harden’s words, German public opinion was earnestly discussing the effects of the Allied naval blockade which had practically isolated Germany since the beginning of the war. Even before the war this matter had been seriously considered, a notable instance being a controversy between Count von Moltke and the economist Karl Ballod carried on in the columns of the “Preussische Jahrbficher” of June and July, 1914. Count von Moltke had been most optimistic, but Herr Ballod’s reply was couched in a frankly pessimistic vein. He asserted that a prolonged dislocation of Germany’s industrial system would put back her recent economic development two hundred years, and wrote in regard to the food question, “It is a terrible self-deception to make out that the German people could get along eleven months in the year with the grain which they themselves raise for bread.” Such being the divided state of mind before the war, the practical confronting of the test naturally evoked sharp divergences of opinion. The official view breathed assured self-confidence. “The war,” wrote Dr. Bernhard Dernburg in the “American Review of Reviews” for November, 1914, “will bring out any number of devices — ])rocesses that have been too .expensive so far in competition — which will be taken up and made more perfect. Products will be turned to use that have never been thought of before. Like a good housewife who must get along suddenly upon a limited stipend per week because some hardship has befallen her husband, so a nation convinced of its good cause, and fairly successful in the arts up to the present, will find its way and be able to buck up against the humanitarian English proposal of starving it out.” And this optimism was shared by much unofficial German public opinion. In late November, 1914, the well-informed “Frankfurter Zeitung” remarked: “We breathe freely and fully as ever. Our provision warehouses are filled, and in our coffers lie billions of good money which all of us have given and which is only a small part of what our people are prepared to give and will give if the first is spent. Our entire national life in our besieged land has become one single great organization — an organization of battle, an organization of sustenance, of credit, of peaceful work, and of providence.” “We are well provided with the means of living,” wrote the “Vossische Zeitung” in March, 1915, “and our financial and industrial armor is as sound as ever…. We may truly say that there is no crisis.” And Maximilian Harden asserted breezily, “All twaddle, this starvation talk…. Female busybodies with an itch for notoriety tell us what a delightful morsel can be made from the eye and tail of a herring (Gott strafe England). Eat your mess yourself, you advertising chatterbox. All this twaddle injures Germany. Are we in danger of famine? This fireband was merely meant to inflame the hatred against England…. Hundreds of thousands live to-day more lavishly than in peace times. They live even disgustingly well. In peace times the husband drank or loafed. Now he is with the colors and sends home the pay he cannot use, while the landlord and many a creditor must wait for their money…. Plenty of employment. Foodstuffs packed to the ceiling. Cakes enough to withstand a siege of children…. All the streets are bright. All the cafes are full at 4 p.m. Two dozen theaters open. Hundreds of movies. Concerts, circus. Spring jackets and ‘ between-season’ hats. Why, the thing is like a fair. And yet German lips prattle about famin…’
Here and there, however, less optimistic notes were heard. In the late winter of 1914-15, General von Blume wrote in the Berlin “Allgemeine Zeitun…” Germany is now confronted nationally by problems hitherto solved only within the narrow limits of besieged fortresses. … No military success will avail to save Germany unless the menace of starvation is averted.” And the “Kolnische Zeitung” remarked, “All depends now on the proof of who can hold out longer. In any case nothing else remains for us but to defend ourselves to the utmost.” “The last months before the new liarvest are upon us,” said the “Frankfurter Zeitung” of late May, 1915; and Professor Harms wrote in the “Berliner Tageblatt,” “Do not let a crumb of bread — that gift of God be wasted. Eat only war-bread. Regard the potato as a means to assist us to victory. Blush for shame if your desire for luxuries tempts you to eat pies and pastry. Look with contempt on those who are so immoral as to eat cake and so by their greediness imperil our supply of flour.”
Germans were practically a unit in believing that the only hope of breaking the English blockade was the German submarine fleet. Hence their government’s declaration of a submarine blockade of the British Isles at the beginning of 1915 aroused general popular enthusiasm…From Great Britain’s method of warfare of starving Germany,” wrote the “Kolnische Zeitung,” “we must conclude that the entire British people is our enemy, and a submarine war against British merchantmen must be begun and carried through recklessly…. We must try to hit the vital point of Great Britain — namely, her merchant fleet.” “At last,” exclaimed the “Hamburger Nachrichten,” “what we have so long hoped for is being done.” “Great Britain wants war to the knife,” cried the “Kolnische Zeitung” of late February, 1915. “She shall have it!” In mid-May, Count zu Reventlow wrote in the “Deutsche Tageszeitung,” “The newspapers of our enemies, as well as those of neutrals, ought to grasp the simple logic that the German Empire and its statesmen and its navy would be exposed to the ridicule and contempt of the whole world if it did not carry out this trade war. … If this trade war were, out of fear for the United States, to become a farce, it would smash beyond repair the prestige of the German Empire.” “Every means that art and nature offer to overpower the enemy we shall in- ‘ exorably and unshakenly use,” asserted the “Hamburger Korrespondenz.” “It is laughable to suppose that we are under any obligation to cease our submarine war if England should find it to her interests to return to the old paths of international law. No compassion for passengers should weaken our strong duty.” The German Government’s compromise with the United States over the submarine issue was almost universally regretted in Germany.
Italy’s entrance into the war on the Allies’ side naturally provoked a storm of wrath in the German press. Many German writers had never ceased to hope that what they held to be the common aims of Italy and Germany would keep Italy neutral. “Both peoples have the task of breaking a path to light and air against the resistance of the old, possessing Powers,” asserted Dr. E. W. Mayer in the “Preussische Jahrbucher” of April, 1915. “There are geographical and historical relations more potent than ties of institutions or of blood.” This helps to explain German bitterness at Italy’s final decision. “If war with Italy comes,” cried the “Kolnische Zeitung” on the eve of the crisis, “Germany’s hatred of England will be nothing compared with her hatred of Italy. Pier treacherous conduct is unparalleled in history…The actual rupture evoked not merely fury but a spirit of grim determination. “This war by Italy against her former allies,” exclaimed the “Frankfurter Zeitung,” “is one of the most abominable examples of perfidy that history knows. We shall now have one more war-zone. Certainly, that is no light matter, but it will only increase our resolution not to allow ourselves to be beaten.” And the “Vossische Zeitung” wrote:…On our part, every word forced from our choking throats by moral disgust would be too much. Let us not utter words of complaint, but grind our teeth and use other weapons than words to the new enemy…
After this rather trying period, the uninterrupted series of triumphs for German arms which extended through the entire second half of the year 1915 naturally awakened intense popular enthusiasm and hope. Specific discussion of Germany’s permanent gains was frowned upon by the authorities, but popular expectations could readily be glimpsed from a reading of the press.
The optimistic note was strong. After the crushing of Serbia in the autumn of 1915, the Berlin “Lokal Anzeiger” wrote: “The neutral peoples would be blind indeed if they did not see over whose standards the goddess of victory is moving. Nations who, after a fight of fifteen months against a world in arms, are able with such great certainty to lead, at a moment’s notice, a new army to victory, cannot be defeated. This is the truth that our new victories disclose with absolute clearness even to the most incredulous.” The Stuttgart “Tageblatt” thus expressed its ideas as to the ending of the European struggle: “He who wishes peace, let him make himself feared. True peace is only the highest form of war. True peace rests on the power of the strong, the mere sight of whom is enough to beat the enemy. He is not ready for peace who fears war, but only he who has nothing to fear from war. It is such a peace we must organize; a peace rendered possible by the most intense exertion of German strength.” “We may see the red of morning follow the blood and mist of the twilight,” exclaimed Maximilian Harden. “If our enemies wish to erect a barrier for all time between us and the rest of the world,” stated Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg in early December, “I should not be surprised if we arranged our future accordingly.” And the usually reserved “Vossische Zeitung” wrote, “As we are the supreme people, our duty henceforth is to lead the march of humanity itself. … It would be a sin against our mission to spare the peoples who are inferior to us.”
The question of future diplomatic alignments began to be widely discussed, and among these there appeared a certain decrease of hatred against England with a correlative increasing coolness toward France. Of course the popular cliorus against England was still loud and bitter, but in reflective circles dissenting voices were occasionally to be heard. In that thoughtful periodical, the “Deutsche Revue” for August, 1915, an anonymous writer handled the question with surprising frankness. According to his contention, France and Russia were the traditional constants in the anti-German coalition, England being only the recent variable. It was therefore Germany’s interest to come to terms with her temporary enemy instead of trying to placate her natural foes….Friendship with England!” he continued…The word burns German ears and appears impossible for all time. Ten times rather an understanding with France, say we. But is not that exaggerated? We see to-day only the repellant side of the English state system and forget that its inner side has many sound elements with which the French cannot be compared. We swear the downfall of Britain as the Greeks did that of Ilium, but we keep very still about the rottenness of the French republic and the dark depths of Russia’s political immorality; we also keep silence regarding the weighty fact that the service of Mammon is an ill, not of England alone, but of the twentieth century. In all our present talk there speaks more the vengeful wrath of embittered hearts than the cool reason of political heads. One thing is certain: Europe can never raise herself once more on a heap of ruins…. The words ‘Annihilation or Dictatorship,’ applied to Great Powers, are mere foolishness.”
There were also distinct signs of a revulsion against the cult of hate. As early as March, 1915, the moderate Socialist Deputy, Haenisch, said in a public speec…’ The firm resolve to hold out and to win, which must also live in our children, ought not to become wild hate against enemy nations. However artistic Lissauer’s “Chant of Hate” may be, and however valuable as an expression of temper of the moment, it would nevertheless be deeply deplorable if sentiments expressed in it were to work themselves into the hearts of our children and foster long hatred after the war. Far better were it if they were told of the miseries in East Prussia, Galicia, Poland, Belgium, and Northern France, and were filled with deep sorrow at the destruction of so many young and hopeful lives, of so many material and ideal values.” “Whoever thinks that he can help the Fatherland by encouraging this sort of German hatred may do so at his own risk,” wrote a Catholic theologian in the Hanover…Deutsche Volkszeitun…of mid- July, 1915…On our side, however, we should be guilty of neglect if we did not raise a warning voice against it. A hatred such as is now being preached is unchristian and unworthy of the German nation.” Professor Ernst Troeltsch, in the “Frankfurter Zeitung,” asserted: “Hate may at first inspire courage and energy in attack, but in the long run it is bad politics. It leads to a troubled and fantastic policy of sentiment which afterward cannot be carried out…. Especially is hate a bad counselor in the case of England. It prevents us from appreciating the position correctly; it leads to an underestimation of the enemy’s strength, and renders difficult the renewed and unavoidable contact after the war. But apart from all this, one thing is certain: all systematic substitution of our old German humanity by simple national egotism, all permanent concentration of our feelings upon antagonism, are dangerous to ourselves.” Professor Wilhelm Herzog, in “Das Forum” (Munich), queried: “Did we, and do we, hate England I Is there any such a hate outside the ranks of professional lyric poets and other intellectuals of the same stamp? We hate neither the English, nor the French, nor the Russian people. We only hate those who are responsible for the present war. There are everywhere erratic ‘idealists’; it is they who exhaust themselves in sentiments of national hostility.” And Professor Heinrich Morf, on opening his course in French philology”, uttered this noble tribute to the spirit of scientific truth: “You have come together with me here to pursue a work of peace…. When your teacher has mounted this rostrum and the outer doors of this auditorium are closed, we must and will compel our thoughts to turn aside for an hour from what elsewhere daily and nightly oppresses every heart….. The passions of the day shall not enter here. We will leave them without. Science demands of us this act of self-conquest and self-discipline. Whoso finds this impossible cannot serve her, and can find no intimate communion with her soul. Such an one will remain unsatisfied within these walls…. There will be no change, therefore, in the scientific character of these lectures. Now, as heretofore, I will try to school your historic thinking to dispassionate conception and judgment of the things of the past and of foreign lands. Such scientific labor does not sunder — it unites. It teaches to perceive, to understand; not to despise.” During this period the question of German unpopularity in the world at large was also widely discussed. The fact of this unpopularity was universally admitted, but the reasons assigned for its prevalence varied greatly. Some laid it to the foreigner’s envy of, or inability to comprehend, the peculiar character and superiority of German Kultur. “We had too little pride and too much kindness of heart,” asserted “Der Tag,” (Berlin), in September, 1915. “We gave ourselves without reserve and made generous presents from our superfluous riches. We showed only too plainly our appreciation of foreign ways and laid too little stress on our own qualities. This will and must be changed. We shall never obtain recognition for Germanism except by national pride and cold reserve.” Others, however, considered Germans themselves largely responsible, and dilated upon national shortcomings such as tactlessness, bad manners, aggressiveness, and the inferior social standing of German sojourners abroad. “In his personal behavior to strangers,” wrote the “Ko1nische Zeitung,” “the German gives cause for mistrust and dislike. … If a German of this kind sees a French regiment marching past at a review with its normal step and not with the thunderclap of the German parade-march, he laughs, and is so amused that he says what he thinks to his French neighbor. The same person, when he sees an English railroad station, remarks upon the dirt, the stuffy waiting-rooms, the mass of vulgar, colored advertisements, and says to his English companion that he would like him to see one of the great new German stations that are as clean and bright as a new pin. … So the German gets the reputation of being a childish braggart.” In an unusually thoughtful article in the “Preussische Jabrbucher” for February, 1915, Felix Stahl, while admitting the above failings as contributary causes, found the real secret of German unpopularity in the speeding-up process which German efficiency had produced throughout the entire economic world, thus raising the ire of peoples with assured prospects and satisfied with a less strenuous pace.
All this need not lead to the conclusion that the Germans were abandoning themselves to philosophic speculation. On the contrary, the triumphs of 1915, with their conquests of Poland, Courland, and Serbia, the winning over of Bulgaria, and the opening of the highroad to Turkey and the Moslem East, roused an ever-growing discussion concerning the multitudinous problems of the morrow.
We have already noted the less hostile attitude toward England which was becoming manifest in many quarters. We must now consider the growing coolness toward France. At the beginning of the war, it will be remembered, no anti-French feeling had been visible in Germany. But as time passed the implacable temper of the French people with its call for the destruction of German unity, produced a feeling of exasperation and convinced many Germans that this irreconcilable foe must be finally crushed. Typical of this new feeling is a petition addressed to the imperial chancellor by a distinguished gathering of German intellectuals at Berlin in the summer of 1915. “After being threatened by France for centuries,” reads this document, “and after hearing the cry of ‘Revanche’ from 1815 till 1870, and from 1871 till 1915, we wish to have done with the French menace once and for all. All classes of our people are imbued with this desire. There must, however, be no misplaced attempts at reconciliation, which have always been opposed by France with the utmost fanaticism; and as regards this we would utter a most urgent warning to Germans not to deceive themselves. Even after the terrible lesson of this unsuccessful war, France will still thirst for revenge in so far as her strength permits. For the sake of our own existence we must ruthlessly weaken her both politically and economically, and we must improve our military and strategical position with regard to her. For this purpose, in our opinion, it is necessary radically to improve our whole Western front from Belfort to the coast.”
The same document gives an insight into German public feeling about Belgium. “On Belgium,” it declares, “on the acquisition of which so much of the best German blood has been shed, we must keep firm hold, from the political, military, and economic standpoints, despite any arguments which may be urged to the contrary. On no point are the masses more united, for without the slightest possible doubt they consider it a matter of honor to hold onto Belgium. … In time also she may entail a considerable addition to our nation, if in course of time the Flemish element, which is so closely allied to us, becomes emancipated from the artificial grip of French culture and remembers its Teutonic affinities.” The fate of Belgium had, indeed, greatly interested Germans from the first. At the very beginning of the war Professor Hermann Losch had predicted, “The war between the three west European Powers will be fought not only in Belgium, but for Belgium…In the spring of 1915, Count zu Reventlow wrote: “The absolute and permanent withdrawal of Belgium from all British and French influence is a vital matter for Germany’s future…. Belgium can never again, with the best will in the world, become independent. A restoration of Belgium to its former political state is a phantom, a Utopia.” Annexation of both Belgian and French territory was, however, hotly combated by Social Democrats of all shades.
And this feeling against annexations in western Europe was not confined to Socialists; it was shared by ardent expansionists as well. Many Germans had now become convinced that a complete Teutonic triumph was impossible. Since this was so, these people held that Germany must choose her compensations either East or West. And while some persons held Western gains the more important, a larger number believed that Germany’s true line of expansion lay toward the east. The crushing of Serbia and the opening up of the highroad to the Ottoman Empire had at last realized the great Teutonic dream, “Berlin-Bagdad…and the maintenance of this connection appeared to wide circles of German thought an imperative necessity. But the retention of Belgium obviously involved a finish fight with England. Could Germany hold both Bagdad and Antwerp against the world? Would it not be wiser to surrender Antwerp as the price of English assent to “Berlin-Bagdad’”? This was the opinion of moderate German imperialists of the “Eastern” school.
Germany’s Oriental hopes had been high from the first. Turkey’s adherence to the Teutonic cause in November, 1914, had been enthusiastically hailed by every section of the German press. “Over there in Turkey,” wrote the well-known German publicist, Ernst Jackh, in a pamphlet published at that moment, “stretch Anatolia and Mesopotamia: Anatolia, the ‘Land of the Sunrise’; Mesopotamia, the region of ancient paradise.
May these names be to us a sign: may this worldwar bring to Germany and Turkey the sunrise and the paradise of a new time; may it confer upon an assured Turkey and a Greater Germany the blessing of a fruitful Turco-Teutonic collaboration in peace after a victorious Turco-Teutonic collaboration in war.”
German expectations were still further excited by the Turkish proclamation of the “Holy War” in mid-November, 1914. “The false moves of Grey have brought all the Moslems into line,” asserted the “Frankfurter Zeitung.” “Indians, Egyptians, and Persians recognize the English as foes. The blows that Grey has rained upon the Moslem world have roused it, nolens volens, from its deep sleep. The two great Moslem sects, the Shiites and the Sunnites have sunk their differences and become brothers. No power in the world can ever again make Turkey and Persia break away from each other. The Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, and Africans will enter into a holy league. The Moslems living in the English and French colonies can no longer be true to their allegiance, nor can those of the Caucasus, Turkestan, and Transcaucasia remain loyal to Russia. If Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, and Algeria join themselves to the two Moslem Powers, Turkey and Persia, can the Triple Entente continue their war against Germany and Austria?”
Disappointed at that moment, these hopes revived a year later after Serbia’s fall. “Persia is beginning to shake the shackles of the Anglo-Russian treaty,” wrote the “Vossische Zeitung” in November, 1915. “Persia is beginning to arm and defend herself. Afghanistan will never go with Russia and England. In Africa the Senussi are stirring; their influence extends over Egypt and Tripoli, including the Hinterland. In Egypt the English have so far been able to repress tendencies to revolt, but they cannot prevent hostile agitation from penetrating like a dynamite cartridge. In Tunis and Morocco also there are ways and means of letting the population know of the French and English defeats at the Dardanelles. We are only at the beginning of the effects of the Islamic ferment…
The scope of German Asiatic aspirations is revealed in an article by the learned Orientalist, Professor Berhardt Molden, which appeared in the “Preussische Jahrbucher” for December, 1914. Germany’s aid to Turkey, contends Professor Molden, is only symptomatic of her policy to raise the other Asiatic peoples now crushed beneath English and Russian domination. Thus Germany will create puissant allies for the “Second Punic War” which England may well wage if the present conflict should end in a deadlock. Therefore, Germany must strive to solidify that great Central Asian block — Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, China — all of whose members are menaced by the Anglo-Russo-Japanese robber-league. Only Germany can save the threatened, from Stockholm to Pekin. Professor Molden urges a “Pan-Asian railroad” from Stambul to Pekin. This would bo especially alluring for xVfghanistan, which would thus become one of the great world-pivots of politics and trade. In fine, “Germany must free Asia.” This is the keynote of all the German waitings on this point. “To renovate the East,” such is Germany’s mission, wrote Friedrich Delitzsch in the “Deutsche Revue” for January, 1916.
To many Germans the great obstacle to Teutonic ascendancy in the Balkans and Asia was not so much England as Russia. In fact, the existence of any sort of “Greater Germany” was considered menaced by the “Russian Peril.” The fear of Russia, so prominent at the outbreak of war, had been temporarily submerged by the flood of hatred against England, but Russian resilience under the most shattering blows and Austrian weakness before Muscovite assaults gradually brought the Russian danger again to the fore. Of course, certain reactionary Junkers might regret the old intimacy between the Prussian and Russian courts, and the hotter advocates of a finish fight against England might recommend generous terms to purchase a Russian separate peace, but most Germans plainly believed that the Russian colossus must be definitely broken if Germany were not to be overshadowed in course of time.
“Can Russia remain a European Power in the former sense of the word, if our future is to be secure?” asks the noted German publicist, Paul Rohrbach, at the beginning of his book, “Russland und Wir,” published in the summer of 1915. His answer is an emphatic “No!” He concludes his book as follows: “There you have present-day Russia! ‘Scratch a Russian and you find a Tartar’ has long been a true proverb. As soon as the superficial veneer of external civilization peels off, modern Muscovitism reveals the same wild, barbaric traits as it did centuries ago under Ivan the Terrible. … As in Livonia in 1558, so in East Prussia in 1914 and 1915! The Muscovite is a Muscovite still. Only he who does not know him can imagine that the Muscovite is capable of living as a Kultur-nation in lasting communion with the European world. He cannot do it, for he has another soul…. With this state it is very difficult to conclude a real peace according to the accepted canons of international law. Reckless barbarity, criminal lust of conquest, and destruction of all human culture founded upon freedom are the very essence of its being. He who thinks about the peace which is to follow this war must first of all visualize the inner nature of his Russian opponent. … He who has any regard for the soul and the future of Germanism and human civilization will thereupon lay down one inflexible condition: No compromise peace with Russi…’ This conclusion is heartily endorsed by Otto Hoetsch, Ernst Jackh, and other leading German political writers. Karl Leuthner, in his recent book, “Russischer Volksimperialismus” (1916), draws a truly alarming picture. According to him, the Russian masses are taking up the old imperialistic programs of Tsars, bureaucrats, and artistic thinkers, and are “going them one better,” just as the imperialism of the French revolution surpassed that of Louis XIV. The liberal, democratic, cosmopolitan opposition party in Russia was only a superficial current engendered by the excesses of Autocracy: it is fast bowing down to Panslavism’s Holy Trinity — Tsar, Great-Russian People, Orthodoxy. “We Germans,” concludes Herr Leuthner, “must look this reality in the face. In the whole realm of politics there is for us nothing more weighty. Not the Russian Tsar alone, whose tyranny we abhorred, but also the Russian people, for whose freedom we have waxed enthusiastic, stands with all the traditional lust of conquest and subjugation upon our borders. Those whom we believed spiritually near to us have become our readiest and bitterest foes. All illusions, all empty hopes of reconciliation, are shattered. We must prepare our souls either to undergo the fate involved in propinquity to a rapacious world-empire, or resolve to avert that fate by this war…These German apprehensions have been steadily increased by the momentous internal changes which have transpired in the Russian Empire. In the Preussische Jahrbuche…for November, 1916, Dr. Hans Delbruck maintains that Russia’s restoration of her army after the debacle of 1915, the prohibition of vodka, and the construction of the Murman railway to the Arctic Ocean in the midst of war, are such mighty achievements as prove conclusively that Russia is to Germany a foe far more menacing than England. General von Hindenburg seems to have put this feeling in a nutshell when he remarked during a recent interview, “We hate the English — the future danger to Germany lies in the East.”
All this accounts for the German Government’s reconstruction of Poland, and for German popular demands for similar action in Lithuania, the Russian Baltic provinces, and the Ukraine.
Such were the complex thought-currents which first appeared upon the surface of German national consciousness during the closing months of 1915. But, as the new year drew nigh, those problems which had engrossed German thought in the earlier phases of the war came once more to the fore. The Allies steadily refused to make peace on a “war-map” basis, while the English blockade drew ever tighter around beleaguered Central Europe. By the end of 1915, Germany was plainly feeling the pinch. “While our troops are fighting like the heroes of the classical ages,” wrote the “Frankfurter Zeitung” in November, “want is growing acute at home, where the people are beginning to interpret the miserable existing conditions as the defeat of the Empire. We jeered at the blockade, but to-day we laugh no longer. The sinister aspect of things certainly provides no food for laughter.” A Socialist memorial to the imperial chancellor read: “In Berlin to-day the poorer people very rarely see either meat or any fat food; that means that they are not receiving enough albuminous nourishment to meet their needs. The complaints we receive from the families of mobilized men are fearful. Their position is rapidly becoming one of despair.” This food shortage appears to have reached its climax just before the harvest in the summer of 1916. Since then things seem to have been somewhat easier, though the situation is still far from ideal and complaints are widespread. For example, in early January, 1917, the Berlin “Vorwurts” said: “We are all reasonable enough to look facts in the face and to bear the inevitable with dignity. We also know that a German defeat would take not only the last scraps of butter from our bread, but take the bread also. But apart from a needy future after the war, we have only been told that we have no improvement of rations to expect, and that on the contrary the difficulties will increase, especially after Easter.”
Hunger and the Allies ‘ implacable temper naturally roused a fresh wave of fury in Germany. “We have not yet succeeded in forcing our enemies to peace,” wrote the “Kolnische Zeitung” in late 1915. “The hopes of the enemy are still strong. They are showing more and more arrogance. Every man and every woman in Germany must be impressed by the fact that this war is a question of life or death. It would be vain to hope for mercy if our enemies succeed in their plans. There is nothing left for us but to fight with our backs to the wall until such victory be achieved that we can force peace on our foes. In this our only hope lies — in the grimmest warfare at the front, supported by our resistance at home and by our iron will to hold out. To him who can best hold his nerves in rein will be the victory. Successes we have in plenty. What we have left to do is to dictate peace. Deutschland Uber Alles!” The latent desire for peace showed in comments like that of “Vorwarts” at the close of 1916: “If we are going to drag this war out indefinitely, all Europe will be bled to death, and America and colored people will be our heirs. But we want Europe to live. We see France bleeding white, but we have never hated her. We want peace for Germany, France, England and Russia — peace for the whole bloodstained world…
However, the Allies’ uncompromising rejection of German peace offers at the opening of 1917 spurred the entire German people to desperate wrath. “Peace talk must now cease,” asserted the “Tagliche Rundschau”; while the “Kolnische Zeitung” exclaimed hotly, “We have now learned that our enemies do not want peace, but war to the knife; so we must abandon all considerations and grasp all the means of war at our disposal.” Kaiser Wilhelm undoubtedly voiced the feelings of his people when he asserted in his proclamation of late January, 1917: “Our enemies have dropped the mask. After refusing with scorn and hypocritical words of love for peace and humanity our honest peace offer, they have now, in their reply to the United States, gone beyond that and admitted their lust for conquest, the baseness of which is further enhanced by their calumnious assertions. Their aim is the crushing of Germany, the dismemberment of the Powers allied with us, and the enslavement of the freedom of Europe and the seas under the same yoke that Greece, with gnashing teeth, is now enduring. But what they could not achieve in thirty months of the bloodiest fighting and unscrupulous economic war they will also fail to accomplish in the future…. Burning indignation and holy wrath will redouble the strength of every German man and woman, whether it be devoted to fighting, to work, or to suffering. We are ready for all sacrifices.”
This iron mood was accompanied by a sharp recrudescence of the former intransigeance against England. “The majority of our people still have no conception of the consequences which would follow if we were defeated, and defeated by such an enemy as England,” asserted the “Kolnische Zeitung.” “It is a dangerous mistake to regard English speeches as vain boasting…. For God’s sake let us not deceive ourselves about England’s determination so to force Germany to her knees that she must accept England’s conditions without resistance and be wiped out forever as a competitor in the world’s markets. All classes of that people are united in this resolve, from the First Sea Lord to the humblest dock-laborer at Newcastle-on-T}Tie. It cannot be too firmly insisted that such a victory for England would mean an irreparable catastrophe for the German Empire. Not only would the German Empire be dissolved, but our people itself would be seriously threatened with extinction, especially in view of the Russian torrent pouring in from the east.”
The logical conclusion was that England must be crushed, and the advocates of a finish fight against Britain asserted that her destruction could be accomplished by means of ruthless submarine warfare. From the autumn of 1916 on, increasing pressure was brought to bear upon the German Government to repudiate its compromise with the United States and plunge unreservedly into the fray. “Down with England!” cried a popular pamphlet; “England is not only our most dangerous, but also our most vulnerable, enemy, because an island lives and dies with its shipping. Can we conquer England on the sea? Yes. The deeds and experiences of our navy give a sure guarantee of this.” “If we are to win a victory,” declared Dr. von Heydebrand, Conservative leader in the Prussian Diet, at the beginning of 1917, “it is absolutely imperative to use the weapons which give us the possibility of winning a victory against the toughest and strongest adversary — England…. The German and Prussian people will be prepared to bear the consequences. ” And Count von Westarp. Conservative leader in the Reichstag, asserted: “Our utmost strength must now be thrown into the scales. There is no weapon of warfare which we dare withhold.” The imperial chancellor’s announcement of ruthless submarine warfare at the beginning of February was hailed throughout Germany with a unanimous shout of joy, “Now our enemies will leam what the U-boat terror really is,” cried the Berlin “Lokal Anzeiger”; while the “Borsen Zeitung” exclaimed defiantly, “Eight or wrong: victory!” The rupture with America produced no perceptible effect in the popular attitude.
Such is Germany’s present war temper. Regarding “after the war” problems, it is not surprising to find the widest variety of viewpoints. In general, we may say that the more bellicose elements have always maintained that Germany’s future attitude toward foreign peoples must be, in case of victory, the haughty aloofness of the conqueror for his inferiors; in case of temporary stalemate the wrathful aloofness of the masterfolk bracing itself with the will to conquer. A good example of this militaristic thought school is an article in the “Liller Kriegszeitung” of late 1916: “Michel, listen! To understand is to forgive. But nobody understands, nobody wishes to understand, our nature, our ways, our striving toward good, or our honesty. Hence the irreconcilable hostility of the whole world against everything German. Give up, therefore, dear Michel, the vain and dangerous pursuit of grasping your enemies’ point of view. Thus only will you succeed in acquiring the ruthless temper which is necessary in order to attain victory…. Everybody considers you a ‘dirty pig,’ dear Michel. You cannot alter that. Then have the courage to make up your mind about it…. It is impossible for us to come to any understanding with our enemies throughout this and the following generation.” Among these prophets of evil there runs a good deal of pessimism. The noted historian, Professor Eduard Meyer, in his book, “Germany and England,” predicts that the present struggle is only the first of a long series of Anglo-German “Punic” wars in which modern civilization will retrograde to a condition of semi-barbarism. Germany will be the victor, but a Pyrrhic victor, for the colored races, taking advantage of white decadence, will destroy European supremacy.
Other Germans, however, including many leading intellectuals and the entire Social Democratic group, take a much more cheerful view. Dr. Hans Delbruck thinks a perpetuation of present hatreds impossible. “The various states,” he writes, “cannot surround themselves with Chinese walls, but must resume the exchange of merchandise and ideal values. A nation not doing so would only harm itself.” The Socialist Deputy, Haenisch, remarks: “There has even been some talk that in future German science and art must lead their own life…. This is sheer rubbish. After the war the nations will be still more dependent upon one another than before, and without the fructifying influence of foreign countries our national culture will wither…
Between these two extreme viewpoints lies an indeterminate mass of public opinion which has inclined first to one side and then to the other according to the fortunes of war; intransigent at the start, more conciliatory during the optimistic second half of 1915, hardening again under the stress of deferred peace and the rigorous blockade.
One thing, however, can be said: the German people, though prone to passionate outbursts, is extremely attentive to the utterances of its political and intellectual leaders. And these leaders are to-day generally avowed realists; “Realpolitiker,” as they pride themselves. It is, therefore, unlikely that, in the future, Germany will follow a policy of sentiment or nurse old grudges where nothing practical is to be gained. Of course, a humiliating peace would probably inspire a policy of “revenge,” but the underlying motive for this policy would be, not so much rancor at the past as confidence in German ability to upset a settlement dictated by a hostile world. Thus, Germany’s future relations with her present foes should depend primarily on the actual course of events. Those nations whom German statesmen consider a menace to German aims will remain popular bugbears. Those with whom accommodation is deemed desirable will be looked upon with popular favor. In all this, sentiment obviously plays a slight part.
Of course, the war has drawn Germany and her allies increasingly together. For Bulgaria and Turkey, Teutonic friendship is not without mental reservations, but w4th Austria-Hungary the bonds are extremely close. In this case practical considerations are reinforced by deep-going ties of sentiment and racial affinity, owing to the Germanic character of the llapsburg Monarchy and the fraternal feelings of the Austrian Teutons. Most Germans believe that the alliance between the two empires must henceforth be unbreakable, and Germany’s ablest thinkers are to-day busy working out a permanent solution. Typical of these efforts is Friedrich Naumann’s book, “Mitteleuropa” (“Central Europe”). Naumann propose…’ Superstate…Austro-German in the first instance, yet so federative in character that all the minor nations of the Central European zone, from Scandinavia to Turkey, may ultimately be included. Here again the realistic note is clear. With the exception of Austria, sentiment does not deeply color German speculation regarding future friends.
If German national consciousness may be considered a diversified unity, Austria-Hungary’s appears as a dualized diversity. The theory underlying Austria-Hungary’s “Dualist” Constitution of 1867 was that the Germans of Austria and the Magyars of Hungary should rule their respective halves of the empire and keep the various minor races in due subordination. But this theory never worked well in practice. The Germans and Magyars, though unquestionably the empire’s two leading races, are not in a numerical majority. Of the twenty-nine million inhabitants of Austria, only ten millions are Germans (with two millions more in Hungary), while the Magyars constitute but ten million of the twenty-one million souls which make up Hungary’s total population. As a result, German hegemony in Austria broke down long ago, while in Hungary Magyar supremacy has been maintained only at the cost of increasingly dangerous protests from the non-Magyar nationalities. The last half-century of AustriaHungary’s history has, in fact, been the record of the struggles of its minor nationalities to attain complete self-realization, either by gaining full partnership within the empire or by secession to racial kinsmen outside the empire’s frontiers. The consequence has been chronic race friction which has led many observers to predict the empire’s complete dissolution.
These race problems are of such vital significance for an understanding of Austria-Hungary’s present condition and future prospects that a brief summary of their status in July, 1914, is necessary. Despite their complexity, a glance at a race map of Austria-Hungary reveals a certain fundamental simplicity. Roughly speaking, the empire divides into three great race zones, running east and west: to the north, a broad band of Slavs; to the south, a shorter and thicker band of Slavs; between the two, a wide belt of non-Slavs; in the west, Germans; in the center, Magyars; in the east, a mixture of Germans, Magyars, and Rumanians. This non-Slavic middle zone fills the broad Danubian plain and completely severs the Slav belts froni each other. This central position is one of the great reasons why the Germans and Magyars have always dominated the empire.
Another reason for Germano-Magyar predominance is the extreme disunion which prevails among the empire’s Slav peoples. Statistically, they number nearly half the total population, but they are sundered from one another not merely geographically but also by a variety of linguistic, religious, and cultural barriers which have always made united action impossible.
The northern Slav belt is composed of the Czechs of Bohemia and Moravia, the Poles of West Galicia, and the Ruthenians of East Galicia and the Bukovina. The Czechs, numbering some six and one-half millions, are the most solid and progressive branch of the Slav race. Together with their two million Slovak kinsmen in the neighboring Carpathian uplands of Northern Hungary, they constitute a powerful ethnic group. The five million Poles of West Galicia represent Austria’s share of the defunct kingdom of Poland. The four million “Ruthenians” are merely the western vanguard of a race group totaling nearly thirty-three million souls — the so-called “Ukrainians” or “Little Russians,” the bulk of whom live within the confines of the adjacent Russian Empire.
The South Slavs, though racially and linguistically much more homogeneous, are deeply divided by differences of religion and culture. They occupy practically the entire southwest corner of the empire, nearly everything south of the river Drave being “Yugo-Slav.” The great majority of the Austro-Hungarian Yugo-Slavs belong to the Croatian branch of the race, and having been civilized and Christianized from the West, these Croats are Roman Catholic in religion and west European in culture. In the southern portion of the Yugo-Slav belt, however, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, dwell some two million “Serbs”; in blood and speech closely akin to the Croats, but Greek Orthodox in faith and with a culture inherited from the Byzantine East. The situation is still further complicated by the presence in Bosnia-Herzegovina of some seven hundred thousand Mohammedans. Bosnia-Herzegovina is indeed a land of religious and cultural conflict, the balance of its population being made up of eight hundred and fifty thousand Orthodox Serbs and four hundred and fifty thousand Catholic Croats. A final complication is added by the thin fringe of Italian population which clings to the towns and islands of the Adriatic coast, thus partially shutting off the Yugo-Slavs from racial access to the sea.
It is of course universally admitted that the spark which ignited the present European conflagration was the Austro-Serbian imbroglio, and it is generally recognized that Serbia’s defiance of her huge neighbor was only a move in the gigantic political duel between Austria-Hungary and Russia. But few persons realize how bitter and far-reaching that Austro-Russian duel was. Its objectives were not merely Serbia or even the Balkans. They embraced both Russian imperialism’s determination to annex the Galician Ruthenians and to erect Czech and Yugo-Slav national states on Austria-Hungary’s ruins, and Austrian imperialism’s counter-determination to bring all the Serbs into a Yugo-Slav block beneath the Hapsburg scepter while erecting Polish and Ukrainian national states at a mutilated Russia’s expense. To this Austrian imperialistic school Archduke Franz-Ferdinand unquestionably belonged. All this explains the unscrupulous ruthlessness of both Russian and Austrian policy during the years preceding the war. It also accounts for the Archduke’s assassination.
The murder of Franz-Ferdinand was generally hailed by Austrians as the beginning of the end. Serbia’s grandiose dreams, incited as these had been by Russia, and the success of the Serbian secessionist propaganda among the empire’s Yugoslav populations, convinced most Austrians that this “Balkan Piedmont” must be crushed at once if the empire were not to lose its southwestern provinces as it had lost Italy. If war with Russia should ensue, Austrians thought it had better be fought now rather than later on when Austria’s position might have changed infinitely for the worse.
From the very beginning of the Austro-Serbian crisis, those natural pillars of the empire, the nobility, the army, the bureaucracy, and the Church, together with the German and Magyar populations, rallied enthusiastically round the Government and the Hapsburg throne. The almost passionate phraseology of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, so unusual in a diplomatic document of this nature, was an accurate reflection of the popular mood. The Viennese press unanimously demanded decisive measures. “The situation between our Government and that of King Peter has become intolerable,” asserted the “Neue Freie Presse.” “Our ultimatum has been the natural result.” The “Reichspost” urged the Government to take decisive measures against the Serbian foe, “who is as implacable and relentless as he is dastardly.” The formal outbreak of hostilities was hailed with jubilation. “When we consider the provocations of which Serbia has been guilty for so many years,” exclaimed the “Tageblatt,” “the solemn pledges made and broken, the defiance which we have put up with from an unscrupulous neighbor whom no kindness can appease, we experience a sense of relief on this outburst of war.”
Hungarian sentiment was even more enthusiastic. “The whole nation joyfully hastens to follow the call of his Majesty to the flag,” cried Premier Tisza amid the frantic cheers of the Hungarian deputies. “If we had stood these conditions any longer,” exclaimed Count Albert Apponyi, head of the Opposition, “we would have reached the point where Europe would have called us her second ‘Sick Man.’ ” “It is peace and not war that we want; but a peace which leads to life, not to death,” asserted the Archbishop of Esztergom, Roman Catholic primate of Hungary….There are situations in political life…said Count Julius Andrassy, “that can be likened only to the encircling of Sedan, which demoralizes and vanquishes the surrounded foe before the first shot is fired. Such would have been our fate if, after the continued vexations of years, after the expenditure of many millions, caused by Serbia, we should have continued to submit to the invidious attacks of Russian-protected Serbia…. Had we waited longer, our self-esteem, our self-trust, would have been torn to shreds, and so would our power of resistance, our inner unity, our integrity.” The Magyar press displayed a decidedly bitter tone against the enemy. That leading Budapest paper, the “Pester Lloyd,” wrote, “The Serbian Government will be shown up as a nest of pestilential rats which come from their territory over our border to spread death and destruction.” The broadening of the conflict into a war with Russia caused no surprise, since Serbia had from the first been considered merely the cat’s paw of Russian imperialism. “The true cause of the war,” asserted Count Julius Andrassy, “is the Eastern ambition of Russia, which is as old as her position as a great Power, and which has long been hanging over us like a sword of Damocles.” Dr. Dumba, Austro-Hungarian ambassador to the United States, undoubtedly voiced the prevailing Austrian opinion when he wrote in the “North American Review” for September, 1914: “The war between Austria-Hungary and Russia may well be said to be the outcome of conflicting civilizations and conflicting aims. The controversy between the Dual Monarchy and the Serbian Kingdom is only an incident in the greater struggle between German civilization as represented by Austria-Hungary, and Russian aspirations as represented by Serbia, the Russian outpost on the southern frontier of the Dual Monarchy…. The Serbian Kingdom is the torpedo which Russia has launched at the body of Austria.” Hungarian opinion tended to give the war an even broader interpretation. “Pan-Russianism, that is the word!” exclaimed the “Revue de Hongrie” (Budapest). “No! The present war is not, as certain persons assert, a war of Slavism against Germanism. It is a war of a great part of civilized Europe against Russian autocracy and Serb terrorism. … If the Triple Entente (in which the empire of the Tsars holds a preponderant place), should win in this war, it would mean the European sluice-gates open to Muscovite autocracy, to Cossack militarism, to all sorts of political and religious heresies. The dyke once broken, it would be the end of European civilization…
Such was the temper of the governing classes and of the German and Magyar populations. The attitude of the minor nationalities varied greatly, but on the whole it proved the insight of those observers who had maintained that the empire was not in the hopeless internal situation asserted by the prophets of Austrian dissolution. Unquestionably there was much disloyalty among certain racial groups. The Serb element of the Yugoslavs, in particular, appears to have been honeycombed with secessionism, and even among the Croats many malcontents were discovered. Some of these escaped abroad, notably the Croat deputy, Hinkovitch, and these exiles presently founded the “South Slav Committee” in London, to influence Entente public opinion.
But the bulk of the Croat population remained loyal. The Croats, though desirous of Yugoslav unity, generally wished it in the “Austrian” sense; i.e., the supremacy of the Croat over the Serb element in any future Yugo-Slav state. Such a solution had, it was believed, been the dream of Franz-Ferdinand, and the Archduke’s murder by Serbian fanatics accordingly roused a wave of indignation throughout Croatia. Croat mobs marched through the streets crying, “Death to the Serbs!” Serb shops were sacked and Serb leaders roughly handled. The Croat deputy. Dr. Sustersics, voiced the feelings of the great majority of his people when he declared: “Grand Duke Francis Ferdinand was bound to come to this end, especially as he was the friend of the southern Slavs. Imperialistic Serbia saw with alarm the rise of this potent personality, this knight ‘without fear and without reproach,’ who showed both the will and the power to promote peaceful relations between the southern Slavs and the Hapsburg dynasty.” The Croats thus entered the war against their Serbian kindred in a far more loyal frame of mind than would have been possible under any other circumstances.
Turning now to the northern Slavs: the Czechs displayed neither the indignant loyalty nor the bitter secessionism of the Yugo-Slav populations. The prevailing temper among the Czechs was a lukewarm or sullen aloofness. The fierce struggles which had long raged in Bohemia between the Czechs and the large German minority constantly protected by Vienna had engendered widespread Czech resentment against the Austrian Government. Russian propaganda had of course made the most of this golden opportunity, and for some years previous to the war a genuine secessionist party had existed among the Czechs, with the erection of a Czch-Slovak national state under Russian protection as its goal. But these extremists were comparatively few in number, and drastic government measures at the outbreak of war quickly broke up their party organization. Some of their leaders, like Professor Masaryk, escaped abroad; others, such as Dr. Kramar, were imprisoned. A few were shot for high treason. The most serious result of Czech discontent was the poor spirit shown by Czech troops, whole regiments surrendering to the enemy with practically no resistance. On the other hand, there existed a fairly strong loyalist minority which disliked the thought of Austrian disruption and feared the results of Russian victory. Typical of Czech loyalist press comment are the words of the “Hlas Naroda” (Prague): “The crime of Serajevo revealed, as by a lightning flash, the monarchy’s deplorable situation…. But, at one stroke, all dissension disappeared. In vain did the enemy make advances to the non-German nationalities.” “We are all glad to assert the close union of nationalities…. All the nationalities are defending the throne and the empire,” declared the “Hlasyz Hane” of Prossnitz. “We belong voluntarily to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy,” said the “Cesky Dennin” of Pilsen, “that monarchy beneath whose protection the Czech people has arrived at its present maturity.”
The attitude of the second north Slavic group, the Poles, was not left for a moment in doubt. Almost without exception, the Austrian Poles proved loyalist to the core. For many years the Poles of Galicia had enjoyed complete local self-government and full cultural liberty—a situation doubly appreciated by contrast to the depressed condition of their kinsmen under Russian and Prussian rule. Galicia was full of Polish refugees from Russian persecution. The Austrian Poles, therefore, hailed the war as a crusade for the liberation of their race from Russian domination. The exiles at once raised several Polish legions, 20,000 strong, which, under their gifted leader, Josef Pilsudski, fought with fanatical bravery against the Russian troops.
The attitude of the Austrian Poles comes out strongly in the manifesto of the National Polish Committee issued at the beginning of the war: “Should Russia keep Russian Poland, and add Galicia and Posen thereto, Europe would be exposed to the infiltration of Russian despotism and Byzantinism. If, on the other hand, Poland is torn from Russia, it will mean a guarantee for the progressive expansion of Western civilization toward eastern Europe, as well as protection against the introduction of Cossack principles into modern life…. Let no one accuse the Poles now fighting in the legions side by side with the Austrian armies of being unfaithful to their historic traditions. Russia was Poland’s arch-enemy in the past, and will be in the future. It is precisely their part in Western civilization and the national individuality of their country that the Poles are now defending against the Russians, contemners of the one and persecutors of the other.” In an appeal addressed to Poles throughout the world, the noted Polish poet, George Zulawski, wrote: “We stand to-day by Austria, and do not doubt for a moment her goodwill. Let the Grand Duke Nicholas juggle with promises never meant to be kept; we know how we are treated here. After having lost our liberty we have found in this monarchy, the most liberal in Europe, shelter and protection. We are full-fledged citizens; we enjoy here the liberty of autonomy and of our national advance. We like to consider past deeds, for they are the best securities for the future…. To-day, God has entrusted the honor of the Polish nation to us Polish volunteers, and we will return it into the hands of God alone.” “The historic mission of the Poles throughout the whole course of Polish history,” wrote Professor Josef Buzek in the “Oesterreichische Rundschau” of September, 1914, “consists in the protection they have afforded as foreposts of the Occident to the Western civilization founded upon the principles of the Catholic Church, against attack by the Byzantine Orient. … A similar task has been allotted by God to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In the present world-war the Poles will take up once more their historic mission in closest union with Austria-Hungary. Their struggle will concern the driving of the hereditary Russian foe from Polish ground.”
So strong was Polish fear and hatred of Russia that the outbreak of war and the example of their Galician kinsmen swept even the Prussian Poles into the stream, notwithstanding the bad relations which had existed between Poles and Germans for many years. Accordingly, most of the Prussian Polish leaders endorsed the pastoral letter of Monsignor Likowski, archbishop of Gnesen and primate of Poland, issued August 9, 1914, which accused Russia of being the provoker of the war and the persecutor of the Catholic Church, and exhorted the Poles to tight valiantly for the king of Prussia — “for it is he who will free from the yoke our oppressed brethren beyond the frontier.”
Almost identical was the attitude of the third group of Austria’s northern Slavs — the Ruthenians. For many years the Ruthenians of Eastern Galicia had regarded their province as a “Piedmont” — the nucleus of a future Ukrainian national state carved out of South Russia; much as the Serbs had regarded Serbia as the nucleus for a future Yugo-Slav state carved out of Southwest Austria-Hungary. To the Ruthenians, therefore, the war appeared as a golden opportunity, and the extent of their hopes can be judged from the words of the proclamation issued by the Ukrainian National Committee, composed both of Ruthenians and exiles from the Russian Ukraine. “Unless the Ukrainian provinces are separated from Russia,” runs this manifesto, “even the most crushing defeat for that country will be but a feeble blow, from which Czarism would recover in a few years, to take up again its ancient role of a disturber of the peace of Europe. Only a free Ukraine, which should be supported by the Triple Alliance [i.e., the Central Powers], could form, with its extensive domain, reaching from the Carpathians to the Don and to the Black Sea, the necessary protective wall between Europe and Russia, a bulwark that would defeat forever the greed for expansion on the part of Czarism, and free the Slavic world from the baneful influence of Pan-Muscovitism.”
Such optimistic notes were, however, quickly stilled by the crushing series of disasters that now overtook the Hapsburg Monarchy. The failures in Serbia, the Russian conquest of Eastern Galicia, and the destructive Cossack raids into Northern Hungary, spread consternation and alarm throughout the empire. The disloyal rejoiced, and only the severest military repression prevented seditious disturbances among the Serbo-Croats of the south and in Bohemia. The Entente press was full of rumors that Austria-Hungary meditated a separate peace, but such rumors seem to have been without serious foundation. Undoubtedly the empire was pessimistic, but it was a pessimism of desperate resolution, not of abject despair. The Magyars, to whom rumor had assigned the leading peace role, breathed, as a matter of fact, only defiant fury. At the end of 1914, the “Pester Lloyd” exclaimed hotly, “Let our opponents understand once and for all: We are going to hold out to the end, and we have not for a single moment meditated a separate peace with any one.” In the “Revue de Hongrie” for March, 1915, Count Albert Apponyi sketched out various benefits wbicli victory would confer upon Hungary. “But,” he added, “these are the problems of tomorrow; and for us there will be no to-morrow if we do not resolutely accomplish our present task — to conquer. All possibilities are open to us if we succeed; all are closed if we succumb. If Muscovite aggression wins, it is the end of our historic mission; if it breaks before our energy, it is that mission’s apotheosis.”
At first sight, one might have thought that Italy’s declaration of war upon the empire in May, 1915, would have greatly accentuated the prevailing gloom. As a matter of fact, it did more than anything else to solidify patriotic feeling and rouse Austria to fresh exertions. The whole empire quivered with furious wrath and scornful contempt for Italy, the “traitor” nation. Emperor Franz- Joseph’s proclamation to his people, with its stinging words — “Perfidy whose like history does not know” — was an accurate reflection of the popular emotion. “If war be indeed only a continuation of political policy with different means,” wrote that leading Austrian publicist, Freiherr von Chlumecky, in the “Oesterreichische Rundschau,” “then Italy can point to the fact that, free from all scruples of political faith and morality, she has consistently pursued a course in the world war which she followed in peace for many years. To be at once Austria’s ally and her most malignant foe — that has for decades been Italy’s policy…. Italy dares the war, not so much for territorial aggrandizement as for the realization of the aim she pursued in peace as well with all the means at her command — to hurl Austria from her position of a great Power…. Against this design, however, the whole Empire will rise to defend itself as one man. Austrian blood is not easily stirred, but now when we are threatened by cowardly brigands with a dagger thrust in the back, now will our wrath rise to a mighty flame, and all Austria echo the cry, ‘Down with the traitor…Now we know where to find our most malignant foe, who wore the mask of friendship, and when she had grown great by our favor and that of Germany, turned out to be an accomplice of our enemies. No Austrian will ever forgive this, no Hungarian will ever forget it. Revenge for a breach of faith unexampled in history — that will continue to be the watchword; and we shall not rest, nor our children, or children’s children, if that be necessary, until a people devoid of all political and moral loyalty shall have paid a heavy penalty for the crime committed against our sovereign and our country!”
Hungarian opinion equaled Austrian in its fury. “We are persuaded,” exclaimed the “Revue de Hongrie” of June, 1915, “that the Italian Government’s breach of plighted faith will be stigmatized by posterity, and that without distinction of nations. But, in awaiting this, we Hungarians, who formerly fought for Italian independence under Garibaldi, will take care that the infamy of Salandra and his ilk, who seek to revive the epoch of the Borgias, shall not pass unavenged. We shall not wait for history to punish them; we shall charge ourselves with that duty.”
Much more significant, however, was the attitude of the Slavs. Italy’s avowed intention to seize, not only Italian-speaking Trentino and Trieste, but also large tracts of territory inhabited by a Serbo-Croat population, roused all the Austrian Slavs to wrathful indignation. Even the Czech press warmed to unwonted interest and loyalty. “The peoples of Austria-Hungary,” asserted the “Hlas Naroda” of Prague, “prefer war with Italy to a boughten peace, precarious and uncertain.” “Because of the perfidy of Italian policy,” wrote the “Cech” (Prague), bitterly, “a war to-day breaks out which is just another raid of the brigands of the Abruzzi.” And the “Proudy” of Olmutz exclaimed defiantly, “One more or less; what does it matter!”
It was, however, the Serbo-Croats of the South who manifested the hottest indignation. “Not an inch of Austro-Hungarian territory to these perfidious ‘Allies’!” exclaimed the “Hrvatska” of Agram. “The solid fists of the Croats and Slovenes will be plenty strong enough to smash any Italian attempt to grab our littoral…There is not a Croat, not a south Slav,” asserted the “Obzor” (Agram), “who, in this moment when Italy falls in arms upon our country, does not swear solemnly to defend with his heart’s blood Croatia and the south Slav territories from Italian invasion.” “We pray with all our heart for the crushing of Italy and the complete failure of its vile speculations,” wrote the “Hrvatski Pokret” (Agram), “and we are convinced that our Croatian and Slovene soldiers will have a good big share in bringing this about.”
Very interesting was the attitude of the Austrian Italians. These people, numbering about 800,000, are divided into three geographically separate groups: the Trentino district of South Tyrol; the Istrian region at the head of the Adriatic, centering about the city of Trieste; and the isolated colonies of the islands and port towns of the Dalmatian coast. The longing of Italian “Irredentists” to “redeem” these race brethren by incorporating them into the kingdom of Italy was undoubtedly shared by a majority of the Austrian Italians, and the Austrian military authorities had to take sharp measures to check disloyalty. Nevertheless, the loyalist minority was larger than is generally supposed, and on this occasion did not fail to express their sentiments. In Trentino, loyalist addresses were signed by leading notables, including five Italian members of the Tyrolese Provincial Diet, while the “Risveglio” of Trent asserted: “No one has ever solicited Italy’s intervention. This war serves particular interests which are absolutely opposed to the interests of Italian Tyrol.” In Istria, Reichsrat deputy Bugatto, of Gorizia, wrote, in an address entitled, “Italy tramples upon Italian Honor”: “That part of the Italian collectivity which forms an independent state, and which therefore ought to protect the good name of Italianism, to-day covers this good name with eternal shame. Become blind or mad, Italy commits the crime of treason, exposes herself to the danger of a disastrous war, renders inevitable the ruin of Italian citizens, of Italian lands. Never had we expected such an ignominy; never was such dolorous injury done our national pride…. All that we can do is to declare in the face of Italy and the world that the Italians of Austria condemn and spurn Italy’s action…. Italians of Austria! Let us veil our faces in shame!” In Dalmatia, “Il Dalmata” of Zara wrote: “The Dalmatians of Italian speech declare in this solemn hour that they will make every sacrifice asked of them…. Dalmatian fidelity is traditional. We have inherited it from our fathers, and we will give a new proof of it by attesting our loyalty both to Emperor Francis Joseph and to the institutions of the Austro-Hungarian state.”
The Italian declaration of war proved to be for Austria the traditional darkest hour before the dawn. A fortnight later began that great Austro-German “drive” against the Russian armies, which never slackened till Galicia was reconquered and all Russian Poland lay within the Teutonic grasp.
The joy of the Poles can be imagined. After the fall of Warsaw, the “Nowa Reforma” of Cracow wrote: “That which to-day fills Polish hearts is something far beyond the bounds of ordinary human delight. Entire generations of Poles have not been permitted to experience this sentiment, which only a Pole can understand. The solid walls of our prison have crumbled into dust. They have been cast down by the mighty breath of civilization.” The “Czas” said: “Russia to-day suffers a hard and merited chastisement. The loss of Warsaw is the first step in her downfall.” The Ruthenian press joined in this chorus of jubilation, which was further swelled by the voices of the loyalist Czechs. The “Hlas Naroda” of Brunn wrote: “All the peoples of our monarchy are to-day filled with enthusiasm. The Czech nation turns grateful eyes upon its valorous sons who, with the other Austro-Hungarian nations, bring liberty to the Polish nation. Not, be it noted, the liberty promised by the false friends of Slavism at Petersburg, nor the liberty of the Chinovniks of Moscow, but a liberty based upon civilization, morality, and conscience. The Russian despotism reaps the first-fruits of the seeds which it has sown.” The “Lidone Noviny” remarked: “Under Russian rule, the Poles knew only servitude. Equally lamentable is the fate of the Ukrainians. Under the pretext of liberating the Balkan states, the empire of the Tsars wished only to engulf them in its tyranny. It even allies itself with the Italians — those declared adversaries of Slavism — in order jointly to enslave the Slovenes and Croats.”
As in Germany, so in Austria-Hungary, the second half of the year 1915 saw a flood of discussion concerning the problems of the morrow. Even more than in Germany was the question of Austro-German future relations debated, the overwhelming verdict being that the present alliance slioukl be made permanent and unbreakable. Eminent Austrian writers like the economist Eugen von Philippovitch and the historian Dr. Friedjung, and Hungarian writers like Eduard Palyi, warmly endorsed the “Central Europe” idea. Most Austrian-Germans appeared more interested in the political than in the economic connection. In a public address delivered in February, 1916, Prince Alois Liechtenstein said: “Austria-Hungary will firmly and forever remain faithful to the alliance with the German Empire. Leaning upon the German Empire and covered by it, our fatherland came into existence and has grown great…. “We German-Austrians are the pledge, the indestructible link of the alliance of the two states.” Dr. Weisskirchner, mayor of Vienna, remarked in the autumn of 1915: “After the battles in which the Germans of the empire and the sons of the Danubian Monarchy have fought side by side, we wish the political alliance to become closer, and we desire that an economic agreement of the two Central empires should facilitate our victory after and in the peace.” And Cabinet Minister Dr. Franz Klein asserted: “A closer union will have to be concluded as a guarantee for the security of both states. Those citizens of Austria whose sympathies are elsewhere will have to put up with it.”
Hungarian opinion showed some shrinking at the prospect of a “Central Europe” so obviously under Teutonic hegemony. Nevertheless, the ever-present Slav peril has reconciled most Magyars to the prospect. The Hungarian Premier, Tisza, has formally recognized its necessity, and another Magyar leader, Count Andrassy, remarked at the close of 1915, “The natural ally of the Hungarians is the German element in Austria, and behind them, the German Empire.” In fact, the Magyars seem to be even more cordial toward the Germans of the Empire than toward the Austrian-Germans.
Another much debated question has been the future status of Poland. All parties agree that no Polish territory must return under Russian domination. “Poland will never be given back to the Russians,” asserted the Vienna “Neue Freie Presse” in the summer of 1916. “Russia must never again rule in Warsaw; and history must not move backwards.” Most Austrian Poles desire an autonomous Polish state, including both Russian Poland and Galicia, under the Hapsburg scepter. In this, both the Austrian-Germans and the Magyars heartily agree. The Germans, especially, are utterly opposed to a simple incorporation of Russian Poland within the present Austrian political system, since this would swing the parliamentary balance definitely in favor of the Slav elements. The great reason why Galicia was not formally added to the Polish state set up by the Austro-Germans in Russian Poland in the autumn of 1916 is the unsettled status of the Ukrainian question. It must never be forgotten that Eastern Galicia is not Polish but Ukrainian in nationality, and that if the Austro-German armies should overrun Southern Russia as they have Russian Poland, the establishment of a Ukrainian national state would become a matter of practical politics. In that case Galicia would be divided on race lines, the western portion falling to Poland, the eastern part going to the new Ukrainia. Such is evidently the Austrian plan. Whether it ever materializes depends upon the fortunes of war.
In Austria-Hungary, as in Germany, the optimistic wave of later 1915 gradually ebbed during the opening months of the ensuing year. The Allied blockade hit both empires severely, and in Austria especially the food shortage was becoming acute. The growing pessimism was sharply accentuated by the Russian “drive” which began in June, 1916, and popular apprehension reached its climax with Rumania’s sudden attack at the beginning of September. This naturally brought up the question of the three million Rumans of Transylvania and Eastern Hungary. The Hungarian Government’s persistent attempts to “Magyarize” these populations had made much bad blood, and there can be little doubt that a majority of the Hungarian Rumans desired annexation to the neighboring kingdom of Rumania. At the same time, this secessionist feeling seems to have been of a rather passive character, militant disloyalty being rare. It was also partially counteracted by a traditional attachment to the Hapsburg dynasty and by widespread fear of Russia. Many Rumanians felt that they formed the eastern link in the German-Magyar-Ruman race-dyke which sundered the two halves of the Slav ocean, and dreaded lest a Russian victory might mean the drowning of all three races beneath the Pan-Slav waves. Typical of such apprehensions is the open-letter of the Transylvanian Ruman author, Emil Isac, to friends in the kingdom of Rumania who wished to join the Allies and attack Austria-Hungary. Writing in the spring of 1915, M. Isac says: “You reproach me with having denied my Latin origin by attacking Russia. I would have you know that it is precisely to defend Latin culture that I act thus…. We should recognize that Rumania, by its geographical situation at the gateway to the Balkans, is as great an obstacle to Russia’s ambitions as is Germany or Austria-Hungary. … Do you really wish us to sign our own death-warrant…..declare to you frankly that I would rather make a pact with the devil than an alliance with autocratic Russia.” Such sentiments probably explain the surprisingly lukewarm reception accorded the Rumanian armies during their invasion of Transylvania in September, 1916.
The speedy expulsion of these invaders and the subsequent overrunning of Rumania itself by the Austro-Germans did much to dispel the gloom which had fallen upon the empire during the summer of 1916. The death of the aged Emperor Franz Joseph produced no bad effects upon public confidence. His death had long been anticipated, and his youthful successor, Charles Francis Joseph, was generally popular. Of course, Austria-Hungary is suffering acutely under the strain of war; far more so, indeed, than its German ally. Nevertheless, there is no popular cry for “peace at any price,” and Austrian determination to fight to the end has been greatly strengthened by the Entente’s plan for European reconstruction announced early in January, 1917. This program involves the practical destruction of Austria -Hungary, and the Austro-Hungarian press has defiantly stated that such proposals can be answered only on the battle-field.
This threat of national disruption has thrown Austria-Hungary more absolutely than ever into Germany’s arms. It is, therefore, certain that a Teutonic victory, and perhaps even more a general stalemate, would see a firmly knit “Central Europe,” dominating the Balkans and closely allied to Turkey and Bulgaria. Such is the solution dictated by Austria’s vital interests, and such the outcome especially desired by the Austrian-Germans.
Toward present enemies the Austro-Hungarian attitude differs sensibly from the German. In Austria-Hungary there is no real hostility against either England or France. The wrath of the Austrian-Germans is concentrated on Italy, while the old Magyar hatred of Russia has been still further exacerbated. Neither of these hatreds will be easily allayed. They are bound up with conflicts of interest, with instinctive racial antipathies, and with sentimental considerations — which last sway Austro-Hungarians much more than Germans.
Assuming that Austria-Hungary survives, its most pressing problems will undoubtedly be internal. We have seen that the empire met war’s test surprisingly well and that there was much more patriotic feeling than most foreign observers had imagined. At the same time, the internal situation is still serious and the outlook by no means rosy. In the preceding pages we have sbown that there are respectable loyalist minorities among even the most disloyal of the empire’s racial elements. But we do not wish to leave the impression that disloyalty has been eliminated. On the contrary, a majority of the empire’s Serbs, Czechs, Rumans, and Italians are still probably at least passively disloyal, though voiceless under the censorship, while the Croats were converted only through hatred of Italy.
Now all this is well known to the ruling Germans and Magyars, who are, therefore, to-day incensed against the “traitors” and predisposed to wreak summary vengeance after the war. But any wholesale reprisals would sharpen race prejudices, and might drive the present loyalist minorities into the secessionist camp. In that case, the empire’s condition would be worse than before. It is plain that much coolness, tact, and judicious forgetfulness will be needed in the years to come.
ITALY is, in many respects, a land of violent contrasts. This is certainly true of its political life, which resembles one of those curious apartment houses of its great cities where wealth ostentatiously flaunts itself on the first-floor front while poets starve in the garrets above and vicious poverty festers in the cellars below.
In fact, modern Italy shows certain disquieting signs of fragility. Italian political unit was effected in 1870, but Italian moral unity was not thereby completed. The Pope absolutely refused to recognize the new state of things, and his demand for a restoration of the papal state (which would of course involve the undoing of Italian unity), was supported by a minority of pious Catholics throughout the peninsula. Another irreconcilable element were the Republicans, who continued to dream the dreams of Mazzini, denounced the Savoyard Monarchy, and asserted that a republic was the only way to achieve lasting Italian unity. Finally, there were the Anarchists, more numerous in Italy than in any other European country, who condemned all established forms of government.
Up to the last few years, it is true, the Italian political edifice was not seriously endangered. The irreconcilable groups were so mutually antagonistic that they could never combine for united action, and all political power was in the hands of the upper and middle classes, entrenched behind a limited parliamentary franchise. Had these classes used their power wisely, Italian moral unity would probably have been long since attained. Unfortunately, they employed their privileged position to exploit the poverty-stricken lower classes, while their parliamentary representatives (a virtual caste of political war horses), invented the system of trasformismo, a sublimated “pork-barrel” which ate the heart out of Italian political life and disgusted everybody with the whole existing regime. So angry became the cry of discontent that the governing class reluctantly granted the popular panacea of universal manhood suffrage in the year 1912.
The first parliamentary elections held under universal suffrage in 1913 revealed the extent of the latent dangers which menaced the existing political and social order. All the extremist parties made astonishing gains. And these parties were more numerous than of yore. Besides the old irreconcilable Catholic, Republican, and Anarchist groups, two new extreme parties now came to the front: the Revolutionary Socialists or “Syndicalists” and the “Nationalists” — partizans of a jingo imperialism. Both were recent political phenomena. The Syndicalists were a late offshoot of Orthodox Marxian Socialism. Repudiating the Marxist doctrine of social regeneration by peaceful evolutionary methods, the Syndicalists preached a violent social revolution. Their progress had been extremely rapid, and by 1914 they had gained control of the great Italian labor organization, the Associazione Generale del Lavoro. In working alliance with the older revolutionary groups (the Republicans and the Anarchists), the Syndicalists were to show their power in alarming fashion on the very eve of the European war.
The rise of the Nationalist party had been no less meteoric — and startling. Of course there had always been a moderate imperialist group known as the “Irredentists,” whose program had been the “redemption” of Italic lands by annexation to Italy, especially the Italic districts of Austria-Hungary. But about the beginning of the present century a school of Italian thinkers evolved a body of doctrine which went far beyond the old irredentist aspirations. This new doctrine called itself “Nationalism,” but was in reality a sublimated imperialism. Unlike the Irredentists, who had practically limited their hopes to Austrian Trentino, Istria, and Dalmatia, the Nationalists frankly urged the annexation of French Corsica, Savoy, Nice, and Tunis; English Malta; and Swiss Ticino. And that was not all. Irredentism had aspired to Adriatic dominion. A Nationalist watchword pronounced: “The Adriatic is bitter: the Mediterranean not less bitter!” In fine, the Nationalist goal was a revived Roman Empire dominating the entire Mediterranean basin, wherein the half-million surplus Italians now annually forced to seek alien lands might transform region after region into new Italics. The Tripolitan War of 1911 (preeminently a Nationalist undertaking), had electrified Italian public opinion, which had thereafter been steadily nationalized. The Nationalists had always been uncompromising in their methods. At the time of the Tripolitan War they had not hesitated to threaten revolution if the Government refused to sanction their imperialistic designs.
A final illustration of Italy’s unstable political equilibrium had been furnished by the famous…Red Wee…of June, 1914…’ General Strik… proclaimed by the Syndicalists had terrorized the peninsula, and in many districts of Central Italy the whole fabric of society had temporarily broken down, with the red flag of anarchy waving over Ancona and surrounding towns. Students of Italian affairs were seriously alarmed, as competent a critic as Professor George B. McClellan observing…The strike was a grim warning to the Government and to the nation that under favorable conditions it is quite possible that a minority of the people may destroy the whole social and political fabric of modern Italy.”
Such was the volcanic state of Italian national psychology at the outbreak of the Great War. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Italian Government, despite its alliance with the Teutonic Powers, declared Italian neutrality and adopted a waiting attitude. The Government was obviously watching to see not only how the war would go but also how Italian public opinion would crystallize.
This crystallization was, however, of a most complicated character. The old constitutional middle-class groups which still controlled the parliamentary machine (“Conservatives,” “Liberals,” “Radicals,” etc.), took their cue from the Government and adopted no positive attitude one way or the other.
Of the extremist parties, the Nationalists took a similar position. In fact, during the first weeks of the war, they inclined toward the Teutonic Powers. The Nationalists had always emphasized their uncompromising “realism.” A few months before the war, the Nationalist leader, Federzoni, had stated…Our party holds a purely realist and integral valuation of international relations, in absolute antithesis to the sentimental tendencies of the old Radical and Republican irredentism, which looked to the abandonment of the Triplice and the rapprochement of Italy with the parliamentary Powers of the West.” And at the beginning of 1914, he stated in an address before the Catholic University Circle of Rome: “I observe that the Catholics are favorable to the alliance with the empires of Central Europe and sympathetic toward Austria. That is too naive a viewpoint. It springs from a superficial and partizan admiration for the neighboring monarchy because it is traditionalist and hierarchical. For precisely opposite reasons, our Democrats are often anti-Triplician and gravitate toward Republican, Masonic, and Radical-Socialist France. We repudiate all these a priori. Nationalism, in regard to the system of alliances, is inspired only by the positive interests of Italy, without regard to the preferences which its party members may feel for the internal physiognomy of this or that state…During the month of August, 1914, most Nationalists thought that Germany was about to win a sweeping victory. Accordingly, they tended plainly to favor active aid to the Central Powers in order to earn a claim to the Italic possessions of England and France. After the German check before Paris in early September, however, and especially after Austria’s revelation of her military weakness in Galicia, the Nationalists rapidly changed front.
Signor Federzoni’s utterances in early 1914 are of peculiar interest. They forecasted accurately both the attitude of the Italian Government and the lines of cleavage of Italian public opinion during the early stages of the European War. The head of the Italian Government, Premier Salandra, at once announced the line of Italian policy. That line wa…Sacred Egoism”: In other words, a policy of pure realism guided solely by national self-interest. The line-up of the various political parties also rapidly became clear. The Catholics and Conservatives were pro-German and pro-Austrian. The Republicans, Radicals, and Syndicalists were strongly pro-Ally, with the Nationalists plainly veering in the same direction. The great Liberal hloc, which controlled the Chamber of Deputies, was for strict neutrality. This was also true of the Marxian or Regular Socialists, though a minority tended to become increasingly pro- Ally. Since this early line-up is of such vital importance for an understanding of succeeding events, the party attitudes must be considered in detail.
The Catholics, although avowedly sympathetic toward the Central Powers and not disinclined to see Italy ranged actively on their side, were for temporary neutrality, and their neutralism increased in fervor as the strength of pro-Ally feeling in other parties made any question of an Italian attack on the Entente Powers less and less a matter of practical politics. This neutralist attitude was definitely adopted at the party congress held at Milan, September 24, 1914. Addressing the congress, the Catholic leader, Signor Meda, said: “To aid France, we should have to declare war on Germany. But what pretext should we invoke? How has Germany harmed us? We are still her ally. … To march against Austria, we must have something with which to reproach her. What? Austria has not troubled the Balkan equilibrium except in so far as her operations against Serbia made this necessary. It is not said that she wishes, after the war, to keep or occupy positions which would displease us. Neither will the recalling of past wrongs suffice. If we intend to provoke her to march against us and thereby permit us to conquer Trent and Trieste, that would be a disloyal and dangerous war which the great bulk of the country does not want…And the congress itself voted the following resolution: “In this historic hour Italy’s role is to exercise an equilibrating mission which all the belligerent Powers will appreciate. Indeed, there may be reserved for Italy a peace-making mission more lofty and glorious than military victory. The Catholics decide to adhere with entire confidence to Italy’s declaration of complete neutrality; they see in it the surest means of safeguarding the country’s interests and those of civilization, amid the political and economic rivalries of the present hour.” And on November 5, 1914, that leading Catholic organ, the “Unita Cattolica,” declared that if Italy declared war on Austria, the Catholics would march “without enthusiasm, without energy, without being able to say ‘God is with us’; but like victims to the slaughter.” The sentiments of the Conservatives were much the same as those of the Catholics, though more restrained on account of their Government affiliations.
Besides this definite party feeling there was a good deal of loose anti-Ally bias discernible here and there in the currents of general public opinion. Many imperialists feared France as the main obstacle to their Mediterranean ambitions. England came in for considerable sharp criticism. In the “Mattino” of Naples, the well-known Italian journalist, Scarf oglio, wrote: “Germany has conquered the commercial markets of the world; Italy the labor markets. What the traveling-salesman does for Germany, that the peasant and workman do for Italy. What a magnificent prospect for these two creative nations it’ they should collaborate in their work of civilization! Unfortunately, there is in our midst a pro-British prejudice which opposes this collaboration. An absurd prejudice, for Italy owes nothing to England. Rather has she been duped by England, like so many other peoples.” Early in 1915, another Italian writer, Signor Bandini, remarked: “What English Liberalism aims at, what it will certainly carry out if it is successful in the present war, is the compression of European non-English races within the boundaries of Europe; and within those boundaries, the suppression of any nationality which might show signs of possessing native energy capable of breaking through the imposed bonds and of endangering English exclusive possession of the world at large. Only obstinate, cowardly optimists can fail to see that the ultimate consequence of this English triumph would be the slow death of all European non-English nations.” And a little later, the “Corriere d ‘Italia” (Rome), wrote: “We write whole books on German militarism, but we never think or speak of English navalism. And yet, for us, the latter is much more dangerous, because whenever it is a question of the Mediterranean, Italy’s principal vital interests are at once put in jeopardy.”
This anti-Ally and pro-German section of Italian public opinion, though influential, was not numerous. The mass of the Italian people was unquestionably for strict neutrality. The two political exponents of Italian neutralism were of course the Liberals and the Regular Socialists. The Liberals represented in the broadest sense the Italian middle classes — shopkeepers, factory owners, independent farmers, business men, professional men, etc. These classes were keenly responsive to economic arguments, and most of such arguments made for continued peace. It was obvious that Italy was conserving her resources while her neighbors were wasting theirs in war, and furthermore that after the war a neutral Italy, with unimpaired capital, untouched factories, and intact working-staffs, would have a great advantage in the inevitable scramble for the disorganized markets of the world. Typical of this viewpoint is an article in that leading Italian periodical, the “Nuova Antologia,” of December, 1914. “Our material interests and the lives of our countrymen are not risked in the bloody venture of battles,” it states with evident satisfaction…and we have reason to hope that the indispensable continuity of our national labor will not be interrupted…. We have no lack of laborers to raise and reap our crops, to till and sow our fertile fields; almost all our factories are still in operation, and slowly but surely the delicate strands of credit, so rudely snapped asunder by the outbreak of the world-war, are being re-knit…. Neutrality, therefore, has proved an effectual defense for our economic interests against greater and worse evils, and from a political standpoint it has procured for us the signal advantage of inducing many foreigners justly to estimate the worth of Italian friendship and of Italian power.” And in January, 1915, another writer remarked in the same periodical: “Very few among us believe that our land could embark in a war without undergoing grave financial and economic disturbances; it is enough for us to reflect ui)on what has already happened, even after our wise declaration of neutrality.”
As for the Regular Socialists, they maintained unwavering fidelity to their anti-militarist Marxian principles. Their party manifesto, dated September 22, 1914, read: “Workers! The pretexts with which some are trying to lead you to the slaughter are not worth the cost of life and treasure which war entails…. Proclaim that Italy, the only great European Power outside the struggle, hereby declares its mission of mediator between the belligerents. In the name of the International, in the name of Socialism, Proletarians of Italy, we invite you to maintain and accentuate your irreconcilable opposition to war.”
Although the mass of the Italian people was thus for neutrality, a large and rapidly growing minority had from the first stood squarely for intervention in favor of the Allies. That this was so was due mostly to widespread sympathy for France. To Italian Republicans, Radicals, and many Socialists, the Anti-Clerical, Radical-Socialist French Republic was a cherished ideal which must be supported at all costs if liberty were not to give place everywhere to Prussian absolutism. The Italian Republicans proved the faith that was in them by promptly raising a larg…Garibaldian Legion” which fought heroically on the battlefields of France.
At the same time, these political reasons were powerfully reinforced by instinctive promptings of racial and cultural solidarity. We have already noted the able “Pan-Latin” propaganda waged by French litterateurs and journalists to gain Italy to the Allied cause, but one reason why it succeeded so widely was the fact that many Italians met it half way. As an Italian Radical leader, Signor Fera, remarked to a French journalist early in 1915: “A11 Italians recognized from the start that the war was in reality a struggle of two civilizations, of two states of mind. Italy could not fight for a civilization antipathetic to her own. That is why public sentiment is with us so hostile to the Austro-German bloc.” At about the same date. Professor Giulio Natali drew great applause from a Genoese audience when he remarked: “In Italy the great majority is Francophile. To feel that sentiment is not to forget our real interests: it is simply — and our people has intuition — to defend our civilization, Latin civilization. Rome and Paris are the fatherlands of all free and intelligent men. ” As early as September, 1914, the noted Italian poet, Gabriele d’Annunzio, had uttered a burning appeal to his fellow countrymen, exhorting them to stand by the “Latin sister’s” side. “Nature herself,” he cried, “makes Italy one with France. Upon both, as upon all the Mediterranean peoples, is laid the duty of sustaining the supreme struggle against an imminent menace of servitude and extinction.” And at a banquet held in Paris early in January, 1915, he said: “I announce to you a certainty, to me as inevitable as the coming of spring or the sun’s entrance into the sign Aries — the certainty of our war; that war which I have preached for twenty-five years.” At the “Pan-Latin” congress held at the Paris Sorbonne, February 12, 1915, the eminent Italian historian, Guglielmo Ferrero, remarked: “For us all, children of Greece and Rome that we are, and bound to France by the sacred ties of language and culture, there arises a grave matter of conscience. … In this terrible struggle, blood, sacrifice, long tenacity, will be required. Can we let France bear alone to the end this terrible and glorious task from which the genius of our race will come forth grown young once more?”
As the war went on, anti-German sentiment became more manifest in Italy. “In the Germanic imagination,” wrote Guglielmo Ferrero in the “Secolo” (Milan), “there is something monstrous, unbalanced, excessive, which recalls the Indians, the Persians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the other Eastern peoples; something which leads the Germans to exaggerate to absurdity every principle however sacred and vital in itself.” German destruction of works of art in Belgium and Northern France evoked angry protests throughout Italy, while German methods of warfare called forth bitter condemnation. “They punish the cathedrals because they are a force; the belfries because they are a symbol; the monuments because they are not German,” exclaimed Luigi Barzini in the “Corriere della Sera” of mid-December, 1914. “Every land which guards jealously the treasures of its civilization should tremble before these proceedings of destruction, before this new fashion of making war.” “If decisive events do not occur before long,” wrote Ettore Janni, “scientific barbarism will be the outstanding characteristic of the present war. And for this, Germany will be responsible. It was she who initiated it…. But — how shortsighted of Germany! Ordinarily, the aversions and even the hatreds engendered by war are of short duration. But this time Germany has transgressed too far the limits permitted by war’§ necessities; she has shown an absolute contempt for all law, for all sentiment of humanity. She has glorified as a supreme virtue the fact of renouncing every virtue. She seems to have nailed Jesus anew upon the cross. … Of the principles of civilization, she has made a litter for the horses of her Uhlans. All this it will be difficult to forget; and, so long as men remember, it will be difficult not to act toward Germany in accordance with these exasperating memories. Germany, who, after the war, can have no hope other than the dissolution of the present league against her, is doing everything possible to cement this league for the future…. Europe may form a circle of hell such as even Dante could not have dreamed.
…The blind leaders of Germany are exciting the whole world against their country. Those who formerly kept pensive silence to-day shout the war-cry of assault and extermination. The force of hate has banished weariness; the desire of vengeance thrills those who faltered. They have given to Europe the terrible soul of a justiciar.”
By the early spring of 1915, Italian sentiment had thus undergone a marked change. The mass of the nation was still for neutrality, but the active pro-Germans had almost disappeared. They were now neutralists, while many who had been neutralists at the start of the war had become partizans of Italian intervention on the Allies’ side. A similar shift had been going on inside the Italian Cabinet, several neutralists having been displaced by men of more pro-Ally complexion. This was notably true of the new Italian minister for foreign affairs, Baron Sydney Sonnino, Scotch on the distaff side and of known pro-British sympathies. As early as November, 1914, the semi-official “Tribuna” (Rome), had remarked editorially: “This is not a war of governments, but of nations — of races. It may last for a year or years. Therefore Italian neutrality is a transitory condition, due to circumstances which may change at any moment. There is thus necessity for military, economic, and diplomatic preparation on the part of the Government, and of moral and political preparation on the part of the public.”
Under these altered circumstances it is not strange that the strong imperialistic tendencies latent in wide circles of Italian thought crystallized with extreme rapidity. The old Irredentist hatred of Austria and desire to annex the Italic regions of the eastern Adriatic littoral flamed up hotly in vehement demands for war against the “hereditary foe.” The Italian public was daily reminded that the Adriatic — “Our Sea” — had been a Roman and a Venetian lake, that the present opportunity for satisfying Italy’s “vital” aspirations might never again recur, and that the Italians of the East Adriatic shore were so rapidly yielding before the combined pressure of the Austrian Government and awakening Slavism that quick action was imperative if those lands were not to be lost to Italianism forever. “Within fifty years,” asserted Guglielmo Ferrero, “the Slavic language will be the speech of Trieste and the Istrian cities, unless we conquer Istria; and every memory of Italy will fade from those lands which since the days of Augustus have always been Latin. It would be like unmaking the history of Italy. … It is very difficult in these days for the Italian language to conquer new territories. So much the more is it our duty to see that none of the territories in which Italian is spoken shall to-day forget it. We shall be overwhelmed with shame if we allow the speech of our fathers to be corrupted, little by little, by a new people.” That important Milanese journal, the “Corriere della Sera,” urged the Government “to achieve the unity of our country, to gain possession of frontiers which will permit us to be pacific with dignity, to rid our Adriatic of the domination of an enemy — an essential and eternal enemy; a domination which to-day makes us strangers without security in that sea which touches most vitally our national life.” And in February, 1915, the “Popolo d ‘Italia” of Milan wrote: “We wish the end of maritime Austria. Austria has no sea. Neither has Hungary. That sea, to-day Austrian, is an Italian sea. Hungary’s Adriatic outlet is a usurpation…. Let Austria be a great Switzerland; and just as Switzerland does not claim Genoa, so let Austria-Hungary not pretend either to Trieste or Fiume.”
Of course, most Italians recognized that the Italic population of the Eastern Adriatic was confined to the coast towns and littoral, the hinterland being Yugo-Slav. In fact, the Italian element in the province of Istria is about 45 per cent., while in Dalmatia it is only 3 per cent. But the Italian claim was that the whole culture and civilization of these regions was Italian; that the Adriatic Slavs possessed no true national consciousness of their own; and that the apparent national consciousness of this folk — due to artificial Austrian stimulation — would quickly yield to Latinism once the Adriatic Slavs were under Italian rule. The Serbian claim to these coasts and the possibility of a Yugo-Slav Empire planted solidly on the Adriatic angered and alarmed Italian public opinion. English and French approval of Yugo-Slav aspirations caused deep consternation, and Italian publicists hastened to lay their side of the question before the Allied peoples. In the “London Nation” of April 3, 1915, the well-known Italian journalist, Arundel del Re, made light of recent Slav gains in Istria and about Trieste at the expense of the Italian element. “With reference to the Slovene advance,” he wrote, “the problem is due mainly to political causes. Left to themselves, the Slovenes and the Italians would freely intermingle, and the former would inevitably be absorbed by the latter.” Regarding Dalmatia he is even more positive. “I do not know what constitutes a claim to nationality,” he wrote on February 6, 1915, “unless indeed it means the sum total of the spirit, the culture, the intellectual and artistic manifestations of a people, and the continuity of its tradition. On these grounds I cannot see how Serbia can lay claim to Dalmatia. Not only does it historically belong to Latin civilization, of which it is the outpost across the Adriatic as well as the national boundary, but the archives of the Dalmatian coast towns, their laws, institutions, culture, and language are Italian, just as much as are those on the other side of the Adriatic…. Dalmatia not only is essentially a part of Italy, but it is important to her strategically if she is to remain mistress of the Adriatic…. How have the Serbo-Croats acquired a numerical advantage in Dalmatia? Merely through a forced and unnatural immigration and persecution provoked deliberately by Austria with the purpose of destroying and suffocating the Italian element.
That this has resisted so long, and, though outnumbered, still dominates the spirit and the culture of Dalmatia, is in itself a proof of its right to existence and domination.
Turning to the Italian press, we find widespread condemnation of proposals to be content with the acquisition of Istria, either as the result of a peaceful agreement with Austria or in consequence of a successful war. The imperialists were a unit in demanding Austria-Hungary’s whole east Adriatic coast, no matter what the objections of the Yugo-Slavs. Particularly significant is the following editorial of the semi-official “Giornale d ‘Italia”: “The result of this system would be a slight improvement of our Adriatic position, thanks to the acquisition of Trieste and Pola, but the general strategic position at sea would continue to be difficult for us if that sea should belong, not only to us but also to an independent Croatia and to a Greater Serbia — two states whicli would probably be in the orbit of Russia. What would happen, then, would be, no longer a great Austrian naval power, but two small states under the tutelage of a formidable naval and military power — Russia. Now, Italy’s principal objective in the Adriatic is to settle once and for all the politico-strategic questions of a sea which commands our eastern coast, and such a problem can be solved only in one way: by eliminating every other navy. From the economic point of view Italy desires the greatest liberty and will put no difficulties in the way of economic outlets for the populations of the east Adriatic hinterland. But from the military viewpoint, Italy cannot give way an inch. In the Adriatic (Austria having disappeared), there must be neither port, nor submarine, nor torpedo which is not Italian. Otherwise, the present difficult situation would be perpetuated and would even grow more grave with the course of time.” That the Italian Government was preparing for all eventualities was definitely shown by its occupation of the Albanian port of Valona (Avlona), at the close of 1914. In fact, Albania was another region insistently claimed by Italian public opinion.
But these were by no means the limits to Italian expansion, as the imperialists saw it. The Nationalist viewpoint was ably set forth by Deputy Giuseppe Bevione in a series of articles printed in the great Turin organ, “La Stampa,” toward the close of 1914. Assuming that Italy must join the Allies, Signer Bevione asserted that the war must end with the Adriatic wholly an Italian sea. The only way to accomplish this was the occupation of Albania and the conquest of Austria’s Adriatic coast, thus forestalling an invasion by the Serbs and confronting Europe at the peace congress with the logic of an accomplished fact. Otherwise, Russia, through her Yugo-Slav tools, would gain that Adriatic predominance so vital to Italy. But besides all this, Italy must take part with the Allies in all future Balkan and Near Eastern operations, thus earning permanent possession of Rhodes and the Aegean islands now occupied by her troops since 1912, as well as a full share of Asia Minor in any partition of the Ottoman Empire. “We trust,” said the “Rassegna Naziouale” (Rome), in the spring of 1915, “that there will be reserved for us, in the Mediterranean, in the Aegean, and in Asia Minor, a share proportionate to the requirements of our position.” And an Italian writer remarked in the English “Edinburgh Review,” “There is only one land wherein Italy can still hope to found colonies of Italian laborers, and that is Asiatic Turkey.”
Toward Austria, as might be imagined, the Italian press was taking an increasingly menacing tone. This first quarter of 1915 was the period of the Italian Government’s long dicker with the Central Powers over cessions of Austria’s Italic territories, and the Italian semi-official papers in particular were not slow to inform the Teutonic Powers of what might be expected in case of refusal to comply with Italy’s demands. Early in March, the “Giornale d ‘Italia” wrote: “The time has come to make clear to the people that the present state of things cannot last indefinitely. Italy cannot emerge from the terrible European crisis as she is to-day. She must, therefore, be ready, for it would be suicide to let this crisis pass without improving her frontiers, realizing her aspirations, raising her prestige, and assuring her future. Action is life.” And a month later it remarked, “Italy will do what her interests counsel, and while we do not take it upon us to predict even the near future, we are in a position to affirm that she will reach her goal at any cost.”
When we review such semi-official press utterances as the above, together with the numberless imperialistic incitements to war like those already quoted, it is difficult not to believe that the Salandra Cabinet had already made up its mind on intervention, and that it was using the negotiations with the Teutonic Powers as part of a clever comhinazione to extract the largest possible concessions from the Allied Powers with whom parallel negotiations were going on at the same time. One thing is certain. On April 25, 1915, a whole week before Italy took her first warlike step by denouncing the Triple Alliance with Austria and Germany, the Salandra Government signed an instrument with the Allied Powers. The exact content of this document has never been divulged, but the semi-official Italian press has asserted positively that it realized Italy’s Adriatic aspirations while holding open the door in the Near East.
All this tends to explain the inner significance of the great political crisis which preceded Italy’s entrance into the European War at the end of May, 1915. If the Government had indeed determined upon war, it was to carry its point only after a hard struggle. For, despite the growing current of pro- Ally feeling and the rising imperialistic tide, neutralism was still strong in Italy. The commercial and industrial classes, whether factory owners, shopkeepers, or business men, were generally averse to war, and the same was true of the Catholics and the Socialistic workmen. So strong, in fact, appeared this neutralist bloc that as ardent an interventionist as Guglielmo Ferrero admitted in the early spring of 1915, “Italy hesitates, and while she sides with the coalition, while she desires that England, France, and Russia may be victorious, she leans more to neutrality and peace than to intervention and war. The majority hope and desire that Italy may watch the terrible conflict with folded arms, to the end.” And in his indignant pessimism he concluded menacingly: “I do not know what may happen on that day when, in the midst of a Europe rent by war and restless in the face of such ruin, the Italian people become persuaded that the monarchy, by the mistakes of its foreign policy, has prevented Italy from taking the Italian provinces. It is even possible that the monarchy’s last hour will strike.”
The neutralists were, however, to show their strength in dramatic fashion. The Government’s denunciation of the Triple Alliance treaty on May 3 had seemed to assure war, and the interventionists were already shouting victory. But at this eleventh hour there entered the arena Giolitti, the maestro of Peninsular politics, the “Italian Clemengeau,” who for more than fifteen years had held the parliamentary chamber in the hollow of his hand and upset cabinets at his will. Gathering behind him all the varied forces of neutrality, Giolitti dashed into the lists waving the banner of peace. “Italy can have from Austria important and sufficient concessions without making war,” was his rallying cry. Austria had, indeed, just offered Italy the Trentino, the west bank of the Isonzo, special privileges and full cultural guarantees for all Italians left under Austrian rule, and a free hand for Italy in Albania. With these Austrian offers Giolitti declared himself satisfied, and added that were Italy to conquer all those territories to which the war-party aspired, their numerous Slav and German inhabitants would saddle Italy wit…a problem of inverse irredentism worse even than has been the German problem of Alsace-Lorraine.” To break with her allies of nearly thirty years on such grounds would be an act of shameless perfidy which would leave Italy diplomatically bankrupt in the alliance market of the world. Even if victorious, the strain on Italy’s finances and the disorganization of her industrial life would put back her economic progress for a generation. “If Italy goes to war,” concluded Giolitti, “the results, whatever the outcome, are bound to be most sad.” These were telling arguments, and so powerful was the influence of Giolitti’s personality that the Chamber showed unmistakable signs of bowing once more to the maestro’ s will.
But the interventionists, now openly supported by the Government, wrought no less desperately for war. A host of fervid orators headed by Gabriele d’Annunzio inflamed the public against Austria and intoxicated it with memories of imperial Rome. Typical of this campaign was d’Annunzio’s speech from the Garibaldi monument at the Quarto, Genoa: “To-day, gentlemen, your victorious will stands armed and ready for the fray. In looking at you and contemplating you, Italy reveals herself to me as a virgin land, just as it appeared to Achates, and as it was when for the first time there rang across the Tyrrhenian Sea the rapturous melody of her divine name. Tonight, before the dawn, many of you will set out for the land that shines from afar. Your hearts are messengers of faith, ah, pilgrims of love! The same fire that kindled youth that night at the rock of Quarto flames anew in your breasts. If it be true, as I swear it is, that we Italians have relighted this fire on the altar of Italy, then take fagots from it in your hands and blow upon them. Shake them, brandish them wherever you go, and, my young companions, thus sow the fire of war all about you and be the intrepid firebrands of Greater Italy…. Sow the fire, that by tomorrow the souls of all shall be enkindled, and the voices of all a clamor of flame for Italy! Italy!”
Equally typical of the war-party’s denunciations of the neutralists is this speech by d’Annunzio upon his arrival at Rome on the 12th of May: “Since three days, I do not know what odor of treason begins to suffocate us. No, no! We will not be a museum, a hotel, a winter resort, a horizon painted in Prussian blue for international honeymoons…. Sweep away, sweep away all this filth! Cast into the sewers all putrified things! Long live Rome without shame! Long live great and pure Italy…
The Government was now determined to force the issue, for on May 13th the Salandra-Sonnino ministry resigned, and immediately thereafter a wave of pro-war demonstrations swept over Italy. At first these demonstrations merely roused the neutralists to scornful or angry contempt. “Il Mattino” of Naples, one of the leading newspapers of Southern Italy, scored “the forty or fifty thousand fools or rascals who wish to hurl into the abyss the country and the thirty-six million Italians who do not want war, having everything to lose and nothing to gain from such a criminal adventure.” The Socialists were especially determined. They organized counter-demonstrations throughout Northern Italy which paraded the streets shouting: “Down with the Ministry! We want no war!” The chief Socialist organ, the “Avanti,” of Milan, exclaimed in a vitriolic leader of May 16: “What signs of decadence and moral baseness! In Milan we must witness callow youths parade in triumph the expelled or deserters of all parties. In Rome the mob of hirelings fed from the bureaucratic trough gets itself drunk on the ear-splitting harangues of Gabriele d’Annunzio. And what harangues! Incitements to crime in all its forms. D’Annunzio as leader and inspirer of the national consciousness! Shame brings the blush hot into the cheeks. Truly, the most fearful disillusionments are in store. This bacchanalia of the patriots symbolized by d’Annunzio is only the outward sign of loug-standiug ills. And il’ now the war does come; if sorrow, want, and suffering settle down upon our land and aggravate still further the sad lot in which our poor working-folk groan; the people will have to bear all the consequences. The poet will have long since crossed the Alps once more, to enjoy comfortably and carnally among foreigners the fruits of that calculated frenzy of his which pushed into the blood-bath the Italian people.”
However, after a couple of days of the pro-war demonstrations, the peace party began to lose its nerve. The Government did nothing to check the mobs and afforded the neutralists no assurance of police protection. Giolitti, threatened with death, hastily left Rome. On May 16 the King invited Salandra to resume office. This was decisive. The war-party celebrated with frenzied enthusiasm and the neutralist opposition went completely to pieces. On May 23, Italy formally declared war on Austria-Hungary.
One of the chief effects of Italy’s entrance into the war was a further strengthening of Italian imperialistic aspirations. Typical of the wide horizons now glimpsed by many Italians is the following article by Senator Alessandro Chiappelli which appeared in the “Rassegna Nazionale” at the close of 1915: “The sphere of action of a great nation like Italy should not be confined to the difficult and glorious task of winning the territory on the Adriatic. The war that is being fought out to-day on the European continent will find its realization in Africa and in Asia, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean, for the conquest of the trade routes and the markets of the world. Neither would domination over the Adriatic alone resolve this difficult problem for us, because it would open for us but few trade routes, even should we conquer the whole Dalmatian coast…. Our allies would in the meanwhile plant their flags on new and extensive colonial territory, and would open up for their own exclusive advantage new commercial outlets, so that when peace has been signed we would indeed find ourselves masters of the redeemed districts and in control of the Adriatic, but as though imprisoned in a land-locked lake; better off, indeed, as to frontiers, but in the midst of victorious nations grown stronger through the war. And already, as I have said, this has to some extent been realized. The German domains in Africa and Asia have almost all fallen under the sway of England, France, or Japan, thus augmenting their already rich colonial possessions. It is small consolation that in the case of England and France we have to do with democratic and liberal peoples. For, although incontrovertible reasons make the civilized world willing to accept English maritime supremacy while it would exclude German supremacy, it is just as true that the slave is no less a slave if his master is humane instead of brutal and violent.” Such utterances show that Italy does not see things quite eye to eye with her allies. The difference in viewpoint comes out most sharply in the various Balkan problems. To begin with, England, France, and Russia all wish to see a powerful Yugo-Slav state possessed of the whole Adriatic coast from Istria to southern Albania. Italy, however, wishes nothing of the kind, and Italian writers have warned their allies frankly that Italy will tolerate no such settlement, but will hold her partners strictly to their promises made at the time of Italy’s entrance into the war. As the Italian publicist, Antonio Cippico, remarked in the London “Fortnightly Review” of August, 1915, “Dalmatia and Istria have never, either in geography or in history, belonged to the Balkans. Secluded by nearly impervious mountain-chains, they will be, as they have always been, the natural bridges between Italy and the Balkan peoples, between the Western civilization and the East…The “restoration” of these lands to Italy, asserts Signor Cippico, “is not territorial aggrandizement, for Italy is recovering what she has been mistress of for twenty centuries.” And he concludes with this very plain speaking to his English readers: “Any further discussion of this matter, based on more or less inaccurate information, can only be of harm to the united cause of the Allies…. Anybody daring to discuss or proposing to violate the agreement between Italy and the Entente, which has brought Italy into the war on the side of the Allies — would prove to be an enemy not only of Italy, but of his own country.”
As regards Greece, also, the Italian attitude differs from that of the Western Powers. For some years previous to the war, Italy and Greece were on distinctly bad terms owing to politico-economic rivalries in the Balkans and the Near East. Greece’s failure to join the Allies has given Italian publicists full rein to display their anti-Greek feelings, and numerous have been the drastic proposals against the recalcitrant Hellenes. Many Italians feel that their troops should at least occupy the Greek province of Epirus and the Ionian Islands, notably Corfu, which Italian Nationalists have long termed “Isola nostra” — “Our Isle.”
Toward Bulgaria, however, Italians refuse to entertain the bitter feeling displayed by the other Allied Powers since her adhesion to the Teutonic cause in the autumn of 1915. Italian writers are continually advocating considerate treatment of Bulgaria and urge fresh attempts to win her to the Allies’ side.
In fact, what most Italians would apparently like would be Italy firmly planted in the Balkans from Istria to Albania, joining hands with an enlarged and friendly Bulgaria, and thus holding both Greece and Serbia firmly in check. This is of course diametrically opposed to the intentions of her Allies, England, France, and Russia, and may yet be the cause of serious complications in any attempted Balkan settlement should the Allies be victorious.
France is, indeed, the only one of her present allies for whom Italy feels any deep-going cordiality. Anglo-Italian friendship is not without mental reservations on both sides, while toward Russia there is merely an Italian official warmth which has no roots in popular sentiment. Against the “hereditary foe” Austria, the traditional enmity has waxed greatly during the war, and this feeling is enhanced by the knowledge that Austria is thirsting for vengeance against “traitorous” Italy. Anti-German sentiment has slowly increased, and since Germany seems irrevocably allied to Austria, it is difficult to see how the former Italo-German good-will can be restored.
The war-temper of Italy has differed widely from that of either England or France. At the time of Italy’s entrance in the European conflict, the nation, as we have seen, was by no means unanimous for war, and this division of sentiment has persisted to the present day. As soon as the die was cast, it is true, active opposition disappeared and all parties tendered the Government their formal support. But this support was in some cases a regretful bowing to stern necessity. Many of the former partizans of neutrality still believe that Italy’s action was a mistake. The Socialist deputies in the chamber have often opposed the Government’s measures, the Catholics are lukewarm, and the Giolittian press has maintained an attitude of reserved criticism. The bad economic conditions prevailing in Italy, including financial stringency, industrial depression, high food-prices and an acute shortage of coal, have caused much suffering and pessimism, while the mediocre success of domestic war-loans shows that the moneyed classes are not opening their purse strings.
Another factor tending to dampen popular enthusiasm has been the absence of any striking military or naval success. Despite exceedingly heavy losses the Italian armies have not yet broken the iron girdle of Austria’s land defense, while the Italian navy has suffered seriously, with few tangible results. The irredentist lands are still “unredeemed.”
All this is not without significance for Italy’s domestic future. The Government openly advocated Italian intervention and is primarily responsible for the present situation. If the Allies win and Italy achieves her desired objectives, well and good. The Government will then have justified itself and will undoubtedly be accorded general popular approval. But should the war end even in a stalemate with no rewards commensurate to Italian suffering and sacrifice, there will be trouble. The irreconcilables, especially the revolutionists, are still there. The Republicans may have entered the war as a crusade for liberty incarnated by France, but the Syndicalists and Anarchists were animated by very different motives. Unlike Marxian Socialism, Syndicalism believes in foreign as well as class war. In 1911 the Syndicalists, much to the scandal of orthodox Socialists, supported the Tripoli expedition on the ground that war of any kind tends to quicken that spirit of violence indispensable to Syndicalist aspirations. The Syndicalists are today plainly fishing in troubled waters. Even victory would leave Italy impoverished and burdened with debt — excellent for Syndicalist propaganda, while Italian disappointment or disaster would so discredit the ruling regime as to offer Syndicalism a golden opportunity. The Syndicalists showed their strength in the “Red Week” of June, 1914. If ever their day dawns, they will use it — for they have no scruples.
THE outstanding feature of the decade of Russian history lying between the Revolution and the European War is the growth of Russian imperialism. This movement, whose complex character is as yet insufficiently appreciated, is of capital importance for an understanding both of Russia’s present position and of Europe’s prospects in the years to come.
When the great Revolution broke out in the autumn of 1904, Russia stood at a momentous crossroads in her history. The disastrous Japanese war had exposed with terrible clearness the shortcomings of the old absolutist, bureaucratic regime. Every one was crying for reform, and in this universal ferment the Russian Intelligentsia sprang forward as self-appointed champions of the New. This Intelligentsia occupied a very special position in the semi-Oriental, caste-like hierarchy of Russian society. Its ordinary translation, “The Intellectuals,” would much better be rendered, “The Civilized.” The Intelligentsia was, in fact, the ensemble of those persons from all the regular social classes who believed themselves “enlightened” in contradistinction to “those who do not know.” Their creed consisted of two articles: hatred of the ruling regime, and boundless faith in their ability to regenerate and “civilize” their country.
The Intelligentsia were not very numerous, but their political importance in 1904 was out of all proportion to their numbers. It was they who had hitherto constituted the sole opposition party in Russia. It was their fighting wing, the Nihilists, which had waged truceless war against the bureaucracy in the darkest hours of absolutism. Accordingly, now that the whole country was at last stirring against absolutism and bureaucracy, the discontented everywhere looked to the Intelligentsia as the natural leaders toward the better morrow.
Thus was the Intelligentsia “clothed with a little brief authority.” But the Russian Revolution IS the story of the Intelligentsia’s lamentable failure. They were tried and found wanting. The reason was that their program was a purely negative and destructive one. A mere ensemble of individuals from all classes, they possessed no settled, positive philosophy, and on their first attempts at constructive measures they fell apart like a rope of sand. Also, the old regime found a man — P. A. Stolypin — whose iron hand bent Russia once more to the yoke of established order and authority. In less than three years the Revolution was over.
Of course, Russia had not simply returned to the old groove. “Revolutions never move backwards” — and Russia had been through a real revolution. Henceforth she was obviously going to move both fast and far. The question was, whither? And that question had already been answered by the Revolution’s outcome. If the Intelligentsia had won, Russia would probably have followed a path of external peace and internal liberal reform. However they might differ over details, the Intelligentsia were usually disciples of West European culture and believers in Western institutions. They were also opposed to the old bureaucratic centralization and “Russification” of the empire’s non-Russian peoples. Their ideal, however vague, was a parliamentary, federalized Russia, avoiding foreign adventures and with internal liberty for all.
The significance of such a possibility for Russia’s future becomes doubly apparent when we realize that, as a result of the Revolution’s universal quickening, the great peasant mass was at last awakening to political consciousness and preparing to play its part in the national life. Obviously, the peasant would adopt as his own the dominant political philosophy of the day, and so enormous was his mass that his political conversion must decide Russia’s political Orientation for many years to come. If the Intelligentsia had won the Revolution they would have converted the peasants to their political philosophy and Russia would have been pledged to internal. Westernizing reform and external peace. But fate willed it otherwise. The Intelligentsia went down in discredited failure, and the strong arm of P. A. Stolypin thrust Russia past the crossroads into the path of aggressive imperialism.
Imperialism had of course always been in the blood of Russia’s rulers and statesmen. It was thus that a petty princedom on the banks of the Moskva had swelled into a mighty empire covering one-seventh of the land surface of the globe. To the Muscovite Tsars, “Holy Russia” had for centuries been the “third Rome,” destined to conquer and absorb the whole earth. As the above terms indicate, this imperialistic concept had a religious as well as a political complexion, being fully shared by the Russian orthodox clergy. It was also the faith of the middle classes and most of the nobility. Muscovite imperialism is well summed up in the words of the late M. Pobiedonostsev: “Russia is not a state: it is a world!”
Although Russian imperialists agree in the ultimate objective of world dominion, they differ as to the path they should follow. Russian imperialism is therefore divided into what is knowm as the “Western” and “Eastern” schools. The former maintains that Russia’s first duty is to free and unite the whole Slav race, seat herself at Constantinople (“New Rome”), and thereafter purge and absorb the “rotten West.” The latter holds that Russia’s primary duty is toward Asia. Herself more than half Asiatic, Russia’s immediate mission is to awaken Asia from its deathlike stupor to a new, Russian life. It is the alternating ascendancy of these two imperialistic schools which gives the key to Russian foreign policy.
At the beginning of the present century the Eastern school was at the helm. The persuasive teachings of Prince Ukhtomsky, Yushakov, and others, had converted Tsar Nicholas II to Easternism. Accordingly, Russian policy looked toward Asia, while the Balkans were neglected and Russia’s western borders secured by cultivating good relations with her western neighbors, Germany and Austria-Hungary. Then came the Japanese war, which heartily sickened Russians of Eastern adventures, while the ensuing Revolution drove all thoughts of foreign policy temporarily from men’s minds.
But not for long. By 1907 the Stolypin reaction enabled Russia to look abroad once more, and her gaze now fixed itself upon the Balkans and the Near East. She found the ground well prepared. In June, 1903, a dynastic revolution in Serbia had replaced the Austrophile King Alexander by the Russophile Peter Karageorgevitch, and the Serbians, a people small in numbers but with great ambitions, offered themselves as willing allies in any Russian “forward” policy toward the West. The Austrian imperialists saw what was coming, and their annexation of BosniaHerzegovina in 1908 dashed Serb ambitions and defied Russian Pan-Slavism at one and the same time. Russia, still weak from her recent misfortunes, swallowed her wrath but vowed vengeance. From that moment the great Austro-Russian duel was on, both parties openly preparing for war and seeking to undermine the other’s position by every means in their power. The most unscrupulous methods were used, especially as regards rival propagandas among disaffected domestic elements.
And the Austrian propaganda found within the Russian borders much fertile soil. The rising tide of Muscovite imperialism had caused a rapid growth of “Nationalist” sentiment among the “Great Russians.” The Great Russians, who form the real racial cement of the Russian Empire, number only seventy millions of the empire’s one hundred and seventy million inhabitants. Before the Revolution, when the yoke of autocracy pressed equally upon all, many Great Russians had made common cause with the non-Muscovite nationalities, and these latter had expected from the Revolution a decentralized federalism which should ensure them local autonomy and cultural life. But the Great Russians, now admitted through the Duma to a share in directing the empire’s destinies, promptly became Nationalists and took up the old bureaucratic program of “Russifying” the minor nationalities. Furious at this disappointment of their dearest hopes, the minor nationalities fell into sullen disaffection. The thirty million “Little Russians” of the Ukraine, in particular, lent a willing ear to Austrian promptings to sedition and separatism.
But this merely increased the anger of the Russian imperialists, who sharpened their Russification program and pressed their military preparations. And these preparations were directed against Germany as well as against Austria-Hungary. In 1908 Germany had shown her determination to back her Austrian ally to the last, and she was now openly rejuvenating Turkey, the ultimate prey of Muscovite Western imperialism. This provoked the bitterest anti-German feeling in Russia, and the years preceding the European War witnessed a Russo-German press campaign of truly extraordinary virulence. As the Russian publicist, Paul Mitrofanov warned the Germans in June, 1914, “The road to Constantinople now goes through Berlin. Vienna has become a secondary factor.” The Russian Government was preparing feverishly for any eventuality. The Duma voted huge army increases in 1913 and a network of new strategic railways was begun all along the German border. Russia was to be fully prepared by 1916.
Western imperialism, under the masterful headship of the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, thus dominated the councils of the empire, and even Intelligentsia leaders like Peter Struve and Paul Miliukov were going with the tide. Nevertheless, the voice of the Eastern school was by no means stilled. Just as the Western Pan-Slavists had backed the Serbian revolution at the very height of the Japanese war, so the Easterners now warned against plunging Russia into a European Armageddon and urged an understanding with the Teutonic Powers and reconcentration toward Asia. Such was the theme of Baron Rosen’s famous “Secret Memoir” of early 1914, such the advice of General Kuropatkin and of publicists like Michael Pavlov itch and Prince Kotchubey. Throughout the opening months of 1914 there was sharp clashing between the two schools. Then came Serajevo and the Great War.
The outbreak of hostilities caused an outburst of popular enthusiasm and a general rallying of opposition forces round the Government and the Tsar. During the early part of 1914 there had been a good deal of political discontent and social unrest, but most of this disappeared in the wave of patriotic loyalty which now swept the country. A prominent leader of the Intelligentsia, V. Nabokov, wrote in the Petrogad “Eyetch”: “The imperial manifesto invites us to forget our internal conflict…. Uniting with all those to whom the life of our country is dear, we do not give up a single one of our slogans, do not forget a single one of our idealistic problems, do not abandon a single one of our positions…. But we are filled with the consciousness that above individual political ideal…. stands one thing…. the life and greatness of the Fatherland. At present it is in danger. And all of us, her sons, are needed by her wholly, without reserve. All of us, without regard to political faith and sect, each one in his place…. will serve to the full extent of our strength and ability.” The only discordant notes were those of the extremely class-conscious, revolutionary Laborites and Social-Democrats, who refused to indorse the war and stood sullenly aloof.
Such voices were, however, lost in the thunderous chorus of loyalty and enthusiasm. The liberal “Russkoye Slovo” of Moscow cried: “Rise, ye great Russian people! History is calling you to perform a great feat before which all that the world has ever seen will pale…. The road will be difficult, the sacrifices will be heavy, but the recompense will be great.” Germany was everywhere stigmatized as the arch-enemy. The noted imperialist organ, “Novoye Vremya,” asserted furiously: “The breeding-place of international violence will be crushed by the gigantic strength of the Northern people, the life of nations will enter upon the course of justice and humanity. … In all Europe since the time of Prince Bismarck there has been only one center of militarism — Berlin.” And its brilliant leader-writer, Menshikov, pronounced that, as a result of the war, all Eastern Germany must become Slav to the very gates of Berlin. Among the peasantry the war was thoroughly popular. The traditional hatred for the Niemetz — the German — flamed up hotly, and the peasant reservists marched joyfully to crush the “impious” Westerners, “the Devil’s spawn,” who had dared assail “Little Mother Russia” in such sacrilegious fashion.
The early stages of the war did much to confirm this Russian optimism. The disasters in East Prussia were forgotten in the glorious tidings of the Austrian collapse at Lemberg and the overrunning of all eastern Galicia by the Russian armies. At last that nest of Ukrainian separatism which had weighed so intolerably upon Muscovite public confidence was in the Russian grasp! The drastic “Russification” of the Ruthenians which now began was but the Government’s answer to insistent popular clamor. Numerous plans were sketched out for the summary partition of both the Central Empires. “It is highly desirable for Russia,” wrote Menshikov in the “Novoye Vremya,” “to surround herself with buffers, with a network of political organisms, harmless to Russia yet capable of opposing resistance to others’ aggressions. If we succeed in making Germany and Austria into Balkan-like groups of peoplets, then we can at last sleep safe o’ nights about our western border.”
In Russia, as in other countries during the early months of the struggle, great stress was laid upon the war’s regenerative effects. The good results of the Government’s prohibition of drink were especially emphasized. “Our country is passing through an epoch fraught with the greatest significance,” wrote K. Voboryov in the Petrogad “Ryetch.” “The spiritual elevation the people have experienced since the declaration of war, added to the sobriety that began at the same time, has wrought a profound change in the life of the country right before our eyes. The stoppage of drink has revolutionized the Russians psychologically, economically, and socially. The results of the change are already apparent throughout the empire, especially in the villages. The Russian village in this brief period has been so transformed that it is unrecognizable…’ There is great hope… wrote Mensbikov in the “Novoye Vremya” that if the experiment in involuntary temperance continues as successfully as in the past months, the Government authorities may gather sufficient courage to put an end to this inveterate public evil. Oh, what a great, saving deed that would be! It would be more than throwing off the Tartar yoke, or the abolition of serfdom; it would be the destruction of the devil’s power over Russia…. We do not yet know what the Russian nation is as a sober nation…. From time immemorial has alcohol been poisoning our blood. What will our future be, then, if our Government shall undertake the pious feat and actually sober the people?”
Turkey’s entrance into the war on the Teutonic side in November, 1914, was greeted by Russia with a general shout of glee. Ever since the beginning of the war influential circles of Russian public opinion had demanded that Russia should in any event obtain Constantinople and the Straits as part of the prize of victory, and Turkey’s action was therefore hailed as a welcome means of satisfying Russia’s age-long aspirations. What these aspirations were was readily discernible from a survey of the Russian press. Even before the formal rupture with Turkey, the “Petrograd Bourse Gazette” had, in October, 1914, conducted an inquiry on the topic: “The Sick Man is dying. What shall be done with his heritage?” To this question a few voices, such as Professor Alexeiev of Moscow, had recommendGd that the Straits be placed under international control, with Constantinople a free city. But the great majority had asserted that Constantinople and the Straits must pass entirely under Russian control, while many had also asserted that Russia must obtain complete Balkan supremacy. For example, Professor Kotliarievsky of Moscow contended, “The Straits must and shall belong to us.” And the “Bourse Gazette” itself remarked editorially: “We are the natural heirs of European Turkey. We must at last become a Balkan Power. The growth of Russia to a Balkan Power must be accompanied simultaneously by the conclusion with the other states of the Peninsula of a customs union and a military convention on the model of that by which Prussia, after 1866, founded the Germanic Confederation and later transformed it into the German Empire…. Only such a task is worthy of Russia and of the sacrifices which this war will entail.”
These sentiments were naturally intensified by Turkey’s entrance into the war. The Tsar accurately reflected the feelings of his subjects when he stated in his war manifest…’ Together with the whole Russian people, we firmly believe that Turkey’s insensate intervention in the war will hasten the — to her — fatal course of events and will open out to Russia a way to the solution of those historical problems on the shores of the Black Sea bequeathed by our ancestors.” And the “Novoye Vremya” exclaimed exultantly: “The war with Turkey must be considered desirable, however inconvenient it may be to divert a part of our forces from the main front, because it gives us the opportunity of settling, with one supreme effort, the ‘Eastern Question….. There has never been in the past, and, may be, never in the future will there be, such a happy combination of circumstances for the liquidation of Turkey, at least as a European Power. This occasion must be utilized, no matter how difficult and what its cost. If we win, there will spread before us the grand prospect of realizing the greatest and perhaps the ultimate ideals of the Slav races.”
Russian public opinion took Anglo-French utterances about an internationalization of the Straits with very bad grace. In March, 1915, the well-known publicist, Prince Eugene Troubetzkoi, wrote in the “Russkaya Vyedomosti” of Moscow: “Our allies, like our enemies, should know the Russian popular point of view. There is only one solution of the problem which corresponds to our national interests: Constantinople and the Straits must become Russian. Any other solution is inacceptible for us.” And in April, 1915, the influential congress of nobles passed the following emphatic resolution: “The congress, convinced with the Russian people that the worldwar will end by the complete victory of Russia and her glorious allies, thinks that one of the inevitable results of this victory must be the acquisition of Constantinople by the Russian Empire.
In the popular conscience there lies profoundly rooted the conviction that the Russian Tsar is alone predestined by the Will of God to plant the Cross on Saint Sophia and restore in its ancient splendor the altar of the Universal Orthodox Church.” “To Russia a free outlet to the Mediterranean is an absolute necessity,” asserted the “Novoye Vremya.” “She has waited for it for centuries and she can wait no longer. Constantinople must be Russian, and it will make no difference if England and France are the first in seizing it.”
Such was Russia’s hopeful mood in the spring of 1915. With her armies breasting the Carpathian mountain crests overlooking the Hungarian plain, and her Western Allies hammering at the Dardanelles, a happy ending to the war seemed almost in sight. One of the few clouds upon the popular horizon was a certain disappointment at the general loyalty of the Austrian Slavs. Many Russians had apparently expected that the Austrian armies would disintegrate at the mere sight of the Russian standards. Accordingly, the stubborn Austrian defense on the Carpathians and at the Dunajec caused some disagreeable surprise in the Russian press. “The Austrian Slavs,” wrote the “Birzhevia Vyedomosti” ruefully, “have fought very well against us, and do so still. The cause of their attitude is, in our opinion, very simple: they do not wish to be delivered by us Russians.” But this, after all, was merely the traditional fly in the ointment. In the spring of 1915, Russian public opinion was thoroughly optimistic and expectant of speedy victory.
Into this confident optimism broke the great Austro-German “drive” which never slackened till it had torn Galicia and Russian Poland from the Muscovite grasp and had conquered Courland and Lithuania as well. The Russian press made no attempt to minimize the seriousness of the situation. In July, 1915, the “Russkoye Slovo” remarked: “We must not light-heartedly shut our eyes to the significance of the successes of our stubborn enemy and console ourselves with the usual phrases about the losses suffered by them and about the worthlessness of the territory lost by us. It is much better to weigh the situation created and not blind our eyes to the possible consequences of our ill success.” And a month later the “Novoye Vremya” wrote: “We must look at things soberly. To defeat the Germans is no longer a luxury which we could afford to deny ourselves if we wished. Under our present conditions victory is a necessity which we must purchase at whatever cost, for without it there will be no Russia. The Germans would gladly make peace with us in order to protect their rear, but they would demand impossible cessions of territory, an enormous war-indemnity, and a humiliating commercial treaty. Such a peace would place in serfdom an empire of one hundred and eighty million Russian people.”
But the deepest causes of discouragement sprang from within. The Russian people knew that German genius was not the sole reason for Russian failure. There were ugly charges of government inefficiency, wastefulness, graft, and downright treason. These charges involved the highest quarters. The very minister of war, Soukhomlinov, was presently put on trial and disgraced.
And this was not all. Many Russians felt that the ruling regime was deliberately using the war to rivet unrelieved autocracy upon the empire once more. Even before the war all the liberal elements had been protesting against the Government’s increasingly arbitrary measures, and these liberal protests had been steadily sharpened by the subsequent course of events. At the outbreak of hostilities the Government had, it is true, issued a ringing proclamation urging forgetfulness of domestic issues in the common cause of the threatened Fatherland. But the Government’s subsequent actions had shown that it, at least, did not propose to forget. Almost its first move had been to gag the entire Russian radical press, while all non-Russian newspapers throughout the empire except a few Conservative Polish organs had been suppressed at a blow. In regions like Finland and the Ukraine, “Russification” was speeded up in the most ruthless fashion, the last local liberties being relentlessly swept away. Revolutionists like Vladimir Bourtzev, hastening home from exile in response to their country’s call, were thrown into prison, while the entire group of labor deputies in the Duma was incontinently shipped off to Siberia.
All this naturally evoked a rising wave of angry discontent. Of course the iron censorship long checked even the faintest mutterings in the Russian home press, but Russian papers printed abroad told startling tales. Most significant of the growing unrest was the movement known as the “Dread of Victory.” Just as in the Japanese war, many radicals began to fear that a Russian triumph would rivet the chains of despotism forever upon their country. As early as October, 1914, the Russian Socialist leader Lenin wrote in the “Sotzial Demokrat” of Geneva, Switzerland: “In the actual state of affairs it is impossible, from the point of view of the international proletariat, to say which would be the lesser evil for Socialism — an Austro-German defeat, or a Franco-Russo-English defeat. But for us, Russian Social-Democrats, there can be no doubt that, from the point of view of the toiling masses of all the Russian peoples, the lesser evil would be a defeat of the Tsarist monarchy, which is the most reactionary and the most barbarous of governments, and which oppresses the largest number of nationalities and the largest mass of population in Europe and Asia.” And in February, 1915, he wrot…’ “We say: Yes, we hope for the defeat of Russia because it will facilitate the internal victory of Russia — the abolition of her slavery, her liberation from the chains of Tsarism…The Russian Social Democrats certainly proved the faith that was in them. There was continual shirking, striking and sabotage in Russian munitions factories, and it was notorious that many town regiments did not fight well.
It is true that this positively seditious attitude was confined to the working-folk of the towns. Most of the Intelligentsia were for the war, while the great peasant mass was heartily in favor of the struggle against the German. Nevertheless, the Government’s internal policy caused widespread dissatisfaction and pessimism. In April, 1915, the “Novy Mir,” a radical paper published in New York city, which possessed good sources of information, painted a decidedly gloomy picture of political conditions within the Russian Empire. “When the war was declared,” it wrote, “voices were lieard from all sides urging the necessity of ‘ceasing the strife.’ ‘United Russia’ — such was the slogan. It still remains the slogan even now, but its falseness is already felt by many. The point is, the strife has been ceased by one side, but the other does not even think of stopping; on the contrary, it is on its guard more than ever…. Meanwhile, the oppression is quite merciless. One thing is clear — the enthusiasm is rapidly declining.”
If such was the situation in the spring of 1915, it is easy to imagine the effect of the summer’s disasters upon public opinion. Indeed, so loud became the cry of discontent that the Duma was convoked at the beginning of August. But Liberal demands for sweeping investigation and reform so alarmed the ruling regime that in mid-September the Duma was hastily dissolved and the Government reorganized in more reactionary fashion than before. “Victory first: reform after!” was the official slogan; a sentiment heartily endorsed by the reactionary press. The ” Petrogradskiya Vyedomosti” wrote: “The legislative chamber has adopted utterly unacceptable slogans which have nothing to do with the problems of the quicker and better mobilization of the country for the achievement of victory, which undermine the confidence in the authorities appointed by the Tsar, and create among the population restlessness and mental anarchy. As in the days of the revolutionary Dumas, the representatives in this one began to threaten the Government and public order with street demonstrations. Political passions are being aroused an…. the unity so necessary to the country is being destroyed. The Government, which has manifested extreme benevolence toward the participation of all political parties in the work of victor…. cannot remain indifferent and nonresistant to the destructive program in which the so-called ‘progressive forces’ have engaged.” And the Clerical “Kolokol” (Petrograd), after vigorously condemning any reform agitation, asserted, “In the higher governmental sphere…. there is not the least thought of giving ‘radical’ concessions.”
By wide circles of Russian thought, however, the dismissal of the Duma was keenly felt. Despite the iron censorship, expressions of dissatisfaction could not entirely be restrained. “The prorogation of the Duma,” wrote the “Russkoye Slovo,” “cannot but produce a most painful impression.” The Conservative “Kievlanin” remarked pessimistically: “And so, those who have remained indifferent, who saw nothing and heard nothing, have pushed aside those who have been so responsive to the needs of the army, whose hearts bled for it…. Nothing can be added to this. The Government has assumed a terrible responsibility. God grant that it may never regret this step.”
Russian papers printed abroad were much more outspoken. “This means,” wrote the New York “Novy Mir,” “that the Russian Government will continue to rule as hitherto, with the nagaika and the knout, disregarding the people’s representatives and the demands of the various Russian organizations and societies. As until now, the Government will continue to kill every manifestation of popular self-activity. … As hitherto, it will imprison or send to Siberia all those who dare to express dissatisfaction. It will continue to persecute the Poles and the Armenians, and to stir up the dark, ignorant masses against the Jews. It will continue its policy of fanning the flame of race hatred by pitting one nation of the empire against another.”
Whether caused by the prevailing pessimism or due to other factors, the wave of social regeneration so pronounced at the beginning of the war was now obviously on the wane. This was particularly true of the drink question. Although the sale of intoxicants was legally forbidden, the illegal distilling and sale of spirituous liquors was spreading at a prodigious rate. Most of this “moonshine” liquor was of distinctly inferior quality, and its consumption, together with crude substitutes like furniture polish, flavoring extracts, and even wood alcohol, was seriously impairing the health of the people. Delirium tremens, deaths from alcoholic poisoning, and kindred ills, were shown by official reports to be rapidly increasing. In the spring of 1915, Dr. Novoselski wrote in the “Russki Vratch” (Petrograd):…The constant rise in the mortality figures, which bears testimony to the growing numbers of consumers of different substitutes for vodka, shows that these are used, not only by confirmed drunkards, but generally by those classes who, before the prohibition law, used to drink moderately.” A writer in the “Petrograd Ryetch” painted this decidedly gloomy picture of conditions in Western Russia: “The sun of sobriety has set before it reached the zenith. The first two months, drunkenness was not really noticeable. In the villages the fact that the law came into force at the busy season contributed largely toward abstinence from drink. In the cities isolated cases of the use of poisonous imitations of alcoholic beverages ended so deplorably that there was a fair prospect of getting rid of incurable drunkards. But here the field work came to an end, the organism partly adapted itself to the harmful imitations, partly adapted them to itself, and ‘life entered upon its normal course.’ The village folk had hardly time to wear out the boots in which they marched after the coffin of ‘the monopoly’ when tens of thousands of illicit liquor distilleries, factories of all kinds of strong drinks, came into existence. It must be said that the fight against the producers of such drinks is being waged energetically…. But, in the place of those suppressed, new ones spring into existence, and, besides, the manufacture of alcoholic beverages is being practised in private dwellings….. There also come reports that the village folk are becoming addicted to gambling, and that a passion for it is seizing the whole mass of peasantry. In short, everything points to the fact that the sobering of the people cannot be accomplished by the simple discontinuance of the traffic in liquor.”
In the upper classes also, the stem enthusiasm of the early days seemed to have yielded to a less Spartan mood. Writing in the Petrograd “Lyetopsis” in the summer of 1916, the noted Russian author, Maxim Gorky, remarked caustically upon the current wave of extravagance and high living. “Making big fortunes without any effort,” he wrote, “these rogues display an almost pathological yearning for pleasure and dissipation. The theaters and restaurants are full to overflowing. The jewelers are doing a roaring trade. There are some people who console themselves by the reflection that a similar orgy reigns both in the countries of our enemies and in those of our friends. These people should remember the wise Russian saying: ‘A fool in a strange family is good fun; a fool in your ow…disgrace.’ ”
It was during the period of depression and discontent at the close of 1915 that voices began to be heard calling for peace. Outside of Russia, this peace movement has been usually termed “pro-German.” That, however, is a very inadequate explanation. Unquestionably there are zealous pro-Germans in Russia, especially at the imperial court and among officials of Baltic Province German extraction. But these “hyphenates” are influential only because their feelings happen to coincide with the aims of powerful circles of genuine Russian opinion.
These Russian peace advocates fall into several distinct categories. In the first place, most Reactionaries and many Conservatives have never liked their country’s alliance with liberal England and Radical-Socialist France. These people are not generally “pro-German.” As a matter of fact, many of them hold Germans in personal detestation. Nevertheless, they have long believed that an understanding with the conservative Teutonic Powers would be Russia’s best safeguard against a “Red” revolution which might plunge the backward, polyglot empire into hopeless chaos and disintegration. The rising tide of popular discontent which we have already noted simply confirmed both their fears and their convictions. Accordingly, they began boldly to speak their minds. A good example of this plain speaking is an utterance of M. Maklakov (minister of the interior at the outbreak of the war), before the congress of the “Right” (Conservative party), at Nizhni Novgorod in December, 1915. On that occasion M. Maklakov declared amid loud applause: “I am quite at a loss to understand why Russia ever went to war with Germany. Both states depend upon each other, and their historical development shows that they must live in close friendly relations.”
Another powerful element favoring a speedy end of the war is Russian “big business” — the great financial and industrial magnates of the empire. Russia’s industries are recent, hot-house growths, created by Count Witte’s protective system and dependent upon high tariff walls for continued existence. Furthermore, the Russian home market is still too backward to absorb even their present output. In order to ensure its present prosperity and future development, therefore, Russian industry feels that it must secure fresh protected markets and believes that such markets are to be gained only by acquiring new protectorates and “spheres of influence” in Asia. Once such Asiatic fields are safely inside the Muscovite tariff wall, Russian industrial magnates see priceless markets for their output, while Russian finance sees limitless profits in government contracts and concessions for the development of vast untouched natural resources. The regions especially desired for exploitation are Persia, Mongolia, and Interior China. Toward the acquisition of Persia and Mongolia, the Russian Government had, in fact, already taken long strides shortly before the outbreak of the European War. It is thus easy to realize the anger of Russian “big business” at the spectacle of national energies lavished on a Western war which an understanding with Germany would have conserved for the conquest of the fabulous East.
Russian “big business” therefore forms one wing of the Eastern school of Russian imperialism. We have already seen how insistent the Easterners were becoming on the eve of the European War. The disastrous course of the struggle naturally gave them a splendid chance to say, “I told you so,” and they were not slow to take advantage of their opportunity. Henceforth, the Russian peace party was to form a constant factor in the background of contemporary Russian life, thus far unable seriously to influence the course of events but ready under favorable circumstances to play a leading part. Their most notable achievement was the Russo-Japanese agreement of July 3, 1916.
Meanwhile, the Western imperialists, most of the Intelligentsia, and the middle classes and peasants, remained zealous for war. But fresh disappointments were in store. By September, 1915, it is true, the great Austro-German “drive” into Russia was obviously at an end. Yet the victorious Teutonic legions were already massing for another campaign—a supreme effort to blast through Serbia and open a road to Turkey and the Near East. For Russia this was an alarming prospect. It was primarily for the Balkans and Constantinople that she had entered the war. With both these points firmly in the Teutonic grasp, her hopes might be indefinitely postponed. At the beginning of the European War, Russia’s Balkan hopes had run high. Serbia was of course with her from the first. Greece and Rumania both seemed ready to fall into line. It looked almost like a new “Balkan League” bringing a million fresh bayonets to the Allies and dealing death-blows to Turkey and Austria-Hungary. So, at any rate it appeared to Russian eyes. In the optimistic spring of 1915 M. Sazonov, minister of foreign affairs, had thus mirrored the Russian point of view: “A most happy day will dawn for us when the Balkan League is reestablished, the League of the Orthodox Balkan States. Russian diplomacy is bending all its efforts to convince the Balkan nations of the necessity of making certain sacrifices for the sake of a higher aim. The Balkan nations must not forget the burdens which Russia has always borne and is bearing for their good. We are participating in this war in the name of the well-being and existence of one of the Balkan nations. Therefore sacrifices must be made by the Balkan peoples, too. No matter how painful that may be to them now, the results will compensate a hundredfold for all the sacrifices, and will yield ample fruit for their common good.”
Yet time passed, and the Balkan League did not materialize. The stumbling-block was obviously Bulgaria. Furious at her recent humiliation in the Second Balkan War of 1913 and inconsolable over lost Macedonia, Bulgaria refused to move an inch unless her national aspirations were first satisfied—a thing which her Serbian, Greek, and Ruman despoilers unanimously declared impossible. Russia sharply reminded Bulgaria of her “duty to Slavism,” but this Turanian cuckoo in the Slavonic nest merely answered tartly, as she had on previous occasions, that she did not care a fig for Slavism except in so far as Slavism coincided with Bulgarian national interest.
Thereupon adjuration gave place to threats, and Bulgaria was given plainly to understand how a victorious Russia would deal with a “Slav” nation which should be guilty of “race-treason.” “I have begotten thee: I will kill thee!” exclaimed the “Novoye Vremya,” quoting the words of the Tolstoyan hero. And a little later it wrote: “Bulgaria cannot remain neutral at a moment when the ‘ancient oppressor of the Christian faith and all Slav peoples’ has dared to raise a hand against the liberator…. The guilt of Bulgaria before Russia is great, but Russia will not remember evil; she will even forget everything if the rulers of Bulgaria will now, even at this late hour, lead their people on the only road which lies before them. But should Bulgaria commit such a hideous deed as to side with the Turk, her political existence would cease after the victorious conclusion of the war by Russia. Bulgaria is now given a last opportunity to realize her national hopes.” Equally menacing was the attitude of the “Ryetch,” which wrote: “Turkey is the enemy of Russia. Greece, like Serbia, may any day become the ally of Russia. If Bulgaria will continue to consider herself a friend of Turkey and an enemy of Greece and Serbia, what will she be with regard to Russia…. Upon the answer to this question — and a prompt answer at that — depends Bulgaria’s whole future and national aspirations.”
Bulgaria’s answer was not long in coming, but it was of a nature quite the opposite of that awaited by the Muscovite press. Among this stubborn Bulgar folk, smarting under past wrongs and fanatically resolved to risk life itself in the attainment of national hopes, Russian threats merely awakened defiant fury. Accordingly, the Austro-German “drive” into Serbia in the autumn of 1915 saw Bulgaria throw off her neutrality and link her destinies with those of the Teutonic Powers. There followed the utter shipwreck of Russia’s Balkan expectations. Greece refused to stir, Rumania did not move, and Serbia, abandoned to her fate, fell prostrate in the dust. Before the menace of Teutonic howitzers, the Anglo-French armies abandoned their precarious foothold at Gallipoli. Russia’s dream of a speedy entry into Constantinople had vanished into thin air.
The closing months of 1915 witnessed the nadir of Russian dejection. The brilliant capture of Erzerum in February, 1916, and the subsequent seizure of Trebizond, did much to restore self-confidence and hope. With all Turkish Armenia firmly in Muscovite hands, the Russian press began to talk of a speedy mastery of the Near East. After the capture of Trebizond, the “Petrogradskiya Vyedomosti” asserted confidently: “We may consider one of our enemies finished. The taking of Trebizond has so disorganized the Turkish defensive that all that remains for her is to lay down her arms and ask for mercy…. Turkey’s hour has struck, and it is not improbable that she will in the near future entirely disappear from the map.”
The extent of Russian hopes in the Near East may be judged from the claims now put forth in the Russian semi-official press to virtually all Asiatic Turkey, most of Persia, and an outlet to the Indian Ocean on the Persian coast. This was obviously an attempt to reconcile the Eastern imperialist school to a continuance of the war, since the acquisition of Asiatic Turkey and Persia might well induce the Easterners to forego their Mongolian and Chinese aspirations. The Persian question, in particular, had long been actively discussed in the Russian press. As early as the spring of 1915, the Petrograd “Novoye Zveno” had asserted: “The Persian question must be solved simultaneously with the French. The name of Russia and the sacred right of her clients must be sacred and inviolable in Iran. This must be established not on paper but in reality. If the Persians are not capable of understanding it themselves, the fate of Turkey must overtake them.” A year late, this rather vague talk had hardened into definite demands. In the early summer of 1916, that leading Russian economic thinker. Professor Miguline, wrote in the “Novy Ekonomist”: “Russia must secure corresponding material compensations for the losses which she has incurred. It is time to give up finally her quixotic policy. Russia has lost enough power and blood for foreign interests and for foreign freedom. There is still a great deal too much talk to-day about the liberation of oppressed nationalities as the chief object…. But where can Russia obtain corresponding compensations? Not on the Western frontier. Russia must, therefore, have an outlet in Southern waters. She must secure the freedom of the Dardanelles, and an access to the Mediterranean not only by sea but by land. We must come to an arrangement with Great Britain to have an outlet to the Persian Gulf. England and Russia must act together in Asia as in Europe. There must be no more talk of any ‘area of conflict’ between the two countries. Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Northern Persia, and the neutral zone of Persia must all be ceded to Russia. When Russia occupies the Dardanelles, Alexandretta, and the Persian Gulf, she will protect for England the way to India and to Egypt instead of threatening it…Such utterances, of whicli Professor Miguline’s is merely typical, are symptomatic of the distinct cooling of Anglo-Russian cordiality which has been taking place for the past year.
It must not be thought that Russian public opinion was centering its interest exclusively upon the Near East. Russia’s Western problems were also much discussed, particularly the problem of Poland. For some years previous to the war the Western imperialists had been striving to effect a Russo-Polish reconciliation on a Pan-Slav basis, and many Conservatives in Russian Poland, headed by the Polish thinker, Roman Dmowski, had met them half way, offering to give up the dream of Polish independence and accept local autonomy under the Tsar if Russia would agree to effect the annexation of Austria’s and Prussia’s Polish provinces to Russian Poland. To Roman Dmowski and his followers Germanism was the great stumbling-block to Polish reunion, and it was to them that the Grand Duke Nicholas’s proclamation of August 14, 1914, was especially addressed. The Polish Conservatives reciprocated in the most cordial fashion, their party manifesto expressing the hope “that the blood shed by the sons of Russia in the struggle against the common enemy will cement the friendship of the two Slav races.” And the Polish Conservative group in the Russian Duma stated: “Please God, Slavism, under the supremacy of Russia, will deal the Teutons such a blow as was dealt them at Grunwald five hundred years ago by Poland and Lithuania. May the blood we shall spill and the horrors of a war which for us is fratricidal lead to the reunion of the three portions of the sundered Polish people.” The intensity of anti-German feeling among Polish Conservatives may be judged from the following open-letter of Professor Wincenty Lutoslawski: “The Prussians are Germanized Slavs, the morally worst of their race, who have denied their ancestors through fear of force and have now themselves become the exponents of force. Gurkhas are noble troops of an ancient race who are glad to fight with such barbarians…. The Prussians are Northern Janizaries and are filled with the spirit of Islam — fury of destruction, predatory greed, breach of faith…. The partition of Poland will be annulled after the war — we shall obtain not only all our lands that we possessed in 1771, but also Silesia and Pomerania and East Prussia. These we shall righteously govern, and in a single generation all the Germanized Poles who dwell therein shall reawake to their national consciousness.” By this party the loyalism of the Galician Poles was severely reprobated, and they were accused of treason to the cause of true Polonism.
But the other Polish parties showed no such enthusiasm for the Russian side. The popular groups were especially cool. They greeted the Grand Duke’s proclamation with eloquent silence, and later on even ventured to issue a manifesto declaring that in their opinion Nicholas’s proclamation was merely a strategic document, and that there was no other solution for the Polish question than the erection of Poland into a neutral buffer state. This was apparently the opinion of many Polish Conservatives as well. Count Charles Potulicki, president of the “Pro Polonia” Committee, issued a statement maintaining that for the future peace of Europe there must be an independent Polish state as a barrier between Pan-Slavism and Pan-Germanism. “Placed between Russia and Prussia — those two incarnations of expansive, aggressive nations,” he wrote, “the Poles have always been, and always will remain, refractory alike to the blandishments of Pan-Slavism and the threats of Pan-Germanism.”
The effect of Poland’s attitude upon Russian public opinion was a varied one. At first, the strong Pan-Slav and anti-German statements of the Polish Conservatives were taken to represent the sentiments of the whole Polish people and naturally evoked great enthusiasm. Popular subscriptions were started throughout Russia to aid the numerous Polish refugees fleeing before the early Teutonic invasions of Russian Poland, and the Russian press asserted that these were but the outward tokens of lasting Russo-Polish fraternization. “When we saw how all classes of Polish society united for the defense of our common welfare,” wrote the Petrograd “Ryetch”; “when we saw with how firm a belief in the coming of the promised future our Polish brothers advanced to meet it, we could not help feeling that that something so dismal and fatal which has separated us for so long is now melting, that the misunderstandings and prejudices of the past are disappearing, and that we are becoming nearer and dearer to each other, not only in thought, but also in feeling.”
In Russian Poland, however, this Muscovite enthusiasm aroused a certain amount of uneasiness. Many Poles feared lest the Russians were misread into Polish approval of the struggle against Germanism an abandonment of Polish ideals and a readiness to be absorbed into the stream of Russian life. Such persons did not fail to disabuse the Russians of their error. For example, the Warsaw “Dziennik Polski” remarked warningly: “Old sins cannot be blotted out by an outburst of compassion nor by the most generous financial assistance. Russian patriots take too superficial a view of our sympathy with the Russian army if they see in it a proof of our union with the Russian people…. The Poles are fighting for Russia in this war, but they have not changed their fatherland. A Russian victory would be in the interest of Poland, and the present conduct of the Polish nation is influenced by the hope of future autonomy. Russian publicists must not see in it any proof of a desire for union with Russia.”
Such utterances, especially when coupled with the bitterly anti-Russian attitude of the Austrian Poles, rapidly cooled the warmth of Russian enthusiasm for their Polish relatives. Meanwhile, in Poland, a corresponding process of disillusionment was going on. In his proclamation of August, 1914, the Grand Duke Nicholas had made many promises such as, “A United Poland under the scepter of the Russian Tsar…. free in her religion, free in her language, and free in her self-government.” But as month after month passed by and no modification of the existing oppressive regime materialized, the Poles began to clamor for a redemption of the Russian promises, reciting their heavy sacrifices and asserting that these merited an immediate reward. But all that the Russian authorities could be induced to grant was a restricted measure of municipal self-government, while the Russian imperialist press told the Poles that this concession — which was not to take effect till 1916 — was all that Poland could expect in the immediate future. “About further reforms,” wrote the “Novoye Vremya” in the spring of 1915, “it will be time enough to speak in the days when the general hopes of victory over the common enemy are crowned with complete success.” Among the Poles this produced lively dissatisfaction and pessimism. One of the Polish deputies to the Duma wrote dejectedly in the Petrograd “Ryetch”: “The Duma in general has not shown any interest in the Poles. But what individual political groups have expressed augurs little good. In September they framed a project of a real political union; in October they spoke about Polish autonomy with legislative chambers; in November about the possibility of administrative self-government; and in December they already found that ‘more or less’ self-government must suffice.” So things stood when, in the summer of 1915, the Austro-German armies expelled the Russians from Poland and took possession of the country.
Under the circumstances, it was scarcely surprising that the invaders met with little popular opposition and were even greeted with some sporadic enthusiasm. The Teutons’ strenuous endeavors to reorganize Poland and their wide concessions to Polish national feeling, culminating in their formal establishment of a Polish state in the autumn of 1916, aroused much uneasy comment in Russia. In the summer of 1916 the Moscow “Russkoye Slovo” admitted frankly: “In the Polish cities self-government has been introduced; the Polish language is used in the courts to a very great extent; Polish children are studying under a national educational system, at the head of which is the University of Warsaw; Polish cultural and educational institutions which had been closed by the Russian authorities have renewed their activities. The Germans are trying by every means to win the Poles over to their side, and they have chosen the right course for it.” After the Austro-German proclamation of a restored Polish state the noted Russian Liberal, V. A. Maklakov, wrote in the Petrograd “Ryetch”: “I know not how the Poles will regard the new act. But, in any event, it will be hard for us to blame them….. We must recognize that we are guilty of much, that we ourselves helped the Germans to deceive the Poles. Our guilt is in the fact that after the Grand Duke’s manifesto we behaved as if desiring to show that it should not have been taken seriously. We not only did not begin to elaborate the plans for the future restoration of Poland, but even forbade the use of the word autonomy in this connection. We covered ourselves with eternal shame by our administration of the region. We allowed an opportunity to pass us which can not be returned.” Other Russians, however, did not display such broad generosity. A second writer in the same journal sternly warned the Poles of the consequences of “treason.” “Those Poles,” he wrote, “who from the very beginning of the war banded themselves together of their own free will into Polish legions and fought side by side with the Germans against the French, English, Belgian, Serbian, and Russian soldiers, are traitors to the cause of democracy and humanity. And should Poland’s independence be bought, in the case of German victory, at the price of such treason, then — finis Polonice!”
So stands the Polish question at this present hour. The solution of the thorny problem obviously depends primarily upon the fortunes of v/ar.
This Russian uneasiness over the Polish question was only one phase of the gathering cloud of gloom and pessimism which overshadowed the empire toward the close of 1916. The hopeful feelings evoked by the conquest of Turkish Armenia in the spring, reinforced by the successful Galician “drive” in June, and still further strengthened by Rumania’s adhesion to the Allies at the beginning of September, were rudely dissipated by Rumania’s rapid collapse under the powerful Teuton counterstroke. Public confidence was still further undermined by the internal situation. The Intelligentsia and the workingmen of the towns were increasingly exasperated by the Government’s reactionary measures, while the war-party was alarmed by the growing activity displayed by the partizans of a separate peace, especially during the premiership of Boris Sturmer.
So loud grew the cry of discontent that the Duma was again summoned, and after stormy scenes Premier Stunner was forced to resign at the end of November, 1916. How serious was the crisis may be judged from Russian press comment which not even the censorship was able wholly to keep down. For example, the Moscow “Russkiya Vyedomost” wrote: “We do not live in a time of political crisis in the ordinary sense of the word, but in a time much more serious—a crisis which touches the whole life of the empire…. The Government does not believe in the same measures as do the people. In this lies the greatest internal danger. This cannot go on longer. Without harmony between the Government and the country we cannot be victorious or preserve our internal life from disorder. Only a public-spirited and responsible ministry will be able to hold back the empire from the precipice.”
The fall of Premier Sturmer was unquestionably a Liberal victory. But the tragi-comedy of the year before was soon repeated. Encouraged by their success, the Liberal groups in the Duma proceeded to further attacks on the ruling regime, while terrorism also made its appearance, notably in the assassination of the mystic reactionary Gregor Rasputin. The political weakness of Russian Liberalism was now, however, again shown. The Conservatives and Reactionaries quickly closed ranks and without encountering any effective opposition installed a new cabinet under Prince Golytzin, a reactionary of the purest water. The present Government is apparently the most reactionary in years. Its probable policy may be gauged from the oft-quoted saying of Premier Golytzin: “The Duma will keep quiet as soon as it gets a beating.” How Russian Liberalism regards the new Government is shown by the caustic comments of the New York “Novy Mir.” Toward the end of January, 1917, this radical organ wrote: “It seems to us that the appointment of Golytzin is the end of all attempts at deception. By this act the ruling Russia threw a challenge to the popular masses. A notorious reactionary, an open enemy of the people and of any progressive movement, Golytzin will not be able to put on even temporarily a mask of virtue. He will be from the first day an enemy with whom the people will have to struggle fiercely. That this will be so, his first declaration shows:, ‘Everything for the war, everything for victory. We cannot now think of internal reforms.’ Clear and outspoken! No hope for the alleviation of the condition of the one hundred and seventy millions of Russia’s population which is groaning under the yoke of constables, district police captains, governors, and plain untitled but dread personalities. As before, the people will be robbed; as before, the people will helplessly starve.”
Such is the state of affairs in Russia to-da… situation obviously uncertain and capable of violent fluctuations. For the world at large, the matter of immediate importance is the question of a separate peace. Here, however, party lines are much mixed. The Imperialists, who include nearly all the upper and middle classes besides such special categories as the army, the bureaucracy, and the Church, continue to be sharply divided into the Western and Eastern imperialist schools: the predominant Westerners resolved on war to the knife, the powerful Eastern opposition urging withdrawal from the war and an understanding with the Teutonic Powers. The Intelligentsia, embracing most Liberals and a few Revolutionists, are strongly for continued war, both out of hatred of Prussianism and liking for the alliance with the Liberal Western Powers. The revolutionary workingmen of the towns are divided, some following the Intelligentsia, others desiring peace in order to start an immediate revolution and dreading lest a Russian victory might so increase the Government’s prestige that a successful revolution would be thenceforth impossible. The peasants are still mostly for war through hatred of the Niemetz (the German) and fanatical hopes of gaining Constantinople, the Orthodox “Holy City.” Under these tangled circumstances, prediction is impossible. Very likely the outcome will depend upon the course of the pending military operations. Allied successes in the coming campaign would naturally entrench the war-party in its hold upon the Government and keep Russia in the European struggle. Allied disasters might so strengthen the peace-party that they would come to power and engineer a Russian withdrawal from the war.
Assuming that Russia escapes revolution and emerges from the war without serious territorial losses, what will be the Russian popular temper toward foreign nations? This also is a complex question. The Intelligentsia are, and will continue, warmly cordial toward England and France. But the Intelligentsia form only a fraction of the Russiari people, and the prevailing popular sentiment is an increasing dislike of all foreigners. France, to be sure, is regarded with a slightly patronizing sympathy, “Poor little France” being a common phrase. But pro-English feeling, never widespread in Russia, is rapidly decreasing all the time. The great imperialist classes unite in dislike and distrust of Britain. The Westerners feel that she will certainly oppose those acquisitions of Asiatic Turkey, Persia, and an outlet on the Indian Ocean on which they have set their hearts fully as much as upon Constantinople; the Easterners know she will try to block that partition of China foreshadowed by the recent treaty with Japan. Hence, Britain is regarded as a future enemy.
The current English cult of things Russian is viewed with cynical amusement. Toward the close of 1916 the noted Russian journalist, M, Zhukovski, wrote in the “Russkoye Slovo”: “Once again the deluge has come; all England is flooded with books about Russia. It has rained not 40, but 440 days, and the downpour still goes on; and who shall say what will happen if this phenomenon continues? Here, for instance, we read of ‘Glorious Russia’; in another book about ‘Contemporary Russia’; elsewhere of ‘Armed Russia’; here is ‘Friendly Russia,’ and so on they go. No one in the world has ever been so infatuated with us as the English are at present.”
Regarding future relations with Germany, it all depends upon whether one takes the long or the short view. To-day, many influential sections of Russian opinion desire peace and understanding with the Teutonic Powers. But any lasting Russo-German friendship is impossible. The two peoples are utterly unsympathetic by nature and regard each other with mutual hatred and contempt. Those very Easterners now so ardently working for a Russo-German entente wish it solely in order to safeguard their western border, keep down domestic disaffection, and thus concentrate Russia’s energies for the mastering of Asia. That done, they would eagerly join their imperialist comrades against the “Rotten West.” Upon the brow of Russian imperialism burns ever Pobiedonostsev’s trenchant dictum: “Russia is not a State: it is a World!”
THE Balkan peoples are victims of a common mania, the “Great Idea.” The “Great Idea” means the “reunion” of all the members of a particular Balkan race into a single state, and since these races are widely scattered and intermingled, the political union of any one of them would imply the erection of a powerful “empire,” dwarfing all the others to a position of hopeless inferiority. The realization of this fact makes all the Balkan peoples ready to fight each other’s imperialistic aspirations to the death.
The driving power behind these aspirations comes from the peculiar circumstances of Balkan history. In the Middle Ages the Balkan peoples fought one another much as they do to-day, and during this long period each of them gained a transient Balkan supremacy. Then came the Turkish conquest, which involved them all in a common ruin. For centuries they lay helpless beneath the Turkish yoke. But Turkish dominion bore within itself the seeds of its own dissolution. Most terrible of conquerors, the Turks were the poorest of assimilators. They remained a mere Asiatic army camped on European soil and never succeeded in Ottomanizing or Islamizing their Christian subjects. Therefore, when the Turkish flood began to recede from the Balkans about a century ago. the old landmarks reappeared virtually unchanged and the Christian Balkan peoples resumed their old national lives once more.
They “resumed” their national lives. Note that well. It is the key to the whole story. The Balkan peoples are not “young,” as most Western observers think. They are very old; in fact, so many Rip Van Winkles aroused from a long sleep with all their medieval racial characteristics and national aspirations virtually unchanged. For thoin the last five centuries have been a dream — or a nightmare. One thing only do they remember — their glorious pasts; and they are each determined that their special past shall live again. Of course they clothe their thoughts in modern speech — “rights of nationalities,” “race unity,” etc.; but the basic ideas are those of the medieval long ago. This comes out clearly in their rival claims to Balkan dominion. Because a province belonged to a certain medieval Balkan empire it must go to the particular state which to-day bears the same name, and since some districts have belonged to all those empires in turn, the rival claims form a veritable Gordian knot severable only by the sword of war. Truly, among these peoples “a thousand years is but a day.”
The arrested development of the Balkan races shows not only in their national aspirations but also in the whole popular temper. Among the educated elite, to be sure, there are as cultured gentlemen as any in the world, but the popular masses are thinly veneered barbarians with the virtues and vices belonging to that stage of human evolution. Generally good-natured, honest and hospitable in peace times, these primitive natures are yet capable of volcanic outbursts of boundless fanaticism and savage cruelty. Also, these transformations occur with a suddenness and intensity unknown among more developed peoples.
All this gives the key to the inner significance of the great Balkan upheaval of 1912-13. In 1912 the Christian Balkan states at last succeeded in combining against the hereditary Turkish enemy. But no sooner was the battle won than the victors quarreled hopelessly over the spoils. There followed the Second Balkan Wa…ferocious race-struggle which resulted in the despoiling and humiliation of Bulgaria, hitherto the leading Balkan nation, by the other Balkan peoples. The Treaty of Bucharest which put an end to the war was an attempt permanently to kill Bulgaria’s aspirations and to surround her with a ring of aggrandized and watchful enemies. To this end, Serbia, Rumania, and Greece concluded an anti-Bulgarian entente, while Greece and Serbia signed a special treaty mutually guaranteeing each other’s Macedonian possessions against Bulgarian attack.
The so-called “Peace” of Bucharest was thus no peace. It was merely a whetting of knives. In anticipation of the next war, all parties began to consolidate their recent territorial gains by the process known as “extirpation.” This process consisted in the rooting out of hostile racial minorities from the freshly conquered territories, thus attempting to make race lines correspond to political frontiers and to assure the fanatical loyalty of the whole future population within any given state border. The ruthlessness with which these readjustments were conducted scandalized the outside world and enormously envenomed Balkan race hatreds. The wretched victims of “extirpation” streamed into their respective motherlands by the hundred thousand and there sowed broadcast the seeds of fury and revenge. Each Balkan people swore to crush the accursed foe and erect its special “Great Idea” upon his ruin.
Such was the miasma of unslaked hatreds and gnawing desires which poisoned the Balkan peninsula at the outbreak of the European War. Since these terrible conditions were so largely responsible for the occurrence and course of Armageddon, it will be necessary to examine the various Balkan peoples in detail.
Serbia is emphatically a land of great expectations. Its people, a primitive race of swineherds and small yeomen, do not appear exactly “empire-builders” to the casual eye. Yet the Serbs are a most curious compound: they are pig-raisers and poets at one and the same time. Preeminently do they possess the “Slav” temperament — mystic, dreamy, rather inefficient under normal circumstances yet capable of fanatical energy beneath the spur of an idea. And the Serb idea — the inevitable “Great Idea” of a Balkan people — is certainly grandiose enough. Its kernel is that “Empire of Stephen Dushan” which bowed the Balkans beneath Serb hegemony five hundred years ago. But, like kindred Balkan aspirations, the Serb Great Idea clothes itself in the modern doctrine of nationality. And the Serb sees his race brethren both widely scattered through the Balkan peninsula and occupying the whole southwest portion of Austria-Hungary as well. Hence, the Serb great idea is a Pan-Serb or “Yugo-Slav” Empire which shall not only revive the Balkan hegemony of Stephen Dushan but shall also absorb all those Serb, Croat, and Slovene populations of Austria-Hungary which never knew Dushan’s sway.
Such has long been Serbia’s ambitious dream. But, like their Russian cousins, the Serb imperialists although united on the ultimate end, disagreed as to the means. The hope of absorbing Austria-Hungary’s Yugo-Slav provinces was so remote that many Serbs believed in cultivating the goodwill of their mighty northern neighbor and thus gaining Austria’s assent to possible Balkan acquisitions at the expense of the declining Ottoman Empire. This was the “Austrophile” doctrine which inspired Serbia’s foreign policy under the Obrenovitch kings, Milan and Alexander, down to 1903.
In 1903, however, this Austrophile policy came to a dramatic end. King Alexander then fell before a military conspiracy which placed upon the throne Peter, bead of that rival Karageorgevitch dynasty which had struggled for supremacy with the Obrenovitch throughout modern Serbia’s troubled history. And Peter represented the second school of Serb imperialism which looked to Russia as Serbia’s protector and hoped for the speedy realization of a Pan-Serb Empire built upon Austria-Hungary’s ruins. This school’s immediate inspiration of course came from the Russian Pan-Slavists, who saw in Serbia the chosen instrument of Russia’s Balkan supremacy. The 1903 revolution had Russian backing, and the appointment of M. Hartwig, the stormy petrel of Muscovite diplomacy, as Russian minister to Belgrade, betokened what might be expected in the near future.
Alarmed at the prospect, Austria did everything possible to break Serbia’s rising spirit, but this merely intensified anti-Austrian feeling and drove the Serbs still closer into Russia’s arms. Thereupon Austria threw down the gauntlet by annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina, the treasured “first step” of Serb imperialism. Serbia was wild with disappointed fury, but beneath the German ultimatum Russia had to counsel submission. Henceforth, however, the Austro-Serbian feud was avowedly to the death. The Serbs made no concealment of their determination to disrupt Austria for the erection of a Pan-Serb Empire, while Austria but waited the chance to destroy her irreconcilable foe. The seditious Pan-Serb propaganda carried on in Austria’s Yugo-Slav provinces became an increasing menace to Austria’s future, and it was a fanatical Pan-Serb secret society, the “Narodna Odbrana,” which encompassed Archduke Franz-Ferdinand’s assassination at Serajevo.
The frenzied condition of Serbian public opinion during the years preceding the European War becomes clear from Serbian press-comment and utterances of representative Serbians at that time. On October 8, 1910, the second anniversary of Austria’s annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Belgrade “Politika” wrote, “Europe must take note that the Serbian people still thirst for revenge.” And the “Mali Journal” exclaimed between black mourning border…’ The day of vengeance must arrive! The feverish efforts of Serbia to organize her army are a token of this accounting to come, as is the hatred of the Serbian people for the neighboring monarchy.” In April, 1911, the “Politika” wrote: “The annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has once for all shattered even the semblance of friendship between Sorbin and Austria-Hungary. This every Serbian feels… In this same year M. Protitch, a prominent Serb politician, declared in the Serbian parliament: “Peace and good relations will never exist between Serbia and Austria-Hungary until the latter shall have renounced all pretensions of being a great Power and shall have resigned itself to being the Switzerland of the East.” While a little later the noted Serbian diplomat, Chedo Mijatovitch, declared: “The national Serbian program, to the realization of which all parties in Serbia are working, comprises the annexation of all territories inhabited by Serbians, whether belonging at this moment to Austria or to Turkey.”
Serbia’s double triumph in the Balkan wars naturally roused Serbian ambitions against Austria to an even higher degree. In the spring of 1913, the “Balkan” (Belgrade) wrote: “War between Austria- Hungary and Serbia is inevitable. We have dismembered the Turkish Empire; we shall likewise rend Austria asunder.” And in October, 1913, the “Piemont” exclaimed: “Serbian soldiers have vowed that they will proceed in a similar way against the ‘Second Turkey’ as they have by God’s help dealt with the Turkey of the Balkans. They take this pledge, confident that the day of vengeance is approaching. One Turkey has disappeared. The good God of Serbia will grant that the ‘Second Turkey’ shall also disappear.” “Serbia incites the Austro-Hungarian Serbs to revolution,” admitted the “Zastava” of April, 1914; “Austria has lost all rights of existence,” asserted the “Pravda” of the same date; while in their Easter issues, most Serbian papers Joined in expressing the common hope that their “unliberated, conquered, and oppressed brethren may soon celebrate a glad resurrection.”
Very instructive in this connection is the testimony of the celebrated English traveler, Mary E. Durliam. Writing in the “London Nation” of April 10, 1915, Miss Durham, who probably knows Serb lands more intimately than any other Western observer, writes thus of her experiences in Serbia and its twin Montenegro during the Balkan wars: “They (the Montenegrin officials) certainly most explicitly stated that it was the intention of the Serb peoples to set Europe on fire, and that they should begin in Bosnia. But this was not an isolated case. Peter Plamenatz, minister of foreign affairs, told me frequently that the Serbs made a great mistake in not fighting Austria in 1908. It was a common boast that Cattaro could be taken in twenty-four hours. The assault by the Serbs on the Austrian consul at Prizren was at the time represented to me as a direct attack on Austria, and Austria was greatly jeered at for being afraid to go to war then. Serb as well as Montenegrin officers talked freely about their next war (which was to be with Austria). Marching to Vienna and setting Europe on fire were some of their favorite topics of conversation…
Such being the desperate and fanatical state of Serbian public opinion, the effect of the Serajevo tragedy can be imagined. To be sure, the Serbian Government prohibited the use of violent language, but Serbian press comment teemed with thinly veiled exultation and covert sneers at Austria’s “hopeless” plight. It is also not surprising that Serbia, backed up by Russia, rejected Austria’s ultimatum.
The long-expected war with Austria excited general enthusiasm. The only regret, expressed in certain circles, was that the war could not have been temporarily postponed. “We Serbians,” wrote Chedo Mijatovitch in a message to the English public in late August, 1914, “did not wish for this war at present. After two bloody wars we wanted peace and rest to recuperate: time to organize newly annexed countries, to create and train an army of 600,000 soldiers. We wanted at least five years.” To most Serbians, however, the presence of Russia, England, and France as their allies presaged certain and speedy victory.
Serbia was still further heartened by the striking failures of the Austrian invasions during the autumn of 1914. Curiously enough, their first apprehensions arose, not from the menace of their foes, but from the conduct of their allies. The Entente’s negotiations with Italy in the spring of 1915 and Italian demands for Austria-Hungary’s Adriatic coast aroused anger and alarm in Serbia. The Serbian Government conceded Istria to Italy, despite the Slovene hinterland of Trieste, but Serbian public opinion unanimously demanded all the remaining Austro-Hungarian coast, both as essentially Yugo-Slav country and as the indispensable sea-frontage for the projected Pan-Serb Empire. Italian claims to Dalmatia were scouted with especial indignation. The Allies’ secret agreement of April 25 with Italy, concluded without Serbia’s knowledge or assent, evoked ill-suppressed wrath. On June 20, 1915, the Serb Premier Pashitch declared in parliament that “the question of Dalmatia would be settled after the war,” thus serving formal notice that his government did not propose to give the April agreement its assent. M. Pashitch’s utterance acquired added significance from an article published in the official Serbian organ “Samouprava” about this same time. “Dalmatia,” stated this obviously inspired article, “is not Italian. It is geologically, historically, and ethnologically Serbo-Croatian. If Italy wishes to share fraternally with Serbia the Adriatic Sea on the shores of which live 700,000 Slavs as against 18,000 Italians, Serbia will be greatly pleased and will not fail to cultivate what the ancient Italian civilization shall have left behind as a heritage. But Serbia will not consent to having this Slav land pass from Austrian domination to another domination — that of Italy.”
The tone of non-official journals was even more emphatic. “Italy has decided to make traffic of her sympathies and sell her warlike cooperation,” wrote the Belgrade “Politika” acidly. “The cry, ‘What am I offered?’ alone inspires Italian policy….. The saddest thing in this whole business is that we are to serve as the object of the bargaining. England and France, who, in the name of the Triple Entente, carried on the negotiations with Italy, consent to concessions at the expense of Serbia and of South Slavism. Serbia asks no aid of Italy. She does not need to. All the more is she not ready to cede an inch of Yugo-Slav territory. If the Triple Entente is reduced to calling for Italian assistance, let it pay the necessary price out of its own pocket. It possesses territories enough of which it can dispose. Let it not violate others’ rights. Savoy, Corsica, Malta, Tunis, Algeria, Asia Minor, and Egypt could serve perfectly well as compensation for Italy. We are perfectly convinced that this Italian policy of extortion is not in the least agreeable to the Triple Entente and that the latter would agree only against its will to such compensations extorted by force. We are also persuaded that Italy would one day bitterly regret it. But it is only right and just that he who believes that he must grant compensations should take them out of his own property. We have no need of Italy. Consequently, we wish to make no sacrifice for an assistance that we do not request. Istria and the Dalmatian coasts are Slav and will remain Slav. Any attempt to upset the established order might give rise to new complications and new conflicts of incalculable extent. Let the Triple Entente and Italy take that for certain!” This categorical refusal to yield Italy even Trieste represented a powerful body of Serbian public opinion, and did much to still further envenom Serbo-Italian relations.
The dispute with Italy was by no means settled when Serbia’s sensibilities were still further ruffled by another move of her allies. The summer of 1915 witnessed the Entente’s persistent attempt to win Bulgaria to its side, but Bulgaria at once answered that the price for her aid would have to be that supremely desired land of Macedonia for which Bulgaria had fought the Balkan wars and of which she considered herself foully robbed at the Peace of Bucharest. The Bulgarian thesis was that the Macedonians were thoroughly Bulgar in blood and speech, and that Bulgaria could never rest until these race brethren were reunited to the motherland. The justice of this contention was acknowledged by influential sections of British and French public opinion which urged their Governments to put pressure on their Serb ally to satisfy Bulgaria’s aspirations and thus assure a reconstituted Balkan League which would ensure Austria’s speedy collapse and thereby richly reward Serbia’s sacrifice by giving her all southwest Austria-Hungary.
This line of reasoning, however, did not in the least appeal to Serbian predilections. Serbia flatly denied that the Macedonians were Bulgars, asserting that they were true Serbs, temporarily misled by Bulgarian propaganda but now fast becoming good Serbs under Serbian rule. Furthermore, most Serbians claimed that Macedonia was vital to the political and economic future of their country. In fact, they believed that all Macedonia should have gone to Serbia right down to Salonika and the AEgean Sea, and only the feud with Bulgaria had prevented a quarrel with the Greeks over the possession of Salonika and the lower Vardar Valley. The full extent of Serbian aspirations came out clearly in the arguments which Serb writers now adduced in the foreign press to convince their Western allies of the justice of their contentions. In the Paris “Revue Hebdomadaire” of April 10, 1915, the Serb publicist, J. Cvijic, asserted: “Our country is composed of two great valleys, the Morava and the Vardar, which cut across the Balkans from north to south, from Belgrade to Salonika, without any distinct partition line. This gives to Serbia the seal of an almost perfect geographical unity.” And a little later, a prominent Serb politician, Costa Stoyanovitch, wrote in the “Nuova Antologia” (Rome): “Macedonia does not even belong to Bulgaria geographically, while with Serbia it forms a geographical unity. The valley of the Vardar, the principal Macedonian river, is only the continuation of the Serbian valley of the Morava. Thus it is the main line of communication between the Danube and Salonika…. Hence, for Serbia, the cession of Macedonia is not equivalent to parting with a contiguous province, without the possession of which she could continue undisturbed her national life. … In fact, this province, not only because of its resources and its economic value, but also because of its geographic position, is the most important Serbian province.”
Despite these Serbian contentions, the Entente Powers did urge Serbia to promise Bulgaria, not all Macedonia but the districts west of the Vardar River. However, even this relatively slight concession aroused bitter opposition in the Serbian press. The “Novosti” (Belgrade) exclaimed defiantly: “Serbia prefers to disappear as a state rather than accept such a renunciation of its lands. That is what the Government should declare to the Entente instead of convoking the Skupshtin.”
The Serbs were, however, not called upon to make this sacrifice. Bulgaria rejected the proposed compromise as utterly inadequate, and when in September, 1915, the Austro-Germans began their great Balkan “drive” Bulgaria joined the Teutonic Powers and struck savagely at the hated Serb foe. The Serbians resisted with the courage of despair, but the odds were too great and the struggle was soon over. The flower of the Serbian people fell in battle or perished during the awful retreat across the snow-clad Albanian Mountains. Only a hardy remnant reached the waiting Entente ships on the Adriatic shore and were carried away into exile. Before the year was out tiny Montenegro also fell, and the Serb states had disappeared from the roster of the world’s nations.
Whether they will reappear depends upon the fortunes of war. Should the Teutonic Powers maintain their present Balkan grip, it is unlikely that an independent Serbia will ever be restored. The most probable outcome at this writing appears to be a straight partition between Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, Bulgaria taking the mixed Serbo-Bulgar populations of Macedonia and southern Serbia, Austria-Hungary taking the pure Serb populations of the north. In that case, with forbearance and constructive statesmanship, the still plastic Serb stock would in all probability ultimately fuse with the closely kindred Bulgarian and Croatian cultures.
Of course all this is cruel tragedy for the Serbs — but it is the way of the world. For many years Serbia frankly aspired to be the “Balkan Piedmont” and worked to disrupt Austria-Hungary in order to build from its ruins a great Yugo-Slav Empire. For both states the issue was thenceforth one of life and death, and in such implacable duels the loser must pay the ultimate forfeit.
Modern Bulgaria is one of the most extraordinary phenomena of human history. Although the Bulgarians played a leading part in Balkan politics during the Middle Ages, building up two powerful empires, the Turkish conquest of the Peninsula bore harder upon the Bulgars than upon any other Balkan people. So thoroughly was the national organization destroyed that forty years ago the Bulgarians were an obscure population of wretched serfs, exploited to the limit of human endurance, whom the world had so completely forgotten that many Western travelers passed through their land without becoming aware of their existence.
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877 freed the Bulgars from the Turkish yoke and restored their national entity. In less than ten years Bulgaria was the most powerful Christian Balkan state, and this primacy she steadily increased down to the late Balkan wars.
This almost miraculous creation of something out of nothing implies a very unusual national character, and a brief study of Bulgarian national psychology reveals the secret of Bulgarian success. One thing is clear from the first: the Bulgarians are not true Slavs. Your typical Slav, whether he dwell on the Russian plains or the Serbian hills, is an idealist, prone to lose sight of bard facts in day dreams. Capable of great accomplishments when under the stimuli of his enthusiasms, in ordinary times the Slav is an easy-going, improvident, open-handed person, essentially likable, but lacking that practical characteristic — efficiency. How different the Bulgarian! Restrained, sober, dour; with occasional outbursts of passion, but usually taking even his pleasures sadly; intensely practical and hard-headed; without a trace of mysticism; frugal to the point of avarice; so solicitous about the future that this frequently becomes an obsession; above all, possessed of a dogged, plodding, almost ferocious energy translating itself normally into unremitting labor — such is the folk. “The Bulgar on his ox-cart,” says the national proverb, “pursues the hare — and overtakes it.”
This individual character-sketch omits one trait possessed by Bulgarians in preeminently high degree — capacity for sustained team-play. Now imagine this people fired by the typical Balkan Great Idea, and you begin to understand how Bulgaria rose from nothing to Balkan primacy in less than ten years.
And that Great Idea? It was, first, the reunion of the whole Bulgarian race from the Black Sea to the Albanian Mountains, and from the Danube to the Aegean. Then, invincible in its dominant central position, this “Big Bulgaria” would force the other Balkan peoples to acknowledge its hegemony. Finally, a united Balkan Christendom would expel the Turk from Europe and seat a new Bulgarian Empire at Constantinople, always significantly-known to Bulgarians a…Tzarigrad…the City of the Tsars.” Grandiose almost to absurdity appeared this ideal of the devastated little peasant state created in 1878 by the Congress of Berlin. But, if Bulgaria’s dreams were great, her waking hours were long, and all were given up to strenuous endeavor and rigid self-denial. These high hopes became part of the national consciousness. They braced every Bulgar to gigantic efforts. The way Bulgaria pinched and starved herself for near forty years to create proportionately the greatest war-machine in the world showed this folk to be possessed of a somber power and ferocious energy which made the goal seem less impracticable.
Then at last the hour seemed to have struck. In the Balkan wars Bulgaria cast the die — and lost. Not from lack of courage or fighting ability, but through a league of all her Balkan neighbors egged on by her traditional friends, Russia and France. The moral effect was terrible. The foreigner can hardly realize the half-insane fury which then settled down in those morose, half-savage hearts. Forced to sit idly by and watch the hated Serb root out Macedonian Bulgarism by one of the most ruthless persecutions known to history, their strong-man’s agony grew, and grew, and knew no rest. How the Serb was regarded is shown by this popular Bulgarian war-song composed just after the Peace of Bucharest: “We took your hands as brothers, but hell lurked in your hearts! Inveterate brigands, who have trampled under foot honor, altar, and good-name; you have despoiled us without shame! You have soiled the temple of our country! Inhuman demons, hiding crime in your souls; you are the creatures of wickedness and fury! We remember all, and savagely shall we avenge your satanic plans, your accursed envy!”
“Vengeance!” That was the watchword. “Vengeance and victory!” From Tsar Ferdinand down to the humblest peasant boy, the Bulgarian people made no secret of their determination to tear up the Bucharest treaty and seize Macedonia at the first opportunity, or die in the attempt. The first step was a reconciliation with the hereditary Turkish foe. Before the year 1913 was out, a close Turco-Bulgarian entente had cleared the way for future action.
Then came the European War. How Bulgarian popular sympathies would go was perfectly clear from the first. Serbia, the arch-enemy, was fighting the Entente’s battles. Greece, the well-hated, and Rumania, the abhorred, were Entente sympathizers. Russia and France, the false friends, made up two of the three Entente Powers. How, then, could Bulgarian patriots wish for Entente success? Russian talk of “Pan-Slavism” and appeals to the “Little Brothers of the South” were laughed to scorn. The Bulgarians knew well who was Serbia’s sponsor, and knew equally well who had egged on Rumania to stab them in the back in the Second Balkan War. Long before the European struggle, most Bulgarians had renounced not only Russia but their very Slavism as well. “Call us Huns, Turks, Tartars, but not Slavs!” cried a prominent Bulgarian shortly after the Peace of Bucharest. And in November, 1913, the great patriotic organization “Narodni Savetz,” headed by Premier Radoslavov, had passed this resolution: “The Bulgarian people must break with this ideal, so false and fatal for us — the ideal of Slav fraternity.” Many Bulgarians recalled with pride their partial descent from Finno-Turkish nomads who had conquered the primitive Bulgarian Slavs more than a thousand years before, and the famous Bulgarian poet, Cyril Khristov, had set the fashion by calling himself a “Tartaro-Bulgar.” Therefore, when the European War broke out, Russian advances were rejected with defiance. “Slavism is a fatal barrier to our power and our national enthusiasm,” stated Dr. Ghennadiev’s orga…Voli…in late August, 1914…It is high time for us to shed that error and stop preaching such a lie.”
Bulgarian resentment likewise leaped up hotly against France. France had shown herself more hostile to Bulgaria than had Russia during the Second Balkan War, and it was an open secret that M. Delcasse, French minister of foreign affairs, had advocated the permanent ruin and partition of Bulgaria in order to erect a more powerful Serbia and Rumania against Austria and a Greater Greece against the Levantine aspirations of Italy. All this the Bulgarians remembered, and their anti-French feeling expressed itself in strictures like that indited by Professor Petkov of Sofia University in the early autumn of 1914. In this brochure, Professor Petkov wrote: “An heroic struggle is unfolding before our eyes: the healthy and powerful German culture battles with the rotten French culture which, condemned to death, tries to drag down with it all the peoples of Europe. Present-day France is nothing but a disgusting sewer which taints the air of Europe. The healthy German culture has revolted against her, for Germany wishes to conquer a free field for its development. On the other side, German culture has to struggle energetically against Russian barbarism which, for ten centuries, has tended solely to become the powerful despot and oppressor, as well by its own peculiar development as by the progressive development of others. At the present hour, France, intellectually degenerate and depopulated, struggling against the powerful German culture, has for ally Russia, barbarous and benighted…
The strong pro-German sentiments expressed in Professor Petkov’s pamphlet were typical of the great mass of the Bulgarian people. Tsar Ferdinand and the Bulgarian Government, to be sure, maintained an attitude of even-handed neutrality, but Bulgarian public opinion made scant concealment of its sympathies. At the outbreak of the war, the noted Bulgarian poet, Cyril Khristov, dedicated an impassioned ode “To Germania,” ending: “Ah! How I love to see thee march victoriously forward to the conquest of that place in the world which is thy due!” “For us, one thing is certain,” exclaimed the Sofia “Trgowinski Vjestnik” exultantly in the autumn of 1914, “the two powerful allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, are invincible!” In the Christmas, 1914, number of the Vienna “Reichspost,” M. Momtchilov, Vice-President of the Bulgarian Parliament, wrote: “A strong Bulgaria is indispensable for Austria-Hungary. Every Bulgarian knows that Russia, in seeking to occupy the Dardanelles, becomes thereby, ipso facto, the enemy of Bulgaria. At this critical hour the Bulgarian Government is energetically sustained by the people, which acclaims with enthusiasm the Austrian and German victories and sees in them the hope of its own existence. The Bulgarian people to-day desires an unconditional rapprochement with the great Central Powers, it thirsts for their high ‘Kultur,’ and sincerely desires the harmonizing of their political and economic interests. Russia’s efforts to gain us by her rubles has failed. The Pan-Slavist comedy may still serve the gentlemen at Petrograd as an excuse for sumptuous banquets, but for us it has gone out of fashion. If, notwithstanding, Russian policy should dare to violate our neutrality, then Russia would run upon our bayonets.”
Russia’s determination to get Constantinople roused deep anger and alarm throughout Bulgaria. Most Bulgarian papers asserted that this would mean the death of Bulgarian independence, and a prominent Bulgarian politician wrote boldly to the Petrograd “Novoye Vremya”: “Sazonov’s declarations on the subject of the Straits and Constantinople have profoundly agitated all Bulgarian patriots. Each of us would sacrifice his life rather than permit Russia to seize Constantinople. All Bulgaria would resist as one man this scheme of Russian chauvinism. In fact, we consider that our duty is to range ourselves on the side of the Turks to defend Constantinople against the expansionist ambitions of Russia.”
Under these circumstances, Russian menaces, instead of cowing Bulgaria, merely fanned the existing Russophobia to even fiercer flames. The great Austro-German “drive” against Russia which began in June, 1915, roused the undisguised jubilation of the Sofia press. The semi-official “Kambana,” usually so moderate in tone, wrote: “Russia, which longs to extend her domination over Constantinople and the Straits, cannot permit a big Bulgaria to arise in the Balkans. She intends to make Bulgaria a Russian province. For this reason we denounce as high treason the attempts made by certain persons among us to favor Russian influence. Russia must take her hands off the Balkans and devote her energies to Asia. It is to this end that the German and Austro-Hungarian armies are fighting to-day. Therefore, let us hail their efforts with enthusiasm and wish them a decisive victory. The hour is propitious for conjuring forever the Russian peril which threatens our existence.” And after the fall of Warsaw the famous Bulgarian military critic, Vasili Angelov, wrote: “Every true Bulgarian must rejoice in the collapse of the Russian armies. The joy we now feel is as keen as was our grief when, two years ago, Orthodox Russia treacherously loosed against Bulgaria a pack of wolves to rend us. May God aid the brave Austro-Hungarian and German hosts to beat the Russian armies into the dust and hurl them into their own swamps, so that they may never again disquiet Europe and the Balkans by their savage and rapacious instincts.”
Such being the state of Bulgarian public opinion, it is not strange that Entente efforts to win Bulgaria to the Allied cause ended in failure. In fact, it is probable that the Bulgarian Government had already decided upon its future course of action, though it cleverly maintained its neutrality until the proper moment for action arrived. That moment came when the Austro-German “drive” into Serbia began in September, 1915. Thereupon Bulgaria threw off the mask, leagued herself with the Teutonic Powers, and struck Serbia down.
The great bulk of the Bulgarian people greeted their Government’s decision with frank satisfaction. “Since the interests of Bulgaria coincide with the interests of the Central Powers,” wrote the “Kambana,” “the enemies of Austria and Germany are the enemies of Bulgaria also. An alliance between Bulgaria and the Central Powers will realize our aspirations more than any other alliance. We are too weak to fight the Great Powers. But with the diplomatic and military aid of Germany and Austria-Hungary we can very easily and successfully fight against the little states which have so criminally robbed us…This popular satisfaction was greatly enhanced by the subsequent course of events. A few short autumn weeks saw Macedonia, the promised land, wholly in Bulgaria’s grasp, saw the hated Serb prostrate in the dust, saw Bulgarian armies pouring through the Albanian hills and halting only on the distant shores of the Adriatic Sea. Such triumphs this sober folk had fashioned only in its wildest dreams. And still further Bulgarian triumphs were in store. Rumania’s adhesion to the Allies in September, 1916, enabled Bulgaria to settle accounts with another one of her Balkan enemies. The Silistrian province, filched away in 1913, was swiftly reconquered, and Bulgarian regiments triumphantly entered the Rumanian capital, Bucharest.
These things have all tended to draw Bulgaria still closer to her allies. In the summer of 1916, the President of the Bulgarian Parliament thus elucidated the deep-going roots of Teuton-Bulgar solidarity: “Our evolution against Russian influence would in all probability have come to maturity earlier if Germany had paid more heed to us and less to Turkey. But she at last discerned where her interest lay and became our close friend. Austria has never ceased to be that. “We, the directors of Bulgaria’s policy, were well aware, when the great war broke out, that we would take a hand in it. But we had to wait, because we were not ready, and because we were exhausted by the Second Balkan War. Besides, we were so foolish as to wait and see what the results of the first campaign would be, although it was certain that, be they what they might, we would never take sides with the Entente. If the fortune of war had decided otherwise than it did, we would simply have waited for Germany’s revenge to take part in it by her side with all our strength.”
Bulgarian public opinion heartily favors the Teutonic plan o…Central Europe…In the early autumn of 1916, the “Narodni Prava” (Sofia) wrote: “This scheme interests Bulgarians very particularly. During the Russophil phase they made an attempt to ally themselves economically with the Entente Powers, but they soon perceived that they were on the wrong track and that their interests linked them naturally to the Central Empires. For the Russians have no industries, and our raw stuffs can find no markets in their country, whereas we have German industry at our doors, which can absorb all our produce and work for us cheaply. It is probable that the Sobranje will shortly be called upon to vote a law depriving for all time the subjects of the Entente states from access to Bulgarian markets.”
All this shows how irrevocably Bulgaria has linked her destinies with those of the Central Powers. For her there is, indeed, no turning back. With the exception of Italy, the Entente nations have vowed vengeance, and an Entente triumph would spell Bulgaria’s reduction to permanent impotence if not her complete annihilation. But even supposing the Allies willing to leave Bulgaria her frontiers of 1913, this would mean the relinquishment of Macedonia to a restored and powerful Serbia. It would also mean Bulgarian acquiescence in a Russian annexation of Constantinople, with the consequent nipping of Bulgaria between these two aggrandized and vengeful Slav Powers. To Bulgaria, at present enjoying the realization of her dearest hopes, such a future would be worse than death. Respecting Macedonia, especially, Bulgaria’s attitude is exactly that of a she-bear standing over her newly rescued cubs. She will face national death rather than abandon her Macedonian children. This hard, dour, indomitable folk has deliberately chosen the path of triumph or downfall.
Greece is preeminently the home of the “Great Idea.” The aspirations of the other Balkan peoples never stray much beyond the Peninsula, but the Hellenic hope is truly imperial in its far-flung horizons. Heir to perhaps the most glorious of human pasts, the modern Greek burns to emulate his ancestors and fervently awaits the advent of a mighty morrow.
The Hellenic Great Idea is a revival of the glories of ancient Hellas and the medieval Byzantine Empire, incarnated in a new Greek Empire seated at Constantinople which shall embrace the Balkans and Asia Minor and win back the whole Near East to Hellenism. The intensity of these Greek aspirations has been strikingly portrayed by Professor Andreades of the University of Athens. Writing of the Greek longing for Constantinople, he says: “For the Greeks, Constantinople is the ‘Polls,’ ‘Urbs,’ ‘The City,’ which, from Constantine the Great to Constantine XI (A.D. 323-1453), uniting the Hellenic cities and provinces into a nation, permitted them alone to survive among all the nations of Antiquity. It is the true historical capital of Hellenism.”
In 1914 the hopes of the Greeks flamed high. So extraordinary had been their successes in the preceding years that further steps toward the realization of the Great Idea seemed reasonably assured. Of all the parties to the late Balkan wars, Greece had come off the best. With a minimum of loss, Hellas had doubled its territory and had almost doubled its population. Salonika and Kavalla, after Constantinople the richest of Balkan prizes, were in Hellenic hands, and the “Great Greek Island,” Crete, had been finally reunited to the motherland. The internal situation also promised well. Greek finance was at last upon a sound footing, while factionalism, that historic curse of the folk, had been at least temporarily subdued. Under the twin guidance of a popular monarch and an able statesman, the Greek people looked unitedly forward to a happy future.
True, the horizon was not entirely free from clouds. The very amplitude of Hellenic interests involved corresponding perplexities. To the north lay the dark lower of the Bulgar, brooding over his wrongs and dreaming of revenge. To the east simmered a chronic feud with the Turk, recalcitrant at the loss of his Aegean isles and alarmed at the aspirations of his numerous Greek subjects in Asia Minor for reunion with the Hellenic homeland. Even the Greco-Serbian alliance was a manage de raison, concluded through fear of the common Bulgar foe and capable of tragic dissolution if ever Serb yearnings for Salonika should get the upper hand. With two of the great European Powers, also, Greece was not upon the best of terms. Russian designs upon Constantinople imperiled the ultimate goal of the Hellenic Great Idea, while even more troublesome for the immediate future was the state of Greek relations toward Italy. Ever since Italy’s seizure of Rhodes and the Aegean Archipelago of the Dodekanese in 1912, Greco-Italian relations had been strained, and since this was but one phase of a rivalry which extended over both the southern Adriatic and the whole Levant, Greco-Italian relations showed every prospect of becoming worse in the years to come. Still, Greece’s hopes so outweighed her anxieties that the summer of 1914 found Hellas in an optimistic mood.
The outbreak of the European War evoked a wave of pro- Ally feeling throughout Greece. For Russia there was naturally but little sympathy, but for the other two Entente Powers, France and England, the Greek people felt an almost filial veneration, the traditional Philhellenism of the Western Powers having laid the Greeks under a deep debt of gratitude. Furthermore, their Serb ally was fighting on the Entente side. Toward Germany there was no antipathy and some liking, but Austria had never been Greece’s friend, while Turkey and Bulgaria, obviously potential allies of the Teutonic Powers, were Greece’s bitterest foes. For all these reasons, therefore, the hearts of the overwhelming majority of the Greek people were with the Allies, and the popular enthusiasm was patently shared by the powerful Greek Premier, Eleutherios Venizelos.
Until February, 1915, Greece was little affected by the war. In that month, however, the Anglo-French fleet began its bombardment of the Dardanelles, and the Allies, confident in their hold upon Greek sympathies, asked the Hellenic Government to furnish an army to supplement the naval attack. Premier Venizelos and a majority of the Greek people favored compliance with the Allies’ demands, especially since these were coupled with glowing if rather indefinite promises of territorial rewards in Asia Minor. King Constantine, however, together with most of the Greek generals and statesmen, declared that the sending of an adequate army to the Dardanelles would so weaken Greece’s northern border as to invite a Bulgarian invasion, and accordingly refused to grant the Allies’ request.
This refusal was a great shock to Allied anticipations. The Entente Powers had counted upon Greek assistance almost as a matter of course, and this unexpected upset to their plans aroused both astonishment and indignation. In France and England the Greeks were accused of base ingratitude and even of pro-Germanism. This greatly alarmed the Greeks. To many Hellenes, the favor of the Western sea-powers was for Greece literally a matter of life and death which must on no account be lost. Therefore these persons, including Venizelos, asserted that Greece must throw herself unreservedly into the sea-powers’ arms, trusting to their gratitude to reward her devotion and chancing temporary risks. To others, however, notably the King and the army leaders, the possibilities of a Turco-Bulgarian invasion were so terrible that they considered that war must at all costs be avoided unless the Allies should transport to the Balkans an army adequate for the protection of Greece. Should Greece now throw in her lot with the Allies and then be left unsupported at the crucial hour, her doom was sealed.
This difference of opinion rapidly split the Greek people into two increasingly hostile factions, one headed by Venizelos, in favor of joining the Allies; the other, headed by the King, clinging to neutrality. Matters were rendered still worse by the fact that the lines of cleavage ran sharply according to geographical situation and economic interest. The islands and port towns, which were prospering greatly by the war, yet whose prosperity was of course entirely at the mercy of the sea-powers, were for Venizelos and war. The peasantry everywhere showed itself averse to fighting and supported the King in his neutralist policy. Macedonia in particular, exposed as it was to the full brunt of all possible foreign complications, was almost solid for peace. Thus the Greek people divided, not by individuals but by communities, and the old Greek spirit of local faction soon did the rest. Before long Hellenic solidarity had vanished in bitter partisan strife.
These dissensions were still further envenomed by the conduct of the Allies. Greece’s failure to live up to their expectations had made the Entente Powers all the more anxious to win over Bulgaria, and in early August, 1915, the Allies went so far as to offer Bulgaria certain Macedonian districts belonging, not only to Serbia but to Greece as well. This astounding diplomatic action aroused mingled terror and anger in Greece. All Greeks, without distinction of party, maintained that the integrity of both the Greek and Serbian frontiers of Macedonia was an absolute necessity if Salonika was to be safeguarded against the Bulgarian peril. Yet here were the Allies, without so much as a “by your leave,” offering Bulgaria the very things which Greece considered vital to her existence; territories of which, so far as Greek Macedonia was concerned, they had not the slightest right to dispose. However, the two Greek parties construed the matter in very different fashions. The Venizelists asserted that this was only one more proof of what Greece had to expect by defying the Entente Powers and urged instant junction with the Allies to avert worse misfortunes. The Royalists, on the other hand, maintained that this was convincing evidence that the Allies regarded Greece as a mere tool to be used and then thrown aside, and concluded that Greece could on no account trust herself blindly to such unscrupulous Powers. So great was their despairing rage that many Royalists began to look toward Germany as a possible savior, and Greek newspapers commenced to use language which would have been unthinkable a year before…The English are despots, despite their pretended love of liberty!” cried the “Nea Himera” of Athens. “This infernal plot against the territorial integrity of Greece: behold the work of England!” exclaimed the “Embros.” While the “Nea Alithia” of Salonika wrote: “After Serbia, it is the turn of Greece. Now that Russia and Italy have sufficiently proved their voracious appetites to the detriment of our interests, it seems to us that it is high time to ask ourselves if Greece really ought to seek a place among the Entente Powers. Frankly, no: for where the wolves gather, there lambs who wish to live had better stay away. The small nations, particularly Greece, should therefore turn their eyes toward Germany, the enemy of Russia and Italy, those two implacable foes of Hellenism.”
The Austro-German “drive” into Serbia in September, 1915, brought the Greek internal crisis to a head. Premier Venizelos prepared to stand by Serbia, but King Constantine, declaring that in the absence of adequate Allied support Greece would thereby merely share Serbia’s inevitable fate, refused to enter the war. Venizelos resigned, and the King thereafter dissolved the Venizelist Parliament and appointed a neutralist ministry to take charge of the country.
Things now went rapidly from bad to worse. The Allies, realizing that they had nothing to hope from the Royalist Government, proceeded to violate Greek neutrality at will, seizing the greater part of Greek Macedonia and using the Greek islands precisely like Allied territory. The Royalist Government, sinking into furious despair, became more and more Germanophile, actually turning over a Macedonian border fortress to the Germans in May, 1916. The domestic schism ended in civil war, Venizelos fleeing from Athens in the autumn of 1916 and establishing a revolutionary government at Salonika under the Allies’ protection. The Greek islands mostly declared for Venizelos, and Greek Macedonia, being under Allied rule, naturally followed suit, but continental Greece stood by the King.
This, however, meant that the Venizelist revolution had failed, and since the embittered Royalists were now frankly looking to the Germans, the Allies regarded them as open enemies, to be dealt with as such. The Teutonic conquest of Rumania, however, made the crushing of the Royalists a dangerous matter. The Allies therefore attempted to accomplish their purpose by a gradual disarmament of the Greek forces, backing up their demands by a naval blockade of Greece which threatened that sterile land with starvation. Such is the situation which still persists after several months of the blockade. Formal war between Greece and the Allies has been avoided, although severe armed clashes have taken place. Greece is reduced to the direst extremity, many persons having actually died of hunger. Nevertheless, King Constantine still refuses to disarm, and the mainland Greeks continue to support their sovereign. How the crisis shall end it is at present impossible to foretell, nor for the general European situation does it greatly matter, Greece having ceased to be of any considerable political or military importance.
But, however matters turn out, and however the war shall end, the plight of unhappy Greece remains deplorable. The future of Hellenism, so bright a scant three years ago, is to-day enshrouded in impenetrable gloom. To-day, Greece has virtually ceased to exist as an independent, self-sustaining nation. Half her territory is in foreign hands, and, what is even worse, her sons are split into irreconcilable factions whose fanatical hatreds inhibit national solidarity and may yet forfeit the entire Hellenic race-heritage.
In many ways Rumania differs fundamentally from the other Balkan states. Serbia and Bulgaria are basically peasant democracies, with no large cities or industrial centers and with practically no social stratification. They are thus nations of small yeomen, intensely self-conscious and able to make their voices heard in the management of their respective countries. Greece, though socially more complex, is politically much the same. All Greeks, whether townsmen, sailors, fisherfolk, or peasants, are keenly alive to the questions of the day and determined to have their say in the guidance of Hellas’ destinies.
In Rumania, however, this is far from being the case. Rumania is socially still in the Middle Ages. Its scheme of life is positively feudal in character. At the apex of the social pyramid stands a class of high-born landed proprietors, known as “Boyars”; beneath lies a great peasant mass, poor, uneducated, often mere landless agricultural serfs upon the great Boyar estates. A middle class hardly exists. What in Rumania passes by that name consists of a recent mushroom-growth of officials, professional men, and numerous aspirants for those coveted posts and preferments.
In the economic life of their country the native Rumanians take little part. Merchants, manufacturers, bankers, shopkeepers, even the skilled artisans, are nearly all foreigners of various kinds. As in the medieval Europe, the numerous Jews form a caste apart, largely parasitic in character, persecuted and despised.
Another peculiarity of Rumania is the extraordinary role played by its capital city. It used to be said that Paris was France. It is certainly true that in most things Bucharest is Rumania. Large as all Rumania’s other towns put together, Bucharest, with its 350,000 people, prides itself upon being a center of light and leading in an ocean of benighted rusticit…’ The Paris of the East… Here live the great aristocratic families, people of the highest refinement, who prefer the gay, modem life of the capital to the monotony of their huge estates, abandoned to foreign or Jewish overseers. Hither flock all the bright young men who wish to carve out a career in the political, professional, or literary worlds.
Under these circumstances we must be very careful to understand what is meant by Rumanian “public opinion.” Especially in foreign politics, this means the opinion of the landed aristocracy and the educated elite of the towns, particularly Bucharest. Here the Rumanian peasant simply does not count. Accustomed from time immemorial to do the Boyars’ bidding, he leaves such abstruse matters to the birth and brains of Bucharest. Only one thing vitally interests him — land. He wants land for himself and his extremely large family; he wants to be freed from his oppressive dependence upon the Boyar and his harsh foreign overseer; he wants to get out of the clutches of the Greek, Jew, and Armenian peddler-usurers who infest the countryside and suck his very lifeblood whenever his improvident habits lure him into debt. Only ten years ago a terrible peasant rising threatened Rumania with social dissolution.
High above this volcanic discontent, Bucharest plays the game of politics with temperamental passion and artistic abandon. There are more politics to the square inch at Bucharest than in any other city in the world — which is saying a great deal. Also, Rumanian politicians have palms unusually receptive to concrete “arguments” — which is saying even more. Altogether, it is safe to say that Rumania’s actions are determined more by “politics” and less by popular feeling than any other country in Europe.
Examining the viewpoint of the one portion of the nation whose opinion does carry any weight with the ruling politicians — the educated elite of Bucharest, we find its attitude singularly complex. The educated Rumanian is inspired by the normal Balkan “Great Idea” — the reunion of the entire race into a “Greater Rumania,” hegemon of the Balkans and arbiter of its destinies. The idea is far-reaching, for the population of the present kingdom of Rumania numbers less than eight million souls, whereas the Ruman race totals fully fourteen millions. The union of this extremely prolific folk within the bounds of a single state organism would make Greater Rumanian almost a first-class Power.
But the path of Greater Rumania is beset by formidable difficulties. Very few of the “unredeemed” Rumans dwell in the small Balkan states to the south; the vast majority live under the rule of Rumania’s mighty neighbors to east and west — two millions in the Russian province of Bessarabia, three and one-half millions in the Austro-Hungarian provinces of Bukovina and Transylvania. Since neither Austria-Hungary nor Russia would voluntarily surrender these provinces, Rumania’s sole chance is to seize territory from one or the other during a moment of Austrian or Russian weakness. Furthermore, little Rumania would obviously have to ally herself with one of her giant neighbors in order to dismember the other.
For this reason the European War, which so aroused Rumanian irredentist hopes, divided Rumanian imperialists into two camps, one urging a Russian alliance, the other a league with Austria-Hungary. The problem was, however, complicated by the disagreeable fact that should Rumania be so unlucky as to pick the losing side, the winner would probably overrun even the present Rumania and do away with it altogether.
Thus torn between their hopes and fears, the Rumanian imperialists promptly split into a violent pro-Ally faction under the leadership of M. Take Jonescu, and an equally violent pro-Teutonic faction headed by MM. Carp and Marghiloman, which factions long battled to sweep Rumania into the war on their particular side.
Rumanian propagandist literature is both copious and picturesque, but to quote from it would serve no useful purpose because it does not represent ultimate realities. Rumania’s decision was determined, not by the pressure of public opinion but by the secret machinations of great nobles and prominent politicians, and the activity of these Rumanian leaders was, in turn, largely determined by clandestine pressure from the rival Great Powers, including the wholesale use of bribery and corruption.
The inside story of Rumania’s entrance into the war cannot now, if ever, be told. The important point to be noted is that the conduct of her armies after intervention revealed with ominous clearness the unhealthy bases of Rumanian national life. The Rumanian military machine creaked badly from the start and ultimately went to pieces. The officers’ corps, loaded do\vn with political generals, could not lead; the commissariat was full of graft; and the peasant soldiers, poverty-stricken and interested only in land reform, fought without enthusiasm.
However the war shall end, Rumanian imperialism has been dealt a blow from which it may never recover. During his long reign the late King Carol, by his diplomatic ability and dynastic connections, gave Rumania a political importance not warranted by intrinsic facts. The bubble of Rumanian prestige has now been pricked by the sharp sword of war. Should she recover full independence, Rumania will have to rebuild her shattered state edifice upon far sounder and healthier foundations if she ever aspires to attain the position which she claims as her just due.
FOR many years competent observers have noted the awakening of the Moslem world. Like all serious movements the roots of this revival go deep into the past, a few keen eyes having discerned the first stirrings half a century ago. But the tide began running swiftly only after the Russo-Japanese War. The indirect consequences of this triumph of a non-European people over a first-class European Power have already been prodigious and are still by no means at an end.
The moral quickening of the Japanese victories was felt in every part of Asia and Africa, but the stimulus to the Moslem world was particularly great. For Islam was already in full ferment. In part this was due to profound regenerative causes too complex for brief analysis, but in still larger measure it was caused by the hostile pressure of the conquering West which had long been subjecting ever new domains of Islam to its imperious will. Fear of Christian Europe was the basis of that “Pan-Islamic” propaganda which threatened the West with a “Holy War.”
The decade between the Russo-Japanese conflict and the European War greatly increased the tension between the Moslem and Christian worlds.
Just at the moment when Islam was thrilled with new self-confidence and hope, Christendom redoubled its aggression upon Islam. In that decade, two out of the four remaining Mohammedan states — Morocco and Persia — were devoured by the insatiable West. Only remote Afghanistan and Turkey survived, and Turkey emerged battle-scarred and mutilated by the loss of its Balkan provinces and Tripoli.
The downfall of Persia evoked especially bitter lamentation in Islam. For Persia is of much deeper import to Islam than might at first sight appear. The broad belt of the Moslem world, stretching from Morocco to China, here narrows to relatively slender proportions, and most Moslems hold the Iran Plateau between Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf to be the vital bridge joining the two halves of Islam. It is true that the Persians are Shiite heretics, but the old bitterness between Sunnite orthodoxy and Shiism has been much softened of late by the growing feeling of Moslem solidarity against the European peril.
Although Islam included all Europeans within the compass of its dislike, its anger was especially focused against those nations which formed the “Triple Entente” during the years preceding the great war. Russia had always been considered Islam’s arch-enemy. France, the conqueror of Moslem North Africa, was Russia’s close ally. England, once popular throughout Islam, had been suspect ever since the seizure of Egypt, and had become widely hated through her entente with Russia and the Anglo-Russian strangling of Persia. Germany, on the other hand, had shown consistent friendliness toward Islam. Alone among the European Great Powers, Germany owned no Moslem territory. The German Kaiser had on several occasions solemnly declared himself the friend and protector of the Moslem world. Lastly, for over twenty years German soldiers and engineers had been laboring to endow Turkey with the modern technical equipment and organization necessary for her survival.
It is therefore not surprising that when the European War broke out Moslem sympathies, particularly in Turkey, tended toward Germany. These sympathies were, to be sure, quite relative. The first natural impulse was a grim satisfaction at this death-grapple of Europe, which Moslems were inclined to consider a judgment of Allah upon European arrogance and greed. Thus, the Constantinople “Tanine,” the most serious Turkish newspaper, remarked concerning the European Powers: “They would not look at the evils in their own countries or elsewhere, but interfered at the slightest incident in our borders; every day they would gnaw at some part of our rights and our sovereignty; they would perform vivisection on our quivering flesh and cut off great pieces of it. And we, with a forcibly controlled spirit of rebellion in our hearts and with clenched but powerless fists, silent and depressed, would murmur as the fire burned within: ‘Oh, that they might fall out with one another! Oh, that they might eat one another up!’ And lo! to-day they are eating each other up, just as the Turk wished they would. Whatever people may say, there is in the nature of things an essential justice that will at last come to light. To the benighted and the victims of injustice it brings a smile on the face and a joyous lightening of the heart.”
Notwithstanding this impartial undercurrent of sentiment against all Europeans, most Turks felt that their one chance of survival lay in seizing this golden opportunity of Europe’s schism by striking in on the Teutons’ side. They knew that the Entente Powers had long since condemned Turkey, like Persia, to death. Entente guarantees of Ottoman “integrity” in return for Ottoman neutrality were greeted with jeering scorn. ‘What had such “guarantees” meant to Morocco or Persia? What had Europe’s solemn pledge of Ottoman “integrity” availed Turkey two years before at the opening of the Balkan wars? Were not Russian newspapers even then openly discussing the inevitable partition of the “Sick Man’s” heritage? To Jehannum with the perjured Giaour’s lying words!
Not that the Teuton was trusted overmuch. The Teuton was a Giaour like the rest. But an intact Turkey was to the Teuton’s interest. The Teuton wished to maintain Turkish unity in order to develop and exploit it all. After Turkey should be reorganized and strong, perhaps the Sons of Othman, like the Japanese, could show the European the door. In any case, that was the only chance. The other way lay certain and speedy death. So, at the beginning of November, 1914, Turkey took the plunge, defied the Entente Powers, and entered the great war.
This decision excited the wild enthusiasm of the Constantinople press. “To arms for the mighty conflict!” cried the “Ikdam.” “We shall march gloriously onward, sure of our purpose and confident of its achievement. While we know that all Moslems, far and near, are with us, yet we Moslems are not alone. We have other friends, friends who are already champions and victorious in war. With them we fight side by side. ”
The Entente Powers were each the object of separate condemnation. Regarding Russia’s longing for Constantinople, the “Ikdam” remarked: “This Russian dream is no new thing; it is a plan carefully concocted years ago. While the best way to treat so absurd a hope is to laugh, it is impossible for a Turk not to be irritated by it. Yet we need not worry ourselves about Russia’s designs. Turkey, relying on the help of God, on the strength of her army and navy, on the devotion and self-sacrifice of her people, will render impossible the realization of any such dream.”
Britain was also handled without gloves. In an article entitled “Hypocritical England,” the “Tanine” wrote: “Ever since the Balkan war, in dealing with the Moslem world, England has covered her face with a veil of hypocrisy. Today the mask has fallen from the face of our enemy; we know where we stand…. England pretends that we are taking up arms under pressure from Germany, instead of recognizing the fact that we are fighting to avenge all Moslems for the oppression that England has imposed upon them. Away with hypocrisy! God is with the good. We shall, we must, win.”
Neither did France escape Turkish condemnation. “This war,” asserted the “Tanine,” “has opened a chasm between Turkey and France which can never be filled, and for this we have small regret. Turkey and France will remain enemies when the war is ended. For we now know that the ideas we have had concerning French civilization were wrong. We now see that French civilization is destitute of vigor, sincerity, and justice; that it is noisy and assuming, ])ut inefficient; that on such a civilization a nation cannot build its hopes for a prosperous future. We have learned this in the present war, and any hope the French may cherish of a renewal of friendship with us is vain. We shall remain enemies.”
Germany was of course warmly praised. Sheik Abdul-Aziz Tchawisch, rector of Saladin University, Medina, explained the bases of Moslem proGermanism when he wrote in the “Deutsche Revue”: “For many years I and my friends have pondered over the problems of Islam, and we have realized how sorely we have had to suffer under the domination of the Latin, Anglo-Saxon, and Slavic races. It was therefore necessary for us to ally ourselves with a people on a high plane of culture whose political and economic interests ran parallel to our own. To this end we could choose no better people than the Germans, for their friends are our friends, their foes the foes of Islam. Hence it comes about that Germans and Moslems mutually supplement each other.”
The proclamation of the “Holy War” in mid-November, 1914, swelled the tide of Turkish enthusiasm to its flood. A general rising of the whole Moslem world was confidently expected, and the Entente Powers were represented as reeling under their death-blow. “The help of the illustrious Prophet,” cried the Sultan in a public announcement, “will certainly ensure our success and the utter overthrow of our enemies.”
These confident hopes were, however, not destined to be realized. The proclamation of the Holy War did undoubtedly excite a certain degree of unrest throughout the Mohammedan world. In Egypt the already smoldering discontent against British rule was fanned to a still more dangerous heat, and certain wild regions, such as the Indian northwest frontier and remote corners of the north African Sudan, broke into open war. But the great mass of orthodox Moslems outside of the Ottoman Empire refused to heed the call. The fact that the Commander of the Faithful was in close alliance with two Christian Powers chilled their ardor and invested the “Holy War” with altogether too political a complexion. The sixty million Indian Moslems, from whom such great things had been expected in Stambul, turned out to be indifferent or even hostile. A leading Indian Mohammadan, the Aga Khan, declared: “This is not the free will of the Sultan, but the will of the German officers and other non-Moslems who have forced him to do their bidding. If Germany succeeds, Turkey will be a vassal of Germany. The Kaiser’s resident will be the real ruler and will control the holy cities.” And that influential Moslem organ, the “Amrita Bazar Patrika” (Calcutta), asserted: “In view of the present aspect of war in Europe, let it be generally known that at this critical juncture it is the bounden duty of the Mohammedans of India to adhere firmly to their old and tried loyalty to the British Raj. ” The Ameer of Afghanistan maintained a strict neutrality, even assisting the British in quieting the insurgent tribesmen of the Northwest Frontier. There has undoubtedly been grave unrest in India since the beginning of the war, but it has been caused, not so much by Moslems as by Hindu terrorists whose revolutionary activities had disturbed India for years previous to the European struggle.
The failure of the “Jahadd” caused keen disappointment among the Turks. At first they maintained their faith in its ultimate success. “Of course,” argued the Constantinople “Tasfiri Efkyar,” “an instant general response to the call of service in the Jahadd could not be expected. Time must be allowed for the call to reach distant places and for the reply to come back. The message of the Khalif has to cross deserts and to find entrance into the hearts and innermost thoughts of the faithful. Some cheering echoes are coming back already. The call has to find its way from mosque to mosque, from village to village; the people are scattered, and to unite them in a great enterprise takes time. If patience is needed for a response from distant parts of the Ottoman dominions, how much more of patient waiting is demanded for the full effect of the call to be realized all through the Moslem world! Our enemies may exult over this delay and build their hopes upon it. How delusive those hopes are the near future will amply prove.” This prophecy, however, remained unfulfilled. In Tripoli, to be sure, the Sennussi dervishes from the Sahara did excite a general insurrection which drove the Italians back upon the coast, but elsewhere the rigorous precautions of the European authorities sufficed to keep the fanatical minority in check.
Disappointed in their expectations of a general uprising of the Moslem world, the Turks centered their hopes upon Egypt and Persia. In both these lands there was indeed reason to expect serious trouble. Egypt had always been restive under British rule. The Islamic fanaticism of the people was powerfully supplemented by a strong “Nationalist” independence movement among the intellectuals which had filled Egypt with chronic unrest and had recently required the iron hand of Lord Kitchener to keep down. Furthermore, the ruling Khedive, Abbas Hilmi, was frankly Anglophobe, and, finding himself at Constantinople at the outbreak of the European War, he refused to return to Egypt and threw in his lot with the Turks.
EngUind was frankly alarmed at the situation. The Suez Canal was a vital link in Britain’s chain of empire, and most Englishmen admitted that should a Turkish army enter Egypt, the country would be in a blaze. The Copts or native Christians, to be sure, were zealously loyal to British rule and a loyalist minority existed among the Mohammedans, many of whom dreaded a return to the corrupt old Turkish regime. England acted quickly, replacing the absent Khedive by his cousin, Hussein Kamel, who was proclaimed an independent sultan under British protection. The Egyptian loyalists received these drastic measures with apparent satisfaction. Their leading organ, “Al Mokattam” (Cairo), wrote at the end of 1914: “The Egyptian nation, at this juncture, receives the change in the status of Egypt with satisfaction and gratitude, knowing that it is in the interests of the country and of future generations.” And another loyalist organ, “Al Moayyad,” thus scored the Ottoman summons to the “Holy War”: “Turkey’s interference in the present conflict was an uncalled-for foolishness, and by her action Turkey has forfeited her right to the Klialifate. Nor is Turkey’s claim to the Khalifate justifiable. Why should the Turk, that old Mongoloid descendant of Othman, usurp the Khalifate from the hands of the true descendants and successors of Mohammed.”
These loyalist utterances did not, however, represent the bulk of Egyptian public opinion, which was unquestionably Pan-Islamic and eager for the end of British rule. At the outbreak of the European conflict, before Turkey’s entrance had compelled the British to adopt extreme measures, not even a rigorous censorship could entirely suppress the virulence of the native press. For example, in mid- August, 1914, the influential paper, “EshSha’ab,” successor to the recently suppressed “A1 Alam,” wrote, “The life of the Holy Khalifate and of the entire Moslem world depends on the sacrifice which the valiant Turkish army will offer.” And shortly afterwards it wrote: “Moslems have no hope except that the nations of Christendom should rise against each other. As for us, who are of the Faith, let us stand aloof and watch. But let us not forget that the triumph of Germany is more in the interest of Islam than the triumph of the Slavs.” For this utterance “Esh-Sha’ab” was permanently suppressed, and when Turkey entered the war the British authorities did away with the whole native press save a few chosen loyalist organs.
However, Egyptian discontent was merely driven underground. The Egyptian army was so untrustworthy that the British dared make no use of it, but practically interned it for the duration of the war. The Turkish raids on the Suez Canal aroused suppressed popular emotion, and the Turkish Sultan’s proclamation to the Egyptian people, smuggled into Egypt despite British vigilance, undoubtedly made a considerable impression. “To my dear Egyptians,” ran this document. “You know how England took over the direction of the country. It was a perpetual grief to me to see you suffering under the English tyranny, and I awaited a favorahle moment to put an end to that state of things. I thank the Almighty for having vouchsafed me the happy occasion of sending one of my Imperial armies to deliver your beautiful country, which is a Moslem heritage. I am certain that, with the aid of God, my imperial army will succeed in delivering you from the enemy and his interference in your affairs, and in giving you your autonomy and your liberties. I am certain that love of their country will lead my Egyptian Sons to take part in this war of liberation with all the zeal of which they are capable. — Mehmed V.”
The Egyptian Nationalist attitude was clearly set forth by a manifesto of its leader, Mohammed Farid Bey, issued from his place of exile at Geneva, Switzerland, at the beginning of 1915. He protested hotly against “the new illegal regime proclaimed by England the 18th of last December. England, which pretends to make war on Germany to defend Belgium, ought not to trample under foot the rights of Egypt, nor consider the treaties relative thereto as ‘scraps of paper.’ The nation received this change with very bad grace, and awaits with impatience the arrival of the Ottoman army of liberation…. The Egyptians await with calmness, albeit with impatience, the happy outcome which will put an end to the subjection of their beloved country and the usurpation of Hussein Kamel. He and his accomplices will then receive the punishment which they deserve.” However, the English defense of the Suez Canal withstood all Turkish assaults, and Egypt, flooded with British troops, lapsed into sullen silence.
In Persia, Turkish efforts were crowned with much more tangible success. The Anglo-Russian coup of 1911 had brought Persian independence virtually to an end. Persia was thenceforth divided into a Russian “sphere of influence” in the north, a British sphere in the south, and a “neutral” zone between. This state of affairs had, however, by no means received the assent of the Persian people. The national revival previous to 1911 had been intense, and this dashing of the cup of liberty from their parched lips had plunged the Persian patriots into a condition of despairing rage which made them ripe for any sort of violent action.
All this was well known to the Turks, who built far-reaching hopes upon the prevalent Persian unrest. No sooner had Turkey entered the war than columns of light troops were thrown across the Persian frontier, while numerous Turkish and German emissaries under the able leadership of the German minister to Persia, Prince Henry of Reuss, sowed disaffection throughout the country. So widespread was the popular response to this Turco-Teutonic action that for a time it looked as though Persia would flame into a national insurrection from end to end. Despite heavy Russian and British forces hastily thrown into Persia large sections of the country rose in revolt, while the Turkish invasion continued to gain ground.
This naturally excited high hopes at Stambul. The scope of Turkish expectations may be judged from the proposals for a Turco-Perso-Afghan Triple Alliance earnestly discussed by the Turkish press at the beginning of 1915. “Among the learned and enlightened classes at Teheran the idea of a Triple Alliance of Western Asia is gaining acceptance and strength…wrote th…Tanine… “This alliance of Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan will, of course, be federated with the Triple Alliance of Europe — Germany, Turkey, and Austria-Hungary. That this idea is most welcome not only to the Khalifate but also to all centers of Moslem influence goes without saying. We have long expected this development. The proposal is sure to gain strength as it is brought to the serious and urgent attention of the statesmen of the parties concerned. … In our times neither religious nor racial ties are essential for the contraction of an alliance. Community of interest is the one indispensable thing. The interests of Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan are identical, as we have so often shown in detail before. United and federated with the Central Powers of Europe, they will wield a commanding influence in Western Asia and make a conspicuous contribution to the world’s progress. They are from olden times related one to the other in religion and language, and their alliance is a logical necessity. We must repeat that it is based, not on community of religion but upon identity of political and economic interests, vital needs which must be satisfied; but we may admit that, as far as Persia is concerned, religious differences are negligible.” “Germany and Austria,” said the “Sabah,” “have promised to assure the integrity of the Ottoman Empire and also our sovereignty in Egypt and Cyprus. The Austro-German press applaud the idea of a Turkish-Persian-Afghan alliance…. Germany limits her policy to economic questions. Such a policy is compatible with the rights of the Asiatic nations to existence, independence, civilization, and progress: and this brings about a community of interest between the Triple Alliance and the Asiatic Powers. The policy followed by the two groups of Powers explains the reason for the profound hatred that the Asiatic nations feel against the Powers of the Triple Entente.”
The one cloud upon the horizon was the Shah’s hesitation to declare himself openly for the Turco-Teutons, thus throwing the weight of the Persian Crown into the wavering scales. This soon introduced a warning note into Turkish appeals. In May, 1915, the “Tanine” wrote: “When the war opened, for Persia to enter the lists against the two great Powers, England and Russia, would have been stark rashness and blindness. They would have taken frightful vengeance for her folly. She was forced to remain neutral. But she has the duty of showing that she has the desire and the right to live as a nation. If she wishes to preserve her national existence when this war ends, she cannot forever remain neutral in this mighty strife of nations. This pressure upon her to take part in the war increases day by day. The enlightened Persians know this as well as we do. England and Russia have planned to divide Persia between them. She is a big, sweet morsel all ready for them to swallow. If these Powers are victorious in the war, then Persia will be wiped off the map, her national existence will be finished, for we know how weak peoples fare at their hands in such a case. The one hope of Persia’s salvation is for her to join us and our allies without delay, for events up to the present time give ninety chances in a hundred of the final victory remaining with Germany and her allies.” And in the late summer of 1915, the “Tanine” asserted: “Nations in the condition Persia is now in are not saved by diplomacy. In all friendliness we tell our neighbors and co-religionists that there is one and only one way of salvation. When this war ends, the present map of Europe and that of Western Asia will be changed. If Persia then hopes to begin a period of prosperity, she must now demonstrate her worthiness for such prosperity. This war will one day end, and around a table, where conditions of peace will be agreed upon, will meet the representatives of those peoples whose sons in thousands, yes, millions, have been sacrificed. If Persia hopes for decisions from the men at that table that will mean life and peace for her, she has one thing to do to-day: With the watchword, ‘Liberty or Death,’ she must throw herself into the breach, and, with us, trample down the foe.”
The Persian Government was, however, not destined to adopt any such heroic resolutions. Torn between the veiled threats of the Turco-Teutons and the even more outspoken menaces of the Anglo-Russians, the boy Shah and his timid counselors fell into a state of terrified irresolution and ended by following the traditional Persian custom of doing nothing at all. The result was what might have been expected. Both sets of Powers poured fresh troops into Persia, and beneath the battling combatants and their rival propagandas unhappy Persia sank into complete anarchy. The mass of the Persian people was unquestionably hostile to the Anglo-Russians and friendly to the Turco-Teutons, but Anglo-Russian bribery and intimidation swayed many high-placed Persians to the Entente side.
Thus Persia continues to the present hou… fiercely contested battleground of rival foreign Powers and domestic factions. The one thing certain is that the land itself is falling into an ever-deepening slough of anarchy and ruin.
Up to the spring of 1916, Turkey remained in an optimistic mood. And, despite the failure of the Holy War, the disappointment in Egypt, and the indecisive operations in Persia, the Turks had good grounds for their optimism. The flurry of alarm at the Anglo-French attack upon the Dardanelles which began in March, 1915, soon gave place to exultation over the invincible obstinacy of the Turkish defense. The “Tanine” boasted that Turkey had “destroyed the myth of English sea-power,” and went on: “These Turks, despised by all the world, heroically dared to bare their breasts in defense of their country’s fortresses against the attack of her enemy. The English fleet was, in two days, to silence the forts and overthrow the Ottoman capital, and so wipe off the Ottoman name from the map! How different the result! The weak, insignificant Turks proved more than a match for proud Britannia, and all the world wondered. We boldly faced this enemy of humanity and all her threats, and proved all their boasting vain. First and most we now rejoice, but we have also set an example to be followed by all those suffering oppression under British rule. For us the fear of English domination, trembling before her absolute power, is a thing of the past. Let others follow our example!”
The collapse of Russian resistance before the Austro-German “drive” into Poland which began in June, 1915, greatly intensified the enthusiasm of the Turkish press. After the fall of Warsaw, the “Tanine” wrote: “Russia is defeated. This we see clearly everywhere and in all respects. It is not a retreat. It is a rout. The distressing plight of the Russian army as their fortresses fall one after another is like an orchard whose overripe fruit covers the ground. The fear of the pursuing Germans drives them in headlong flight, in universal panic, into the interior of Russia. Cities and towns are deserted. Terror and anxiety reign in Petrograd, in Moscow, in all the chief cities of the empire. The evidence of utter defeat is overwhelming…
Turkish delight grew even sweeter when the Teuton’s autumn Balkan “drive” annihilated Serbia, won over Bulgaria, and opened direct communication between Constantinople and Berlin. In Turkish eyes the war was as good as over. “While the Quadruple Entente watches the complete loss of all its trump cards,” wrote the “Hilal,” “the new Quadruple Alliance has just accomplished its object — the junction of its allied armies. This junction not only makes the Alliance invincible in the Balkans, but it puts it in a position to threaten the world-power of proud Albion. England is perfectly well aware of the lot that is to be hers in the very near future…. Since the war must end where it began, there can be no further doubt that we have already entered the last phase of the general war.”
These rejoicings were, however, premature. Grand Duke Nicholas’s sudden spring upon Erzerum in February, 1916, dealt Turkish optimism a heavy blow, and the subsequent fall of Trebizond and the overrunning of Turkish Armenia by the Russian armies diffused an air of gloom over Stambul which not even the surrender of General Townshend’s British Mesopotamian army at Kutel-Amara could entirely dispel. The economic situation was also far from good. The strain of prolonged war and the Allied naval blockade were producing acute famine conditions in many parts of the empire.
The Russian conquest of Turkish Armenia brought an old problem of Asiatic Turkey once more prominently to the fore. The Armenians, though greatly reduced by the massacres of Ilamidian days, were still an important element in the population, and their position on the Russo-Turkish border gave them opportunities for revenging themselves upon their Moslem foes which had seriously disquieted the Ottoman Government since the beginning of the war. Russia had cleverly made the most of this situation. In November, 1914, the Russian Government had issued a ringing proclamation urging the Armenians to rise against their Turkish masters and promising them freedom. The large Armenian population of Russian Transcaucasia had enthusiastically supported Russia, and the “Catholicos” or head of the Armenian Church, who resided in Transcaucasia, had warmly espoused the Russian side.
All this had produced a deep impression upon the Armenians under Ottoman rule, and Turkish Armenia was soon seething with unrest. The agitation was, however, destined to cause the most deplorable results. At the beginning of the war the Turks had apparently tried to gain over the Armenians by inspiring them with fear of falling under Russian domination. In November, 1914, the Constantinople “Ikdam” thus adjured the Armenian…’ Even if Russia were to take our Eastern provinces, it would not be to make them autonomous under Armenian rule, but merely to add them to the Russian Empire. They will make the Armenians just a cat’s paw for their own designs, and for this there is ample evidence…
But the Armenians’ Russophile sentiments soon became clear, whereupon the traditional Turkish antipathy for the Armenians flamed up hotly as in the past. Taking advantage of this mood, certain high-placed Armenian-haters like Talaat Bey persuaded their colleagues to take drastic action. The Turkish Government’s decree ostensibly provided for the removal of the Armenian population from the Russian border provinces to the interior of the empire, but the ruthless manner in which these orders were carried out precipitated one of the most appalling tragedies in human history. Allowing for all possible exaggerations, hundreds of thousands of Armenians must have already perished. Nevertheless, Turkish public opinion sanctions these measures. As a prominent Turkish leader, Halil Bey, remarked toward the close of 1916: “I will say that the loss to the Ottoman Empire through the deportation of the Armenians has been immense. The Armenian is able and industrious, and therefore valuable in the economic scheme; but what could ]?e done ? We were at war, and therefore obliged to employ every means to make secure our position, which was betrayed so basely through our confidence.”
Vastly more serious for Turkey was another internal difficulty — Arab disaffection. The Arabs are not, like the Armenians, a scattered border folk; they are as numerous as the Turks themselves and occupy very much more than half the total area of the empire. No Ottoman Turkish population is found east of Asia Minor, the inhabitants of Syria and Mesopotamia as well as of the Arabian Peninsula being mainly of Arab blood. Now Arab and Turk had never gotten on well together. Their racial temperaments were too incompatible. Still, down to comparatively recent times, their common Islamic faith had united them against the Christian world whatever the state of their domestic relations. But ever since the “Young Turk” Revolution of 1908, the rift between the two races had been widening with alarming rapidity. The Young Turk ideal had been a unified Ottoman state, based upon the unquestioned supremacy of the Turkish language and culture, and they had accordingly started in to “Ottomanize” all the non-Turkish races of the empire. But this had roused the Arabs to mutinous wrath, for the Arabs considered the Turks their mental inferiors and despised Turkish culture, or rather declared that such a thing did not exist. Furthermore, they themselves were developing a “nationalist” movement looking to political separation from Turkey and the founding of a great Arab Empire. Even before the great war, Turkey’s Arab provinces were full of separatist unrest.
Turkey’s entrance into the European struggle and the proclamation of the Holy War did, it is true, rally many of the Arabs against the European foe. But a considerable disaffected minority remained, and these malcontents were steadily swelled by Turkish tactlessness and severity. The upshot was a revolt of the Grand Shereef of Mecca in the summer of 1916 which quickly brought Turkish rule throughout Arabia to an end. The Shereef proclaimed Arabia’s independence and courted the friendship of the Entente Powers. This was a body blow to the Turks. Their loss of the holy cities, Mecca and Medina, gravely damaged their prestige throughout Islam, while the Arab populations of Syria and Mesopotamia might also burst into flame. The Stambul press made no secret of its alarm. The authoritative “Tanine” wrote: “Interest compels us to use force and reconquer the Arab countries at the point of the sword. Let us not be hampered by gentle scruples, because they are of no avail, and because the Arab revival is imminent.”
But Arabia has not been reconquered, and the Arab revolt continues to threaten Turkey’s hold upon her possessions to the east of Asia Minor, already menaced as these are by the British in southern Mesopotamia and by the Russians in the Armenian north.
Thus the year 1916, which opened so brightly for the Turks, closed in a gloom which none of the events of early 1917 have been able to dispel. Of course the Turks realize that the present struggle is for them preeminently one of life and death. The Entente Powers have formally announced their fixed determination to partition the Ottoman Empire, and Entente victory would certainly reduce Turkey to a small and insignificant state upon the Asia Minor Plateau, if it did not extinguish Turkish national life altogether.
The Turks are therefore increasingly dependent upon their Teutonic allies. Their political future is thus not particularly bright, menaced as they are with utter destruction on the one hand and close subordination on the other.
For that matter, the prospects of the whole Moslem East are in complete flux, and no certain outcome can be predicted at the present hour. Possibly in the remoter future a sustained revival of the Eastern races together with Europe’s relative weakening through internecine war may enable the whole Moslem world to throw off the Western yoke. But this is venturing too far into the realms of speculation.
IT is interesting to speculate upon what might have been the future of the Low Countries had the “Kingdom of the Netherlands,” established by the Vienna Congress of 1815, remained in existence. This union of Holland and Belgium created a state which was almost a first-class Power in the Europe of that day, and when we consider the subsequent progress of both countries, it is highly probable that their united strength would have averted their recent misfortunes.
However, a united Netherlands was not to be. In 1830 the Belgians revolted against their Dutch king and set up for themselves. Thenceforth the history of the two neighbors was to have little in common. Accordingly, we must consider separately their reactions to the European War.
When the German invasion of August, 1914, dramatically thrust everything else into the background, Belgium was facing an acute domestic problem — the Flemish- Walloon nationality question. Belgium is compounded of two race-elements — the French-speaking Walloons of the eastern provinces and the Teutonic Flemings, who inhabit the low-lying plains of the north and west. The Flemings slightly outnumber the Walloons, but the Walloons have long played the leading role in Belgian national life owing to the superior cultural attraction of their mighty kinsman and neighbor, France. This French influence had been greatly strengthened by the generation of direct French rule over Belgium from 1793 to 1814. The Flemish element could do little to stem the Gallic tide. A small people, speaking a dialect of Dutch, their culture could not compare with that of the race which had for centuries given the tone to European civilization. In fact, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Flemish upper classes were largely Gallicized.
All this explains the Belgian rising of 1830. That revolution was the work of the Walloons, who saw the despised Flemish culture reviving under Dutch rule. The Walloon dream was the complete Gallicization of the Flemings and the welding of Belgium into a homogeneous Gallic nation closely connected with France. In 1830 they wanted a French king, and only the determined veto of foreign Powers prevented the seating of a French monarch upon the Belgian throne. Although disappointed in this, the Walloons succeeded in giving the new Belgian state a thoroughly French complexion, Flemish occupying a decidedly subordinate position in every department of the national life.
This settlement, however, contained within itself the seeds of future trouble. The nineteenth century was preeminently the “Era of Nationalities,” and before long the nationalist leaven began working among the Flemings in truly dynamic fashion. In 1830 the Flemish element had been almost inarticulate, but twenty years later a cultural revival began which has progressed steadily down to the present day.
The Flemings’ first effort was to win back their Gallicized upper class brethren, and these, contemptuously dubbed “Franskiljons” and treated as renegades, succumbed more and more to popular pressure and increasingly abjured their acquired Gallicism. The Flemings’ ultimate objective was the full recognition of their language and culture as the absolute equals of French.
Here, however, they met with the most determined opposition. The Walloons were resolved to Gallicize Belgium and refused to surrender the privileged position which they had acquired in 1830. The result was a chronic race-struggle which for more than half a century perturbed Belgium’s internal life. This struggle was further embittered by religious considerations, most of the Flemings being ardent Catholics, whereas the Walloons were steadily going over to free-thinking laicism.
Despite the Walloons’ best efforts and privileged position, the Flemings steadily gained ground. The census of 1910 showed the latter’s undoubted numerical superiority. In that year 2,800,000 persons spoke only Flemish, 2,500,000 spoke only French, while less than 800,000 spoke both languages. And, be it noted, nearly all the bilinguals should be accounted Flemings in blood, since Walloons usually refuse to learn the “inferior” tongue. The fact that so small a percentage of the Flemings had any knowledge of what was practically the state language showed the failure of Gallicization and encouraged the Flemings to redouble their efforts for complete political and cultural equality.
Yet the Walloons refused to admit their defeat and clung doggedly to their privileges. They were, however, pessimistic as to the future, some even fearing an ultimate Flemish ascendancy. To such a fate they declared they would never submit, preferring in that case Belgian disruption in favor of an independent Walloon state or annexation to France. But this further embittered the Flemings, who declared that they would either obtain their “rights” or join their Dutch cousins in a “Great Netherland.” Some Flemings even sought German aid in this struggle of “Teutonism’s vanguard” against the encroaching Latin tide.
Such was Belgium’s disturbed condition in July, 1914. In fact, certain Belgian writers have asserted that, but for the European War, Belgium might have gone to pieces within a comparatively short time.
The German invasion wrought a dramatic change. Both races rallied round their country’s flag and fought desperately against the common enemy. The subsequent hardships and humiliations suffered under German rule appear to have effaced race lines and engendered a common patriotic longing for freedom.
The chief cloud upon the horizon of future Belgian solidarity is the attitude of the exiles. Those Belgians who remained at home seem to have pretty well forgotten their intestine quarrels. But at the time of the German invasion hundreds of thousands of Belgians fled the country. Like most exiles, these people have ever since then done little save brood over their troubles and dream of the morrow. As a result of this rather morbid occupation many exiles have developed a fanatical temper which may cause serious trouble in a restored Belgium.
The exiles have sorted themselves largely according to their special racial and cultural predilections; the Walloons and “Franskiljons” going to France, the Flemings to Holland. Amid these congenial surroundings their respective sympathies have been heightened while their antipathies have been intensified. The Walloons have developed an uncompromising hatred of everything “Teutonic,” and many of them exultantly declare that one result of the war will be the extinction of the Flemish movement and the establishment of a thoroughly French Belgium in close communion with France. The Walloon exiles also tend to be hostile to Holland for maintaining her neutrality instead of joining against the Germans. Many have been strongly affected by the French “Neo-Imperialist” movement and foresee a “Greater Belgium,” enlarged not only by German districts between Belgium’s present eastern border and the Rhine but also by several Dutch provinces, notably Dutch Flanders and the mouth of the Scheldt, the Maestricht salient, Luxemburg, and even Dutch Limburg.
All this, however, rouses the ire of the Flemish exiles, who, in the hospitable atmosphere of Holland, have still further developed their proclivities toward a “Great Netherland.” They reject hotly the Walloons’ projects for a Gallicized Belgium and a partition of Holland, and they ardently desire a close understanding between the Dutch and Belgian nations.
Such an understanding is being consciously or unconsciously furthered by the policy of the German rulers of Belgium. The Germans are doing everything possible to encourage Flemish self-consciousness, notably by the establishment of a Flemish university at Ghent—a thing for which the Flemings had vainly agitated for many years. The German motive has probably been to reconcile the Flemings to German rule, and in this the Germans will undoubtedly fail, no Flemings save a few “Teutonist” fanatics having the least desire to become Germans. Nevertheless, the Germans are steadily quickening Flemish national consciousness and are fast placing the Flemish element in a favored position akin to that enjoyed by the Walloons previous to the war. If, after the war, the Walloon exiles should try to put through their program of general Gallicization and aggression against Holland, the present unity of the Belgian people in Belgium will end in sudden and disastrous fashion.
It is to be hoped that when the war is over the lessons of adversity will have taught the exiles to forget their present dreams in the joy of restored national life and in aspirations for a harmonious morrow. Otherwise, Belgium’s future will be anything but a happy one.
In Europe’s tragedy few episodes have been more admirable than the quiet way in which the Dutch nation has kept its poise and maintained a dignified neutrality under circumstances which might well have demoralized a far more powerful and better situated people.
For of all the neutral nations in the present struggle, none save Greece is so hard placed as Holland. A forlorn islet of peace in a roaring flood of war, her position is indeed deplorable. Environed by contending armies and embattling fleets, her merchantmen pick their homeward way through mine-fields and submarines to bring her the food that will keep from starvation her dense population and the hundreds of thousands of Belgian refugees now destitute objects of her bounty. The mobilization of her entire army ever since the outbreak of the European War has added another heavy burden to her already over-strained resources. Holland is to-day living almost exclusively upon her savings. These are indeed considerable, but Holland’s needs are great, and her main sources of wealth, lying not at home, but abroad, are failing one by one. The wealth of Holland is proverbial, yet few persons realize that by nature she is one of the poorest countries in the world. Virtually without coal, iron, timber, or stone, unable to feed her dense population by her own agriculture, Holland lives primarily upon her rich colonies, her merchant marine, and the vast transit trade between the German Rhineland and the outer world. This last is of capital importance. “What the Nile is agriculturally to Egypt, that the Rhine is commercially to Holland. The pulsing throb of Germany’s main trade-artery is the index of Dutch economic life. Now that this artery has almost ceased to beat, only Holland’s capital and credit stand between her and ruin.
Yet in this tragic hour Holland rises with a proud courage which once more proves her “the little nation with a great heart.” On the outbreak of the European War she took her stand upon the firm rock of strict neutrality, and neither menace nor cajolery has moved her a hair’s breadth from that determination. At times the pressure has been great, but Holland has stood firm. Her resolve is not of yesterday. As she builds her dikes, so she has long been raising her ramparts of neutrality against that cataclysm which wise men have seen gathering these many years. Despite the annoyance of her neighbors, she steadily perfected her defensive armaments, and at the outbreak of the present war Holland was well prepared against attack from both land and sea.
This firm basing of Holland’s policy upon the principle of unswerving neutrality and determination to prevent their beloved land from becoming a cockpit of war rendered the Dutch better prepared to meet the mental shock of war than any other European people. The Dutch knew exactly what they intended to do long before the dread eventuality actually came to pass, and the enthusiastic adhesion of every shade of Dutch public opinion to Queen Wilhelmina’s neutrality proclamation at the beginning of August, 1914, showed that the Queen had voiced her people’s will. The desire to keep Holland at peace is as strong to-day as it was three years ago, no political group evincing the slightest inclination toward war. Interventionists, like the cartoonist Louis Raemaekers and his paper the “Telegraaf,” are merely the exceptions which prove the rule.
The bait of German territory held out by Allied publicists in attempts to rouse interventionist sentiment in Holland has fallen on deaf ears; the Dutch are a self-contained folk with no desire for European expansion save possibly a union with the Flemings, and the entrance of hosts of recalcitrant Germans into the Dutch family circle, even if one excludes the danger of a German war of revenge, would be both disturbing and displeasing to Holland’s well-ordered domestic life.
If we turn from the field of self-interest to thai of sentiment, we arrive at the same pacific conclusion. Holland is not pro-anything except pro-Dutch, nor distinctly anti-anything save foreign intervention. Certain British publicists have asserted that the Dutch were sympathetic to Germany, but this is untrue. There are, of course, strong natural ties between the Dutch and German peoples. Nearly related in blood and speech, intellectual and social intercourse is very close, especially in university circles, while most educated Hollanders read German books, magazines, and newspapers as a matter of course. Economic relations are also extremely intimate. The vast Rhine transit trade is, we have seen, Holland’s chief source of prosperity, Germany is her best customer, and there are more Germans domiciled in Holland than all other foreigners put together. It is, therefore, not strange that the Dutch upper and middle classes are friendly to Germany in a general way, while those aristocratic, conservative circles represented by ex-Premier Kuyper are undoubtedly pro-German in the political sense.
But with the mass of the Dutch people this last is far from being the case. Holland is emphatically a land of individualism, which in the lower classes verges upon license and an unreasoning aversion to any sort of official regulation of private affairs, coupled with an intense dislike of whatever savors of “militarism.” The Dutch and German peoples thus differ widely in temperament, and though the Dutch are not positively anti-German, there is a latent incompatibility of temper which inhibits sympathetic feeling. The flood of Belgian refugees has increased these estranging tendencies. The sight of so much suffering and the practical identity of blood and speech between the Dutch and the Flemings, who form the vast majority of the refugees in Holland, have done much to transform negative dislike of Germans into positive antipathy.
Nevertheless, if Holland is not pro-German, she is emphatically not pro-British. In the soul of nearly every Hollander lies a deep-seated rancor against England. No nation has suffered more at English hands than Holland, and the Dutch have not forgotten England’s destruction of their maritime and colonial greatness. This latent hostility was sharply fanned by the Boer War, which roused in Holland a flood of wrathful grief and sullen suspicion, since kept alive by a whole series of unfortunate incidents. England’s alliance with Japan caused lively apprehensions for the Dutch East Indies. The bullying tone of many British publicists urging Holland to join the Allies and threatening her with all sorts of penalties if she does not, has been deeply resented by a proud and independent people. Lastly, England’s wholly illegal strangling of Dutch trade and commerce, forcing Holland under threat of starvation to that humiliating limitation of sovereignty, the “Netherlands Overseas Trust,” has infuriated Dutch commercial and maritime circles. Anti-British feeling in Holland would be even stronger than it is to-day were it not for Germany’s equally flagrant violations of Dutch rights by her U-boats and Zeppelins.
However, despite strong feeling against both their great neighbors, the Dutch have displayed noteworthy self-control. At the very beginning of the war the Government appealed for moderation in speech and in the press, and forbade anything likely to raise popular passions, such as partizan demonstrations, the display of belligerent flags, and even the exposure of foreign “war” postcards in shop windows. The Dutch people, appreciating the danger of partizan recrimination, have seconded their Government’s efforts in admirable fashion. Their task was the easier because Dutch sentiments toward the belligerents are rather negative than positive in character; a decisive victory for either side is regarded as fraught with peril to Holland’s future, and a stalemate would undoubtedly be the outcome most popular in the Netherlands.
Holland is to-day the most genuinely “neutral” country in the world. She may yet be forced into the war, but it will not be from lack of effort to keep out.
DESPITE their geographical propinquity, the national psychologies of the two Iberian peoples have so little in common that separate treatment will throughout be necessary.
Spanish political life strongly resembles that of Italy. There is the same artificiality of the parliamentary regime, the same administrative corruption, the same popular disillusionment, and finally, similar, irreconcilable party oppositions to the existing state of things.
Spanish parliamentarism was from the first a sickly growth. Despite specious constitutional forms and phrases, all real power is lodged in a caste of professional politicians who have erected a system even more oppressive and corrupt than Italian transformismo: the system known as caciquism. Caciquism is a sublimated and nationwide Tammany Hall. The system is worked by a knot of big bosses (caudillos) at Madrid and is enforced by a swarm of local bosses known as caciques, who “make” the elections as Madrid commands and take their pay in local offices, power, and plunder. When the country cries too loud a safety-valve is found in an electoral change of parties, but the relief is a sham, for both the great Spanish parties — “Conservatives” and…Liberal…— play the game of rotation in office to perfection and hand over the treasury to each other at the precise psychological moment. The only result of a Spanisli “election,” therefore, is the coming to power of an alternate gang of caudillos and caciques zealously imbued with the Jacksonian maxim, “To the victors belong the spoils.”
All this is well known to the Spanish people, which accordingly takes no interest in politics and views the kaleidoscopic shifts of “ins” and “outs” with a cynical and sullen indifference. Irreconcilable protestors against the ruling regime exist, but the Spanish people fears them even more than its present masters. These irreconcilable parties are the Carlists and the Republican-Socialists. The Carlist program is the restoration of the Pretender to the throne of Spain and the reestablishment of absolutism in both church and state. The Republican-Socialists differ considerably among themselves, but their aspirations tend towards ultra-radical proletarian rule and church disestablishment in favor of an atheistic laicism. To the average Spaniard both these alternatives are abhorrent. He, therefore, prefers to endure his present ills rather than invoke a cure which would probably prove worse than the disease.
Since Spanish politics are thus widely divorced from popular support, it is unnecessary to consider the Liberal and Conservative party attitudes toward the European War in an analysis of the Spanish national state of mind. Only the Carlists and Republican-Socialists reflect any genuine body of public opinion.
One other peculiarity of Spanish national psychology must be noted. When we speak about Spanish “public opinion,” we must be careful to state what public opinion. In fact, there is no one national public opinion in the ordinary European sense, because the various racial elements which make up the Spanish nation have never wholly fused and their diverse ethnic peculiarities accordingly tend to align popular sentiment by provinces on different sides of a given question. These provincial differences are very considerable. For example: Catalonia is far more akin to Southern France than it is to Castile.
Nevertheless, certain popular tendencies do exist which cut across all the national strata. There is a universal popular discontent with the ruling regime and a keen desire to cure the political plagues which eat the heart out of the country and render any sound national revival impossible. This translates itself into a hatred of “militarism” and of ambitious foreign policies. Even the recent modest expeditions to Morocco were dead against the popular will and at one time threatened to provoke a revolution. Of course there are Spanish imperialists, but these are mostly ambitious politicians who find scant popular echo.
Such being the state of Spanish national psychology, the outbreak of the European War naturally evoked a general call for strict neutrality. The irreconcilable parties, to be sure, took up extreme attitudes on opposite sides. The Republican-Socialists, like their Italian brethren, became ardently pro- Ally through love of the Radical-Socialist French Republic. The Carlists emulated the Italian Catholics in their strong pro-Germanism. The province of Catalonia was generally pro-French in accordance with its racial affinities. Most of the Spanish imperialists were pro-German. The dreams of Spanish imperialism are the annexation of all Morocco, the recovery of Gibraltar, and the absorption of Portugal. The great barrier to the realization of these aspirations is Anglo-French opposition. Teutonic agents hastened to whisper that Spain could realize her hopes as the reward for assistance to Germany.
But these very partizanships tended to confirm the mass of the Spanish people in their neutralist determination. Whatever the irreconcilables champion is thereby suspect. As for the imperialists, the Spanish people have learned by bitter experience that foreign policy merely spells fat pickings for politicians and gross mismanagement, ending in national humiliation. No legitimate Spanish interest was jeopardized by the war, and no forward policy was possible in the deplorable state of Spanish political life. Accordingly, the voice of Spain told the Government in no uncertain words to keep out of trouble.
As to Spanish popular sympathies, they seem on the whole to be mildly pro-German. England and France are Spain’s traditional enemies. Germany, on the other hand, has in recent years been gaining rapidly in Spanish popular favor. German economic penetration has been extraordinary and welcome. There are probably nearly 100,000 Germans in Spain to-day, and they generally get on well with the people. Furthermore, the Spaniards admire Germany, not so much for her military prowess as for her all-round efficiency — the direct antithesis to the sloth, wastefulness, and corruption which keep Spain down. Patriotic Spaniards have taken Germany as the model for that political and social regeneration so vital to their country. But these sympathies are strictly platonic: they imply no disposition to ally Spain with Germany or to make war on the Entente Powers.
Thus Spain remains neutralist to the core. Extremists may clamor for intervention and politicians may weave fine-spun schemes of imperial policy: the heart of Spain remains fixed upon internal reform and dreads the lure of grandiose foreign dreams.
The dominant fact in Portuguese national life is the connection with England, existent since the Middle Ages and defined by the Methuen Treaty of 1703. It is this English connection which alone has preserved Portugal from absorption by Spain…fate unutterably dreaded by the Portuguese people.
The European War thus found Portugal from the first aligned solidly with the Entente Powers. In accordance with treaty obligations the Portuguese Government promptly offered England its aid, and though Portugal did not enter the war until 1916, it rendered the Entente valuable services in its African and Asiatic colonies.
This action of the Government was heartily endorsed by the Portuguese people. Portuguese public opinion was virtually unanimous for the Allies. Portugal was therefore from the first practically with the Entente Powers, the rupture with Germany being a mere formality regularizing previously existing facts.
OUR survey of present-day Europe is at an end. The varying currents of its war psychology have been analyzed. What is the outstanding feature of that analysis? The answer must be: Its infinite complexity.
And, be it here remembered, our study has sought unity rather than diversity; its aim has been a portrayal of high lights rather than a photograph redundant of detail. Only the main problems have been touched, while many a minor issue has been dismissed with a word or passed over altogether in silence. Lastly, unity of vision has permitted us to include within our purview only the reciprocal relations of the European peoples, although we should never forget that Europe forms but a part of a vaster whole — the world — and that its future is indissolubly linked with those of America, Africa, and the East. Yet even thus simplified, how involved the web of destiny which Fate has woven for Europe’s children!
One lesson, at least, shines clear from out the gloom: the futility of simplicist solutions. Despite our natural shrinking, we must recognize that the Great War is a normal phase in human evolution. Europe’s agony is the inevitable travail of birth — the birth of a new age. That new age must evolve normally according to those basic laws of life which we so imperfectly understand. How futile — perchance how dangerous, then — are present efforts to sooth Europe’s anguish with the nostrum of a phrase; or, with the petty yardstick of a formula, to plot the evolutionary pathway of the morrow. How absurd to assign Europe’s ills to a single cause, such as “secret diplomacy,” “Prussian militarism,” “British navalism,” or “Pan-Slavism,” and then, having verbally demolished this poor bogey, to announce the advent of the Golden Age.
No, no! Life is not so simple as all that. This cataclysm was not the work of any man or set of men. Its incidents may have been within human control. Its substance was the inexorable legacy of the past. The ultimate reality of the great war thus reveals itself as merely a doffing of the old and a putting on of the new.
What, then, of the future? We cannot tell. A little we may venture, but not much. Some streams of tendency run fairly clear. We may, therefore, predict that, if their course remain unchanged, certain results will follow. But will they thus remain? The warp of human destiny is woven upon one loom, and the threads are intertwined in wondrous fashion. Who can say that some hidden strand may not suddenly appear and change the pattern in strange wise?
This may seem a most unsatisfactory conclusion. But is it not the truth? Our finite minds here wrestle with infinity. To weigh the present and take counsel of the past is wise: so only may we pierce a little the mists ahead. But to read the future clearly and afar — that is beyond our human understanding.