George Henry Allen.

The Great war .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 2 of 40)
Online LibraryGeorge Henry AllenThe Great war .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the motives, impulses, and responsibility of the different
nations with the specious excuse that the evidence at hand
is inadequate, misleading, or part of a play intended to
deceive the public. The same argument might just as
appropriately be used in an attempt to prove that a deci-
sion in any current question, such as the tariff or "pre-
paredness," should be postponed until all temptation to
dissimulation had disappeared with the disappearance of
the practical importance of the question at issue. The
war is the dominating fact of the present generation.
Neutrality cannot escape its far-reaching consequences.
But to understand the problems which it has created and
to appreciate its enduring effect upon the life of humanity,
we must exert ourselves at once to form an estimate of the
human forces by which it was generated and carried on.
That the evidence is partly obscure should stimulate us
to greater effort and acuteness of method, not drive us to

Although it is perfectly obvious that much of the possi-
ble data for the inquiry undertaken in this present volume
must remain hidden for a long time, and that many of the
documents which we do possess are misleading, the cir-
cumstances have, by way of compensation, rendered much
of the available evidence unusually trustworthy. If the
critical period had continued as many months as its actual

XX The Great War

duration in da3's, much of the evidence would probably
have been less transparent. As it was, diplomacy and the
organs of public opinion were caught off their gviard. The
compression of such a tremendous storm of mental or
spiritual anguish into a few short days, when the strain was
almost too great for human endurance, hardly allowed
time to adjust the mask of composure and dissimulation.
Such incidents as the midnight interviews of the German
Chancellor and Sir Edward Goschen and of Count Pourtales
and M. Sazonoff, and the final interviews of Sir Edward
Goschen and Baron Beyens with the German Chancellor
and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs respectively are
a peculiar product of the frenzied precipitation of events.
We are informed that it was customary for the ancient
Germans to debate when intoxicated and vote when they
had become sober. Thus they deliberated when conceal-
ment and misrepresentation were impossible, and decided
when error was improbable. In the more urgent delibera-
tions before the Great War intense mental anguish pro-
duced the effect of physical stimulants. In some of those
terrific moments the delirium of eagerness and anxiety laid
bare the heart of diplomacy and drew forth impulsive utter-
ances, formed without premeditation, which are faithful
indications of the innermost hopes and fears, thoughts and
impressions. Few and transitory as these occasions were,
they furnish us some historical documents of unimpeach-
able authenticity.

Despite the terrible bloodshed and appalling destruction
of the Great War, the present age is not without some
compensating advantages which reflection will from time
to time reveal. Prominent among them is the insight which
it gives us into the souls of nations. With ordinary condi-
tions the study of national, or racial, psychology has been a
rather futile, unsatisfactory pursuit, in which the investigator

Preface XXI

too often lost himself in a jungle of trivial, inconclusive
facts, or rose into the rarer atmosphere of visionary, un-
critical generalities. Serious scholars hesitated to regard
such performances as scientific. The strikingly faulty pre-
dictions made by several of the nations about the effect of
the war on their opponents are an example of the difficulty
of penetrating to the hidden springs of national character.

The great crisis suddenly illuminated the whole field of
national temperament with brilliant, scrutinizing flashes of
light. In the instinctive reaction of national feeling under
the mighty forces released by the explosion, a reliable basis
for empiric observation has been created. By living the
experience of a few supremely fatefvil days with the nations
involved, we are admitted to their intimacy. Characteristics
of which the nations themselves were unconscious are
revealed to us. Our imagination, sensibility, and recep-
tivity are stimulated. Our spirits are purified, as in tragedy,
through a vicarious experience, by the great feelings, ela-
tion, pity, and terror, aroused by the contemplation of the
stupendous forces, their blind, ungovernable violence and
fearful collisions.

It is a purpose of the present work to avoid two failings
into one or the other of which many narratives of military
occurrences are allowed to drift. Some authors are so en-
grossed in the political significance of the events that their
account of military operations is hopelessly general, abstract,
indefinite; deprived of vitalizing contact with the actual
facts and movements by which the results were produced.
Other writers, yielding to a personal inclination of a differ-
ent sort, conduct the bewildered reader into such a maze
of mostly unintelligible and unexplained detail, that he
loses breadth of vision for the larger reality.

As a timely precaution against such unfortunate devi-
ations we shall set out on our course with the steadying

XXII The Great War

ballast of clear, concise accounts of military and naval mat-
ters. Captain Henry C. Whitehead, U.S.A., and Admiral
F. E. Chadwick, U.S. N., are authorities in their respective
subjects, and the value of their succinct, well-balanced
descriptions of the military and naval establishments of
Europe will be appreciated at once by anyone who has
not been content with the barest framework of informa-
tion on these fundamental topics. With the literature
available for the non-professional reader in even our lead-
ing libraries it is easier to obtain a comprehensive store of
knowledge about the ancient Roman army of Trajan than
about the contemporary army, let us say, of William II.
A definite survey of the actual military and naval establish-
ments of Europe gains in importance by the probability
that they will be the basis, in consequence of the expe-
rience of the present war, for an evolution no less far-
reaching than that which we anticipate in the field of
political and social organization.

George H. Allen, Ph.D.


The Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires

The archduke's recklessness and popular animosity. British opinion of
Serbia. Mr. Trevelyan's testimony. .Serbia's altitude after the Sarajevo
outrage. Austrian opinion in July, 191-1; Count Tisza, Herr von Tschirscky.
The Viennese public and the rupture with .Serbia. German discontent with
the settlement of 1911. The contest in armaments. The alleged secret
report of March 13, 1913. The attitude of various classes in Germany
regarding foreign relations. "If I were Kaiser." The news of the Austro-
Serbian rupture in Berlin. The great crisis in German policy ; the extraor-
dinan,' council at Potsdam on the evening of July 29, 1914; the midnight
interviews and communications. Warlike enthusiasm in Berlin. The
historic session of the Reichstag, August 4th ; the Kaiser's and Chancel-
lor's speeches and the Social Democratic response.

An act of temerity furnished the occasion for the fatal
event that set in motion the train of occurrences, which,
releasing stores of accumulated enmity in their impulsive
course, pressed quickly forward to Armageddon. In reck-
less defiance of the Serbian nationalist sentiment, the Arch-
duke Francis Ferdinand persisted, in spite of the warning
that a plot had been formed against his life, in visiting
Sarajevo with his gifted consort, the Duchess of Hohen-
berg, on the fateful Sunday, June 28th, which was the
anniversary of the Battle of Kossovo, when the old Serbian
Empire was shattered by the Turkish host in 1389, This
occasion is celebrated by the Serbs as a commemoration
of national tradition and solidarity. The rashness of the
archduke tempted him to pass through the streets of the
metropolis of a province where an element of the popu-
lation regarded itself as subjugated and oppressed and

looked upon him as the embodiment and support of the


2 The Great War

tyranny which it endured, on a day which recalled the
actual Greater Serbia of a long distant past, emphasized by
contrast the injustice and humiliation of the present situa-
tion and visualized the national unity of the future to which
the Serbian stock so earnestly aspires. His presence in
Sarajevo on that day was a challenge; and to credit subse-
quent official investigation, it would appear that the Heir
Presumptive of the Hapsburg dominions was a doomed
victim of his own audacity from the time that he entered
Bosnia. It is related that a bomb was found near the scene
of the assassination, that two others were discovered under
the table at which the archduke was to have taken his
luncheon, and that another was brought to light from the
chimney of the apartment assigned to the duchess. The
railway, moreover, had been mined with dynamite.

We have considered the consequences of this abominable
crime in so far as they have a directly causative relation
with the subsequent orgy of slaughter by which atonement
for it was sought. It is our present purpose to examine
the ensuing occurrences as they relate more intimately to
the lives and feelings of the different peoples. It is a
curious coincidence that England's greatest authority on
the history of her common law once alluded to two of
Great Britain's present allies as "the despised Russia and
the contemptible Serbia," voicing, it is true, with a trace of
irony a popular prejudice of thirty years ago. Nations
change in the course of a generation, but opinions about
them may change with far greater rapidity, A distin-
guished writer, Mr. George Macaulay Trevelyan, the
author of well-known works on Garibaldi and the struggle
for Italian unity, actuated by the supposed analogy between
the Serbia of to-day and the Piedmont of yesterday in their
relation with Austria, made a first-hand investigation of
conditions in Serbia during the winter and early spring

Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 3

of 1915. He describes the Serbian nation as a "rare exam-
ple of a purely democratic society," and depicts for us a
country peopled with independent peasant proprietors, free
from the extremes of pauperism and wealth, without social
questions and their attendant discord, with "no politics
except patriotism, no loyalty except to their country."
Serbia's only deficiency, as it would seem, is a natural
consequence of her essential element of social soundness.
For in this primitive, democratic community political lead-
ership is necessarily improvised. The administration suffers
from the lack of a class who are e(iuipped by their tradi-
tions and environment for the public service.

The public ceremonies for the anniversary of Kossovo,
which was being celebrated with unusual pomp in the
principal Serbian towns, were officially suspended on the
evening of June 28th, when news of the outrage in Sara-
jevo had been received. But the Austro-Hungarian consuls
reported that the people made no effort to conceal their
satisfaction. In some places, as it appears, the crime was
discussed in public, on the streets and in the cafes, with
such undisguised expressions of delight as violated every
consideration of decency. It is not surprising, in view of
the exasperation engendered b}' friction between the two
countries, and the repeated thwarting of Serbian ambitions,
that among a people of rather primitive, unsophisticated
ways of thought and expression, a foul murder even, with
the poHtical significance of the archduke's assassination,
should have transformed a national festival into a carnival
of popular hatred.

But whatever may have been the attitude of the Serbian
people, the government seems to have been apprehensive
of serious consequences from the awful crime, and to
have taken special pains for maintaining an irreproachable
attitude. Thus on June 30th, M. Yovanovitch, Serbian

4 The Great War

Minister at Vienna, informed Baron Macchio, one of the
Under-Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, that the
Serbian government condemned most vigorously the out-
rage committed at Sarajevo, and that they were prepared
to do all in their powder to prove that they would not per-
mit this hostile agitation in Serbia. An anxious interchange
of communications followed between the Serbian minister
in Vienna and his home government, in which M. Yovano-
vitch reported the hostile demonstrations in Vienna and
the threatening tone of the greater part of the press, which
immediately connected the Sarajevo atrocity with promi-
nent circles in Serbia. But the Austro-Hungarian govern-
ment, for its part, protested against the violent sentiments
displayed in the Belgrade papers. A press war, we may
conclude, preceded the outbreak of actual hostilities be-
tween the two countries by about a month. The Serbian
minister reported on July 3d that the Austrian press gener-
ally represented the conspirators as Serbs, although before
this they had scrupulously employed the distinctive terms
die Bosniake?! and die bosnische Sprache for the Bosnians and
their language.

The funeral ceremonies of the Russian Ambassador Hart-
wig, who died suddenly while at the Austro-Hungarian
Embassy in Belgrade, were celebrated on July 14th. He
had been regarded as the very soul of the Panslavist prop-
aganda in the Balkan States, and the Austrian press dis-
seminated the report that excesses were committed at the
time of the funeral against Austro-Hungarian subjects; but
the Serbian Prime Minister denied absolutely the truth of
this rumor.

The ominous silence of the Austro-Hungarian govern-
ment naturally excited speculation as to its policy with
regard to the Sarajevo crime. M. Yovanovitch reported
that the choice lay between two courses, either to regard

Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 5

the outrage as a domestic incident and invite the friendly
cooperation of Serbia in discoverinjr and punishing the
guilty, or to treat it as justification for a vigorous hostile
action against Serbia. In fact the Serbian minister in
Vienna practically forecast the course of Austria-Hungary
as early as July 15th.

In conse(iuence, probably, of the premonitions proceed-
ing from M. Yovanovitch, the Serbian Prime Minister,
M. Pashitch, sent identical instructions to the Serbian diplo-
matic representatives in the different capitals providing
them with evidence of Serbia's correct attitude, citing, for
instance, the condolences of the Serbian royal family, the
offer of the Serbian government to surrender to the Austro-
Hungarian authorities any Serbian subjects who might be
implicated in guilt, Serbia's manifest desire to maintain
friendly relations with her neighbor, and the failure of
the Austro-Hungarian government to apply for Serbian

There was probably a conflict of views in influential
circles in Vienna as to the proper course to be followed,
and at first a period of indecision resulted. The former
associates of the murdered archduke, the leaders of the
clerical and military groups, above all those who were not
resigned to allowing Serbia to keep the place which she
had won in the Balkan Wars, regarded an energetic foreign
policy as indispensable for the healthy existence of the
Austro-Hungarian n:ionarchy. They dreamed of cleansing
the state of its domestic impurities through the generous
agency of the currents of patriotic enthusiasm which would
be set in motion by a brilliant progress of expansion. They
believed that national honor and considerations of expedi-
ency alike required the adoption of drastic measures against
Serbia. A very large popvilar element, and very likely the
majority of the middle classes, who had suffered loss and

6 The Great War

annoyance through two partial mobilizations occasioned
by Serbia's turbulent pretensions, were prepared to wel-
come the idea of radical measures. They regarded a final
squaring of accounts with the troublesome neighbor with
a feeling of anticipated relief.

The program of forcible action found a powerful advo-
cate in Count Tisza, Prime Minister of Hungary. Some
even believe that he was the decisive factor in bringing
about the vi'ar between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.
Count Stephen Tisza is the head of a Calvinistic minority
in Roman Catholic Hungary. He was born in 1864 and
entered parliament in 1886, where he rapidly won the influ-
ence which intense conviction and indomitable energy
invariably command. We find him leader of the Liberal
party and prime minister in 1903. He was overthrown by
a coalition and passed the years 1906-1910 in retirement.

Count Tisza is the champion of uncompromising Mag-
yarism, of the historic rights of Hungarian national
supremacy within the historic boundaries of the territory
of the Hungarian Crown. When he became prime min-
ister again, after the crisis on the question of the suffrage
in 1912, a new opposition party committed to a democratic
franchise reform was organized under Count Andrassy.
Count Tisza is an all-round redoubtable combatant — in the
parliament, where he acts with brutal determination, eject-
ing by force, on one occasion, the entire opposition, who had
brought matters to an absolute deadlock by their persistent
obstructionist methods, and on the field of honor, where he
is the hero of many sabre duels. Count Tisza, the most
conspicuous individual in Austria-Hungary, is a character
who will not permit himself to be slighted in our narrative.
There is every reason to believe that the aged emperor
desired to maintain the peaceful tradition of his reign,
unbroken since 1866, and end his days in tranquillity. His

Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 7

proclamation to his people issued after the Sarajevo out-
rage, ascribing the crime to a misguided fanatic, contained
no reference to a hostile conspiracy, no implication of
Serbian complicity. The unobtrusive character of the
murdered archduke's obsequies is probably due to the
emperor's refusal to sanction a pompous ceremony which
might have occasioned a formidable hostile demonstration.
It was at first reported that the Kaiser and the King of Spain
would both be present at the funeral ; but these plans were
quietly dropped.

We learn of a council of ministers in Vienna on July
13th, when the consequences of the Sarajevo outrage were
discussed at great length. The fact that the Foreign Min-
ister, Count Berchtold, went at once to Ischl, the emperor's
summer residence, to report the results of these delibera-
tions, is an indication of their importance, and some of the
circumstances suggest the conjecture that this meeting was
a turning point, that from this time the party advocating
forcible measures was in the ascendancy.

A report by M. Yovanovitch a day or two later furnishes
a significant hint. The minister said : " Rumors from the
most authoritative diplomatic sources in Berlin reached me
in Vienna to the effect that the Wilhelmstrasse (location of
German Foreign Office, as well as Chancellor's Palace) did
not approve of Austria's policy on this question (Austro-
Serbian relations) and that Herr von Tschirscky (German
ambassador in Vienna) has exceeded the instructions given
to him." The existence of convincing evidence to prove
Herr von Tschirscky's extreme views and violent Slavo-
phobia raises this statement above the level of mere
political gossip. The French ambassador in Vienna, for
example, reported that the German ambassador showed
himself to be a partisan of violent resolutions, while will-
ingly allowing it to be understood that the German imperial

8 The Great War

chancellery might not be in complete agreement with him
on this point.

We may assume that Herr von Tschirscky from the first
animated and encouraged the group in Austria-Hungary
which demanded vigorous measures, and this leads to the
further conjecture that this group shared the opinion,
which he is known to have held, that Russia would not go
to war in defense of Serbia, and that a vigorous program
respecting the latter could be put into execution by sudden
action before the powers had recovered from their surprise.
This explains the quite evident endeavor to dispel the
apprehension and suspicion of the other powers and their
diplomatic representatives at Vienna.

As early as July 11th, Count Tisza replying to an inter-
pellation of the opposition in the Hungarian parliament
expressed himself in a deliberately obscure manner. The
press, in so far as it was amenable to official inspiration,
became more moderate in tone.

The Russian ambassador left for his vacation in the
country on July 21st in consequence of reassuring declara-
tions made to him at the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs.

But the undercurrent of half-suppressed excitement
and anxiety was not diminished. It required no unusual
acuteness to perceive that the political atmosphere was
electric. The apparent tranquillity was the oppressive,
disquieting stillness of the sultry day that precedes the
storm. The Bourse reflected the prevailing spirit of
uneasiness. As early as July 10th, Hungarian four per
cent public securities reached the lowest price ever
quoted on the Buda-Pesth stock exchange since they
were first issued.

A French consular report on general conditions in
Austria-Hungary predicted on July 20th many of the most

Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 9

conspicuous features of the note to Serbia. It adik-il tlie

"There is here, as in Berlin, a party which accepts the
idea of a conflict on a general scale — in other words, a
conflagration. The governing idea probably is that it is
necessary to start before Russia can have finished the great
improvement of her army and of her railways, and before
France has overhauled her military organization.

" But here there is not agreement in high circles. Count
Berchtold and the diplomats want at most a localized opera-
tion against Serbia, but everything has to be considered
possible — everything. I have been struck by a curious
fact. Generally, the official telegraph agency, in its sum-
maries of the views of the foreign press, disregards all but
the official newspapers and the more important organs; it
omits all quotations and all mention of the others. This is
a rule and a tradition. For the last ten days the official
agency has daily supplied to the press of Austria-Hungary
a complete review of the whole Serbian press, giving a
prominent place to the least known, the smallest and most
insignificant newspapers, which, owing to their very insig-
nificance, use language which is freer, more daring, more
aggressive, and frequently insulting. The object of this
work of the official agency is evidently to arouse opin-
ion, to create an opinion favorable to war. The fact is

This allusion to the activity of the press bureau has been
quoted because it has created considerable comment.
While significant, its importance as proof of a deliberate
plan of inflaming animosity by employing such effective
agencies for exercising popular influence as the press has
perhaps been exaggerated. The impending crisis might
naturally lend an interest to the opinions of many Serbian
papers whose contents would ordinarily be an object of

10 The GRE.AT War

absolute indifference to Austrian readers. On the eve of a
possible intervention of the United States in Mexico we
are supplied with a selection of quotations from the col-
umns of newspapers in Latin America of whose very
existence we have hitherto been entirely ignorant.

Baron Giesl, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Ser-
bia, reported from Belgrade on the 21st that contempt
had been added to hatred, since the Serbian press encour-
aged the belief that in its political evolution the Austro-
Hungarian monarchy had reached an advanced stage of
impotence and disintegration.

Observations, he said, led him to the ine%-itable conclu-
sion that "a settlement with Serbia, invoh-ing a war not
onlv for the preservation of Austria-Hungary's position as
a great power, but even for her very existence, cannot be
permanently avoided.

" In the \-iew of an orticial representative of the Austro-
Hungarian government, who is observing events on the
spot, the realization is ine\'itable that we cannot afford to
permit any further diminution of our prestige.

"Should we decide to make far-reaching demands, «-ith

Online LibraryGeorge Henry AllenThe Great war .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 40)