FRANCE IN DANGER
This book was first published in France in October,
1913, which makes the warnings and the forecast
contained in it all the more remarkable.
FRANCE IN DANGER
BY PAUL VERGNET
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE ix
Some consequences of the Agadir coup Benefits of the
national awakening What we ought to know The warn-
ing of Alsace-Lorraine An article in the Alldeutsche
THE WORK OF THE PAN-GERMANS:
WHAT THEY ARE.
I. THE PAN-GERMAN SPIRIT I
The pride of the conqueror A nation transformed
William II and the Crown Prince Contempt for France
" Deutschland iiber alles! " Germany is not satisfied
A unanimous nation.
II. A FORMIDABLE ORGANIZATION 12
The Pan-German League and its branches Methods of
propaganda and action The diffusion of Pan-German
societies throughout Germany Different formulas for the
same idea Eloquent figures.
III. THE PAN-GERMAN PRESS 2O
An unequal conflict Newspapers and journalists in Ger-
man y Pan-German papers in Alsace-Lorraine and Paris
Scouts of imperialism Maximilian Harden.
WHAT THEY CAN DO.
I. PAN-GERMANISM IN MOROCCO . . . . . . . . 3 1
Origins of the visit to Tangier Herr von Billow's in-
effectual remonstrance A vigorous campaign Herr von
Kiderlen-Waechter collaborates with the President of the
Pan-German League The Agadir coup.
II. WILLIAM II "ON THE MOVE" 39
Before and after the foundation of the League The
Kaiser changes his tone A wonderful coincidence of facts
and dates The Emperor and the League at variance
The " Black Week " Armaments against France William
II still " on the move."
III. DEMOCRATIC PROPAGANDA 49
A fallacy to be exploded Pan-German ideas among the
masses Undisguised threats If needs must, a revolution !
Teutomaniac Liberals and Imperialist Socialists If
William II is dethroned
IV. SHARPENING THE SWORD 6l
Pan-German campaign for increased armaments In-
effectual resistance on the part of the Government The
" Keim Law " Insolence and provocation from the victors
Permanent mobilization Fresh naval and military
schemes One million two hundred thousand men !
V. THE GERMANIC "BLOC" 72
Pan-Germanism in Austria Its avowed objects and
methods of action A typical example Feeling the way
The heir-apparent hesitates A precarious truce The
WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.
I. ARGUMENTS FOR "INTELLECTUALS" 89
Two methods Privileges of the German tongue A
successful book Big and little nations Aristotle and
Nietzsche Concentration of " culture " What the pro-
fessors say A new formula, and a new right.
II. WHAT A GERMAN VICTORY WOULD COST US . . . . 99
Remember the map with the green border! One of
Herr Class's phrases suppressed by Herr von Kiderlen-
Waechter The programme of conquest and annexation
The account to be settled To get at England Are
Frenchmen warned ?
III. MONSTROUS THEORIES loS
After the conquest How the " reconquered brothers "
will be treated Compulsory expropriation and wholesale
expulsion The precedents of Alsace-Lorraine and Poland
The barbarian invasion.
IV. "HEMMING US IN" Iiy
An allegorical picture Pan-Germanism in Belgium In
Holland In the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg In Switzer-
land Latin solidarity The consummation of a great work.
V. WAR " INEVITABLE " .. .. 132
Logical deductions Bellicose Germany From Luther
to von Bernhardi What the " settlement of accounts "
will be like No compromise! Two serious grounds of
quarrel Alsace-Lorraine and the Foreign Legion Inci-
dents and pretexts.
VI. WAR " NECESSARY " 147
To test and strengthen the military virtues of the
German army To secure the peace of the world To save
Germany from an economic and financial crisis France
INDEX . . 159
AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
A NEW phase of contemporary history dates from the
Agadir coup. The appearance of the diminutive Ger-
man gunboat in the waters of a little Moroccan port was
to produce consequences never dimly contemplated even
by those who intended that this premeditated and
deliberate move should have a startling and ominous
They had calculated that it would lead to nego-
tiations, bargainings, possible complications, useful
arrangements, and a final settlement, bringing with
it unspecified but certain profit.
What they had not foreseen, however, was the
essential and immeasurable effect of a violent nervous
shock operating suddenly upon so impressionable a
nation as France.
The shock of the Agadir coup brought France with one
bound to her feet. Those who observed her from with-
out seemed no less surprised than those who thought
they understood her well because it had fallen to their
lot to govern her.
From that moment a change came over the country ;
the order of interests in the public mind was suddenly
reversed : questions of internal politics, which had
satisfied the popular appetite since the defeat of 1870,
were now relegated to the second rank, and national
sentiment demanded that the first place should be
x AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
given to measures dealing with the standing^menace
from without and the necessity of confronting it with
We all know how, at the presidential election in
January, 1913, some shortsighted politicians came to
grief for not having appreciated this sudden and no less
profound transformation of French mentality.
If they alone had had to be considered no doubt the
flame would have been rapidly extinguished, for it had
a disconcerting effect on eyes accustomed to the dark
places of back-stairs intrigue.
But a series of events, some of them of considerable
magnitude, such as the Balkan War, others merely
trivial but significant, such as the incidents of Arra-
court, Luneville, and Nancy, the campaign against the
Foreign Legion in the German Press, the brutalities of
Germanization in Alsace-Lorraine, etc., kept public
opinion keen, vigilant, and resolute. 1
Moreover, the increase of her army by Germany,
1 " On April 1 3th certain Germans who had come from Metz to
Nancy for the Sunday were annoyed by students in a beer-hall ;
what began as a political demonstration degenerated into a scuffle
and other and inoffensive Germans were roughly treated. No repre-
sentative of the authority of the Prefect or the police could be found
for some hours to restore order ; this sudden revelation of anarchy
in a frontier town of such importance scandalized French opinion,
and gave Herr von Jagow, the German Under-Secretary of State,
an opportunity for inveighing against French Chauvinism. The
German Embassy formally complained to the French Foreign
Minister ; the latter instituted an inquiry, as the result of which
the Prefect of Nancy and the police officers who were responsible
were reduced in status. . . .
" On April 22nd a German biplane crossed the frontier and descended
at Arracourt, some miles from Luneville. The officers navigating it
alleged that they had been lost in a fog, and had crossed into France
unawares ; they were recognized to have acted in good faith and
they were allowed to depart, as with the airship Zeppelin IV (which
had landed at Luneville on April 3rd), though its behaviour had
given rise to very grave suspicion. The courtesy shown by France in
the matter was regarded by the sensational Press as excessive and as
contrasting unfavourably with the hostility and mistrust exhibited
THE AGADIR INCIDENT xi
without apparent reason in a piping time of peace, com-
pelling France, as it inevitably must, to take corres-
ponding counter-measures, aroused a most gratifying
proof of patriotic fervour among the younger genera-
tions of Frenchmen. After the cruel and troublous
years during which a morbid and colourless humani-
tarianism seemed to triumph, all the virile virtues of a
race of soldiers reappeared and asserted themselves
splendidly in the new blood. Never had the warning
and appeal of those slain in 1870 been heard and under-
stood with more tenderness and resolution than by the
three-year volunteer recruits of the spring of 1913.
These, then, are some of the consequences of that
stroke of the pen with which Herr von Kiderlen-
Waechter, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
in the German Empire, ordered the Commander of the
gunboat Panther to anchor in the harbour of a little
* * * * *
Now, have we learned all the moral lessons which
the Agadir affair should have taught us, an affair
which was finally settled only by a painful material
sacrifice on our part?
Have we endeavoured sufficiently to unravel its ori-
gin, determine its causes, and foresee its consequences?
That we resent an insult keenly shows that we are not
without courage, that we forthwith improvise an ener-
towards French officers in Germany. The French ambassador at
Berlin, M. Jules Cambon, was directed to call the attention of the
German Government to the frequency of these aerial visits, and the
inconveniences that might result. Herr von Jagow acknowledged
the complaint, and the only permanent effect of the incidents was
an increased haste in Germany to pass the new military Bills, and
in France a more active agitation on each side for and against the
three years' term of service." Annual Register, 1913, p. 284. [Trans-
xii AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
getic defence shows us to have determination and pride ;
but of what lasting value are these noble atavistic
impulses unless we follow them up by applying cold
reason to discover whence comes this menace, its
meaning, its scope and aim ?
How fragile this boasted " national awakening "
would be, were it based merely on sentiment and were
it not enlightened by an accurate knowledge of a real
permanent peril, the development of which leads to our
Now that our falling birth-rate gives us cause for such
grave anxiety for the future of our country, and now
that we are faced by the problem of the continual aug-
mentation of effective troops, the hour has come for us
to think upon that axiom of popular wisdom : " fore-
warned is forearmed."
But are we sufficiently forewarned ? l
I must confess that it was only quite by chance that
I began to suspect that we were not, and to feel any
anxiety on the matter.
1 Early in the year 1913, while the new German military law,
which had received the unanimous sanction of the Imperial Federal
Council, was before the Reichstag for its inevitable ratification, M.
Seignobos, a professor at the Sorbonne, wrote in the Frankfurter
Zeitung to prove that the huge increase in the German army was
accounted for by the platonic love cherished by William II for
his army. The German people had, it appears, undertaken an
expenditure of one billion and handed over 200,000 more men to the
tender mercies of the drill-sergeant in order that the Kaiser might
not be deprived of the pleasure of holding fine military reviews !
It is surely a matter of the gravest concern that any man of edu-
cation occupying an important post in France should write even
in a German paper such disconcerting inanities.
If a Sorbonne professor who, we are willing to believe, wrote in
good faith (otherwise he ought to be punished as a traitor) ; if an
instructor of French youth is really so ill-informed of what is going
on over our Eastern borders, what can we think of the ignorance of
the great mass of the French people !
THE GRAFENSTADEN AFFAIR xiii
The treaty of November 4th, 1911, which put an end
to the Moroccan conflict, was concluded by M. Jules
Cambon and Herr von Kiderlen-Waechter with mutual
congratulations. It was taken for granted that once
the storm cloud had passed the sky would remain clear
for a very long time. But, in the early spring of 1912,
an incident took place which, though of far less import-
ance, was to have as serious an effect upon the economic
relations of the two countries as the Agadir incident had
upon their political and diplomatic relations.
I refer to the Grafenstaden affair which induced the
German Emperor to formulate the threat of annexing
Alsace-Lorraine to the kingdom of Prussia so as to
crush its resistance to the work of Germanization.
In itself the incident was trivial : it was a question
of obtaining from the Alsatian Mechanical Construction
Company the dismissal of the manager of the factory at
Grafenstaden, an Alsatian named Heyler, accused of
" Alsatian nationalism.''
The accusation was brought by one Heinrich Kempf ,
a German printer, a member of the Pan-German League
who had set up a printing press and a little local paper,
the Ilkirch-Grafenstadener Anzeiger, at the factory gates
in the little locality of Ilkirch-Graf enstaden, near Strass-
burg. The factory is an extremely important one, em-
ploying two thousand workmen, recruited mainly if not
exclusively from the native element. The principal
manufacture at Grafenstaden is machinery and loco-
motives, and these rival the similar engineering work-
shops at Hanover and Cassel. Are we to believe that
the Pan-Germans took exception to the good feeling
existing between the Alsatian manager and his two
thousand fellow-countrymen, or that the German
engineers thought it advisable to get rid of a rivalry
xiv AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
which M. Heyler's skill and energy made more danger-
ous every year? The fact remains that the puerile
accusations of the contemptible little local paper, taken
up by the vast Pan-German Press, gave the German
Government a pretext for once again, and under par-
ticularly insulting circumstances, bringing its heavy
hand down upon the conquered province. The Alsatian
Mechanical Construction Company was officially noti-
fied that it would receive no further orders from the
German railways as long as M. Heyler remained at the
head of the works at Grafenstaden. Without these
orders the works could not be carried on. There was no
alternative, M. Heyler had to go.
Incidents such as these, which provoked a sharp cam-
paign of reprisals in France against cheap goods " made
in Germany/' and had their effect on Franco-German
relations, induced me to undertake a rather extensive
tour of exploration in Alsace-Lorraine. The inquiry
which I instituted among the majority of the represen-
tative men of the annexed provinces, made me the
recipient of a good number of confidential communica-
tions inspired by intense patriotism. 1
One, among others, which recurred frequently struck
1 An article which I wrote on my return brought about the parlia-
mentary intervention of M. Joseph Denais, a Paris deputy, and the
decree of expulsion which had been issued under the Combes Ministry
by the Prefect of Meurthe and Moselle against an Alsatian deputy,
Abbe Delsor, was at last revoked by M. Steeg, Minister of the Interior.
This was a very belated reparation for an odious deed which had
done more than German insolence and brutality for the Germanizing
Besides this, a series of articles supported by a consultation of
deputies from our Eastern departments induced M. Millerand, the
War Minister, to issue regulations dealing with the visits of German
officers to the frontier zone.
I am anxious to state that these modest but useful results have
been pursued at the suggestion of the same patriots from Alsace-
Lorraine who encouraged me to write this work.
POWER OF PAN-GERMANS xv
Why, I was asked, will Frenchmen persist in making
the mistake of treating as of little importance, or even
as a joke, the various manifestations of Pan-Germanism
in Germany, its congresses, speeches, manifestoes, and
The real truth is that, allowing for some exaggera-
tions and extravagancies, the Pan-Germans have always
succeeded in the end in getting what they asked from the
people, the Parliament, and the Imperial Government ;
the real truth is that these people at whom we jeer in
France as ridiculous and harmless cranks, have con-
trived on almost every occasion to impose their will
upon the Empire.
How many proofs could be given! They demanded
Germany's intervention on behalf of the Low Germans
in South Africa long before William II sent his famous
telegram to Kruger. They created the phrase " Greater
Germany " before the world-policy of the Empire was
proclaimed in 1896. They protested against the neglect
of colonies, and thereby instigated the occupation of
Kiau-chau and the whole colonial movement since
1898. They laid down Germany's right to the succession
of Turkey, and determined William II 's voyage to the
East. They were the first to undertake great campaigns
in favour of increasing the navy and the army, and in
favour of anti- Polish laws. Finally, it was they who
prepared and perpetrated the Agadir coup.
For after a period of somewhat uneasy incubation and
restless organization, Pan-Germanism has entered upon
the path of practical, methodical, and fruitful realiza-
tions. To-day it is a reasoned, defined doctrine, with a
programme which unwinds like the links of a chain a
chain in which many nations will one day find them-
selves bound to the verge of strangulation.
xvi AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
But France remains in ignorance.
Thus speak those who belong to the intellectual elite
of Alsace-Lorraine, the men in whom the intellect, soul
and spirit of our race, are incarnate.
I must candidly confess that I was in no way fitted
for the study of these matters, but I have always remem-
bered Theophile Gautier's touching definition of patriot-
ism evoked by the early reverses of 1870 : " Mother is
being beaten. Help ! " I was warned, both by far-
sighted Alsatians and by Frenchmen who, as the saying
is, have bought their experience, that a danger, un-
heeded by her, was threatening my country. The least
I could do was to go to her help that is to say, to collect
all possible information from the original sources, to
weigh the evidence and to endeavour, with the help of
those who had given me the work, to give it its full
value as an object-lesson and as a sincere and loyal
Have I fulfilled my purpose ? My readers may have
expected to find at the beginning of this book a preface
signed by some name beloved of the public.
Believe me, it is with no thought of presumption that
I have dispensed with eminent patronage which I might
have had for the asking.
But I have had the good luck, which I thoroughly
appreciate, of being able to produce the testimony of
the powerful organization which is the main object of
my inquiry, I mean the Pan-German League itself.
This preface, anyway, can hardly be suspected of
partiality, and that is why I wish for no other.
If I may, I will now quote the terms in which the
HOSTILE TESTIMONY xvii
Alldeutsche Blaetter, the official organ of the Pan-
German League, commented upon an article of mine in
March, 1913, wherein I sketched the plan of this work
which I have now produced :
" M. Vergnet's main object is to show the French the
fatal error under which they labour. Influenced by an
ill-informed or unreliable German or Alsatian Press,
these unsuspecting folk attribute little importance to
Pan-German activity, whereas it is known to dominate
" M. Vergnet proves this statement in detail. It is
surprising what accurate information he has, both
upon external and internal politics. On the whole his
informants have served him well, and he has shown
remarkable facility in grasping the sequence of facts/'
After a few insignificant criticisms, the Alldeutsche
Blaetter continues : " M. Vergnet has collected such an
overwhelming mass of evidence that he cannot but con-
vince his readers that the Pan-German movement has
for long been one of the most important elements of the
national life of Germany/' The article goes on to say
that Herr Bassermann, the leader of the National
Liberals, speaking in the Reichstag, had recently enlarged
upon the same theme.
" M. Vergnet has treated in detail, and with a thorough
knowledge of his case, the whole history of the Moroccan
conflict, from the spring of 1904, when Herr Class pub-
lished his pamphlet Have we lost Morocco P to the con-
vention respecting the Congo. He points out the
importance of the fact that, in 1911, the head of the
Foreign Office, Herr von Kiderlen-Waechter, entered
into direct relations with the President of the Pan-
German League, Herr Class, and he adds : ' We must
bear in mind the two outstanding points, the start and
xviii AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
finish of the movement : at the outset of the Pan-
German campaign the Government scorned the League's
demands ; at the end, we find the Minister for Foreign
Affairs collaborating with its President.' "
The article concludes with these words :
" M. Vergnet has pointed out most accurately the
object and importance of Count von Reventlow's book,
William II and the Byzantines.' 1 On the whole, we
repeat, we must admit that he shows a knowledge of
fact and of the workings of cause and effect quite ex-
ceptional in a Frenchman ; a few contradictions and
errors of judgment we must attribute to the ardent
patriotism of an enemy who, by his labours, is doing
his best to rouse and warn France. In spite of a few
inaccuracies and distortions of fact, M. Vergnet gives
us, in a true and striking summary, a very creditable
history of the Pan-German League."
I would apologize for paying any attention to these
fulsome praises were I not convinced that the reader
would feel as I do, what cynical defiance and bravado
lie behind the words. They serve to accentuate the
truth which I am trying to reveal. That they dare to
confess their strength and their designs in such a tone
of calm assurance shows that the Pan-Germans feel that
they can rely on the zealous and efficient support of
Germany as well, alas ! as on the blindness and proverbial
frivolity of France.
Do I need any further preface than this explicit and
significant article in the Alldeutsche Blaetter ?
I will add a few words only, for I am convinced that
1 The exaggeration of monarchical power is known in Germany
as Byzantinismus. [Translator's note.]
IMMINENT DANGER xix
in a work of this kind it is best to dispense with elabora-
tions of literary style. It would certainly fail in its pur-
pose unless it sought to accomplish it by a logical pre-
cision of facts and figures, and with a stern simplicity of
expression which is a guarantee of sincerity.
A statement of unvarnished fact such as this will, 1
know, not commend itself to people of a delicate literary
palate, and these form a numerous class in a country
like ours, where so many of us have asked nothing better
of life than to taste the sweets of intellectual enjoyment.
How are we, who have been brought up to revel in the
things of the spirit, to learn to steel ourselves in the
future against the charms of art and beauty ?
But the Barbarians are at our gates. France is in
danger ! Can we stand aside and see her perish ?
Ye artificers and custodians of French civilization, of
French taste, French culture, and that wondrous moral
patrimony which our ancestors have bequeathed to us,
are ye willing to surrender it to Pan-Germanism tri-
umphant with the land that nurtured you, its cities and
hamlets, its harvests and its streams ? It is no mere
question of snatching the beautiful living body of our
country from the hands of a foe who would a second
time barbarously mutilate it on a bed of Procrustes.
Our all is in peril, and first of all the very blessings which
idealists hold most dear ; the glowing hearth of the
virtues, struggles and sacrifice, of the heroisms which
have fed the flame of our country's prestige, that past
of glory where France, spite of misfortune and lacera-
tion, has won the right to appear at the bar of destiny
before the future garbed in riches and honour all, in a
word, which is our purest pride and has made our very
selves, nay, even the soft and gentle air in which the
airman springing up in the light of the sky of France can
xx AN UNEXPECTED PREFACE
breathe the perfume of the violets of Athens, and the
laurels of Rome.
Thus the duty of the present hour, which dominates
all other duties, and applies to all of us and still more
perhaps to the intellectual than to the peasant must
be to estimate the extent of the danger that is threaten-
ing our country.
It is in order to perform this duty that I have written
FRANCE IN DANGER
THE WORK OF THE PAN-GERMANS