Copyright
Austin Harrison.

England & Germany online

. (page 1 of 9)
Online LibraryAustin HarrisonEngland & Germany → online text (page 1 of 9)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


4RLF



NGLAND AND GERMANY



AUSTIN HARRISON






ENGLAND AND GERMANY



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

LONDON . BOMBAY CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO
ATLANTA . SAN FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO



ENGLAND & GEEMANY

EEPUBLISHED FEOM
'THE OBSEEVEB'



BY

AUSTIN HARRISON



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

ST. MAKTIN'S STREET, LONDON

1907



PEEFACE

THESE letters, which appeared originally in
The Observer, are reproduced, with the kind
permission of Lord Northcliffe, at the request
of a number of people known and unknown
to me, who thought them worthy of preserva-
tion. A few corrections and expurgations
have been made, and they have been slightly
added to. Otherwise they stand as I wrote
them, partly while travelling abroad. If they
suffer from tautology, I would submit the
opinion of De Quincey, that in a newspaper
tautology is a virtue ; as for the iterative
method, that, in dealing with a problem of this
nature, was part of my deliberate intention.

Since they were written a calm has fallen
upon Europe ; the relations between England,
Germany, and France have sensibly improved.

Not one whit the less the problem of power

v

293276



vi ENGLAND AND GERMANY

and Empire remains I claim as it is here
stated.

For the rest, as the German Queen,
" Great Catherine" of Eussia, said: "All
politics are based on the three words circum-
stance, conjecture and conjuncture." The
wise State provides accordingly.

August 1907.



CONTENTS

CHAPTEE I

PAGE

THE APRIL WAR SCARE . . . , . 1

CHAPTER II

KING AND KAISER . . . ._ . , 23

CHAPTER III

GERMANY AND THE HAGUE . . * * 39

CHAPTER IV
SOCIAL DEMOCRACY . . . . . . 51

CHAPTER V
GERMAN GROWTH AND PROSPERITY . . .71

CHAPTER VI

THE MATERIALISM OF NEW GERMANY ... 92

CHAPTER VII

THE GERMAN PRESS: ITS USES AND MISUSES . 110
vii



viii ENGLAND AND GERMANY
CHAPTEK VIII

PAGE

WAR TRAINING OF GERMAN STATE ECONOMY . . 128

CHAPTER IX

THE GERMANIC PROBLEM OF POWER AND EMPIRE . 143

CHAPTER X

THE LINE OF LEAST RESISTANCE . . .162



CHAPTER I

THE APRIL WAR SCARE

To an island people like ourselves safe in the
investiture of the sea, with no boundaries to
protect, and no army (as Continental peoples
understand the term) to defend them a " war
panic," whether actual or latent, is a state of
national unrest happily unknown, and to most
Englishmen, even as an idea, almost unin-
telligible. The very word " panic " is un-
English and foreign to the native spirit. We
are on the eve of The Hague Conference.
English editors are shortly to be entertained
in Germany. To us the world seems full of
good things. Our Liberal organs see no panic
anywhere, no unrest, no crisis, no sign of dis-
turbance, nothing but good -will, fraternity,
peace, and political concord among all Sove-
reigns and all peoples in Europe and elsewhere.



2 ; ; 'ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

Have we not Mr. Stead on the cosmopolitical
peace " stump " ; Sir Henry Campbell-Banner-
man wielding a journalistic pen on behalf of
disarmament in The Nation, and the Daily
News throwing out mysterious doubts as to
the political wisdom of the King's travelling
politics ; while only the other day Mr. Beer-
bohm Tree, standing in a box with the Crown
Prince and Princess of Germany, was com-
pelled for very safety to thank his generous
audience for their enthusiastic reception ?

To write, then, of a German war panic will,
I am prepared to hear, be treated as a good or
bad "joke" by some, dismissed as sensational
journalese by others, and, no doubt, be anathe-
matised by the Liberal Press, by Peace hunters,
idealogues, and humanitarian publicists as
a flagitious attempt to sow discord and
enmity at the very moment when "Noah"
in all his wisdom is bidding the militant
" barbarians " of the Continent to enter the
Ark of Peace in the shady grove called the
Huis ten Bosch. And yet in sober earnest I
assert that all through April a very real war
panic existed in Germany, and that at this
moment a " crisis " exists which, in the opinion



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 3

of all competent observers, and admittedly by
Germans themselves, is more genuine, wide-
spread, and serious than any which the German
Empire has known since its creation in the
halls at Versailles.

A German war panic ! Well, I know what
many of our snug politicians and writers will
say. Ignorantly, blindly, such a statement
will be stigmatised as Germanophobia, party
politics, deplorable perversity of cosmopolitical
understanding, perhaps even as the reprehen-
sible expression of personal animosity. Four
weeks ago when the crisis in Germany was
most acute I should have been inclined to
think so myself. Before I came to Germany
to see and sound for myself, I, too, was in-
clined to credit the opinion our Liberal Press
would have us believe that Anglophobia was
no longer a reputable tenet in Germany, and
that the basis of a healthier, kindlier, and
more rational spirit of fellow-feeling had
been laid between the two great nations
of such vast economic importance to each
other the two most vital peoples in Europe
to-day.

I would I could say it was so. The con-



4 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH.

trary is the case. I have been disappointed.
Instead of decreasing since the Boer "War,
Anglophobia has increased in scope and in-
tensity. At the time of the war we were told
that the bad feeling would blow over and dis-
appear, that Germans were unripe, sentimental
politicians, that they would change, and that
reason would return with time and reflection.
But, as Madame de Stael wrote nearly a
hundred years ago : " La reflexion calme les
autres peuples : elle sur excite I'Allemand"
Such certainly is the case to-day. The German
Empire is literally in a state of nervous excite-
ment, tension, and overwrought sensitiveness
of poor augury for the issue of disarmament,
which, by the way, Germans, one and all,
Liberal, Socialist, and Conservative, openly
repudiate as an " impertinent and preposter-
ous proposal."

I state a fact when I say that at this
moment an electric war-current seems to be
in the very air. It is not a "fit of nerves,"
a foolish outburst of hysterical fright, such as
occurs " on 'Change," but a deep-seated, con-
scious one might almost say conscientious
war scare. For months and weeks past the



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 5

German Press has been full of it. It is the
talk of all serious German politicians, the
leading topic among earnest young men, the
joke in comic operas, music-halls, and the
stock piece de resistance of the entire German
comic Press. During the Moroccan crisis with
France the public, and even the Army, never
took the matter very seriously. "What is
Morocco to us ? " Germany would say. No
one really thought Germany would go to war
on that issue ; there was no public enthusiasm
about it; to most Germans Morocco was re-
garded as one of those "incidents" which
occur in diplomacy, as they do in the best
regulated families from time to time, but about
which the general public has little honest
concern.

It is different now. In the Army, war,
the plan of campaign, the probable date
of the outbreak of hostilities these are the
staple subjects of private and mess conversa-
tion among officers and men. There has been
no silly braggart talk, no sharpening of swords
on Embassy doorsteps (as before Jena), no
visible and untoward sign of military prepara-
tion. But all Germans have known about it.



6 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

In the, "Moroccan days" officers would laugh
and jest about the likelihood of war, but few
seriously believed that it would come. Quite
another tone and opinion obtain to-day. I
believe I am well within the boundary of fact
when I say that during all last April the Army
honestly regarded war as the most probable
issue to the tension prevailing, and that dis-
sentients from that opinion were in a small
minority. And no longer is war jested about.
The conviction that war is probable, the opinion
that it was on the point of breaking out, have
brought about a quiet feeling of determination
and resignation to fate. And at this moment,
in the opinion of most officers, the crisis, if
over, is none the less latent, and, in so far as
its fundamental causes are concerned, hardly
one whit less dangerous and acute.

In the Navy this opinion is even more
apparent. As the whole cause of Germany's
panic is England, and as the German Navy
would necessarily be the first objective of the
British offensive, it stands to reason that the
German Navy views the idea of shock between
the two navies with no little apprehension.
In naval circles the conviction that the British



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 7

Navy may at any moment emerge from a
Channel fog off the Elbe or Bremen seems to
amount almost to an obsession. Naval officers
tell one candidly that England desires to de-
stroy the German Navy before it grows too
powerful, and nothing that one can say in re-
pudiation of this hypothetical contention makes
the slightest impression whatever. Two years
ago, at the time of the first Moroccan crisis,
there was a similar naval panic. All leave
was stopped. During that month of May
every officer in the German Navy thought
war was a matter of hours.

And, the other day, a similar opinion pre-
vailed. I questioned a naval officer, whom I
have known for some years, as to the reasons
of this, and he said that it was the profound
conviction of the entire Navy. " We are
getting too strong to be agreeable, you see.
England will never permit us to build a really
strong Navy, that is, a Navy powerful enough
successfully to contest her supremacy at sea.
Oh no, I don't suppose you hate us Germans.
But you are a practical and cold -reasoning
people. The Liberals are the same. Some
day, any day, it may occur to your statesmen



8 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

that the German Navy constitutes a menace
to your power, or may in ten or twenty years
do so, and the moment that opinion is shared
by your statesmen action will soon follow the
thought."

In vain I suggested that no Power nowa-
days could invade another like the Huns of
old. In vain I pointed out the imponderabilia
of popular government in England, the peace-
ful nature of Englishmen, the desire shared by
most Englishmen to live on terms of amity
with Germany and all other peoples my
naval friend shook his head and smiled good-
naturedly.

"Ah," he said, "you English are a very
clever people. But pray do not think we are
deceived by your plausible protestations of
peace and good-will. You sent your ships
to us off Swinemiinde to show us the strength
of your fist. You know that the synonym of
life is strife ; that a nation which does not
strive, will not or cannot strive, is a decadent
and dying one, and that only those nations
are vital who are prepared to, who can, and
who will fight. Well, both you and ourselves
can, and will fight, if necessary. We are not



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 9

building a fleet to destroy yours, but we are
building a fleet to be in the position to defend
our colonies, shipping interests, and rights,
should you ever challenge them.

" What we feel is that you are growing
uneasy about our ' baby ' fleet. You think it
may some day be strong enough to give you
serious trouble in the event of war, and (though
you don't say so) you are all secretly turning
over in your minds whether it ought to be
permitted to grow or not. Therefore, small
as our fleet is as compared with yours, it is
our duty to be ready. There are no ethics
in statesmanship. England never troubled
herself with political morality. We think
that your whole policy is directed towards
this one end the isolation of Germany and
the annihilation of her fleet. And we think,
too, that the situation warrants our fears and
justifies our 'readiness' and forward sea, and
naval construction, policy."

That evening I dined with a high official in
the Government service and heard practically
the same thing. " Nations, as individuals,
have a fate/ 7 said he ; " ours was to follow in
the wake of our own history. But that has



10 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH.

changed. "We are now abreast of it. To-day
we have a conscious national spirit, a conscious
national aim, a conscious national destiny.
Historically, perhaps, we are still a centrifugal,
somewhat antagonistic mass, but actually and
potentially we are inherently one, a solid
political and economic hegemony. We too
have a mission in the world to fulfil, as you
had when Ealeigh and Drake laid the founda-
tions of modern British Imperialism. To-day
we are sixty millions of Germans. In twenty
years we shall be eighty millions. Are we
dullards, fools, a weak or ignorant race ? Are
sixty millions to be dictated to by any Power ?
Can eighty millions be dictated to as to their
own economic future ? The idea is folly. We
arose late in the world. Circumstance was
against us. To-day all Germany is one ; and
the future lies before us.

"Yes, there is a crisis between England
and Germany, and it would be useless to deny
it. It is not a sudden outbreak, it is not an
old woman's scare. But the air seems charged
with warlike electricity. The feeling in Ger-
man military, official, and private circles is
that England sooner or later intends to make



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 11

war on Germany, to crush her fleet, destroy
her trade, ruin her future, and reduce her to
penury and Anglo-Saxon vassalage. It looks
rosy enough, you may say, with your Peace
Congress and concatenation of friendships and
alliances, but we Germans know what pointed
dagger is hid in the lining of your white peace
mantle. There never has been so serious a
crisis before. We feel now that England is
purposely setting about isolating us, destroying
our prestige, alienating our friends, segregating
us from the rest of the civilised world with
the ultimate intention to humiliate us and
sweep our naval power from off the seas. The
two most powerful Powers in Europe stand
facing one another ; the one young and
bursting with hope and endeavour ; the other
of mature age, jealous of the young giant,
undecided, wary, and uneasy. The crisis is
real. The two Sovereigns are playing like
wrestlers with one another while seeking for a
hold. I can only say that had England a con-
tiguous frontier to Germany there would have
been war when your King went to Gaeta."

Quite briefly, the main causes of alarm are
these :



12 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH.

Primarily, the activity of King Edward,
and the legend existing in Germany that the
King is animated by personal feelings of hos-
tility to the German Emperor.

Secondly, the policy of the Liberal Govern-
ment in connection with disarmament at The
Hague Conference, and particularly the article
written by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in
The Nation.

Thirdly, the discovery (for it is a discovery
to Germans) that the Triple Alliance is for all
practical purposes for purposes, that is, of
offensive and defensive war a torso, the
Italian leg being an artificial cork one.

Fourthly, the concentration of the British
naval arm in home waters.

Fifthly, the entente with France and Spain
and the likelihood of one with Russia.

Sixthly, the wane of German prestige at
the Horn, and the difficulties placed in the
way of German railway policy in Asia
Minor and Persia that is, the Baghdad
railway.

And, lastly, the feeling that Germany's
forward policy has ended in her almost com-
plete isolation and in the frustration of her



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 13

overseas Imperialist ambitions as in Morocco
by France and England ; in the Far East
by her alienation of Japanese sympathies, so
that while France effects an insurance treaty
with Japan to safeguard her Asiatic possessions,
Kiao-chau stands useless and indefensible, a
mere political oasis ; in South America by the
Monroe Doctrine ; and in Turkey by the un-
expected resurrection of British prestige there,
which has redressed the balance temporarily
deranged by the Emperor's championship of
the Moslem people and religion.

I think Englishmen should take careful
note of the nature of German alarm. Not
so long ago it was the object of Pan-German
ambition to sever the tie of kinship between
German and Briton rupture with England
being the a priori condition to the success of
their Imperialist policy and doctrine. And
this, it may be said, they have succeeded in
doing. Looked at impartially to-day, this
profound unrest in the German Empire con-
stitutes a perpetual source of danger not only
to ourselves, but to Europe generally. And
the danger is not the less from the singular
conditions, chaotic, almost anarchic, prevailing



14 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

among those responsible for the direction of
German foreign policy. There is no one man,
no one brain, no coherent aim or direction.
In England we think the Emperor is the sole
manager of Germany's foreign affairs, that he
is responsible for every move, and that the
" Wilhelmstrasse " exists but to carry out his
injunctions.

This is not strictly the case. The Emperor
went to Morocco against his own better judg-
ment, and the retirement of that mysterious
man at the wheel nobody knew anything
about (von Holstein) l was one of its results.
It is said openly that Prince Buelow does prac-
tically no work now except prepare speeches ;
and though this is certainly a popular ex-
aggeration, there can be no doubt that if he
still holds the reins he no longer holds the
whip to control the pace. Sometimes the
steed of State falls asleep in its amble, then
as suddenly it prances forward at the flick
of the whip slily administered by no one quite
knows who; perhaps by von Tschirschky,
perhaps by Herr Hammann, perhaps by some

1 Von Holstein seems now to have regained the ear and con-
fidence of the Chancellor.



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 15

extraneous influence at Court or elsewhere.
That savage pessimist Maximilian Harden, in
his organ Die Zukunft, weekly pours out his
invectives on the system and the va banque
policy and Government, which one day sends
a paean message of peace to The Tribune, and
then causes the Koelnische Zeitung ferociously
to attack it, and then to deny itself all intrigue,
croupier politics, confusion, chaos, and back-
stair camarilla artifice. In very fact, almost
Eussian bureaucratic anarchy seems to prevail
in the German Foreign Office. Every one is
said to be pulling some one else's leg ; some-
times the Chancellor scores, sometimes Herr
von Tschirschky (nicknamed "the pale, silent
one") ; then the Emperor puts his foot down,
and so on. Nor does there seem to be any
coherent singleness of diplomatic purpose in
German Chanceries abroad. And to all this
there is the war scare general malaise and
unrest.

I am simply stating what everybody here
knows and, more or less openly, is saying.
In Bavaria I find growing and serious dis-
sension at the personal government of Pots-
dam, and a strong feeling among the Catholic



16 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

sections of the Empire that Berlin is the cause
of Germany's misfortunes in the realm of in-
ternational politics. The recent Navy League
demonstration at Koln showed that for the
Navy all Germans Protestant, Catholic, Jew,
and Gentile are determined at all costs to
build the " great fleet" so ardently desired.
But, none the less, there is a growing feeling
in South Germany that the direction of
German foreign policy is fitful, aimless, need-
lessly big-mouthed and boastful, and in effect
irritating to other nations, a failure and a
source of danger to the interests of the
Empire. I record this feeling because more
is certain to be heard of it. The elements
of discord are present. Berlin thinks the
Catholic centre has been "smashed." In
Bavaria I find they think the ultimate
solution will be the creation of an Imperial
Privy Council (not the Bundesrat) to control
the Wilhelmstrasse and Prussian autocracy.
If the Emperor tries to smash German
Catholicism the Hohenzollern dynasty is
doomed such is the prevailing opinion in
all German Catholic centres.

When one considers that in addition to all



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 17

these German doubts and problems there is
a large and influential (and I use the word
deliberately) Press systematically inculcating
anti- English sentiments into the German
political mind, and conducting a continuous
polemical campaign against England and
every word and action of the King, and that
Germany is smarting under the supposed
taunt of la nation persecuted, it will be seen
that there is good reason to keep a sharp
look-out from the poop. Ever since Algeciras
the German Army has been spoiling for a
fight officers, men, and the public feeling
that Germany was deliberately thwarted in
one of her legitimate ambitions there, and,
internationally, passed through the Caudine
Forks. In the picturesque language of
Americans, there is no getting away from
this proposition ; it forces itself upon you at
every pike and corner in the Fatherland.

We must remember, too, that the Emperor
is still " unknown," as he has never yet been
put to the great test of war, and that, although
of an intensely religious nature, he perhaps
for that very reason remains psychologically
an enigma, a religious mystic, as Lord Kose-



18 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

bery said of Cromwell. Germans feel that
they are too strong to be flouted, and that
humiliation has gone far enough. " Quousque
tandem ? " the Army is asking. " Where are
the first-fruits of German maritime policy, pro-
claimed with drum and cymbal for the last
fifteen years ? " the old and wise are inquiring.
Already serious people are contemplating the
abandonment of Kiao-chau. And the colonies?
Ah, Germany only has a few bare strips of
territory, which England does not need news-
papers and the economic professors bewail.
Japan has secured for herself world-dominion
and prestige ; Spain is in the ascendant ;
France is " on top " ; England everywhere,
Italy rebellious, and even Egypt a national
hegemony under British tutelage; but Germany
has no greater Empire, is hemmed in within
the confines of the Continent, and at every
step and turn finds the Union Jack fluttering
in her face. That is the situation, briefly, as
Germans see it.

To pretend that it does not contain serious
elements of danger is to misunderstand the
power, the spirit, and the genius of the German
people. On the eve of the Peace Conference,



THE APRIL WAR SCARE 19

Germany stands in the centre of Europe in
mailed coat defiant, exasperated, determined,
at bay, as it were, with her right hand on the
scabbard. It would be folly to ignore her
attitude or fail to grasp its potential signifi-
cance. Old Germany is dead : the new
generation, saturated in world-political dreams
and ambitions, has been educated to the
understanding of a forward maritime policy.
The women are as enthusiastic for the Navy
as are the men. All Germany believes Eng-
land is bent on her destruction. It is a
significant fact that whereas formerly Germans
accused their Emperor of over-zealous ambi-
tion, dangerous personal and national ex-
pansiveness, and reckless enthusiasm, now the
voice of the people since Algeciras taunts
him with "prudence, political pusillanimity,
and over -careful regard for other people's
feelings/' The Elections showed that the
Kadical wing and all Liberal sections are
pronounced militant Imperialists. Since then
the Socialists have declared publicly for a
national army. The young are fired with the
new spirit of Pan-German Imperialism, and
mothers educate their sons in that sense.



20 ENGLAND AND GERMANY CH .

The King has become a nightmare to the
whole German - speaking race. The Hague
Conference was regarded as one of the most
diabolical plots ever conceived to entrap and
ruin a nation.

This is no hyperbole, but solid, sober fact.
The crisis in Germany caused by the new
"international physiognomy" is, I repeat,
real, profound, and universal. At the present
moment there is a welcome detente in the
situation, but the ingredients of the crisis
remain. All the Foreign Offices of Europe
are perfectly aware, as is our own, that it
was not so much the travelling policy of the
King as Sir Henry's disarmament proposal
and his article in support of it which last
April produced in Germany not merely a
crisis, but a serious official war scare. I
shall treat that matter subsequently in a
special article ; for the present I will only
state that the German Foreign Office until


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryAustin HarrisonEngland & Germany → online text (page 1 of 9)