Charles à Court Repington.

After the war; London--Paris--Rome--Athens--Prague--Vienna--Budapest--Bucharest--Berlin--Sofia--Coblenz--New York--Washington; a diary online

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Online LibraryCharles à Court RepingtonAfter the war; London--Paris--Rome--Athens--Prague--Vienna--Budapest--Bucharest--Berlin--Sofia--Coblenz--New York--Washington; a diary → online text (page 26 of 43)
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making, and no blame to them in this torrid heat. But
Bundeskanzler Schober is at his post of duty, and Dr.
Hertz is here too : I shall see them both to-morrow. Be-
tween them they can tell me all that I want to know.
Lunched at Sachers, and found it stuffy.

In the afternoon there was a great fete, called a Trach-
tenfestzug, to help the children. Deputations from all the
Provinces assembled at the Rathaus in their provincial
costumes and then formed a great procession, men and
women, horses and decorated carts. There was every kind
of queer device representing episodes in history, keepers
hauling poachers to prison, men threshing, a sort of local
Bacchus carousing, riders cracking great stock-whips, the
noise of which sounded like a machine gun in action ; heaps
of women and girls, all very gay, riding, driving, and walking,
some two and two with their swains a long procession
through the Ring Strasse and into the Prater. The crowds



A TRACHTENFESTZUG 287

on both sides of the road quite thick and the windows
well filled. These people have certainly the capacity for
enjoyment. It was interesting to see all the local costumes,
and as each Province was preceded by a flag or notice-board
with its name, it was easy to see who they all were.

I thought it a clever idea to unite all the Provinces at the
capital, as the fissiparous tendencies of this country must
be arrested. I was particularly interested to notice that
five-sevenths of the costumes were those of mountaineers.
One might have expected it from the agricultural statistics,
which show that two-thirds of the pasture land is Alpine,
but here was the visible proof. It might have been all
Tyrol so far as the men's and women's dresses were con-
cerned, but I did not notice the Vorarlberg little black
conical hat, to my regret. There were large straw hats with
immense brims, from Carinthia, I think, and some of the
dresses were quite pretty. The men were great bucks,
mostly in shorts or knickers with stockings below the knee,
shooting-boots, a light coat, and the Tyrolese or some other
very similar head-dress ; occasionally this was made of
long feathers with foxes' tails dangling on each side. A
likely-looking lot, mostly armed with sporting rifles, carried
slung, and the women were strapping upstanding wenches
with a great look of health, and many pretty. The cries
uttered were ear-piercing, and were often taken up by the
crowd. There was no conventional yodling. A sort of
running conversation went on between the procession and
the crowd, and there was an endless waving of handkerchiefs
and much good fooling. There seemed to be a jester with
every deputation. In fact it was more like an English
fifteenth -century show than anything else. The spirit was
that of the Canterbury Pilgrim Tales.

It takes a German couple, however, to walk fifteen miles
through crowded streets, holding hands all the way, in this
sweltering heat. I have not seen any people so festive
since the war began. The Vienna crowd was very good-
humoured and out for pleasure. There was no denying the
military training of the armed bodies of mountaineers.



288 BERLIN AND VIENNA

They had Kaiser- Jager written all over them. If L. G. had
seen this show, he would no longer have thought it of no
importance that Austria should go to Germany. I had no
idea that I should see anything so interesting, or so in-
structive. It is good to see the spirit of nationality return-
ing, even if each Province keeps its old customs and is a bit
more independent than the Central Government here like.
In all seriousness one must remember that Schwaben and
Ober-Bayern, Salzburg, Steiermark, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, and
Carinthia produce as good and hardy races of mountaineers
as there are in the world, and that all these people are
Germans and will never be anything else. Nor will the
Germans of what the Germans call German South Tyrol, now
in Italian hands. They are a bit elementary, too, all these
people, and. will be a tough proposition to tackle in their
native hills. I do not believe that the theories of our
modern illumines have touched the surface of this crowd.
That is our fault, perhaps. We legislate or dream for a
little circle of Western intellectuals while the mass of the
people think in much simpler terms .

Vienna, Monday, July 11, 1921. Dr. Masirevitch, the
Hungarian Minister here, gave me a diplomatic visa for
my journey to-morrow. He talked of Hungary's troubles,
and told me that some of the parties were assailing Horthy
now, some because he was not Socialistic enough and
others because he kept too great state, or that they wanted
King Karl back. But, as M. truly said, no one would gain
from Horthy going. He told me that the persecutions of
the Magyars in Transylvania continue and that a Baroness
Banff y had recently been bastinadoed. I asked where
meaning geographically and he said, ' on that part of
the body traditionally reserved for the bastinado.' I said
that I should make inquiries. She belonged, he said, to the
family of the Hungarian Foreign Minister.

The Bundeskanzler had a diplomatic reception at the
Ball Platz from eleven to one, and received me after the
Nuncio had been in. Herr Schober the same as ever,
cool, calm, and self-contained. I congratulated him on



HEER SCHOBER 289

rising to the highest place in the Government, and said that
it seemed to me that sense of duty had outweighed all other
considerations with him. He had had a secure and popular
post and now he was the predestined sport for intriguers.
S. admitted that it had been a sacrifice, but if only the
credits were granted by the League of Nations Com-
mission he thought that Austria's position would steadily
mend. He said that Italy's abandonment of the lien
on Austrian resources was not yet final. Nor is that of
Jugo-Slavia. He asked what my view was, and I said that
I was for the proposed credits. He seemed rather surprised,
and asked if I really was. I said, ' Certainly, it is the only
way to prevent Austria from breaking up, and I had been
in favour of Sir W. Goode's proposals too, which I thought
were even better.' L. G. had upset that apple cart, but
L. G. could never tackle foreign politics closely when he
was beset by internal troubles. Now things looked like
clearing and then I hoped we might have an Austrian policy
at last.

Had he read, I asked, Count Ottokar Czernin's article
in the Wiener Sonn- und Montags-Zeitung of to-day on
Austrian diplomacy ? Was it all as bad as Czernin alleged ?
Schober who is Foreign Minister as well as Chancellor
said it was not. He was quite satisfied with his represen-
tatives abroad. He found it perfectly easy to do the two
jobs, and the criticisms of Czernin on this point were not
justified. He had seen Czernin only yesterday, and C. had
said nothing about his coming article. He would see him
again and have it out with him. But Czernin counts for
little now. S.'s secretary had told me that he was not rated
high, and I had replied that his book alone condemned
him.

I then asked the Chancellor to tell me how the relations
with the Provinces were getting on, whether there was any
increase in the authority of the Central Government,
whether he was reforming the Army, and how the An-
schluss position now stood. He said that the relations
with the Provinces had greatly improved. He had taken

T



2 9 o BERLIN AND VIENNA

the initiative in getting into touch with them, and as soon
as he was installed had written to them all a very frank
letter saying that the State could only exist through the
Provinces, and the latter through the State. He had told
them that Vienna alone could supply them with the funds
they needed for various reforms, and had made it clear that
unless they played the game he would not retain office. It
was probably a good letter, as S. is a man of great good
sense, who inspires general respect, and the Provinces had
all replied in very amicable fashion. He had further
promised to go round and see them all on the first oppor-
tunity. This is all a good move.

As to the Army, the faults of which S. knows well, he
was reducing its numbers and improving its quality. ' As
you did your fine Police,' I remarked. Yes, he said, and
he had his own man now at the head of the Army and things
would get on. As for the Anschluss, he said that he hoped
the phase of plebiscites was over. He had assembled the
Great-German Party, and had plainly told them that govern-
ment was impossible if they continued their propaganda
and that he would sooner go now than later, if they would
not give him an undertaking to be quiet. This they seem
to have done, and if they keep their promise a great diffi-
culty is removed. It will not alter facts, but will stop this
dangerous diplomatic tension which made the Austrian
Government look so contemptible.

I asked about Bulgaria. S. has no Minister at Sofia, and
so did not know what was happening, but had wired to the
Dutch Minister, who was looking after Austrian interests
in Bulgaria, and expected a reply soon. The Bulgarian
Minister here had stoutly denied the alleged intrigue with
the ex-Tsar Ferdinand, and we both thought a rising of
the peasants, yesterday reported from Bulgaria, to be most
unlikely 1 with a Peasant Government in office. The
Bulgarian Minister had even gone so far on behalf of his
Government as to ask Schober to forbid the entry of Ferdi-
nand into Austria, and this had been done.

1 There was not one word of truth in it.



AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS 291

' If only we are left alone and are given our credits, the
country will make progress and become viable,' said S.
He evidently has doubts about England's good-will in the
matter, and meanwhile the crown has gone to the terrible
figure of 2745 to the pound sterling, and prices here are no
easier than they were. Coal is coming in again from
Czecho-Slovakia, but to nothing like the amount needed.
As for bread, the old prices and difficulties remain, but a
law is in preparation to make rich people pay the full cost
of the loaf, and others less than the full price, according
to their means. This will improve the situation to some
extent, if the plan prove practicable, but a total abolition
of the bread subsidy is not yet in sight.

I asked about the customs and whether he had seen
Benes and had any negotiations with him. Schober said
that he had not, but would like to meet him. Meanwhile
he had told his Ministry that Austria should not await pro-
posals, but should make them herself. It was better for her
to remove her own customs barriers, even if the neigh-
bouring States did nothing. I told him that I thought both
Benes and Banff y would meet him halfway if he set to work.
We had a talk about the show yesterday and of other
matters, after which I took leave of him, and he asked me
to be sure to call and see him again if I stopped in Vienna
on my return. He told me that he was sending Mensdorff
to the League of Nations, and that M. had only agreed to
go if S. would defend him in Parliament, which S. had
promised to do.

I like Schober. He is the right type for the situation
and commands general confidence. He has measure and
experience with sound judgment, weighs his words, is not
pompous, and seems very frank. I think that he is genuine
and can be trusted. If he can get the Provinces io back
him, I do not see why he should not remain, but Austrian
politics are too shifty to permit of undue optimism.

In the late afternoon met Dr. Hertz at last, at an after-
noon meeting of the League of Nations at my hotel, and
was introduced to a number of League enthusiasts, notably



292 BERLIN AND VIENNA

Mi's. Philip Snowden, a pleasant, capable woman, who
eulogised my War Diary, and is a fine speaker ; Miss Mar-
shall, who spoke capitally ; Herr Dernburg, the well-
known German Reichstag member, and his boy who is
studying philosophy at Berne ; Mme. Griinberger, wife of
the Food Minister here ; Mme. Hertz, Dr. Raditch, whom
I missed when I was here before, and various others.
Hertz came up to my rooms first and we had a little quiet
talk. He approves of Schober, like others, but fancies that
there may be an election in the autumn, and that after-
wards the two strong parties may combine. He thinks that
things continue to improve here, and although he admits
the importance of the half -promised credits, he rates even
higher the importance of clearing the decks of all the
lumber of the Peace Treaties, and of giving Austria a tabula
more or less rasa to work upon. It is the uncertainty of
the future that hurts Austria most, and he says that foreign
bankers would put down all the money needed if the
situation were cleared up for good and all, and there were
no more talk of making Austria pay reparation if she
recovered twenty years hence. He says that the Austrian
banks are doing a vast business, and that hundreds of new
banks have been started, but that it is largely fictitious
business, and produces nothing, for the profits made come
out of the people's incomes and help to paralyse European
trade. We talked the whole situation over.

Dernburg is not a very attractive personage. His chief
contribution to our brief talk was that Germany could pay
in gold marks, but that the conversion of 132 milliards into
another currency was impracticable. America had jibbed
at the last conversion into dollars, and the City of London
would do the same if the conversion into sterling were
attempted.

During my meal before leaving Vienna, Dr. Hertz came
up again and we had some talk. I told him that all this
part of Europe would never get on until some form of free
trade were adopted, as all these little States were ruining
themselves and each other by their tariffs. Hertz did not



AUSTRIAN INTELLIGENCE 293

dissent, but thought that the whole trend at present was
for States to impose higher duties to prevent Germany
from swamping their markets with her goods. Even
countries like Spain, Switzerland, and Holland were joining
in the movement. This made exclusive action by a more
or less dependent State like Austria very difficult. He
thought Austria had become a sort of colony among the
Succession States. But whereas England would not cut
off supplies from Jamaica as a reprisal, this was practically
done to Austria by her former Provinces .

Hertz told me a curious story of the war which had just
come out from an examination of the Austrian archives,
and it was as much news to him as it was to me. It
was a well-known fact how well informed Austria had been
during the war, and the reason had only now appeared. It
seems that the Italian Ambassador at Petrograd, being
unable to advise his Government by the telegraph, was
given the use of the Russian Wireless every day and sent
detailed reports of everything that was happening, including
strengths and disposition of Allied troops. He sent them,
of course, in cipher. But when Italy entered the war
she had published a Red Book to defend her action. Owing
to inexcusable oversight the telegrams published were
not paraphrased, but were word for word as sent. The
Austrians had kept the tapes with the Italian cipher
messages, and the Red Book enabled them to discover the
Italian cipher. So all through the war while the Russian
Wireless was utilisable, the Austrians read everything that
came over it and obtained great credit for wonderful
intelligence. Hertz thought that the successes of the
German command assumed a different aspect in the light
of this exposure, particularly the success against Serbia,
during which the strength and positions of all the Serbian
forces became exactly known. Occasionally the informa-
tion was wrong, as when the presence of a turning column
round a German flank was inaccurately reported. The
German General stopped his attack and threw back a
wing to meet the column which was non-existent, and so



294 BERLIN AND VIENNA

failed to win a big success. One will need confirmation of
this story from the Italian side, especially information
concerning the Red Book messages, and an explanation
whether the same cipher was used all through the war or
not. It might have been so used owing to the time and
uncertainty connected with the despatch of a fresh cipher
to Russia, but the story, if true, is a fresh warning of the
double-edged character of wireless in war, and shows
clearly what precautions are required.

Left 11.45P.M.

In the train to Bucharest, Tuesday, July 12, 1921.
Meditating over Austrian matters, including various data
collected yesterday for reading en route. The contradiction,
which I remarked in April, between the almost bankruptcy
of the Austrian State and the growth of private profits has
become still more glaring after the lapse of three months,
and the publication of more statistics of trade, customs,
bank profits, etc. Both exports and imports have gone
up, but coal accounts, in weight, for two-thirds of all
imports in 1920, and foods for a large part more. Czecho-
slovakia and Germany remain Austria's best clients,
delivering forty -five per cent, of Austria's imports between
them. England sends goods of only 144,600 cwt., and
takes only 50,000 cwt., while America, under harder con-
ditions of distance, sent 2,900,000 cwt. With all the
great activities of Austrian business, it is not satisfactory
that we are left in the lurch like this. I think that Austria
is moving more rapidly on the Bends lines than other
States round. Austrian customs officials may now grant
licences for imports of large classes of goods without special
application, and I am much struck by the opinion of the
Special Commission of the iron industry, in which agriculture
and labour took part, that Austria's industry being
dependent on exports, a protectionist customs policy did
not suit her. This may have been in the Bundeskanzler's
mind when he spoke to me.

However, the horrible fact remains, and is confirmed by
the Budget for the second half of 1921, that the revenue



AUSTRIAN FINANCE 295

is 24.1 milliards of Austrian crowns and the expenditure
49.5 milliards, or a deficit of 25.4 milliards. Only a third
of the expenditure is met out of revenue. As before, the
main causes of the deficit are the food subsidies, 10.3
milliards, the service of the debt, loss on railways, and the
necessarily increased salaries of officials who can barely
live now, as they are paid but half the wages of skilled
workmen. The bed-rock fact remains that Versailles
created a State and deprived it of the means of existence.
Whether the mistake was due to malice or ignorance is no
matter now.

Will the plan of the Finance Committee of the League
of Nations secure acceptance by the Powers and will it be
effective ? I do not feel sure. There has been no sugges-
tion yet how to end the Budget deficit, though Austria has
done much by raising her revenue sixty -three per cent,
above the previous half-year, and by doubling receipts from
income tax. Customs duties have also been doubled. The
Committee fusses about the currency reform, but it is the
Budget deficits and the stopping of the printing-press that
should be taken hi hand first through foreign credits and
internal loans combined. Currency reform is necessary,
but all the world must share in it.

If relief action is not applied here, all the rest is financial
dilettantism. The Committee puts the cart before the
horse. Sir W. Goode was wiser and more practical. The
crown has steadily lost ground from the moment that the
League of Nations' plan came out. It is also indefinite as
to time and amounts of help from outside, and to ask for
control of Austrian finances while the Committee seems
prepared to do little to help is rather absurd.

However, Austria continues to hope, and her private
business continues to develop. There is great activity.
Everybody is busy doing or trying to do something. The
bank profits are large, and branches are being started
everywhere in the Provinces. Styria promises well in coal
and mineral oil at workable depths. Many companies pay
good dividends. New ventures are constantly being under-



296 BERLIN AND VIENNA

taken. The hotels give us a hot bath every day in the week
except Sundays, and white bread has returned at last,
though not yet for the ration bread. Vienna holds her
own. Her grandeur and her charms are enhanced by the
fact that she is so adaptable, that she is the gateway of the
East, that her railway network is first-rate, and that her
great banking competence attracts clients from all sides.
Vienna is genial and broad-minded in pleasure as in busi-
ness, and I do not think that any of these self-isolating,
ultra-nationalist States around can take her crown of use-
fulness from her.



CHAPTER XI
NEW ROUMANIA

Country and crops A first talk with M. Take Jonescu Summer
nights in Bucharest Mr. Millington Drake Mr. Peter A. Jay and
Colonel Poillon, U.S.A. People to see An audience with the King of
Roumania A talk on current affairs The question of Transylvania
MM. Jacovaky and Grigori Jon Complaints of Bulgaria Bucharest
architecture The butterflies Roumanian statistics M. Filaleki on
Russia The opposition on strike Views of M. Nedkov, the Bulgarian
Minister Answers to Roumanian charges A conversation with the
Prime Minister, General Avarescu His account of 1916 His views on
the Straits A talk with M. Goga Religions in Transylvania Rou-
manian resources Wheat, maize, and timber Foreign capital
Industrial concerns Railways Foreign trade Banks Public
finance Public debt A talk with General Nikoleano on the Police
Mme. Lahovary on the agrarian reforms A talk with the Minister of
Communications A talk with the General Staff General Gorski and
Colonel Palada The strength and distribution of the Soviet armies
More complaints of Bulgaria A conversation with the War Minister,
General Rascano Roumanian Army organisation M. Garoflid,
Minister of Domains, on the agrarian laws Colonel Duncan Consul
Keyser Mr. Guest on the oil industry A dinner at the Take Jonescus
The Foreign Minister on Roumanian policy Mr. Alexander Adams
The Decree Laws An investigation at the Roumanian Foreign
Office The complaints about Bulgaria The oil industry Statistics
and observations Trammels of the industry The export tax
Astra-Romana and Steaua-Romana Mr. Charles Spencer on the
future of our trade By motor to the Danube.

Bucharest, Wednesday, July 13, 1921. A piping hot journey
yesterday, more like India than Europe. The Magyar cus-
toms subordinates at Vienna were perfect boors, threw and
tumbled things about and made themselves as unpleasant
as they could. Reached Budapest about 8 A.M. and the
Roumanian frontier at Curtici at 3.30 P.M.

The corn is mostly cut. As we travelled east the ricks
were already made. Nearly all the reaping by hand. I did

297



298 NEW ROUMANIA

not notice a single modern agricultural machine ; neither
reaper and binder, nor anything else. There must be a big
opening for these things in Eastern Europe. In general,
the cultivation is in strips and patches, denoting a peasant
proprietorship and a division of the land. Am not sure that
this will help wheat export.

We reached the valley of the Maros they pronounce
it Muroche soon after passing Arad. A broad valley,
highly cultivated, bordered by hills and woods, with a
winding river as broad as the Thames at Maidenhead.
Through the night into Transylvania and climbed the Alps
about dawn by the Predil Pass. Very beautiful, both
gaunt and wooded peaks, with masses of wild flowers in the
clearings and valleys, the houses built chalet fashion, of
wood with balconies for each floor. The streams were
fairly full and there must have been recent rain.

We passed fashionable Sinaia about nine and reached
Bucharest at noon. Bering is away, but Millington Drake,
the First Secretary, sent his car for me and recommended a
lodging which I found miles better than the hotel, and so put
up there. We passed to-day through the Ploesti oil area, where
there was much activity both at the wells and the refineries.

I went to the Legation to thank Millington Drake for his
kindness and afterwards had a talk with M. Take Jonescu,
the famous Foreign Minister, at his house. I have come
here at an interesting moment, for to-day the Treaty with
Jugo-Slavia is published and it has the definite and ex-
pressed aim of keeping Hungary and Bulgaria quiet. T. J.
made a long speech on it and on other foreign affairs on
Saturday last. I hastily scanned both before seeing T. J.
Our talk covered the Treaty, the complaints of the Tran-
sylvanian Magyars, Austria, the intrigues of Stamboulisky,



Online LibraryCharles à Court RepingtonAfter the war; London--Paris--Rome--Athens--Prague--Vienna--Budapest--Bucharest--Berlin--Sofia--Coblenz--New York--Washington; a diary → online text (page 26 of 43)