J. M. de Beaufort.

Behind the German veil; a record of a journalistic war pilgrimage online

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The Author





(Count van MAURIK de BEAUFORT)

Recently War Correspondent of the
London Daily Telegraph




Copyright 191 7

First edition printed May 4 ;9i7
Second edition printed Tune 16 1917
Third edition printed August 15 1917
Fourth edition printed September 23 1917
Fifth edition printed November 7 1917
Sixth edition printed January 30, 1918
Seventh edition printed February 22, 1918
Eighth edition printed May 31, 1918


(Helen F. R.)
the girl of my dreams come true


M. L. T.
best of friends







American friends tried and true, who

have helped me through many dark

hours and who taught me how

to become a good American



I am greatly indebted to Dr. G. W. Prothero, Editor of
the Quarterly Review, for his kind permission to republish
the articles on the German Navy, Helgoland, Kiel, the Ger-
man Coast Defences and the Maps, which appeared in the
July and October, 1916, numbers of his publication.

My acknowledgment and thanks are also due to the Lon-
don Daily Telegraph in which parts of Chapters VII., X.,
XLI., XLV., XLVII. and LIII. have been published, and
to the London Sunday Pictorial for permission to reprint
Chapters XXII. and XXVI. (Hindenburg and the Kaiser).

J. M. DE B.






I. The Veil akd the Methods 3

II. My " Point d'Appui " — Rome 14

III. "The Adder" 19

IV. German Mind and Character 22

V. German Psychology 27

VI. The Press in Germany 31

VII. Berlin Impressions 4o

VIII. Berlin Impressions {continued) 51

IX. Munich 65

X. Zeppelins '''2

XI. Spies and Spying — I 82

XII. Spies and Spying — II 88

XIII. Spies AND Spying — III 96

XIA"'. A German Fable 100

XV. German Women 105

XVI. Hunting with the Camera 115

XVII. "Spiritual Humour" (German Variety) . . 120



XVIII. Preliminaries 129

XIX. Berlin — Allenstein. Meeting with Young
von Bethmann-Hollweg — Arrest in the

Fortress of Posen ... in Pyjamas . . . 134

XX. Allenstein 146

XXI. Allenstein — Feste Bqyen (Lotzen) . . . 156





XXIV. En Roitte 183

XXV. Impressions in the Polish Fighting Zones . . 193

XXVI. When I Prayed with the Kaiser 208


XXVIII. Railroads 222

XXIX. Retrospect 225



XXX. The German Admiralty 235

XXXI. Germany's Coast Defences 239

XXXII. Heligoland 249

XXXIII. Protection of the Kiel Canal 255

XXXIV. From Emden to Wilhelmshaven 259

XXXV. Wilhelmshaven 269

XXXVI. Wilhelmshaven to Cuxhaven 273

XXXVII. Cuxhaven to Kiel. The Canal . . . . .280

XXXVIII. Kiel Harbour 290

XXXIX. Training and Strategy 298



Introductions 30<

XL. Arthur von Gwinner 309

XLI. Dr. Walther Rathenau 320

XLII. Ambassador Count von Bernstouff .... 328
XLIII. Matthias Erzberger — Press Manipulator and

Advertising Expert 332

XLIV. Secretary of the Late German Colonies, " Ex-
cellenz Dr. Solf," and His A,D.C., Dr.


XLV^ Sassenbach — Social Democrat 346

XLVI. Minister of the Interior — Helffebich . . . 352










Admiral von Capelle and " Captain Lieuten-
ant " LOHLEIN 353

Phess-Major Hehwarth von Bitterfeld of the
Great General Staff Settles the Problem
OF Universal Peace 356

Herr Crass, Krupp's Representative in Berlin . 360
Herr Ballin's A.D.C, Herr von Holtzendorff . 365
The German-Turkish Alliance and Its Am-
bitions 368

On " Strafing " and Those Who Don't . . . 387
The Fateful Interview with Baron Macchio,

Late Austro-Hungarian Asibassador in Rome 392
Another " Daily Telegraph " Interview that
Upset Berlin. Trouble — Arrest — Escape . 396





The Author Frontispiece


The Magic Key. My letter of Introduction to Hindenburg
written by his nephew. The address reads: To the Royal
Field-Marshal, Knight of the Highest Order, Herr von
Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg 16

Conscription in England. John Bull learning the goose step . 28

No Admission to Potsdam 66

Zeppelin over London. The End of England's Sea-Power.
Lord Nelson descending from his Column to hide in the
Underground Railway 74

Englishman in Hell. "No Zeppelins, no Krupp Howitzers;

no Submarines! Why, I must be in Heaven!" . . . 122

Lieutenant von Bethmann-HoUweg, who has since been killed,
on the right, and the Author. Photograph was taken at
Allenstein Station 150

The Author's car at Fortress Boyen (Lotzen), Hindenburg's

headquarters. Note the Chauffeur's rifle near lamp . . 188

A snapshot of the Kaiser taken by Prince Oscar. It was sent
to a photographer in a small town to have film developed.
The man printed a few copies for his own use, and sent
one to an agency in Berlin. The Berlin firm sold the
photograph, but the moment it appeared the greater part
of the magazine in which it was published was confiscated 212

Hindenburg and his Staff. Ludendorff appropriately placed

on Hindenburg's right 216

Auto Train, Eastern Front 222

Commander's bridge (starboard side) of the Helgoland . . 282

Recently completed railroad bridge over the Kiel Canal near
'Rendsburg 288

One of the largest Zeppelins leaving its shed at Marienthal,

near Berlin. Note size of men on top 312

A model Krupp gun, small type of the 42 cm. howitzer. This

model is in the author's possession 312



The Famous Krupp Armament Works at Essen. 6000 ton

Press 362

German Prisoners in England. How the press keeps the fires

of "strafing" England burning 388

Germany's Coast Defences along the North Sea .... 238

Heligoland 248

Wilhelmshaven 268

Kiel Harbour 294


In the following chapters I have tried to record my
impressions, observations, interviews and adventures on
a somewhat extensive journalistic pilgrimage through
Germany in war-time.

Before embarking on my descriptions, I am going to
permit myself what Parliamentarians call a " personal
note," which will show you that my acquaintance with
Germany and the Germans is not of the " war-made "

Since I am convinced that but for my American
journalistic training, I would never have been able to
accomplish many of my journalistic enterprises, I take
this occasion to acknowledge with a deep sense of ap-
preciation and gratitude, my three years' apprentice-
ship in America. They taught me many things ; they
revealed to me an entirely new aspect of life. I learned
the real meaning of the terms " Hustle," " Get busy "
and " Stick to it." I learned there that there are
many other battlefields where spurs and honours may
be won than those of war and murder. I look back
with interest and pleasure to many friendly (and some-
times unfriendly but always spirited) contests with col-
leagues, in trying to obtain the best " story " for one's
own paper or even to score a " beat."

The outbreak of the war found me in America.
Much as I disliked and against the advice of many
friends, I gave up my work there. Europe called.
Blood will tell. I soon found myself getting restless.


My sympathies with the Allies, more spe'cifically the
British cause, urged that I had no right to lag behind
in making sacrifices.

So in September, 1914, I bid " Au revoir " to Amer-
ica and since then and thanks to that belated American
Education, I have been able to do " my bit," as we say
over there, in various capacities.

While my British confreres were still camping on
the doormat of the War Office, waiting for those elu-
sive permits (for many of them it was a case of " Wait
and See," without the " see "), I was fortunate enough
to reach the front at Ostende, Nieuport, Dixmude,
Ypres and soon found myself in the thick of it. Oh,
yes, I was arrested more than once, but I had not
served my apprenticeship in American newspaperdom,
without benefit. I could talk a " straight streak " in
just the language the other fellow did not know — when
necessary, and though I often skated on mighty tliin
ice I usually managed to keep out of jail.

I have had the rare privilege of reading my own obit-
uary and even afforded a colleague the somewhat
unique experience of shaking hands with a man whose
" In Memoriam " he had written in one solid column.
As your Mark Twain put it, " the report was some-
what exaggerated." (Not the first time either!)
Though I had a close call, I escaped, and — as you
shall see — I am still " in the ring."

By birth and parentage I am a Hollander, but the
" de Beaufort " part of my name comes from a grand-
uncle who was a native of the Grand Duchy of Luxem-
bourg. Since 1914 my better half, or I should say my
best half, has been American. Let me hasten to ex-
plain this. Before starting for the theatre of war I
applied, at the advice of a friend, for my first American
citizenship papers. I hope to obtain my final papers


shortly, after which I shall place my services at the
disposal of the American Government.

My father belonged to that type of stubborn parent
who thinks he knows what is best for a boy of fifteen.
He had very pronounced views, like some other people,
on the German educational system (so have I, for that
matter, but they are somewhat different). He thought
that I should benefit by a few years of German school
and college. And, in spite of stormy and liquid pro-
tests, to Germany I went.

From an English tutor to a German schoolmaster!
It did not take me many days after my arrival in Ger-
many to find out the abysmal difference that separates
the two, and to suffer accordingl3%

Talk about the two educational systems — Ye gods !
If there is any one who ought to be able to discourse on
them, I think I am the man.

Being at the time — not now — an embryo large
landowner, I was first sent to the Agricultural College
at Cleve in the Rhine province. My " tenderest "
recollections of that institution are connected with the
gymnasium and a three-foot bamboo rod.

Already then I showed literary tendencies, but, alas !
they were neither appreciated nor encouraged. My
first effort was to try and censor one of their patriotic
poems. Imagine a self-respecting Hollander having to
stand up in front of the class and recite five verses, each
ending with : " I am a Prussian, and a Prussian I will

Once a term or so they hold in Germany what is called
" Offentliche Priifung " ; in other words, a " public ex-
amination." The parents are invited, and those whose
offspring are " show specimens " bring their friends
(mine did not). The boys wear their best clothes,
and, of course, only the smartest amongst them perform.


I suppose just to show that there was no ill-feeling
on his part, the Headmaster, Herr Fiirstenbcrg — I
can still see him with his mean grey eyes, looking at
me over the rim of his glasses and getting a firm hold
on the rod — appointed me to recite the obnoxious
poem. Amid dead silence I started. When I came
to the end of the verse in which I had eulogised the
" old father Rhine," I yelled :

" And I am a Dutchman, and a Dutchman I will be."

It is a few years ago, but I can still see the startled
audience and the awful pallor of old Fiirstenbcrg. An
anarchist's bomb could not have had a greater effect.
Then some of the people tried to smile it away, but the
smile was somewhat sickly. I was promptly torn from
the stand ; somebody tried to turn my ear upside-down,
to which I retaliated with a well-directed kick, and then,
— well, never mind. There was a vacancy at the
Agricultural College.

Cleve was very uncosmopolitan. My fellow-students
consisted mostly of the sons of large landowners and
gentlemen farmers, and they resented, not always
merely passively, the intrusion of a " Verdammte
Ausliindcr " (" damned foreigner ") in their Germanic
midst. But there was, as there is in most things in
life, a price. If you were willing to demonstrate practi-
cal socialism — i.e., share 3^our money, your sweets, your
pony, your bicycle, or whatever it might be — you were,
for such time as your possessions lasted, a " Lieber
Kerl " ("dear chap"). Unfortunately I soon dis-
covered that the particular socialistic principle pro-
pounded by my fellow-students — ^ i.e., of sharing all
you had — was a somewhat one-sided law, as / did all
the sharing, and they all the partaking, without prac-
tising the same doctrines as far as their own possessions


were concerned. So I resigned. This did not increase
my popularity. I had as many fights as any self-re-
specting boy of fifteen could have in the Fatherland,
and that, let me assure you, was sujQBcient to keep me in

But there is one incident which will best illustrate the
" camaraderie " that exists amongst German " sport-
ing " schoolboys. There is a saying, that the boy is
father to the man. I understand its meaning now.
Boxing is a lost art in Germany ; it was in my days and
is so still. Wrestling is their forte. Quite natural,
too. The German is heavy in mind as well as in body.
Wrestling does not require as quick an eye as boxing.
Thanks to the very good lessons of my old English
tutor, God bless him, who, between trying to teach me
to pronounce " th " and the English " r," had initiated
me into the secrets of boxing, I emerged victorious
from many scraps.

It was the day after one of those periodical fights in
which two boys of the " secunda " (I was only " ter-
tia"), had received many marks but few honours, that
I met my two opponents in the Park accompanied by
four of their friends. Of course I was waylaid, and the
usual schoolboy argument, " I can lick you," " No, you
can't," ensued. I owned in those days an English
bulldog. He looked very fierce, always wore the " By-
Jingo-if-I-do " sort of expression, and was never im-
pressed by German flattery either from man or beast.
(Old Bob knew a lot, if only he could have talked ! But
perhaps it was just as well he couldn't. He probably
would say now : " I told you so." But " revenons a
nos moutons.")

" Boxing," so I was informed, was not a gentlemanly
way of fighting. Only English navvies fought with


their fists. But wrestling, and wrestling according to
the approved Konian or Grecian rules, now that was a
different matter ; that was " fair and square " !

I told them that I was innocent of any knowledge
of the Roman-Greco wrestling rules, but I offered to
thrash my two opponents of yesterday once again
where they stood, and I hoped that the proportion of
two to one in their favour would make up for my ig-
norance and perhaps consequent transgression of those

Here is where German diplomacy got the best of me.

" Assisted by dog and stick ? " they sneeringly in-
quired. I was very young and inexperienced in Ger-
man methods in those days, so I was deeply insulted
and most indignant at their daring to suggest such a
cowardly thing. " I don't need anything else but my
two fists," I yelled, " to lick two German pigs like you."
And to prove my assertion, I turned aside to where a
little kind-faced, gre^'-bcardcd old German stood, and,
with a polite bow, I begged him to be kind enough to
hold my dog and stick for a few moments. He very
kindly condescended to accept the charge, but thought
it safer to take old Bob away from the scene of the
forthcoming battle. He was a wise old German,

" Divide and win " was already in those days the
motto of these young warriors. " Fair and square? "
Why, even then they were mere words, mere " scraps of

I will not go into painful details of that engagement ;
suffice it to say that I received the worst beating I ever
had, or ever heard tell of. The moment my faithful
friend and ally had disappeared from view, all SIX of
them attacked me. Not only the " scenery of my
face " — as, in my early English-speaking days I used
to say instead of " expression," — but the contour as


well suffered a thorough change. It was many weeks
before it returned to its normal proportions and col-
ours. There was no doubt about it ; this time / bore
the marks, but had tJiey the honours? German-like, of
course they thought so, but I differed from them, and
. . , remembered.

From Cleve I went to Bonn, which was comparatively
uneventful, as, of course, I gradually began to grasp
the German point of view. My earlier impressions were
the most pregnant and vivid.

Often during the last two years they have come back
to me and that is probably the reason why I have not
been able to share the feelings of surprise my English
friends experience when reading the reports of the
German way of fighting. Never, until this war, did I
really fully appreciate the advantage those three years
in Germany conferred on me.

I apologise to my father. He was right — Germany
taught me many things ; but, best of all,
" I learned about ' Germans ' from her."

J. M. DE B.

New York,
April, 1917.



Behind the German Veil



"rriHERE is no German Veil; we have nothing to
JL hide." Thus Major Deutelmoser, Chief of the
Press Department of the General Staff in Berlin, coun-
tered when I jestingly remarked that I had come to
Germany, " to have a peep behind the veil." How
many a true word is spoken in jest !

I received practically the same reply everywhere
whenever I suggested the veil or " behind the scenes."

" We have nothing to hide," thundered Major Her-
warth von Bitterfeld, of the Intelligence Service.
*' The German Veil is only another of the many inven-
tions of our enemies, chiefly the English. You can see
everything in Germany ; go anywhere, everything is
open and above board,"

" The German Veil is a myth," said Baron Mumm
von Schwarzenstein, of the Foreign Office ; " it is as
great a myth as the British Fleet in the German Ocean.^
It does not exist. It is an illusion."

There you are, dear reader, three opinions thrown at
me — nay, I feel inclined to say, jammed down my
throat — many times a day during the months I spent
in Germany.

The ideas that existed in England about Germany
during the early months of the war were simply ap^

1 German for North Sea.


palling. Many opinions expressed hy the majority of
people were preposterous.

And when I say " people," I do not mean that vague
individual, " the man in the street," but your educated,
well-read and even well-travelled classes; soldiers, par-
liamentarians, writers (famous strategists!), etc., etc.
To read some of your papers, to listen to some of your
people, one would have thought that the Russians were
going to march through the Brandenburger Thor of
Berlin by Christmas, 1914, and that the Belgians would
celebrate New Year's Eve in their beloved Brussels.
The Kaiser was to be deposed, and Prussia was going to
receive a really liberal constitution. Germany could
not stand the financial strain. The military corre-
spondent of one of your most important papers wrote
in August, 1914 : " German financial experts have sug-
gested ways and means for financing a war lasting six
months, but no longer, on the present enormous scale " !
A well-known Member of Parliament told me in Janu-
ary, 1915, that Germany would sue for peace in three
months ; a military writer — a colonel — wrote that the
last German offensive would take place in September,
1915, and that in the following October the Allied line
would run from Ostend, through Maubeuge, Ardennes,
Luxembourg, Metz, Strassburg! Germany would soon
be short of everything — bread, copper, cotton, rubber,
petrol — and, if you read some of the statistics given by
your " experts " on German man-power, the German
trenches ought to have been manned for the last six
months by idiots and cripples.

Even to-day, after twenty-eight months of war, there
are still many people in this country who have not the
faintest understanding about the German character,
the German aims, their cunning and their designs.


Here and there I hear whispers about peace ; I am asked
whether the present peace-talk may lead to anything.

I hope to God it will !

I hope it will lead to a doubled — nay, to a hundred-
fold — renewed effort of smashing the Germans' war-
machine. I should like to see the Germans — in the
famous words of Bismarck when he referred to the
French — " left with nothing but their ej'es to weep
with." Alas ! that will prove too expensive an order,
but they must be beaten, and they can be beaten only
by the memory of those that have sacrificed their lives ;
disabuse yourself of the illusion that it is done already.

Germany is far from beaten yet.

" But they want peace," I have been told so often
these last weeks. Perhaps they do ; again, perhaps
they don't ! The Germans are no fools, whatever else
they may be, and they are perfectly well aware that
the Allies would not, and could not, accept any terms
which Germany at present, with both eyes on the map,
would propose. I do not believe that there is any peace
door " ajar " yet. I think that entrance or exit, what-
ever you choose to call it, is still barred and locked, and
that the deceptive " latchstring " hanging outside is
connected with a mine. The Germans are merely look-
ing out of the window — the top-floor one — and I
think that whosoever would venture close to that " peace
door " would have a somewhat similar experience as
some of our men had early in the war, when they rushed
towards " surrendering " Germans, showing the white
flag and standing with their hands up.

I fear that there is a great deal more than barbed
wire and machine-guns behind that German " peace

It may not be so evident to those who only look as
far as . . . the door ; but let me quote part of a con-


versation I had with one of Hindenburg's staff-officers
at Allenstein, East Prussia, last year; it may enlarge
their view. Said he :

" We never thought we could do it. We never ex-
pected that we should be called upon to fight so many
enemies at the same time. We were not prepared for
that. We were short of ammunition in November,
1914. But if we are able to accomplish all we have up
till now, UN prepared, then ' Himmel ' " (by heaven!),
" give us a draw now and see what we can do ten years

Yes, perhaps Germany wants peace now, but only
because she wants to have foundations left upon which
to build a new organisation, a new stupendous war-
machine, which in ten years from now would dwarf
anything the world has yet seen, heard or imagined.

That is what I should answer to those who are think-
ing of peace now.

Since the beginning of the war I have had arguments,
discussions, remonstrations, and even to a certain extent
quarrels, with many friends and acquaintances, some-
times even at the risk of being suspected of pro-German
sympathies. Of course, before my recent German visit
my arguments were weakened by the fact that I had
not been in Germany for six or seven years, and there-
fore could not speak from fresh personal observation.

• So, when after several months at the Belgian front
and in France, the London Daily Telegraph, in con-
junction with several American publications, offered
me a special journalistic mission, viz., to go to Ger-
many, I accepted with alacrity.

I thought that by going to Germany as a journalist,
by looking round, and seeing what the general feeling
of the people was; their mental attitude towards the


war, the condition of the country generally, etc., etc.,
and by telling the people of the allied countries on my
return what I had seen, I would be doing my share.

Online LibraryJ. M. de BeaufortBehind the German veil; a record of a journalistic war pilgrimage → online text (page 1 of 27)