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James W. (James Watson) Gerard.

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SAFE CONDUCT FOR AMBASSADOR CKRARD AXD HIS FAMILY, VNDER THE SIGXATURE OF
SECRF.T^'^V Z'NrMKRMAN, FKBRUARY 5, I917



PUBLISHER'S NOTE

nPHIS special edition of MY FOUR
YEARS IN GERMANY is printed
from a new set of plates, necessitating a
renumbering of the pages of the book,
although it is complete and unabridged
and contains in every respect the same
reading matter and illustrations as the
original edition.



MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY
JAMES W. GERARD




AMBASSADOR GERARD SAYING GOOD-BYE TO THE AMERICANS LEAVING
ON A SPECIAL TRAIN. AUGUST, I914



MY FOUR YEARS
IN GERMANY

BY

JAMES W. GERARD

Late Ambassador to the German Imperial Court



ILLUSTRATED WITH

NUMEROUS PHOTOGRAPHIC

REPRODUCTIONS OF SCENES

AND DOCUMENTS






NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1917,
By George H. Doran Company



Copyright, 1917, by the Public Ledger Compomy
Printed in the United States of America






TO MY SMALL BUT TACTFTTL FAMILY OF ONE

MY WIFE









FOREWORD

I AM writing what should have been the last chapter
of this book as a foreword because I want to bring
home to our people the gravity of the situation; because
I want to tell them that the military and naval power
of the German Empire is unbroken; that of the twelve
million men whom the Kaiser has called to the colours
but one million, five hundred thousand have been killed,
five hundred thousand permanently disabled, not more
than five hundred thousand are prisoners of war, and
about five hundred thousand constitute the number of
wounded or those on the sick list of each day, leaving
at all times about nine million effectives under arms.

I state these figures because Americans do not grasp
either the magnitude or the importance of this war.
Perhaps the statement that over five million prisoners
of war are held in the various countries will bring home
to Americans the enormous mass of men engaged.

There have been no great losses in the German navy,
and any losses of ships have been compensated for by
the building of new ones. The nine million men, and
more, for at least four hundred thousand come of mili-
tary age in Germany every year, because of their experi-
ence in two and a half years of war are better and more
efficient soldiers than at the time when they were called
to the colours. Their officers know far more of the



viii FOREWORD

science of this war and the men themselves now have
the skill and bearing of veterans.

Nor should any one believe that Germany will break
under starvation or make peace because of revolution.

The German nation is not one which makes revolu-
tions. There will be scattered riots in Germany, but no
simultaneous rising of the whole people. The officers
of the army are all of one class, and of a class devoted
to the ideals of autocracy. A revolution of the army
is impossible; and at home there are only the boys and
old men easily kept in subjection by the police.

There is far greater danger of the starvation of our
Allies than of the starvation of the Germans. Every
available inch of ground in Germany is cultivated, and
cultivated by the aid of the old men, the boys and the
women, and the two million prisoners of war.

The arable lands of Northern France and of Roumania
are being cultivated by the German army with an efficiency
never before known in these countries, and most of that
food will be added to the food supplies of Germany.
Certainly the people suffer; but still more certainly this
war will not be ended because of the starvation of Ger-
many.

Although thinking Germans know that if they do not
win the war the financial day of reckoning will come,
nevertheless, owing to the clever financial handling of
the country by the government and the great banks, there
is at present no financial distress in Germany; and the
knowledge that, unless indemnities are obtained from
other countries, the weight of the great war debt will
fall upon the people, perhaps makes them readier to



FOREWORD Ix

risk all in a final attempt to win the war and impose in-
demnities upon not only the nations of Europe but also
upon the United States of America.

We are engaged in a war against the greatest military
power the world has ever seen; against a people whose
country was for so many centuries a theatre of devasta-
ting wars that fear is bred in the very marrow of their
souls, making them ready to submit their lives and for-
tunes to an autocracy which for centuries has ground
their faces, but which has promised them, as a result of
the war, not only security but riches untold and the do-
minion of the world; a people which, as from a high
mountain, has looked upon the cities of the world and
the glories of them, and has been promised these cities
and these glories by the devils of autocracy and of war.

We are warring against a nation whose poets and pro-
fessors, whose pedagogues and whose parsons have united
in stirring its people to a white pitch of hatred, first
against Russia, then against England and now against
America.

The U-Boat peril is a very real one for England.
Russia may either break up into civil wars or become so
ineffective that the millions of German troops engaged
on the Russian front may be withdrawn and hurled
against the Western lines. We stand in great peril, and
only the exercise of ruthless realism can win this war for
us. If Germany wins this war it means the triumph of
the autocratic system. It means the triumph of
those who believe not only in war as a national industry,
not only in war for itself but also in war as a high and
noble occupation. Unless Germany is beaten the whole



X FOREWORD

world will be compelled to turn itself into an armed camp,
until the German autocracy either brings every nation
under its dominion or is forever wiped out as a form of
government.

We are in this war because we were forced into it:
because Germany not only murdered our citizens on the
high seas, but also filled our country with spies and
sought to incite our people to civil war. We were given
no opportunity to discuss or negotiate. The forty-eight
hour ultimatum given by Austria to Serbia was not, as
Bernard Shaw said, "A decent time in which to ask a
man to pay his hotel bill." What of the six-hour ultima-
tum given to me in Berlin on the evening of January
thirty-first, 19 17, when I was notified at six that ruthless
warfare would commence at twelve? Why the German
government, which up to that moment had professed
amity and a desire to stand by the Sussex pledges, knew
that it took almost two days to send a cable to America I
I believe that we are not only justly in this war, but
prudently in this war. If we had stayed out and the
war had been drawn or won by Germany we should have
been attacked, and that while Europe stood grinning by :
not directly at first, but through an attack on some Cen-
tral or South American State to which it would be at least
as difficult for us to send troops as for Germany. And
what if this powerful nation, vowed to war, were once
firmly established in South or Central America? What
of our boasted isolation then?

It is only because I believe that our people should be
informed that I have consented to write this book. There
are too many thinkers, writers and speakers in the United



FOREWORD xi

States; from now on we need the doers, the organisers,
and the realists who alone can win this contest for us, for
democracy and for permanent peace!

Writing of events so new, I am, of course, compelled
to exercise a great discretion, to keep silent on many-
things of which I would speak, to suspend many judg-
ments and to hold for future disclosure many things, the
relation of which now would perhaps only serve to in-
crease bitterness or to cause internal dissension in our
own land.

The American who travels through Germany In sum-
mer time or who spends a month having his liver tickled
at Homburg or Carlsbad, who has his digestion restored
by Dr. Dapper at Kissingen or who relearns the lost art
of eating meat at Dr. Dengler's in Baden, learns little
of the real Germany and its rules; and in this book I
tell something of the real Germany, not only that my
readers may understand the events of the last three years
but also that they may judge of what is likely to happen
in our future relations with that country.



CONTENTS

PAGE

Foreword vii

CHAPTER

I My First Year in Gkrmany 19

II Political and Geographical 35

III Diplomatic Work of F'irst Winter in Berlin 47

IV Militarism IN Germany AND THE Zabern Affair 59

V Psychology and Causes Which Prepared the

Nation for War 71

VI At Kiel Just Before the War 80

VII The System 85

VIII The Days Before the War 98

IX The Americans at the Outbreak of Hos-
tilities 108

X Prisoners OF War 117

XI First Days of the War: Political and Diplo-
matic 147

XII Diplomatic Negotiations iCo

XIII Mainly Commercial 191

XIV Work for the Germans 208

XV War Charities 212

xiii



xiv CONTENTS

CHAPTER PA^

XVI Hate 222

XVII Diplomatic Negotiations. (Continued) . .235

XVIII Liberals and Reasonable Men 279

XIX The German People in War 289

XX Last 307



ILLUSTRATIONS

Ambassador Gerard Saying Good-Bye to
THE Americans Leaving on a Special
Train, August, 1914 . . Frontispiece

PAGB

Ambassador Gerard on His Way to Pre-
sent His Letters of Credence to the

Emperor 24

The House Rented for Use as Embassy . 24

A Salon in the Embassy 25

The Ball-Room of the Embassy ... 25

Programme of the Music after Dinner
AT the Royal Palace 60

The Royal Palace at Potsdam .... 61

Demonstration of Sympathy for the
Americans at the Town Hall, August,

1914 61

Racing Yachts at Kiel S4

The Kaiser's Yacht, " Hohenzollern " 84

Ambassador Gerard on His Way to His
Shooting Preserve 85

A Keeper and Beaters on the Shooting
Preserve 85

Crowds in Front of the Embassy, August,
1914 108

Outside the Embassy in the Early Days
of the War 108

XT



ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGB

At Work in the Embassy Ball-Room, Au-
gust, 1914 109

Ambassador Gerard and His Staff . . 109

Cover of the Ruhleben Monthly . . 126

Specimen Pi^ge of Drawings from the
Ruhleben Monthly 140

Alleged Dum-Dum Bullets 152

Page from "For Light and Truth" . . 230

The "Lusitania" Medal 231

Ambassador Gerard and Party in Sedan . 238

In Front of the Cottage at Bazeilles . 238

Food Allotment Poster from the Charle-
viLLE District 239

Fac-Simile Reproduction of the Kaiser's
Personal Telegram to President Wil-
son 313-318

Fac-Simile of Secretary of State's Re-
quest TO Ambassador Gerard to Call in
Order to Receive Submarine An-
nouncement 319

The Remodelled Draft of the Treaty of
1799 320-321

Instructions Sent to the German Press
on Writing Up a Zeppelin Raid 322-323

Petition Circulated for Signature among
Americans in Europe 324

Page from Lissauer's Pamphlet Showing
"Hymn of Hate" 325

Instructions Regulating Appearance at
Court 326^327

A Berlin Extra 3^*

xri



MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY



MY FOUR YEARS IN
GERMANY

CHAPTER I
MY FIRST YEAR IN GERMANY

THE second day out on the Imperator, headed for
a summer's vacation, a loud knocking woke me at
seven A. M. The radio, handed in from a friend in
New York, told me of my appointment as Ambassador
to Germany.

Many friends were on the ship. Henry Morgenthau,
later Ambassador to Turkey, Colonel George Harvey,
Adolph Ochs and Louis Wiley of the New York Times,
Clarence Mackay, and others.

The Imperator is a marvellous ship of fifty-four thou-
sand tons or more, and at times it is hard to believe that
one is on the sea. In addition to the regular dining
saloon, there is a grill room and Ritz restaurant with its
palm garden, and, of course, an Hungarian Band. There
are also a gymnasium and swimming pool, and, nightly,
in the enormous ballroom dances are given, the women
dressing in their best just as they do on shore.

Colonel Harvey and Clarence Mackay gave me a
dinner of twenty-four covers, something of a record at
sea. For long afterwards in Germany, I saw every-
where pictures of the Imperator including one of the
tables set for this dinner. These were sent out over

19



20 MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY

Germany as a sort of propaganda to induce the Germans
to patronise their own ships and indulge in ocean travel.
1 wish that the propaganda had been earlier and more
successful, because it is by travel that peoples learn to
know each other, and consequently to abstain from war.

On the night of the usual ship concert, Henry Morgen-
thau translated a little speech for me into German, which
I managed to get through after painfully learning it by
heart. Now that I have a better knowledge of German,
a cold sweat breaks out when I think of the awful Ger-
man accent with which I delivered that address.

A flying trip to Berlin early in August to look into
the house question followed, and then I returned to
the United States.

In September I went to Washington to be "instructed,"
talked with the President and Secretary, and sat at the
feet of the Assistant Secretary of State, Alvey A. Adee,
the revered Sage of the Department of State.

On September ninth, 19 13, having resigned as Justice
of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, I sailed
for Germany, stopping on the way in London in order to
make the acquaintance of Ambassador Page, certain wise
people in Washington having expressed the belief that a
personal acquaintance of our Ambassadors made it easier
for them to work together.

Two cares assail a newly appointed Ambassador. He
must first take thought of what he shall wear and where
he shall live. All other nations have beautiful Embas-
sies or Legations in Berlin, but I found that my two im-
mediate predecessors had occupied a villa originally built
as a two-family house, pleasantly enough situated, but
two miles from the centre of Berlin and entirely unsuit-
able for an Embassy.

There are few private houses in Berlin, most of the
people living in apartments. After some trouble I found
a handsome house on the Wilhelm Platz immediately op-



MY FIRST YEAR L\ GERMANY 21

poslte the Chancellor's palace and the Foreign Office, in
the very centre of Berlin. This house had been built
as a palace for the Princes Hatzfeld and had later passed
into the possession of a banking family named von
Schwabach.

The United States Gov^ernment, unlike other nations,
does not own or pay the rent of a suitable Embassy, but
gives allowance for offices, if the house is large enough
to afford office room for the office force of the Embassy.
The von Schwabach palace was nothing but a shell. Even
the gas and electric light fixtures had been removed; and
when the hot water and heating system, bath-rooms,
electric lights and fixtures, etc., had been put in, and the
house furnished from top to bottom, my first year's sal-
ary had far passed the minus point.

The palace was not ready for occupancy until the end
of January, 19 14, and, in the meantime, we lived at the
Hotel Esplanade, and I transacted business at the old,
two-family villa.

There are more diplomats in Berlin than in any other
capital in the world, because each of the twenty-five States
constituting the German Empire sends a legation to Ber-
lin; even the free cities of Hamburg, Liibeck and Bremen
have a resident minister at the Empire's capital.

Invariable custom requires a new Ambassador in Ber-
lin to give two receptions, one to the Diplomatic Corps
and the other to all those people who have the right to
go to court. These are the officials, nobles and officers
of the army and navy, and such other persons as have
been presented at court. Such people are called hoffiihig,
meaning that they are fit for court.

It is interesting here to note that Jews are not ad-
mitted to court. Such Jews as have been ennobled and
allowed to put the coveted "von" before their names
have first of all been required to submit to baptism in some
Christian church. Examples are the von Schwabach



22 MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY

family, whose ancestral house I occupied in Berlin, and
Friedlaender-Fuld, officially rated as the richest man in
Berlin, who made a large fortune in coke and its by-
products.

These two receptions are really introductions of an
Ambassador to official and court society.

Before these receptions, however, and in the month of
November, I presented my letters of credence as Am-
bassador to the Emperor. This presentation is quite a
ceremony. Three coaches were sent for me and my staff,
coaches like that in which Cinderella goes to her ball,
mostly glass, with white wigged coachmen, outriders in
white wigs and standing footmen holding on to the back
part of the coach. Baron von Roeder, introducer of Am-
bassadors, came for me and accompanied me in the first
coach; the men of the Embassy staff sat in the other two
coaches. Our little procession progressed solemnly
through the streets of Berlin, passing on the way through
the centre division of the arch known as the Branden-
burger Thor, the gateway that stands at the head of the
Unter den Linden, a privilege given only on this occasion.

We mounted long stairs in the palace, and in a large
room were received by the aides and the officers of the
Emperor's household, of course all in uniform. Then I
was ushered alone into the adjoining room where the
Emperor, very erect and dressed in the black uniform
of the Death's Head Hussars, stood by a table. I made
him a little speech, and presented my letters of credence
and the letters of recall of my predecessor. The Em-
peror then unbent from his very erect and impressive at-
titude and talked with me in a very friendly manner, espe-
cially Impressing me with his interest in business and com-
mercial affairs. I then, in accordance with custom, asked
leave to present my staff. The doors were opened. The
staff came in and were presented to the Emperor, who
talked in a very jolly and agreeable v/ay to all of us.



MY FIRST YEAR IN GERMANY 23

saying that he hoped above all to see the whole of the
Embassy staff riding in the Tier Garten in the mornings.

The Emperor is a most impressive figure, and, in his
black uniform surrounded by his officers, certainly looked
every inch a king. Although my predecessors, on oc-
casions of this kind, had v^'orn a sort of fancy diplomatic
uniform designed by themselves, I decided to abandon
this and return to the democratic, if unattractive and un-
comfortable, dress-suit, simply because the newspapers
of America and certain congressmen, while they have had
no objection to the wearing of uniforms by the army and
navy, police and postmen, and do not expect officers to
lead their troops into battle in dress-suits, have, never-
theless, had a most extraordinary prejudice against Amer-
ican diplomats following the usual custom of adopting
a diplomatic uniform.

Some days after my presentation to the Emperor, I
was taken to Potsdam, which is situated about half an
hour's train journey from Berlin, and, from the station
there, driven to the new palace and presented to the
Empress. The Empress was most charming and affable,
and presented a very distinguished appearance. Accom-
panied by Mrs. Gerard, and always, either by night or by
day, in the infernal dress-suit, I was received by the Crown
Prince and Princess, and others of the royal princes and
their wives. On these occasions we sat down and did not
stand, as when received by the Emperor and Empress,
and simply made "polite conversation" for about twenty
minutes, being received first by the ladies-in-waiting and
aides. These princes were always in uniform of some
kind.

At the reception for the hoifcihig people Mrs. Gerard
stood in one room and I in another, and with each of
us was a representative of the Emperor's household to in-
troduce the people of the court, and an army officer to in-
troduce the people of the army. The officer assigned to



24 MY FOUR YEARS IN GERMANY

me had the extraordinary name of der Pfortner von der
Hoelle, which means the "porter of Hell." I have often
wondered since by what prophetic instinct he was sent to
introduce me to the two years and a half of world war
which I experienced in Berlin. This unfortunate officer,
a most charming gentleman, was killed early in the war.

The Berlin season lasts from about the twentieth of
January for about six weeks. It is short in duration be-
cause, if the hoffdhig people stay longer than six weeks
in Berlin, they become liable to pay their local income
tax in Berlin, where the rate is higher than in those parts
of Germany where they have their country estates.

The first great court ceremonial is the Schleppencour,
so-called from the long trains or Schleppen worn by the
women. On this night we "presented" Mr. and Mrs.
Robert K. Cassatt of Philadelphia, Mrs. Ernest Wiltsee,
Mrs. and Miss Luce and Mrs. Norman Whitehouse. On
the arrival at the palace with these and all the members
of the Embassy Staff and their wives, we were shown up
a long stair-case, at the top of which a guard of honour,
dressed in costume of the time of Frederick the Great,
presented arms to all Ambassadors, and ruffled kettle-
drums. Through long lines of cadets from the military
schools, dressed as pages, in white, with short breeches
and powdered wigs, we passed through several rooms
where all the people to pass in review were gathered.
Behind these, in a room about sixty feet by fifty, on a
throne facing the door were the Emperor and Empress,
and on the broad steps of this throne were the princes and
their wives, the court ladies-in-waiting and all the other
members of the court. The wives of the Ambassadors
entered the room first, followed at intervals of about
twenty feet by the ladies of the Embassy and the ladies
to be presented. As they entered the room and made
a change of direction toward the throne, pages in white
straightened out the ladies' trains with long sticks. Ar-




AMBASSADOR GERARD OX HIS WAY TO PRESENT HIS LETTERS OF
CREDENCE TO THE EMPEROR




"HE HOUSE ON THE NVILHELM PLATZ, RENTED FOR USE Ai THE EMBASSY




A SALON IN THE AMERICAN EMBASSY




THE BALLROOM OF THE EMBASSY. THIS WAS AFTERWARD TURNED INTO A
WORKROOM FOR THE RELIEF OF AMERICANS IN WAR DAYS



MY FIRST YEAR IN GERMANY 25

rived opposite the throne and about twenty feet from it,
each Ambassador's wife made a low curtsey and then
stood on the foot of the throne, to the left of the Em-
peror and Empress, and as each lady of the Embassy, not
before presented, and each lady to be presented stopped
beside the throne and made a low curtsey, the Ambas-
sadress had to call out the name of each one in a loud
voice; and when the last one had passed she followed her
out of the room, walking sideways so as not to turn her
back, on the royalties, — something of a feat when tow-
ing a train about fifteen feet long. When all the Am-
bassadresses had so passed, it was the turn of the Am-
bassadors, who carried out substantially the same pro-
gramme, substituting low bows for curtsies. The Am-
bassadors were followed by the Ministers' wives, these
by the Ministers and these by the dignitaries of the Ger-
man Court All passed into the adjoining hall, and there
a buffet supper was served. The whole affair began at
about eight o'clock and was over in an hour.

At the court balls, which also began early in the eve-
ning, a different procedure was followed. There the
guests were required to assemble before eight-twenty in
the ball-room. As in the Schleppencour, on one side of
the room was the throne with seats for the Emperor and
Empress, and to the right of this throne were the chairs
for the Ambassadors' wives who were seated in the order
of their husbands' rank, with the ladies of their Embassy,
and any ladies they had brought to the ball standing be-
hind them. After them came the Ministers' wives, sit-
ting in similar fashion; then the Ambassadors, standing
with their staffs behind them on raised steps, with any men
that they had asked invitations for, and the Ministers in
similar order. To the left of the throne stood the wives



Online LibraryJames W. (James Watson) GerardMy four years in Germany, by James W. Gerard, late ambassador to the German imperial court.. → online text (page 1 of 24)