Imágenes de páginas

the alleged complicity of the German people in the general war-guilt. Theretofore he had certainly always differentiated between the autocracy, as also Militarism, on the one hand, and the German people on the other. At Versailles he suddenly advanced the theory that the Germans must be punished for their crimes, and not only those among them who were responsible, but also the innocent German people, who neither desired the breach of Belgium's neutrality, nor understood the moral consequences of the U-boat war, nor were aware of Mr. Wilson's mediation for peace.

The above dialogue is also interesting from the standpoint that the President is most clearly convinced that the Entente could not have conquered without American help. If to-day he concludes therefrom that America would have been obliged ultimately to join in the war, in order to punish Germany, in former days he concluded that his duty was to bring about a Peace without victory. If he had succeeded in doing this, all of us, friend and foe alike, would now be living in a better world than the present one. It would be the world as we had been shown it in a vision of the future on the 22nd January, 1917, and not the world of the Peace of Versailles, blooming with starvation, Bolshevism and nationalistic hatred.

In his Memoirs, Herr von Tirpitz says that of all the practical advantages which I declared would follow from a compliant attitude on our part, not one had fallen to our lot. But I must confess, I was not aware that the U-boat war had brought us any advantages either. Its results have been a heavy moral debt and a huge bill of costs that the German people must pay. And how could the policy which I recommended have yielded practical results, seeing that I was never able, or even allowed, to carry it through? Never at any time was the U-boat war really given up. Every time a diplomatic success was in view, an incident occurred which made it necessary to start one's labors all over again.

Other people have said that as I was not in agreement with the policy of the Imperial Government, I ought to have resigned my office. This view does not take into account all the facts of the case. As long as Herr von Jagow was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I worked in complete harmony with him. We both worked together in trying to avert war with the United States. I knew as little as Herr von Jagow himself did, whether we should succeed in scoring every point in the policy we pursued, for the Secretary of State was in perpetual conflict with the Military and Naval Authorities. If I had heard in time that Herr von Jagow's resignation had occurred in connection with the question of the U-boat war, and was the result of it, I should have resigned at the same time as he did; because my name was identified with the idea of American mediation for peace. Moreover, up to the 9th, or rather the 19th, January, 1917, I was completely in accord with the Imperial Chancellor; for Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg declared before the Examination Committee of the National Assembly:

The whole of my work in connection with Wilson's efforts for peace was, indeed, directed towards rendering the threat of a U-boat war unnecessary, by bringing about a peace movement which would, of course, have some promise of proving successful.”

These words amount to a complete approval of the policy which I pursued in Washington. When, therefore, on the 19th January, I received the Note informing me of the intended. opening of the unrestricted U-boat campaign, I could not tender my resignation, for I regarded it as my duty to the German people, to resist until the last the unrestricted U-boat war, and, if possible, to avert a breach with the United States. When, on the 31st January, 1917, the U-boat policy had definitely triumphed, I had no further chance of resigning my office, seeing that owing to the immediate rupture of diplomatic relations it was lost to me.

The various reasons, for and against Mr. Wilson's mediation, were all thrashed out in great detail in this country, before the Examination Committee of the National Assembly, in the winter of 1916-17. And, according to the evidence given, the decisive cause of the failure of the scheme was the distrust which the most influential statesmen felt towards the President. If any confidence had been felt in Mr. Wilson, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg would have opposed the adoption of the U-boat war, and would have allowed the President's efforts for mediation to pursue their course. As a witness before the Committee, he himself said:

“There can be no doubt, now that we can look back upon events, that we should have done better had we placed our fate in President Wilson's hands, and had accepted his offers of mediation.'

As I have already pointed out, the factor which in my opinion was largely responsible for determining course we ultimately adopted was the under-estimation and ignorance of America which was so widespread in Germany. From the very first moment the problem was not properly understood by the German nation. The fact was overlooked that the most important battle of the war was taking place in Washington, and when the tragedy reached its climax, no one believed that, with all her political, military and economic power, the United States of America would ever enter into the war.

Finally, it has been pointed out as an objection to my view, that, after all, the Entente would have rejected Wilson's efforts at mediation. I am no longer in a position to prove the contrary to-day, and it is, of course, just possible, that the President. and Mr. House were mistaken in assuming as much as they did. If at that time, however, we expected the Entente to reject Mr. Wilson's offer of mediation, we should at all events have postponed the U-boat war, and accepted American intervention, in order to improve our diplomatic position in Washington, before having recourse to the ultima ratio. It seems to have been our destiny that all our most important decisions of the war were the outcome of military and not of political considerations. On the Entente side, the converse was always true, and that is why, though it suffered many military reverses, the Entente won the


In pursuing the policy I advocated, I was influenced by considerations, which now, in conclusion, I should like to sum up as follows:

(1) It was no longer possible to achieve a decisive German victory after the first Battle of the Marne, that is why German policy should have been directed towards obtaining “Peace without Victory”; and, as things turned out, such a victory was only to be obtained by means of American mediation.

(2) The personality of Mr. Wilson played no decisive part in determining my attitude. I never once reckoned upon his personal friendliness towards ourselves; for I knew him too well to suppose him capable of pro-German tendencies. I expected nothing more from him than that he would play America's game- America's and no other country's--supported by the public opinion of the United States. American policy, however, pursued the object of a “Peace without Victory,” from the standpoint of practical politics, in order that, neither Germany nor England should attain to a superlatively powerful position. A “Peace without Victory" of this sort, under American patronage, would have left the United States in the undisputed position of the first political power in the world. To this, there was added certain other reasons of an ideal political nature, owing to the fact that both Mr. Wilson and the great majority of the American people wished to put an end to all the bloodshed and misery.

(3) The beginning of the unrestricted U-boat war was bound, as things had developed, to lead automatically to the rupture of diplomatic relations with the United States,

(4) As matters stood in America, the rupture of diplomatic relations was equally bound automatically to bring about war with the United States.

(5) War with the United States had to be averted at all costs, because America's help meant giving our enemy such an overwhelming preponderance of power, that a German defeat became an absolute certainty.

(6) The political situation was such that, the acceptance of the American offer of mediation was the only means of preventing the United States from entering the war.

(7) If America did not enter the war, the Entente were not in a position to beat us.

(8) If Mr. Wilson had succeeded in bringing both belligerent parties to the conference table, a sort of Hubertsburg Peace would have been concluded. In

*This refers to the Treaty of Hubertsburg, wbich was one of the treaties that put an end to the Seven Years War on the 15th February, 1763. It was concluded between the States of Prussia, Austria and Saxony. Nobody seems to have derived any advantage from the treaty, except perhaps Frederick II., on whose province of Silesia Marie-Thérèse renounced all further claim.

« AnteriorContinuar »