Imágenes de páginas

viewed them together in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where I usually stayed and in which Dr. Dernburg lived; for their offices, scattered as they were over the lower town, and which, moreover, I never entered, were unsuitable for the purpose. Our mutual personal relations were always of the best. On the other hand, it was naturally difficult to make any headway with our official business, since each received independent instructions from Berlin. This was least the case with Dr. Dernburg, because his responsible authority as far as propaganda was concerned was partly the Foreign Office itself and partly the semi-official “Central Office for Foreign Service." The other three gentlemen, however, were all responsible to home departments other than mine. Captain von Papen and Commander Boy-Ed frequently held back from me the instructions they had received from Berlin in order not to embarrass the Embassy by passing on military or naval information. Financially, too, the four officials were completely independent and had their own banking accounts, for which they had to account individually to their respective departments at home. Only Privy Councillor Albert had, for the purchase on a large scale of raw material, definite funds which were in any event under my control. Concerning the activities of these four gentlemen, countless legends have been spread in America and in part have found their way to Germany. In spite of all the reproaches levelled against them, and indirectly against myself, with regard to propaganda I shall speak of the so-called conspiracies in Chapter V. -nothing has reached my ears of which these gentlemen need in any way be ashamed. Individual mistakes we have, of course, all made; in view of the ferocity and protraction of the struggle they were inevitable. But in general the German propaganda in America in no way deserves the abuse with which it has been covered, in part, too, at home. If it had really been so clumsy or ineffective as the enemy Press afterwards claimed, the Entente and their American partisans would not have set in motion such gigantic machinery to combat it. One need only read G. Lechartier's book, “Intrigues et Diplomaties à Washington," to see what importance was attached to our propaganda by the enemy. In spite of all the bitterness which the author infuses into his fictitious narration, admiration for the German activity in the United States shines through the whole book. Further, at the end of 1918 a Commission of the Senate appointed to investigate German propaganda, as a result of the publication of protocols on this subject, repeatedly stated that its work had in no way been in vain, but rather its after effects had made themselves strongly felt “like poison gas” long after America's entry into the war. One may well venture to say that, had it not been for the serious crisis caused by the submarine war, it would probably in time have succeeded in completely neutralizing the anti-German campaign.

As regards our justification for openly championing the German cause before the people of the United States by written and spoken word, this is self-evident in a country which recognizes the principles of freedom of the Press and free speech. Apart from this, however, the American Government have themselves provided a precedent in this connection during the civil war, when President Lincoln in 1863 sent to England the famous preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, whose sympathies were strongly on the side of the Federals. Through his speeches, afterwards" published as "Patriotic Addresses," he did much towards swaying public opinion in favor of the Northern States. In this war, too, America, after abandoning her neutrality, has carried out vigorous propaganda in neutral countries, as is shown by the mission of the well-known New York supporter of woman suffrage, Mrs. Norman Whitehouse, under the auspices of the official Press Bureau and with the special approval of Secretary of State Lansing. Moreover our justification has been expressly upheld by a statement of Commissioner Bruce Bielaski of the American Law Department, who appeared as chief witness against us before the above mentioned Commission of Inquiry. He declared that there was no law in the United States which, before her entry into the war, rendered illegal German or any other foreign propaganda. Why all this noise then —it is reasonable to ask. Why, then, has the suggestion persisted at home and abroad, almost from the appearance of Dr. Dernburg until the present day, that we had, with our propaganda campaign, made ourselves guilty of treachery to the United States ?

From the moral point of view, too, no exception can be taken to the German propaganda. The United States was neutral and wished to remain so. The German propaganda was working for the same end. I have never heard of a single case of bribery by our representatives. If money was spent on our side, it was purely for the purpose of spreading articles and pamphlets pleading United States neutrality. Applications were frequently made to us by writers and editors who from inner conviction were ready to write and circulate articles of this kind, but were not financially in a position to do so. The leaders of German propaganda would surely have been neglectful of their duty if in such cases they had not provided the necessary funds. All Governments in the world have always proceeded in a similar way, and in particular that of the United States since their entry into the war, as is shown by the case of the Freie Zeitung of Bern—therefore equally in a neutral country. These facts must throw a strange light on the inquiry of the American Senate into German propaganda, delayed as it was until last winter and carried through with such elaborate machinery. It is obvious that beneath it all there lay-what irony !-a purely propagandist purpose, namely, that of humiliating Germany in the person of her late official representative accredited to the United States, and to make her appear contemptible in the eyes of the uncritical public!

Whereas in the first months of the war no one in America had thought of connecting “German Propaganda" with anything shocking, our opponents afterwards succeeded in disseminating the idea that a few offences against the law committed by Imperial and American Germans represented an important, even the most important, part of the German propaganda work. So it was brought about that even in the time before America's entry into the war, everyone who openly stood up for Germany's cause was stamped by the expression German Propagandist” as a person of doubtful integrity. The gradual official perpetuation of this admittedly misleading identification of our absolutely unexceptionable propaganda with a few regrettable offences against the American penal code—this and no other was the object of that inquiry by the Senate. The prejudicial headlines under which the published articles were printed, such as “Brewery and Brandy Interests” and German-Bolshevist Propaganda,” themselves sufficed to indicate that our propaganda was to be crucified between two “malefactors”; for to the average American citizen there is nothing more horrifying than the distillery on the one hand and Bolshevism on the other. In this connection I must not omit to mention that the great majority of the documents laid before the Commission had been secured by means of bribery or theft. It is also worth while to remind the reader of the significant words of Senator Reed, a member of the Commission, who said at one point in the examination: “I am interested in trying to distil some truth from a mass of statements which are so manifestly unfair and distorted that it is hard to characterize them in parliamentary language.

As for the fantastic figures with which the Americans have undertaken to estimate the cost of our propaganda, they rest—in so far as they are not simply the fruit of a malicious imagination on the, to say the least of it, superficial hypothesis that all the money paid out by the different German offices from the outbreak of war until the breaking off of diplomatic relations between Germany and America, the amount of which has been arrived at on the strength of a minute scrutiny of the books of all the banks with which these offices have done business, were used for purposes of propaganda. As a matter of fact, of course, far the greater part of this outlay went to finance the very extensive purchases of Privy Councillor Albert as well as certain business transactions concluded by Captain von Papen, which will be discussed later. In comparison with this the sum we devoted to propaganda work was quite small. The Press Bureau was frequently very appreciably hampered by the fact that even for quite minor expenditure outside the fixed budget, previous sanction had to be obtained from Berlin. Consequently much useful work would have had to remain undone if, particularly in the first months of the war, self-sacrificing German-Americans to whom it was only of the slightest interest that the German point of view should be accurately and emphatically explained, had not placed small sums at the disposal of the leaders of our propaganda. In the two and a half years between the outbreak of war and the rupture between Germany and America the sums paid out from official funds for propaganda work in the Union—including minor contri

« AnteriorContinuar »