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America in our own favor. In comparison with the public opinion in the Eastern States, which followed in the wake of the Entente, and with the authoritative circles of New York, Wilson's Administration without question strove for an honorable neutrality. In spite of this most of their decisions were materially unfavorable to us, so that a German observer from a distance might, not without reason, obtain the impression that the neutrality of the American Government was mere hypocrisy and that all kinds of pretexts were found for helping England.
This was not the chief impression made on a near observer. In politics the Americans are first and foremost jurists, and indeed in a narrower and more literal sense than the English Imperialists, with whom, according to their old traditions, justice only serves as a cloak for their political ambitions. I cannot judge how far the Americans have become full-blooded Imperialists since their entry into the war, i.e., since about 1917. At the time of which I speak this was far from being the case. If, moreover, it is a fact that the majority of the decisions of the United States turned out unfavorably to us, the question of the American motives should have been carefully differentiated from the other question as to what inférences may be drawn from the state of affairs. Even if we had had just reason to complain of unfair treatment it was for us to be as indulgent towards America as was compatible with our final aim not to lose the war. The question is not whether we had cause for resentment and retaliation, but simply what benefit could be extracted for Germany out of the existing situation.
At this visit to the White House, the only question that was acute was that of the wireless stations. This and the negotiations which I shall mention later, dealing with the coaling of our ships of war and the American export of arms and ammunition, I discussed with Secretary of State Bryan. The first time I visited this gentleman he exclaimed with great warmth:“Now you see I was right when I kept repeating that preparation for war was the best way of bringing war about. All the European Powers were armed to the teeth and always maintained that this heavy armament was necessary to protect them from war. Now the fallacy is obvious. We alone live in peace because we are unarmed."
Mr. Bryan has always been a genuine pacifist, and later sacrificed his Ministerial appointment to his convictions. So long as he remained in office he continued to influence the American Government to maintain neutrality and constantly strove to bring about peace.
A first attempt in this direction was made from Washington immediately after the outbreak of the war, but met with no response from the combatant Powers. At the beginning of September, Mr. Bryan repeated the offer of American mediation.
At that time a vigorous agitation had begun in New York for the restoration of peace. Mr. William Randolph Hearst, the well-known editor of widely circulated newspapers, and other well-known personalities, called together great meetings at which America's historical mission was said to be the stopping of the wholesale murder that was going on in Europe. At this time I was, together with several other gentlemen, staying with James Speyer, the banker, at his country house. The host and the majority of the guests, among whom was the late ambassador in Constantinople, Oscar Straus, were supporters of the prevailing pacific movement. The question of American mediation was eagerly discussed at the dinner table. Mr. Straus was an extremely warm adherent of this idea. He turned particularly to me because the German Government were regarded as opponents of the pacifist ideas. I said that we had not desired the war and would certainly be ready at the first suitable opportunity for a peace by understanding. Thereupon Mr. Straus declared that he would at once travel to Washington and repeat my words to Mr. Bryan. Immediately after dinner he went to the station and on the following day I received a wire from the Secretary of State, asking me to return to Washington as soon as I could to discuss the matter with him. There we had a long interview in his private residence, with the result that an American offer of mediation was sent to, the Imperial Chancellor. Meanwhile Mr. Straus had gone to the ambassadors of the other combatant Powers, who all more or less rejected the proposal. The friendly reply of the German Government coincided in principle with what I had said, but added that Mr. Bryan should first address himself to the enemy, as the further course of the negotiations depended on their attitude, which was not yet known. The American Government never returned to the question and I had no reason to urge them to do so. Any importunity on our side would have given an impression of weakness. Nevertheless this interlude was so far favorable to us that it contrasted our readiness for negotiation with the enemy's refusal.
In consequence of the failure of their first attempt to intervene the American Government thought it necessary to exercise more restraint. In spite of this, however, President Wilson, before the end of the winter of 1914-15, sent his intimate friend, Colonel Edward M. House, to London, Paris and Berlin, in order to ascertain semi-officially whether there were any possibilities of peace.
Mr. House, who lived in an unpretentious abode in New York, occupied a peculiar and very influential position at the White House. Bound to the President by intimate friendship, he has always refused to accept any Ministerial appointment, either at home or abroad, although he was only possessed of modest means and could certainly have had any post in the Cabinet or as an ambassador that he had liked to choose. In this way he remained entirely independent, and since President Wilson's entry into office, was his confidential adviser in domestic, and particularly in foreign politics. As such Colonel House had a position that is without precedent in American history. During his stay in London, at this time, he is said to have described himself to the wife of an English Cabinet Minister, herself not favorably disposed towards America, as the “eyes and ears of the President." I know from my own experience how thoroughly and effectively he was able to inform his friend on the European situation, and how perfectly correctly, on the other hand, he interpreted Mr. Wilson's views.
It was not easy to become more closely acquainted with Colonel House, whose almost proverbial economy of speech might be compared with the taciturnity of old Moltke.
Unlike the majority of his fellow-nationals, and particularly his immediate fellow-countrymen of the Southern States, Colonel House, while possessing great personal charm and the courtesy that is characteristic of the Southern States, is reserved and retiring. It took a considerable time before I got to know this able and interesting man at all intimately. I did not become intimate with him until the time of the journey to Berlin already mentioned. Even then it was the earnest wish of Colonel House to obtain for his great friend the chief credit of being the founder of peace. Colonel House was particularly well fitted to be the champion of the President's ideas. I have never known a more upright and honorable pacifist than he. He had a horror of war because he regarded it as the contradiction of his ideals
of the nobility of the human race. He often spoke with indignation of the people who were enriching themselves out of the war, and added that he would never touch the profits of war industry. He afterwards repeatedly told me that he had spoken as energetically in London against the blockade, which was a breach of international law, as against the submarine war in Berlin. Both these types of warfare were repugnant to the warm, sympathetic heart of Colonel House. He could not understand why women and children should die of hunger or drowning in order that the aims of an imperialist policy, which he condemned, might be attained. At the same time he was convinced that neither of these types could decide the war, but would only serve to rouse in both the combatant countries a boundless hatred which would certainly stand in the way of future co-operation in the work of restoring peace. In many of his remarks at that time, Colonel House proved to be right, since the war was decided mainly by the entry of America and the consequent overwhelming superiority in men, money and material
Meanwhile, as a result of the traffic in munitions, feeling in Germany had turned sharply against the United States. Our position with regard to this question was very unfavorable as we had no legal basis for complaint. The clause of the Hague Convention which permitted such traffic had been included in the second Hague Convention at our own suggestion. Nevertheless it was natural that the one-sided support of our enemies by the rapidly growing American war industry roused strong feeling in Germany. As a result there began a controversy with the American Government similar to that with England during the war of 1870-71. Even in the United States there was a considerable minority which disapproved of the munitions traffic, though on moral