3 SEPTEMBER 1921, Page 5

THE UNREST IN GERMANY. T HE murder of Herr Erzberger in

the Black Forest last week, and the almost open exultation of the Monarchists at his death, have reminded the world that Germany is far from having regained her political stability. Assassination for political reasons is a foul crime, whether practised in Ireland, in Russia or in Germany, and it is a sign of weakness and frenzy on the part of those who resort to it. The German Monarchists must be conscious that they are losing their hold on the public when they adopt the methods of the Bolsheviks. They assume that the removal of one of the few bold and resolute leaders whom Republican Germany has found will cow the rest and enable the reaction to succeed, but they are almost certainly wrong. The coalition of Roman Catholics, Socialists and Democrats which is ruling Germany is more likely to be strengthened than weakened by the violent death of Herr Erzberger. Already the Government have realized that they cannot afford to ignore the open hostility to the Republic. Monarchist demonstrations have been forbidden and some of the more violent Monarchist journals have been temporarily suspended. It is even rumoured that the Government propose to expel the Hohenzollern Princes, whose presence in Germany suggests to many foreign observers—though, we think, wrongly—that the Republic is not a reality. The display of energy will do the Government no harm. The worst fault of which a Government can be guilty is weakness ; people, whether in Germany or elsewhere, like to be governed and fall into confusion when their appointed rulers fail to rule. President Ebert and his Chancellor, Dr. Wirth, will pro- bably save the Republic if they act promptly and firmly. But if they temporize and pretend that the Monarchists and the Communists are only playing a harmless political game they are lost. German politics are in a state of confusion largely because the German people are unaccustomed to self-government. Under the Empire domestic politics were largely make- believe. Even the Socialists who talked so loudly were afraid of applying their own theories, as some of them openly admitted during the war. The Emperor, the General Staff, the bureaucracy, the aristocratic landowners and the great financiers between them ruled Germany, and the Reichstag had no serious influence on affairs. The sudden collapse of the army, the ignominious flight of the Emperor and the uprising of the Communists in November, 1918, changed all that, except the bureaucracy, and compelled an inex- perienced people to face the problems of democratic govern. ment. On the whole, Germany has passed through tht preliminary stages more successfully than we might have expected. The official class, strongly entrenched and saturated with the traditional Prussian ideas of subservience to the monarchy, has often thwarted the new Ministers and made it appear that Germany was playing a double game. But the Reichstag parties have gradually learned that their debates are no longer mere formalities, as they were in the past, and the Ministers representing the majority have gained confidence. It is a misfortune for Germany that no party has a clear majority or any immediate prospect of obtaining one, partly because the country is still divided into States which cherish their local prejudices. Nevertheless the Socialists, Roman Catholics and Demo- crats have contrived to work together for nearly three years and they still have a majority both in the Reichstag and in the Prussian Landtag. The Coalition cannot undertake anydefinitely Socialistic or sectarian legislation, such as its sections might desire, but it can at least give the country a rest from adventures and an opportunity for recovering from the war. As the alternatives to its rule are, on the one hand a Restoration which would mean civil war and also a foreign war, and on the other Red anarchy on the Russian model, the Coalition probably has the open or secret sympathy of most Germans, even if it is somewhat drab and'uninteresting. Time is working in its favour, and the rapid revival of German industry is strengthening the composite administration, because employers and workmen alike would have everything to lose by a fresh outbreak of disorder. Indeed, the fact, attested by many witnesses, that the Germans have set themselves to work, and to work hard, even at low wages, is the best proof that representative government has come to stay, even in Germany. On- the other hand, there are many dangerous elements in the situation. The aristocratic and military classes bitterly •resent the loss of their power and 'prestige. It must be gall and wormwood to the great landowners to feel that they are no longer able to pose as local despots through their influence at court, and the Prussian General' who is mobbed—as General von Lettow-Vorbeck was last week—when he seeks to extol the old Prussian rule must experience a most profound humiliation. We can- well imagine, too, that to those of the middle classes who were accustomed almost to worship the Emperor the presence of a working saddler as President in the ex-Royal Palace at Berlin must be a perpetual offence. The Germans, bred in the belief of their invincibility, naturally- do not like to think that they were beaten in the war, and they welcome the efforts of Monarchists to prove that 'it was all the fault -of the Socialists or of Herr Erzberger if Germany had to make an unfavourable Armistice and a bad Peace. Injured national pride and wounded class sentiment respond instinctively to the Monarchist appeals, although every German in' his sober senses must know that- Germany was at the end of her resources and that-- her defeat was final and irretrievable.' The Monarchists are active and well supplied with money, part of which no doubt comes from the funds that the ex-Emperor had prudently invested in America. There are abundant secret 'stores of arms in the country, and there is a vast number of demobilized officers and men who know how- to use them. If the small 'regular army could be won over to the Monarchist cause, the Republic would be in' grave peril, and no one knows whether the army can be trusted to obey the civil Government. Again, there is always the Communist peril, though it is far less serious than it was two years ago. The Moscow Bolshe- viks have an active propaganda in Germany, and indeed distribute many of their incendiary pamphlets from Berlin, apparently without let or hindrance from the authorities. They are always on the alert -for any open quarrel between the " bourgeois " parties which would' enable them to start a -new insurrection. The Communists will never succeed in Germany, but they might -drive the majority -into the arms of the Monarchists if the existing Government 'were obviously unable to maintain order. The proper attitude of the Allies towards the German crisis is easily stated. It is clearly to our advantage to uphold the present Government, so far as we can do so. We could not view with indifference either the return of the Hohenzollern or the outbreak of a Communist rising. The Allies want a stable and a peaceful Germany, so that the forces occupying the Rhineland may be undisturbed while the payments in reparation are made regularly. Some fanatics of hatred may desire to see Germany com- pleting her ruin by civil war and anarchy, from •which she would not recover for generations to come. But we should all suffer from chaos in Germany, even more than we have suffered from chaos in' Russia, to say nothing of the moral iniquity of wishing for such horrible things to happen in Europe. It is far better and far wiser to assume that Germany has had her lesson and that she has abandoned the evil dreams of obtaining world-power by force of arms which led her astray. The present -German Government, formed expressly in May last to accept and carry out the reparation terms 'laid down by the Allies, have so far shown a genuine desire to fulfil their obligations, and they deserve to be encouraged. In so far as the Allies can make things easy for Dr. Wirth they ought to do so. It is a question not so much of modifying the peace terms as of enforcing them with courtesy and due consideration. If the Allies continue to treat Germany as a stubborn-and evasive debtor, they will make the life of any Ministry at Berlin intolerable. If, on the other hand, they proceed on' the assumption that 'Germany will pay her debts, if she is given time and opportunity, they will greatly -assist the German Government in their difficulties. Dr. Wirth would have more influence with- his countrymen if it were known that he enjoyed the good will of the Allies and could obtain small concessions which would be denied to the reactionaries. The speedy settlement of the long delayed Upper Silesian question, for example, -would 'be a valuable asset for Dr. Wirth in these troublous times.