22 JULY 1905, Page 4


THE Times of Tuesday contains a remarkable letter signed " An Old Berliner " dealing with the anti- British campaign inspired by the German Press Bureau. According to " An Old Berliner," " the English people do not yet seem to realise how systematically the campaign engineered against England from the Press Bureau of the German Foreign Office is being waged all over the world. In no country is Germany trying with greater persistency to poison the wells of public opinion against England than in the United States." He goes on to quote as an example of this campaign of calumny and misrepresenta- tion a long telegram published in one of the leading Chicago newspapers—the Daily News—which records an interview with Professor Schiemann on June 2fith last. Professor Schiemann, it may be remembered, accom- panied the Emperor to Tangier, and, according to the American interviewer, he is the " intimate adviser of the Kaiser and the Foreign Office on questions re- lating to world-politics," and is also " one of the Govern- ment's spokesmen on the pending crisis." The whole purpose of Professor Schiemann's statement is to represent 1Britain as inciting France to go to war with Germany :— " At the present moment the possibility of war lies exclusively in the diabolical efforts of the British Press to urge the Republic to assume a position that might bring hostilities within twenty- four hours. The Kaiser and the German people are sincerely anxious for peace ; Premier Bouvier and the French are similarly inclined. Only the British thirst for German blood. They desire the crushing of our naval power and the limitation of our growing prestige. These longings have filled them with a fiendish desire to exploit the Moroccan crisis for our undoing. We declare solemnly that that is an attitude fraught with the direst consequences to European peace. We want America not to be misled by the self-righteous British Press, but to remain perfectly clear on this point—that the danger of a Franco-German war is centred to a far greater degree in London than in either Paris or Berlin."

The interview continues with further veiled threats against France, and with the intimation that if she goes to war it is she who will have to pay the whole cost of the Anglo- French conflict with Germany. "The result would be England's domination of Europe and the reduction of France to the position she occupied after Waterloo." " An Old Berliner's comment on this farrago of malicious nonsense is as follows :—" However friendly the feelings of Americans towards this country may be, can we hope that they will be altogether proof against authoritative statements of this kind which are continually being cabled across the Atlantic in obedience to the inspirations of the German Foreign Office? What is perhaps more needful at the present moment for the peace of the world than Hague Courts and arbitration treaties is a clearing-house for the fraudulent drafts on public credulity which the German Government is daily putting into circulation from the Press Department of the Foreign Office in the Wilhelmstrasse."

One's first impulse on reading such statements as those of Professor Schiemauu is to ignore them as one ignores the charges in an anonymous letter. Since, how- ever, Professor Schiemann has allowed his name to be used, and since his accusations are given currency in places where the true facts in regard to European affairs are not always obvious, it may be worth while to deal with them briefly. We say without the slightest fear of contradiction that the allegation that we incited France, or ever dreamed of inciting her, to go to war with Germany is a deliberate falsehood. Not merely our Government, but our Press and our people, were most anxious that a war between France and Germany should be avoided. We had everything to lose and nothing to gain by such a war. The injury to trade must have been enormous, and the notion that we could get compensa- tion for commercial disturbance by the annexation of German' colonies is absurd. Germany has no possessions which we covet, or, indeed, which we should not find a source of trouble and expense. All we could do with Kiao-chow would be to hand it back to the Chinese, while the German possessions in East and West Africa could only prove heavy burdens to us. As to the German Fleet, it would, in the event of war, be with- ' no attempt to destroy it would be in the least likely to prove effective. The banishing of German commerce from the seas would, no doubt, punish the Germans, but it would do us as a nation harm and not good, for the German mercantile marine performs a great many very valuable services for our merchants and manufacturers at very low rates. Only the most purblind and hardened Protectionists—and they are a small minority among English traders—would imagine that the withdrawal of German ocean competition could benefit this country as a whole, even if it benefited our shippers. But though the Government and the nation were most anxious to avoid war, and felt an intense relief when the danger had passed, we were of course bound in honour to stand by the French, and were determined to carry out our obliga- tions to the letter. Nothing would have induced the nation to run the risk of being accused of perfidy or of breaking its pledges to its friends under the threat of danger. If France had asked us for our aid, we should most certainly have given it her,—let the consequences be what they would. The French, however, showing, as we think, great self-restraint and great wisdom, did not ask for our aid, but were content to meet the German attack by diplomacy rather than by war. Their successful avoid- ance of war gave the utmost satisfaction here, and caused what we may describe without exaggeration as a sense of immense relief. Unless to tell a friend that you will come to his aid if he calls you, and will keep faith with him at all costs, is an incitement to war, there was no incitement to France either by the British Government or by the British people.

So much for Professor Schiemann's assertion in regard to the present crisis. Every bit as false are his general declarations that " the British thirst for German blood," and that they desire to crush German naval power. No such enmity towards Germany is to be found in Britain. There is no hatred here for the Germans as a people, but rather admiration and respect for their many great and sound qualities. Again, there is no desire on the part of Britain to prevent the Germans creating for themselves either a Navy, a Colonial Empire, or a world-wide trade. The notion of Britain attacking Germany in order to prevent her acquiring any of these things is utterly ridiculous. Even if our statesmen desired to do so, which they do not, it would be absolutely impossible to force the nation into an aggressive war on Germany. Our people will protect themselves if they are attacked, and will stand by their friends if those friends are wantonly assailed because they are their friends, but it is as certain as anything can be in human affairs that the British people will never consent to attack any Power on the ground that she is growing too strong and ought to have her strength reduced. But though this is the essential and unalterable temper of the British people, they are, we are glad to think, becoming more vigilant than they have hitherto been in regard to the possi- bility of an attack by Germany. They know that the German people, if they ruled themselves, would not attack Britain, but they realise also that it is, unfortu- nately, not a question of what the German democracy want, or are likely to do, but of what is the policy which may commend itself to the Emperor, the bureaucracy, and the governing classes in the German Empire. They see there, not a Government which is swayed by liberal and democratic ideas, but one which is autocratic in spirit and makes little secret of its hatred for whatever is liberal and popular in Europe, and indeed in the world at large. Our people realise that the German Government regards the self-governing communities of Britain and France as offences against the dynastic principle and as bad examples to the Monarchical States. Hence we, and also the French, are coming to see that the free and liberal States must stand together, or else their dearest interests may suffer.

The recent action of Germany on the Moroccan question has been a revelation to many persons here, and has had a remarkable effect on public opinion. Those who were inclined to think that the need for watchfulness in regard to German policy, and the belief that German ambitions were antagonistic to the British Empire, were exaggerated have undergone a complete mental change. The spectacle presented by the brutal threats of the German Government levelled at France has moved men's minds far more than any amount of cautionary leading articles. It was almost at once realised here that the Germans cared little or nothing about Morocco, and that what they were doing was in reality punishing France for daring to make an agreement with Britain. In effect., if not in so many words, the Germans told the French ;—' We will teach you to make a friend of Britain ! It is true we cannot touch Britain directly, but, nevertheless, we mean to isolate her, and if you dare to work with her you must take the consequences. No one can be friendly to Britain without feeling the weight of our arm.' Such an attitude so plainly shown has produced a great awakening here, and it is now difficult to find men who do not agree that as long as Germany is in the hands of those who now control her destinies the peace of the world is endangered. Three months ago the majority of the British people would not admit that there was any such peril. But though there is so great a change of feeling in regard to the-need of watching German policy and being on our guard, there is, as we have said, not the slightest indication of any desire to attack Germany or to treat her as an enemy. It would be just as hard now as it was before the Morocco incident to induce our people to wage anything but a defensive war against Germany. The British people were never more profoundly anxious to keep the peace than at the present moment. Nothing but proof of the absolute necessity for self-protection, or for carrying out their obligations to their friends, would induce them to enter upon hostilities. A word must be said as to "An Old Berliner's" suggestion that the efforts on the part of Germany to influence public opinion in America may prove successful. For ourselves, we entertain no such dread. We quite admit that if the German Government take sufficient trouble, as no doubt they will, they will be able to get American newspapers to print a great deal of cleverly concocted anti-British stuff, the object of which will be to induce the Americans to believe that we are a dangerous and aggressive Power bent on attacking Germany. and that Germany in self- defence may some day be obliged to organise a coalition to destroy us as a mad dog is destroyed. But between such suggestions being freely cabled to American news- papers and their really influencing American public opinion there is all the difference in the world. The Americans like sensational telegrams, but when it comes to forming a practical judgment on public affairs there is no people less easily " taken in." Serious-minded Americans realise perfectly well the anti-liberal character of the German Government, and have noted once and for all the German Emperor's autocratic views and his dislike of free institutions. The American people, we are glad to think, have strong German sympathies. They are not, however, in sympathy with the autocrat who allows the officer to cut down the civilian who does not bow his head before the Imperial uniform, or who permits imprisonment for lese-m,ajeste, but with the democracy who desire that the German people shall be allowed to lift their heads to the light, and who want to loosen the chains of militarism and bureaucratic oppression. The American nation have an unfailing political instinct, and that political instinct is in favour of what for want of a better expression we must call liberal political ideas. When they realise, as they will realise the moment they are called upon to reflect seriously on the matter, that Britain and France stand for liberal ideas, and that the Germans as at present organised stand for the reverse, we have not the slightest fear as to which side their sympathies will incline to. The thing an American hates -most in the world is the tone of Frederick the Great's drill- sergeant when he cut the recruit across the mouth with his cane, with a " Hound! you mutiny." As long as that is the attitude of the German autocracy at home and abroad, it will take an eternity of interviews with Pro- fessor Schiemann to "rectify" American public opinion.