Vacher & Sons, Ltd.,
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MILITARY STRENGTH OF THE
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
This Memorandum was originally intended by its author for the use of his personal friends in this country. But in view of the weightiness of its arguments and the great reputation of its author, we felt very strongly that it ought to be more widely circulated. As there are obvious objections to publication, it was decided to issue it as a confidential memorandum, for distribution among a strictly limited number of persons.
Professor Masaryk ought to-day to need no introduction even to English readers. He is not merely one of the acknowledged leaders of the Bohemian national movement, but was also one of the most marked personalities in the Austrian Parliament before the war drove him into exile. He has been a life-long democrat and enemy of reaction and militarism: his memorable speech on the Agram Treason Trial, and his pitiless exposure of the forgeries of the Friedjung Trial in 1909, created a sensation throughout Europe. He is also one of the leading Slav thinkers of his time, and his book on “Russia and Europe” greatly increased an already great reputation. London University has honoured herself not less than him by appointing him Lecturer in Slav Literature and Sociology at the New School of Slavonic Studies.
Professor Masaryk’s knowledge of Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, and the Balkans is profound, and his knowledge of France, Italy, and Britain far from negligible. He has been for years a member of the Austrian Parliament, and on several occasions of the Austrian Delegation (which, under the constitution of the Dual Monarchy, exercises joint control with the Hungarian Delegation over the three Joint Ministries of Foreign Affairs, War, and Finance). He has even been a member of the special committee of that Delegation dealing with the Austro-Hungarian Army. He was thus obliged to follow attentively all military questions and to study the whole problem of military administration. He is thus obviously specially qualified to use the comparative method in dealing with the armies of the belligerent countries.
It only remains to be said that in circulating this Memorandum we do so from a general sense of its importance, without necessarily committing ourselves to agreement with it in every detail.
7th January, 1916.
MILITARY STRENGTH OF THE BELLIGERENT STATES.
1.—False Reports of the Enemy’s Military Weakness.
The figures of the strength of the various armies and their losses obviously must be ascertained in the first place. The principal question is how many fighting and military forces in general (reserves, provisions, supply department, railway service, &c.) the various States can bring forth, if the war is to last for a considerable space of time.
Just now we often read, even in serious papers, that the Germans fighting in Russia are beginning to be short of men. But this shortage (if it exists) can be only temporary, as the Germans and Austrians can still raise considerable numbers of men, and, indeed, are actually raising them.
Another very frequent statement relates to the quality of the enemy’s soldiers. Even authorities like General Galliéni proclaim (Sunday Times, December 5th) that the German troops are exhausting themselves, and that the quality of the German soldier is rapidly deteriorating. But in the same paper for November 23rd, in an article on the physique of the German troops, it is pointed out that the reports that the enemy has been compelled to fall back on unfit material in recruiting for his armies, are not trustworthy. The article quotes German official sources.
As a rule the figures of the enemy’s strength and quality, as given in the papers, are very misleading, because one statement usually contradicts the other. I am surprised that the Censors in England, France and Russia allow such statements to be printed; German papers are evidently not allowed to do so. I have observed that such statements have a bad effect not only on the general public, but also on the officers and the soldiers who read the papers.
It is surely of great importance that the officers should have a correct view of the quantity and quality of the enemy.
2.—Amount of Population of the Belligerent States.
Since the beginning of the war figures have often been adduced showing the numbers of the whole population of the Allies as well as of the enemy. These figures are, of course, very comforting the Allies having an overwhelming majority on a basis of population.
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Even if we do not count the colonies, these figures are very favourable to the Allies, giving them almost twice as much as the enemy.
The same favourable proportion is arrived at by a comparison of the figures showing the percentage of the male population between the ages of 20 and 50 in all the countries concerned. These give the following numbers of men (men, not soldiers):—
|8·5—9 million[a 1]||
|8·5—951 million||29 million[a 2]|
- For Great Britain the number of men between 18—40 amounts to 81 million.
- These and all other figures given in the Memorial are rounded off and put only approximately.
This proportion is greatly changed as soon as we compare the figures of the respective armies. Everyone knows that Germany and her tributaries have hitherto succeeded in throwing against the allied armies superior or at least equal forces.
3.—The German Army.
German official statistics give the following more specific figures:—
Landsturmpflichtig (17—45, liable to service in the Landsturm), 20·5 per cent. of the male population.
Militaerpflichtig (from 20 years, liable to service in the Army), 14 per cent. of the male population.
The German Handbook of the Army for 1912 gives the direct numbers of men available for the service:—
Out of this reserve Germany can levy a large number of new soldiers. It will depend upon what percentage is taken. Forty per cent. make 5,600,000; the number of men from 45 to 50 gives 2,000,000. Germany therefore still has 7,600,000 men, out of whom she can put at least 2,000,000 more in the field. It is possible that even men over 50 and of 18 would be taken. The number of men required to keep going industry and commerce is now considerably less than before the war, because all industries are on a reduced footing.
The decisive question is what quantity of equipment and armament Germany has. In any case, the strength of the German Army must not be underestimated, for the German war industry is strong and effective.
4.—The Austro-Hungarian Army.
Austria-Hungary has up till now mobilised about 4,000,000, and of these at best 2,000,000 are still fit for service. (The Austrian losses are known to include 930,000 prisoners in Russia, 70,000 prisoners in Serbia, 537,000 killed, 90,000 permanently disabled.) Over 1,250,000 are probably now at the front.
But Austria-Hungary is now calling up the classes from 18 to 50, and that would give an additional 4,000,000. The first mobilisation was not strictly carried out; but now all classes are closely examined, and a much higher percentage is taken-on an average 70 per cent., and in the Slav districts of Austria-Hungary as much as 90 per cent. The new levies consist of the following classes:—
(1) Men of 24—37, second revision, May—June.
(2) Men of 18, June.
(3) Men of 43—50, July—September.
(4) Men born in the years 1891, 1895, 1896, October.
(5) Men of 37—42, second revision, November—December.
(6) Third revision of all men of 18—50, January—February, 1916.
This gives the high total of 4,000,000. Of these at least 250,000 will be dismissed as unfit, and of the remaining 3,750,000 at least 2,250,000 can be sent to the front, while the rest accounts for the reserves and the service behind the front. That would give about 3,500,000 combatants.
For more detailed figures see La Nation Tchèque, 15th October, 1915.
5.—The Turkish and Bulgarian Armies.
The Turkish Army may amount to 1,000,000 (rather less!), while the Bulgarians can put about 300,000 men actually into the field.
6.—Grand Total of the Enemy.
|Total Effectives.||At the Front.|
|At present.||Next Spring.||At present.||Next Spring.|
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Once more it must be emphasised that the real number of fighting men will depend on the quantity of uniforms, rifles, ammunition, &c., and, of course, the same holds good with the Allies.
7.—The Allied Armies.
The Russian Army official reports gave the total of trained men as 7,668,000. Of these 7,000,000 may have been mobilised; but by now almost 4,000,000 of that can be eliminated as killed, unfit, missing, &c. With some new additions the Russian Army may be estimated at 3,500,000.
The French Army.—The Deputy Bérenger, member of the Senatorial Army Committee gives, on September 22nd, the total of the French Army as 5,000,000, of which 3,000,000 would be at the front.
The British Army.—According to the declaration of Mr. Asquith in the House of Commons on September 21st Great Britain has levied an army of 3,000,000, in which the Navy and the Colonials are not included.
The Serbian and Italian Armies.—The Serbians, on the eve of the recent invasion, had about 300,000 men. Italy could have a considerable army she was expected to mobilise at least 1,200,000 men.
8.—Grand Total of the Allied Armies.
|Total at present.||At the Front at present.|
- (Mr. Asquith, on the 21st December, stated in the House of Commons that there are one and a quarter million men fighting in the various theatres of war.
9.—Comparison of the Enemy’s Forces with those of the Allies.
At present the Allies have larger armies, and they even outnumber the Enemy at the front; but next spring the Enemy will be much stronger than he is now, as he is levying great forces. The Allies, of course are doing the same, and so it will depend not so much upon which side will have more men next Spring, as upon which will have the larger number of properly equipped soldiers.
10.—Advantages of the Enemy.
At present the Allies outnumber the Enemy; they have more men, perhaps even more soldiers. Why, then, is the Enemy more victorious? Only one answer is possible. The Enemy uses his forces better and more effectively than the Allies.
(1) The Enemy was better prepared for the war. Indeed, it is not too much to say that only he was prepared. Even France, in spite of 1870–71, in spite of ideas of revenge, was not prepared. Russia may be said to have been better prepared than might have been expected, while Britain, with the exception of the Navy, was not prepared at all.
The Austrian Army was not well prepared, as was proved by the defeats which she suffered in the first phase of the war.
(2) The decisive result of being prepared was that Germany started with greater forces than the Allies, at least in the West. It was only in the course of the war that the Allies could equal, and later on outnumber, the Enemy.
(3) The Enemy, as his countries are in close neighbourhood, was able to centralise his forces. At the beginning of the war Austria proceeded more independently, but her failures induced her to accept the German leadership. At present Berlin is the head, the only deciding head, of the Enemy, while the Allies are divided into four headquarters. In war a single narrow-minded leader is better than ten leaders of genius who are not united.
(4) This centralisation and unity is not only strategical; industry, commerce, and railways are centralised and unified as well, and therefore more effective.
(5) The Enemy from the beginning had a clearer political plan of what he wanted to achieve.
The Germans have a very large political literature, in which the Pangerman plan was discussed and, in the course of the discussion, clearly shaped. It is a mistake to believe that Pangermanism was, and is, merely Utopian. There was, and is, a Utopian element in it, but on the whole it very soon developed into a realistic doctrine, culminating in the plan of uniting all Germans in an economic organisation of the whole of Central Europe. (A more detailed exposition of Germany’s political plan in this war will be given later, § 24.)
Until now the Allies have had no such plan.
A political plan is essential for an army. In the German-Army there are thousands and thousands of officers of all ranks who prosecute the Pangerman idea, and not only officers, but hundreds and thousands of soldiers as well, have been educated in Pangerman ideas.
The leaders of an army must have a positive political plan, so as to know what territory to occupy, how to behave in the occupied territory, what to do there, and how to prepare for the future, &c.
(6) Public opinion, especially in Germany, is well led by the Universities and the whole machinery of schools journalism and literature. The Germans made a very effective use of Science. Germany has an effective journalistic service in neutral countries. The Germans have a more effective and much more extensive agitation abroad.
(7) The Germans are strong by their pénétration pacifique, not only in the neutral countries (the United States and America in general, Switzerland, Holland, &c.), but even in the belligerent countries themselves the Germans even to-day exert a very appreciable influence, sometimes amounting to pressure.
(8) The Germans have made a good strategical use of the railways. They sent their troops by fast trains from West to East or vice versa. That enabled them to have their soldiers in masses, though inferior in numbers. Russia, as well as Austria, and apparently the French and English also, transport their soldiers in very slow trains.
(9) Germans have made a good strategical use of automobiles (e.g., capture of Liège).
(10) The Germans made use of heavy guns at a very early stage, if not from the very beginning, especially for destroying the trenches.
(11) The Germans have a great number of mitrailleuses. As one mitrailleuse equals in its shooting power fifty foot-soldiers, the great number of mitrailleuses serves as a substitute for soldiers.
From German sources it has been reported that they have 40,000 mitrailleuses, and it is said that they use them more especially against the British troops.
I rather expected that the Allies would invent some new system of rifles or guns to make up for their shortcomings. I expected some decisive invention in the flying department (especially the regulation of aiming from airships). To my regret I learn that the Germans have invented new automatic rifles, firing 25 shots a minute.
(12) In this connection the German submarines may be mentioned. On the Continent they made a great impression not only on the civilian public; the Germans appeared as inventors and innovators even in naval strategy. The British public, of course, knows more about the real situation.
(13) The Germans derived from their offensive and offensivity all the benefit usually ascribed to these tactics; the Allies proceeded more passively, allowing themselves to be moved by the governing will of the advancing enemy.
(14) The Germans have so far displayed a great assurance of final victory; neither the army nor the general public were weakened by doubts and disquieting reflections. Only in the latest phase some scepticism is arising, but so far it is not victory that is in doubt; it is only the attainment of the full aim, as proposed at the beginning of the war, that is questioned.
11.—German Drawbacks or apparent Drawbacks.
The German strategists do not in any way strike me as men of genius. But they are conscientious, energetic, well-trained generals. The glorification of Hindenburg was facilitated by the treachery of Massoiedoff. But that’s just it—Germany has no such traitors in high places!
The German officer is a good soldier, and the men are very good and well trained. For instance, Germany spent a relatively much higher proportion of her War Budget upon rifle practice than other countries did. On the whole, Germany’s secret is assiduous thinking, the employment of Science and its practical consequences, being prepared and looking ahead; above all, enforcing the co-ordination, organisation, and centralisation of all their forces.
But the German system is not without its shortcomings.
(1) The continuous offensive involves a danger of exhaustion, especially for the Army. Germany sent all her best troops to the front at the very beginning; the sharp offensive brought them considerable losses, as great masses were engaged.
No doubt the new reinforcements will be weaker, but not so weak, I think, as is often stated in the Press.
To be able to take the offensive, the Germans have a relatively weaker reserve of men. The new levy must create a reserve and this reserve will be formed of older men, but perhaps the Allies will also be forced to levy older men.
Compare the following:—Westminster Gasette, October 20th: “I learn from a reliable source (says the Central News Amsterdam correspondent to-day) that within a short time men between the ages of fifty and fifty-five, who have already served in the army, will be called up in Germany.” Standard, Amsterdam, November 10th: “On November 15th Landsturm between the ages of forty and forty-three, who have not yet served, will be called up at Aix-la-Chapelle.” Times, December 3rd: “A Bill has been introduced in the Hungarian Parliament making men of fifty to fifty-five years of age liable to military service, but only to be employed within the country.” Times and other papers reported, 13th December, that Austria is going to levy even boys of seventeen years (?).
(2) Though German industry has been reduced, and consequently a considerable number of young workmen were set free for the war, yet the Germans need a great mass of strong and healthy people to keep their best industries going. That is the drawback of the industrialisation of the war.
This explains why Austria-Hungary, having a smaller industry, is able to raise a relatively larger army. Austria-Hungary did not call up all her forces at the beginning, as the Germans did, and therefore to-day she may still have relatively greater numbers of new soldiers.
(3) The dashing offensive against Paris, and then against Russia, did not succeed fully The German soldiers and the public are beginning to feel uneasy.
(4) I am inclined to think that the strategical plan of Germany miscarried from the beginning. Germany overrated her ally Austria, and she underrated Russia. Leaving the Russians and Serbians to Austria, the Germans made their perfidious invasion of Belgium and threw themselves against Paris, but being obliged to retreat in France they invaded Russia and Serbia. It would have served the German plan much better not to have violated Belgium, but to have defended their relatively short frontier against France and to have attacked with all violence the Russian Army. This was all the more to be expected, because Germany, led by the Emperor himself, in the beginning of the war proclaimed Russia as the deadly enemy. It is quite evident that the Germans changed their original plan, doing, after a year’s experience, what they might have done at the beginning.
(5) Very much is written about the starvation in Germany, and about the need of cutting off the supplies of the necessary food, wool, metals, &c.
I fear many futile hopes are still cherished in that respect. Food in Germany is scanty, but the people are not starving. Frugality and temperance, even fasting from time to time, does not demoralise a people; on the contrary, it may stimulate and make them more energetic. Soldiers who eat too much, fat soldiers, are worse than hungry ones—that is an old experience, of which we may read in Cæsar’s Commentaries.
Whether Germany is short of cotton, metals, &c., is a question of fact. But there is a good deal of evidence that the neutrals provided Germany with necessaries. For instance, on a single day of last summer Germany got 100 wagons of copper through Switzerland, and to this even French agents are said to have contributed. Now they will have the copper mines in Serbia. The Germans make full use of the industrial establishments of the occupied territories in Belgium, France, Poland: they use the coal mines of France, &c.
(6) The question of the blockade and suppressing German maritime commerce and navigation is too complicated to be discussed here fully; there are English industrial and commercial authorities who do not believe that Germany has been effectively blockaded. The trade of her neutral neighbours with the United States has gone up too much for it to be credible that the Germans did not get the greater part of this trade (in some instances a rise of over 300 per cent, above pre-war figures).
The Germans will perhaps lose many business connections, their commerce will be damaged; but on the other hand, they are forced to show restraint, to give up all luxuries and a good deal of comfort. Meanwhile, the logic of the public does not seek the cause of this enforced economy and parsimony in their Government and the Emperor, but in their enemies, especially the English.
To some extent the present economic situation in Germany is the anticipation of the future, when nations, at least the big nations, will be self-sufficing and independent of import or export. At any rate the British Blockade does not hurt Germany’s strategical position, at least not for the last period of the war-though perhaps its effects may be more serious in the future.
(7) A word must be said about the climate and nature of Russia. The papers are full of expectations that Winter will be an ally of the Russians. Even some Russian papers write the same. That is a mistake. Cold in winter is not nearly as bad as moisture and rain-the frozen ground actually facilitates communications which are greatly impeded by rains. General Russky declared in an interview very rightly, that “Winter would seriously modify the war conditions, because the rivers, lakes and marshes being frozen, the defensive will become more difficult, while the offensive will require more numerous effectives.” I had reliable news from Germany last, summer, that the Germans were preparing fur coats and making provisions for the winter campaign.
Nor should it be forgotten that the winter campaign tells very badly on some of the allied troops.
12.—The Austrian Army compared with the German Army.
The Austro-Hungarian Army is not as good and effective as the German Army.
(1) Austria before and since the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina prepared for war, and even mobilized (1908–09, 1912–13), yet her army was not prepared when the war broke out though the tension between her and Russia necessitated careful preparation. Officially the Government and the military authorities proclaimed more than once, that the Austrian Army alone was able to face the Russians and beat them into the bargain. It soon became manifest that the Army was very deficient; the leading was bad, and the commissariat was specially defective; the sanitary department was wretched (scanty equipment of the field hospitals, lack of surgical instruments, x-ray apparatus, &c.)
Even the armament of the troops was inadequate, no provision having been made for the use of heavy guns, and the artillery on the whole was weak. The Russians had an overwhelming artillery, and that was the amazing surprise, for both in Austria and in Germany the Russian army was looked upon as of no strategical value.
(2) Austria was defeated by the Russians, and by the Serbians. But the defeat restored Austria to life, the danger augmented her forces. And then Germany came to Austria’s aid—the Austrian army was, and is now, directed by the Germans. The German system has been imposed upon its administration, and experience shows that it is effective and works well. We have here a very instructive instance not only of Germany’s efficiency, but also of the fact that in war, leadership and the chief command is the deciding factor. If an army of good soldiers fails, it is from the head that the fish stinks (to quote a drastic German proverb). The war has proved that the soldiers of all the belligerent countries are excellent, each nation having some individual, specific qualities.
The German leading of the Austrian army paralyses the pro-Allies sympathies of a considerable part of the Austro-Hungarian army. The war against Serbia and Russia was very popular with the Germans and Magyars; of the other nations the Poles and Ruthenes (excepting the Russophile minority) were warlike in feeling, while the remaining nations were against the war. Of these the Bohemian regiments in particular showed their Slavophil sympathies without reserve, as is generally known; nor did the Serbocroats, the Roumanians and Italians like fighting for Austria: Later on, when Italy went against Austria, the Slav troops were sent against Italy, whose claims on Dalmatia wounded the national feelings of the Serbocroats, Slovenes and Czechs.
(3) There is one difference between Austria and Germany, which, although already mentioned, I wish to repeat and emphasize: In the first phase of the war Austria did not send to the front so many troops as Germany and, therefore, Austria now has relatively greater reserves of men. Furthermore, Austria’s industry needs less men, and this again will allow her to put comparatively more men into the Army. The men have already been called out.
13.—The British Army.
I am writing these lines in a critical moment: Parliament and the Press are getting more and more restless, the policy of the Government, the Army and its leading is being criticised on all sides. I follow very closely all public utterances and try to learn what sensible people of all classes think, and say. The war lasts long, and the Allies now after the retreat of the Russians are not gaining ground (since the battle of the Marne, that is to say, for over a year!) and as it is generally known—and just this point is emphasized, not only by the official press in Russia, France and England—that the Allies dispose of a greater amount of troops, the disquieting question arises, what is the cause of the deadlock and of the reverses, if the shortcomings in the supply of ammunition have really been removed? I am anxious to discriminate between inconsiderate and unfounded criticism and a conscientious if reluctant expression of “holy dissatisfaction,” as this state of mind under analogous circumstances has been called. The situation is very serious indeed, it cannot be more serious.
I will try to do full justice to the Allies, I will not allow myself to be carried away by the feeling of dissatisfaction, which close observation evokes.
Britain never having been a military state, had no big Army, or rather, British militarism displayed itself in the Navy. From some official hints it is manifest, that Britain joined the Allies on the understanding that she would send only a small army, but would make full use of her Navy and help financially. Unquestionably the British Navy deserves full praise; equal praise must be bestowed upon the financial help, given not only by the State, but by private relief work as well.
Britain having levied 3,000,000 men, did much more than she was expected to do, at any rate more than she was obliged to do. But the development of the war and especially Germany’s designs against the British Empire, forced England to protect herself against this unexpected thrust, and, therefore, she has to raise a very large army. I am convinced that the Germans will only be thrown back in the West and defeated, if Britain can bring to the front much more than a million soldiers, perhaps twice that number.
France appears to have called up all the men she had; therefore, Britain and Russia must open their “reservoirs” of men, if the Germans and their Allies are to be met with an outnumbering army.
Britain should introduce universal compulsory service. This system is more just and democratic, and it is much cheaper.
The British Army must be superior in numbers, because, compared with the German Army, it has some drawbacks due to natural circumstances.
In recent times its only experience of war has been against uncivilised tribes and nations: whereas the Germans have quite a different experience, besides being a military nation par excellence. The English resemble in that respect the Russians; although both had one analogous war experience—the Wars with the Boers and Japanese.
The British Army, being raised from non-soldiers, has one great drawback—it has few officers of experience especially in the higher ranks. That is a very real drawback, which must be taken into consideration; the more so, that the number of previously trained men is also small. Generals cannot be trained in a few months—therefore the most conscientious selection of the best men is necessary.
The papers announced that the British troops are to be drilled for six months; perhaps that is a good and expedient measure for England. In Austria and Germany the drill of the new men lasts only six weeks. It has been tried in Austria to send to the fighting line men after only a four weeks drill, but the experiment failed.
The long drilling period of the English recruits is, I presume, partly due to the voluntary system, getting men little by little; compulsory universal service would shorten the period of drilling.
The British Officers look very unmilitary and unwarlike; an eye accustomed to see German, Austrian, and Russian officers, detects at the first glance that the majority are more sportsmen than soldiers. Sport is a good preparatory school to military service, but it is not military service itself. The outfit of an officer is too luxurious and too costly to be military. I do not doubt, of course, that these men will fight very gallantly, that they will die with the greatest dignity, but England does not so much need officers who can die, as officers who can fight and win.
Of course the whole so-called voluntary system with its high pay is unmilitary, at least unwarlike. I read in serious papers, that industry and food production requires so many men, that universal service is impossible. This is a mistake. Universal service would not withdraw the necessary men from industry; it is merely a matter of ascertaining how many men industry requires, and these would then be provided. The Government must, of course, be in a position to know the requirements. Germany has an effective industry in spite of the compulsory system. Britain, of course, cannot compete with Germany (45 millions to 68 millions), but there is Canada, Australia—always assuming that the Navy is able to provide the necessary transport.
One fact has repeatedly forced itself upon my notice here. I find a striking lack of imagination among the English: often even men who are interested in the war as specialists are unable to anticipate the future developments of the situation; there is a peculiar lack of creative imagination in anticipating and foreshadowing the different possibilities. At the same time people are fantastic, constructing rather wild pictures of the nearest future, pictures which are of course merely the fond offspring of their own wishes.
My explanation of the fact is this: The English feel great security on their island; for generations they have felt the satisfaction of being the rulers of the greatest Empire in the world, and they learn from history that they repulsed the attack of Napoleon. It is from this cause that the British have been relatively slow to realise the peculiar importance of the war for their own country. Lulled in security, they still do not realise sufficiently the danger of the near future. The belief in the British Navy and in the protection afforded by the insular position of the country prevents people from seeing the consequences of a German victory. Germany organising Central Europe and utilising it according to the Pangerman programme, would attack England in Asia and Africa. Germany would be richer and would therefore be able to build a great Navy. By and by the insular position of England would become full of danger and isolation. Germany would control Asia and Africa by land, not only from Trieste, &c.
And there is another feature of England in connection with that feeling of security. England is rich, richer than Germany; the Englishman is accustomed to have his bread and butter, his comforts: a great portion of the nation live even in luxury—the hungry German (even if satiated, the German is in fear of starvation) is always on the qui vive, he is more versatile, more imaginative and effective. Again I must lay stress upon the difference between temporary hunger and degrading starvation.
“Business as usual” is a two-edged motto—a watchword and a boast. The English admit quite frankly that they were not prepared for the war, but in doing so they are usually thinking only of military preparation whereas this unpreparedness is of a wider range and significance. Indeed it will, I believe, be admitted that, so far, Britain has had to pay the premium of apprenticeship. Other nations, especially the Russians (but the Germans also), have also had to learn from experience in this war; but the English have to learn more and they must become quicker in putting the teachings of the war into practice.
14.—The Battle of Ctesiphon—Gallipoli—Help for Serbia.
Let me give some concrete instances of this striking deficiency. Take first the battle of Ctesiphon.
As soon as it became manifest that the Germans were approaching Constantinople, it was of vital interest for England to counterbalance the German victory in the Balkans by the possession of Baghdad, the more so as the Germans have been proclaiming for years and years that Constantinople will bring them to Baghdad. But what happened in Mesopotamia? After the first advance towards Baghdad the British troops had to retire, for lack of water. Is it possible in those regions to advance without good supplies of water for men and animals? Was the nature of the territory not known to the British? Did they not learn from the Italians in Tripoli the need of providing water? What kind of intelligence service has the Army in Mesopotamia?
Next day the retirement of the British was explained by the fact that the Turks had much larger forces. But how could it happen that the British did not know at least the approximate strength of the enemy? There were also some rumours that the Arab tribes were treacherous; supposing that this were true, would that be an excuse? The British had been in Mesopotamia long enough for the staff to know the situation.
But the most striking explanation of the Mesopotamian failure was given by Lord Crewe in the House of Lords (December 7th). Lord Crewe made two statements: first, that General Townshend had a larger army than his own division; and, secondly, that he had not engaged in the battle on his own personal decision; on the contrary, the competent authorities considered his army sufficient in numbers for the purpose. Lord Crewe explained, with great emphasis, that the advance on Baghdad was contemplated some months ago; that this advance had a political meaning, and that by universal competent military opinion General Townshend’s forces were considered to be sufficient. “The task, however,” he says, “proved to be a heavier one than was anticipated, owing to the greatly superior forces of the enemy and their powerful armament of artillery.”
Now I admit that a disaster of this kind may happen to any army, but not at such a time and under political and strategical circumstances of such a kind as to demand the utmost effort not only on the part of the staff, but of every single general and officer! A disaster at such a moment as this shows that there must be grave shortcomings in the leading and administration of the army.
The Gallipoli undertaking, the diplomatic and strategical failure to be prepared to help. Serbia in time, the fact that German East Africa is to-day still in the hands of the Germans—all these are further indications of the same fact.
The narrowness of the Dardanelles and of the Gallipoli Peninsula should have prevented an attack against Turkey from this side. Both the Straits and the Peninsula can be easily defended by a comparatively small army, without the attacking army being able to make any display of forces.
So far as Serbia is concerned, it was the positive duty of the Allies, and especially of Britain, to come to her aid. But in doing so they were also, it must be remembered, protecting themselves. Britain, being at war with Turkey, had to attack as effectively as possible that was and is necessary if only for the sake of British prestige in Asia and the Balkans. The attack on Gallipoli and the Dardanelles shows that the obligation of assuming the offensive was felt; but in my opinion the true offensive would have been against Baghdad, with a view to joining hands with the Russians further north, and so eventually threatening Constantinople. In that case the attack on the Dardanelles and Gallipoli would look differently
How the southern point of Gallipoli and Salonica are to be held can be answered only by strategists, who know the strength of the army at their disposal. The situation is worse now that Bulgarian territory can be used by Turks and Germans. The Turks, Bulgarians and Germans with the Austrians may have 400 + 300 + 200 = 900,000 men: Serbia at the best 160,000—how many have the Allies? Will British troops come via Italy to Albania? Will the Italians take their part and the Russians or the Roumanians? The German leaders will no doubt fortify the whole Greek frontier, if they decide to respect Greece and her peculiar neutrality; but it is probable that they will attack both Salonica and Gallipoli. And Egypt and Baghdad! The political and economic significance of Egypt for Britain has been duly discussed by Pangerman politicians and strategists, and it must be expected that the Germans will not suddenly forget it, now that they are at Constantinople. Again and again one demand must be made: more soldiers, swift decisions and rapid movements! The Germans will do all in their power to weaken Britain and to injure her prestige in the Orient, and I expect a fierce attack on the British troops in the West also.
15. The French Army.
Of France I will say little. The views which I have held for many years past on France’s rôle in the future war coincide almost completely with those contained in Colonel Grouard’s well-known book (“France et Allemagne—La Guerre eventuelle”). For instance, I never could understand why France built so many fortresses on the frontier; I was of opinion that France should not begin with an offensive, and I was afraid that she was not adequately prepared, whether from the military or the administrative point of view—this and other views I have expressed often before the war, and in a series of articles at the outbreak of the war. In these views I was confirmed by Colonel Grouard; I select his book out of the interesting French military literature, because it is well worth reading even to-day.
To me it was a problem why France, having had the experience of 1870–71 and dreaming of revenge, was not better prepared for the war, though, of course, I could observe that official France during the last few decades had given up the idea of such a revenge and of war in general. As a matter of fact the French Government was taken unprepared, just as England and all the other Allies.
All the more credit is due to France that, though at first she had a smaller army than the Germans, she could put up such resistance and could even gain the battle of the Marne—with the help of British troops. Now she has brought together a very big army, and the spirit of this army is excellent, as is shown by all the reports from the battlefield. I myself was pleasantly surprised during my stay in France by the sober, determined, and unpretentious behaviour of the French officers. The observer is struck by the apparent intelligence of both officers and soldiers. I must say that my French experiences were the most comforting which I have had during the later period of the war. I cannot refrain from praising the determined spirit which pervades the whole French nation. If there was in the first period of the war some indecision even in the Army, there is no longer any trace of it now. The French are more and more conscious of the great importance of the war and of its noble aims. M. Briand’s latest utterance is an expression of the general feeling and conviction in France.
16. Prussian Militarism and the Allies.
I am not surprised that France and Britain awoke comparatively late to the full consciousness of what this awful war means. France and Britain are parliamentary States. Democracy, though imperfect, is deeply rooted: the struggle for individual freedom is a national ideal: France is a republic. In order that Democracy and liberty should be strengthened, the spirit of aristocratism which has hitherto stood for militarism had to be weakened. Hence France and Britain, aiming at Democracy, naturally had to suppress or at least mitigate the military spirit. The course which this historical process is taking cannot be discussed here; but it is of great importance to be aware of the fact, to be able to understand the difference between military Germany and democratic France and Britain. I am inclined to believe that all the military and administrative drawbacks and shortcomings of France and Britain are precious proofs of the necessary weakening of militarism. I do not, of course, suggest that all these deficiencies are to be accounted for by real democratism, but a good many of them undoubtedly are.
What holds good of France and England can be to some extent applied to Russia as well, and also to Italy.
But the Allies decided to protect themselves and the small nations; they decided to crush Prussian militarism, and to free Europe from its weight. Militarism no doubt can be weakened by peaceful means, but its attack cannot be repulsed by these means; and it may be argued that the policy of France and Britain was not always consistently democratic, or framed so as to prevent this war and to force Germany morally to a peaceful policy too. Europe is in a state of transition, and that often means “halfness.” In any case, once the Allies decided to face Germany on the battlefield, it was necessary for them to know the Germans and their methods, to understand German militarism, and to face it by adequate measures. Once they decided to cast out the devil by Beelzebub, they had to play the devil with the Prussian devil. And the devil is black—you can fight him with pure white, but never with some shade of dingy grey or red, and least of all with a motley display of irridescent hues and colours . . .
It is only natural that there was a certain amount of practical anti-militarism in some of the armies. But after seventeen months of fighting, not only the Government and the general staff, but every single man must be determined to win the great fight. One can understand Hervé’s position before the war, but to-day Hervé himself has taken the only possible and right path-to resist and to win. Liberty and democracy can only be protected and strengthened by determination, heroism, devotion and sacrifice.
Democracy with its Parliamentarism means Parley, means Compromise and the Direct Control of the People, whereas in war, in military and strategic matters, there is no time and no place for any kind of democratic referendum. Time and swiftness of decision means victory.
17.—The Russian Army.
I happened to be in Berlin several times during the first four months of the war; I heard there many expressions of amazement at the surprising achievements of the Russians. As I have already pointed out, the Germans, partly influenced by the Austrians, underestimated the Russian troops. In point of fact they were much better prepared than the Austrians—they had an overwhelming artillery, the equipment was good, as I heard from many competent quarters in the Austrian army; and very much praised was the Russian sanitary department.
The invasion of Bukovina and Galicia, the repulse of Hindenburg before Warsaw, &c., were splendid achievements; the victory in Galicia seemed to secure the road for the advance against Berlin, the image of the crushing steam roller became a necessary ingredient and topic of the daily stock of war-illustrations and forecasts. It is only just to say that this premature and hasty idea did not come from Russia only.
The Press of the Allies wrote very uncritically of the greatness and of the masses of Russia, indulging in the false opinion that Russian resources of men are inexhaustible. But “men " and “soldiers” are not the same thing. Russia had not the necessary millions of rifles and uniforms, she had not the necessary ammunition, and her quite respectable store of guns was exhausted. And, of course, the very greatness of Russia is her chief strategical source of weakness—the lack of railways and roads.
The Russians, like the British, gathered their military experience from fighting non-European armies; after the war with Japan the whole army and navy were in a state of transformation. It does Russia credit that the expectations of her enemies were deceived. I do not underrate the defeat which followed; and I would not seek to minimise the great masses of captured men and officers; but I cannot abstain from praising the Russian soldier, whose enforced retreat did not bring demoralisation with it. After all, the present defeat is balanced by the previous victory, and a new era is opening for the Russian army.
If I wrote this Memorandum for Russians, I should have much more to say on the Russian army and Russian policy; here I content myself with the bare statement, that the Russian defeat was not caused merely by lack of ammunition. We know now, that even the Germans, on some occasions were short of ammunition, as they are ready enough to confess to-day. The great shortcoming of the Russian army was caused by certain peculiar features of the general staff and its relation to the generalissimo; besides there were serious faults in the military administration, and Russian policy in the occupied territories was not worthy of the occasion. The disgraceful affair of Massoïedoff has already been mentioned.
I regretted from the beginning that the Russian campaign did not disclose any real political plan; the liberation of the Poles and other Slavs, the protection of Servia was proclaimed; but these great aims were not matched by deeds. Very soon it became obvious that Russia’s whole policy was dwindling to the annexation of Eastern Galicia; the Balkans, Constantinople and Asia were forgotten, the Army of the Caucasus was doomed to secondary and purely local strategy. Now we see the fruit of the Russian defeat. The Germans are not far from Constantinople, Persia is very disturbed and China may soon follow.
It was in the year 1887 that I learned from a Russian officer, during a visit in Russia, that in case of war with Germany the Germans would try to invade Petrograd, and since that time I had this possibility before my mind, and in an article written at the very beginning of the war expressed the apprehension that the Germans would aim at Petrograd. It is always dangerous to let the enemy create a precedent. Of course the Russians have the precedent of East Galicia and its benefit, but that is of a much lesser value than the German precedent.
The expulsion of the Germans from Russian Poland will be a serious task; the Germans will be very strongly entrenched; the Austrians have fortified, under German leading, all the Carpathian mountain-passes and defiles, and have prepared trenches, the destruction of which will require many batteries of heavy guns. The lessons of the retreat and of the first occupation will, I hope, prevent the reiteration of the bad mistakes made in the administration of the occupied territories, not only towards the Poles and Jews, but also towards the Ruthenes. I am sorry to be obliged to say that the Russians alienated many sympathies there; and it was only the blunders of the Austrian administration after the re-occupation that counter-balanced this loss.
18.—Lack of Co-operation and Unity among the Allies.
The Allies, then, not being military nations such as the Germans and, therefore, not being as prepared for war as these specialists in soldiering, had to learn by the war. But it is to be hoped that the time of apprenticeship has been served—though, of course, the Germans have learned as well. In any case, in all the countries of the Allies, in Britain just as in France and Russia, the Parliaments and the public expect a more prosperous campaign of their armies. To that end, criticism is becoming general and advice is being given both with regard to the Government and the armies. The changes in the various Governments show that the latter themselves acknowledge that these criticisms are not unfounded or inopportune.
The Times war correspondent (12th of November) gives the view of the Russian main headquarters to the effect, that had there been from the beginning of the war a closer co-ordination of the allied armies, we should not have had to deplore the Carpathian adventure, and the temporary eclipse of Russia’s military power. I agree with the correspondent; but all the Allies, especially the three great Powers, are equally responsible for this lack of unity. Moreover the Russian main headquarters obviously should not have executed a strategical plan, the realisation of which depended upon the unity of the Allies, if this unity did not exist.
The universal demand for unity and co-operation is quite just, and, as we see, the military authorities concur with the civilian critics on that point. But if a common plan is demanded, one assumption is tacitly implied, namely, that those whose task it is to co-operate and to devise a plan shall be the right men for the task. Incapable men meeting together in committee will not thereby become capable and efficient. Capable men are wanted-whether in the Government, diplomacy, or the armies.
All such questions (for instance the question whether the Government is to be composed of many or a few members, &c.) are very important, but none the less matters of form. The war is an event so gigantic, that everywhere great men are longed for-men equal to the grandeur of the emergency. The war has made it manifest that, in all countries, many members of the Government, though possibly quite good in times of peace, are not in any way equal to so tremendous an occasion.
The public, therefore, is not content with formal, and proceeds to material, criticism. “The diplomatists are to blame for our want of success.” “There have been too many diplomatists and strategists.” “The military authorities refuse to carry out what the civil authorities propose and demand.” These and kindred objections can be read now every day.
My own experience with Austrian diplomacy makes me prone to join the chorus of those who criticise diplomatists; but it is not they only who have been to blame. I do not defend them, because I know quite well what some diplomatists of the Allies have done in the various countries; many people know it and point their fingers at several personages. Possibly some of them could defend themselves by arguing that their Government very often did not listen to their reports; but in any case it is the various Governments and Foreign Offices which are responsible for their diplomacy.
I would insert here a word on the military attachés. All the Governments have had their military attachés in Berlin for years past. What were these gentlemen doing in Berlin? What did they see and hear there and at the many manœuvres? But I will be just—the German attachés were no better! They did not see that Russia was more prepared than was expected: they did not see that Austria was much less prepared than she herself pretended: they did not see the excellent ’75mm. guns of the French.
After the war objections of this kind may serve for reconstructing the whole administrative machinery of the State; but the results of the war depend on our preparation to-day, and therefore these preparations must be scrutinised more closely than ever before, with a view to strengthening the efficiency of the armies and of the Governments. The Governments and the Army Commanders are responsible for the failures; a third factor, and in war-time a very momentous one, even in constitutional States, are the dynasties.
In these reflections only a brief mention has been made of the British Navy; but there are also the French, Italian, and Russian Navies. The four Navies combined could have done a good deal of work if there had been a comprehensive strategic plan.
Perhaps the time for the Navies will come, when Belgium, the Baltic provinces, Austria (Triest,. Pola) and Turkey will be pressed and occupied by the victorious armies of the Allies.
On the whole the decision will be brought about on land.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
If, as I believe, my criticisms have been positive as well as negative (and there is a great difference between the two!), the answer to the question: “What is to be done?” must be—to avoid or to make good mistakes and, where necessary, to change the methods of procedure, to get the clearest possible insight into the tremendous significance of the present world struggle.
Money—money—and again money, has been described as the principal requisite of war; to-day we must alter this dictum and say: men—men—and again more men! Men, of course, means soldiers.
It is to Russia and Great Britain that we look for the augmentation of the allied armies; the Allies must have larger armies than the enemy at the front, and they must have such reserves of men trained and ready, that a surprise like that in the Balkans shall no longer be possible.
If the French army is five millions strong, Britain must raise the same number; five millions being the amount of recruits for which she would be liable as a conscript country. Russia must have at least seven millions; that is, compared with Britain and France, a low number, but I take into account the heavy losses of the original Russian army, especially the heavy losses of officers, then the financial strength of the country and the productive power of its war industry. As we now can expect that the Allied armies will co-operate, the number of seven millions should be sufficient. These numbers are necessary, for Germany will fight desperately and bring large quantities. So will Austria, and Turkey will be squeezed by the Germans and will provide further supplies of men. The expense of these huge armies will be fully made good by shortening the war.
In demanding soldiers—more soldiers, we demand by implication more ammunition and the necessary armaments; for soldiers without guns, rifles, high explosives, etc., are no soldiers at all! The Allied troops must undo all the advantages of the Enemy; heavy guns will be needed to destroy his trenches, machine-guns are of the greatest value, etc., etc.
21.—Is a Prolonged War Advantageous to the Allies?
I know that influential men admonished the English public to be prepared for a long war: a three years’, even a twenty years’ war has been prognosticated. It is argued that the Allies must necessarily win by the prolongation of the war, that Great Britain will be stronger in every respect, and the enemy will be weakened.
I understand quite well, why this argument was brought forward in a country which, owing to her historical development, was not prepared for a war with the Prussian soldiery. I shared this opinion, but only so long as it was necessary to prepare the army; and I doubt whether the enemy has been weakened in the degree supposed. The enemy is also making use of the time available, inventing new kinds of weapons, levying reinforcements, and last, not least, acquiring influence with the Neutrals. The prolongation of the war may easily be taken as hesitation and weakness. A victory only won after long delay is not only far more costly (Sir Edward Carson’s argument), but might easily be less efficacious and decisive. But the final victory must decisive, every kind of drawn game, doubtful for our cause, is a definite victory for the enemy. Having gained unquestioned victories in the initial stages of the war, he must be defeated sufficiently to give in and own his defeat.
The prolongation of the war would affect the financial power of the Allies; it is a question whether Italy, and even France and Russia, could stand the war as long as Britain. The Balkan States are positively afraid of a long war.
France, moreover, having to face the threatening depopulation of the country, will calculate the number of the losses caused by a prolonged every day war in the trenches.
22.—Will Economics End the War?
There is a widespread notion that economics, not strategy, will end the war; even officers in leading positions share this opinion. Yet despite the part played by economics, the final decision must inevitably be arrived at on the battlefield.
23.—Japan and the War.
In France, as I see from several publications, the military help of the Japanese has been seriously considered. National and racial sentiments (the yellow danger) are quite out of place, when once the English and now even the Russians are on friendly terms with Japan. Moreover, the Japanese are our Allies, and have helped already; there is thus no question of principle involved. No doubt the financial aspect would have to be considered. In the first place the transport of the troops to Europe, even to the Turkish theatre of war, would be very expensive. But may not a postponement of the decision prove even more expensive? Perhaps it would be advisable from the political standpoint to bring Japan into a stronger opposition against Germany. In the second place, the Japanese themselves maintain that they cannot accept money payment from the Allies. But the latter would only have to advance to Japan the necessary sum, which would then be repaid out of the future German indemnity. To-day the United States would not interfere with any action of Japan against Germany. However much they may dislike the Japanese, they would certainly prefer Japanese intervention to a German victory.
24.—Necessity of a Political as well as a Strategical Plan.
King Constantine says in the interview granted to the correspondent of The Times: “We are desirous of knowing the programme which the Allies have drawn up for themselves.” This desire is shared by many people and, it seems, even by the Allies themselves.
In speaking of the plan of the Allies, it is not superfluous to accentuate two things. First, that the strategical plan must be distinguished from the political plan; but it is a matter of course that strategy prepares the political settlement, and the whole war must be subservient to the political aims of the warring States. On the other hand the political plan influences the strategy, as has been pointed out already.
The second observation refers to Britain. In the English papers and public opinion it is very apparent that the administrative plan of raising an army is mistaken for the strategical plan. In Germany or France this part of the whole task is looked upon as a mere matter of military administration in England the public pays much greater attention to this work. The difference is very striking. In France, General Joffre, the strategical leader, is put in the foreground and is considered first; while in England, Lord Kitchener’s great authority is bound up with military administration, and it is not easy to see who are the supreme strategical leaders of the army. There is no military leader of Joffre’s repute. How this affects the army, either men or officers, I have no means of judging, but it is at least suggestive. It is very strange that Lord Kitchener should have had to inspect the East, and to perform the work of a diplomatist. Joffre’s visit to London, on the contrary, dealt with matters of strategy. In any case Lord Kitchener’s absence points to some vagueness in the supreme war authority.
25.—The German Political Programme: Pan-German Central Europe or “Berlin—Baghdad.”
There is a tendency at the present moment to ascribe to the Balkans a high strategical importance, and to imagine that a new epoch of the war is being inaugurated. I do not think so. The theatre of the war has been widened; but from the very beginning it was the Near and the Far East which was aimed at by Germany’s outspoken and well prepared plan, which was and is: Berlin–Baghdad.
It is rather curious that this plan should become manifest only now, when Germany is reaching Constantinople. And even to-day the German plan is not fully understood. Yet German politicians, historians and economists have for many years past worked out the plan “Berlin–Baghdad.” If French, English and Russian publicists and politicians neglected this plan as an Utopia, they were greatly mistaken. To-day we see, that the German armies have already to a large extent realised the plan.
It is of great importance to know what the German means by “Berlin–Baghdad.”
Prussia under Bismarck united the greater part of the German nation on the principle of nationality ever since the Eighteenth century the Germans strove to be united, and it was Napoleon who strengthened this craving for unity. So far, the Germans had no other national plan than all the other nations had. Italy claimed her unity at the same time, the Balkan nations were partly freed from Turkey, the nations in Austria tried to weaken German centralism and to get national independence as well.
But the political and national situation of Germany was different from the situation of the Italians, etc. Germany was at first led by the Austrian Habsburgs; but Prussia grew strong, as a result of the Reformation, and by assuming the leadership of the Protestant North, whereas Austria was the leader of the Catholic part of Germany. This rivalry of Prussia and Austria was ended by the defeat of Austria in 1866, and her expulsion from Germany; and this defeat was consummated by the defeat of France in 1870, and the creation of the German Empire.
In this way German national feeling and ideas were embodied in the Pan-German Programme. This programme claimed in the first place the incorporation of Austria into the new empire; but Bismarck opposed the Pan-Germans on the ground that Germany could not stand the accretion of Catholics (to-day there are 42 millions of Protestants as against 25 millions Catholics: the incorporation of Austria would add another 25 millions Catholics, and thus give Germany a Catholic majority). Bismarck’s plan, therefore, was to leave Austria-Hungary independent, but to use her an ally. That is the real meaning of the Triple Alliance. Lagarde, the father of modern Pan-Germanism, interpreted Bismarck’s plan in the sense that Austria must be Germany’s colony and “Hinterland,” and that Trieste must be preserved for Germany. Italy, as a member of the Triple Alliance, had to check her Irredenta, just in the same way that the Pan-German Irredenta was checked by the intimate Alliance of Germany with Austria.
Bismarck succeeded in winning Hungary (Andrássy) for his plan, and in inducing even official Austria to accept his scheme, though there was always a section of the Austrian-Germans (the so-called “Alt-Oesterreicher”) who did not accept Pan-Germanism, and the Dynasty had also shown considerable reluctance. By degrees the leaders of Pan-Germanism came to accept Bismarck’s and Lagarde’s scheme. It is a mistake to suppose that Bismarck and Pan-Germanism exclude each other: Prince Bülow, in his treatise on Politics, shows that Bismarck, had he lived, would have followed the Pan-German Programme. In fact, the leaders of Pan-Germanism proclaim now and during the war that they fully accept Bismarck’s practical scheme.
The Pan-German Programme claimed in the name of nationality not only Austria but also Hungary, with over two millions of Germans (the Saxons in Transylvania, and the Swabians of the Banat), the Russian Baltic provinces, German Switzerland—even Holland, proclaiming Dutch as a German dialect. Using the word “Germanism” in its wider sense, the Germans claim the leadership of not only the German-Teutons but of the whole Germanic race, including the Scandinavians and the English. Poland was demanded on the ground that there were many German colonies. By degrees the Pan-German plan was transformed into the project of Central Europe led by Germany. Germany accepted Turkey as a new ally, aiming not only at the Balkans but at Asia-Minor as well; “Berlin–Baghdad” became the watchword of this enlarged Pan-German scheme.
The German antagonism against Russia and France, the growing antagonism against Great Britain completed the Pan-German scheme. So Holland, Switzerland were to be annexed to the Customs Union of Central Europe, the so-called German Baltic Provinces—the population of which, as a matter of fact, is Lettish, only the aristocracy and the townspeople being German—were to be “liberated.” Furthermore the growing Ruthenian (Ukraine) movement was to be used against Russia, a Ruthenian State was to be formed in the East as a buffer against Russia, needless to say as yet another member of the Germanised Zollverein. The Balkan States with their German princes and princesses (excepting Serbia and Montenegro) were regarded merely as natural satellites of Germany.
Besides these nationalistic and economic incitements to world power, Germany was stimulated by England’s example. The Pan-German literature clearly shows it, and the Germans admit it openly enough; it is England who inspired the building of a great Navy, it was England’s industry and commerce which incited to competition on the world’s market; it is the British Empire which roused Germany’s envy and political emulation. Finally the very idea of the German Empire, as the sequel and continuation of the Roman Empire, and the renovation of this Empire was the political programme of World Power and the declaration of “the will to power.”
Under the given circumstances Britain and Russia, the two World Powers, were the natural opponents of these German aspirations; but both Russia and Britain very often helped Germany in achieving her plan either involuntarily or even voluntarily—no doubt assuming that Germany only aimed at the position of an equal among equals. But soon it became manifest that Germany aspires to lead the world; it was to prevent Russia’s full development and reorganisation which began after the Russo-Japanese War, that Germany waged this war, thinking that England would not join the Entente.
This grand scheme of Berlin–Baghdad was drawn up and elaborated by the Pan-German politicians there are numerous authors of untiring energy, who popularised these political aspirations realised finally in the present war, for Germany controls practically at this moment the area of the Pan-German “Central Europe.”
In the nineties, the Pan-German Programme was worked out in detail, the German Central Europe and the Weltreich was fully shaped. Soon the watchword “Berlin–Baghdad” was circulated in books and the press. Not only Bronsart von Schellendorf, the Prussian War Minister, but the Kaiser himself is an ardent adherent of Pan-Germanism and a pupil of Lagarde. Bronsart gave a detailed programme of Central Europe under Germany’s leading. And the scheme, Berlin–Baghdad, first began to be shaped by men like List and Moltke, and can be traced back to Frederick the Great and his Turkish policy.
Now that Germany has succeeded in occupying the territory forming the essential part of the Pan-German programme of Central Europe or “Berlin–Baghdad—not only Pan-Germanism, but the whole development of Prussia-Germany must be reviewed and revised in accordance with the present situation on the battlefields.
26.—Austria and the Magyars as the tools and puppets of Pan-Germanism.
Austria’s significance for Germany must be obvious to all to-day. “Berlin–Baghdad” means above all the abdication of Austria-Hungary as a really independent State.
Germany went into the war as a “loyal” ally of Austria-Hungary; but to-day Germany is not an ally, she is the military leader, the political and economic sovereign of “independent” Austria-Hungary. Germany has the 51 millions of the population of Austria-Hungary at her disposal. Austria-Hungary opens up the road from Berlin to Constantinople; it is the “Alliance” with Austria-Hungary which has enabled Germany to invade the Balkans.
The direct Alliance with Turkey and Bulgaria and the invasion of the Balkans is the consequence of the full mastery over Austria-Hungary. It is a riddle to me how the politicians in England, France, and Russia could fail to grasp the true meaning of the Triple Alliance, and above all of the peaceful penetration of Austria-Hungary by Germany; they of course paid no attention to the struggle of the Austrian Slavs against the oppressive influence of Germany, nor did they notice the national efforts of Bohemia and the Southern Slavs. So short-sighted they were that they even patronised the principal instrument of Germany, the Magyars, who had skilfully acquired control of Austria’s diplomatic service. Latterly all the more important Austro-Hungarian Embassies have been held by Magyars, the outspoken adherents and tools of Germany, and the Magyar aristocrats influenced and created political opinion not only of the diplomatists, but also actually of the Governments of the Entente-Powers.
In France, it is true, some sympathies were tendered to the Bohemians, and even some practical advances were tried. In Russia the official world was very little touched by the theories and practices of the unofficial Slavophils. Only the Balkan Slavs, the Orthodox Bulgars and Serbs, were officially acknowledged, as also the Greeks.
To-day at least it must be evident that the present situation in the Balkans is the logical outcome of Pan-Germanism; the way to Baghdad was secured and fortified on the battlefields in Russia and France—Belgium. There the dice for Baghdad, for Asia and Africa were cast, and will be cast again.
27.—The War in the Balkans: the three Allied Powers—Britain, France, and Russia—must rely on themselves.
It would be a mistake to say, that the war in the Balkans is secondary—no, it is the continuation of the war in the North. But the decision of the war, and that means, the decision as to the leadership in Europe and Asia, will be fought out in Russia and France. It is a matter of course that the Balkans must be defended by the Allies too. They must send there enough troops to prevent the Germans from occupying Constantinople, encouraging Persia and threatening Egypt and India.
Nevertheless, and in spite of the need for defending Constantinople and the Balkans (Serbia)—one very serious lesson follows from the general situation: the three great Allies must depend on themselves, and on themselves only.
I have said that the question, whether the diplomatists have brought the bad situation in the Balkans upon the Allies, is now of no great consequence. But I go still further. The very fact that they are blaming the diplomatists, proves that they do not grasp the situation, and that they are accusing the Allies of a great weakness. The perpetual negotiations with Greece and Roumania, and with Bulgaria, the whole campaign in the Press, is a lamentable proof that this weakness is not merely diplomatic.
The development of the war and the attitude of the neutrals should have been better understood. One victory in France or Russia, even a moderate victory, will do more than any number of diplomatic démarches. German diplomacy has triumphed in the Balkans, because the German arms have been victorious. Turkey’s adherence to Germany was a very strong example and suggestion for all the Eastern States and Nations. The hesitation and Germanophil tendencies of the other Balkan and Asiatic States are the natural result of Turkey’s example. Bulgaria’s decision after a long period of hesitation, and the hesitation of Greece—is it possible not to see into the situation?
The Allies were guilty of a great strategic fault in allowing themselves to be surprised by Germany’s march to aid her Turkish ally; they ought to have had such reserves of men as to render any surprise impossible. It is to be hoped they will not be surprised once more in Mesopotamia, Armenia and Egypt.
The war is a war of the Great Powers of Europe; the small States are neutral, and will join one side or the other, according to the situation on the battlefield.
Britain, France and Russia must be able to defeat Germany, Austria and Turkey—therefore Britain and Russia must raise the necessary armies, if France has already brought up her full quota of men.
28.—The political programme of the Allies: Non-German, Anti-German, European Central Europe: liberty of all nations, also of small nations.
The political plan of Germany must be counterbalanced by a political plan of the Allies But until now, the Allies had no such plan, each had a special plan of his own. France aims at the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine. England defended her naval supremacy, and Russia was eager to incorporate East Galicia. That was the real plan. The liberation of Belgium and of the small nations is a very noble, and a very practical programme; but hitherto it has merely been proclaimed in the abstract. The policy of the Allies is not directed by that programme.
The Allies must meet the German plan of Central Europe controlled by Germany, by the plan of Central Europe freed from German control. In my lecture on the Small Nations I have attempted to show, that Central Europe contains a peculiar zone of smaller, unfree or half free nations, and that the political organisation of this zone is the real task of the present war.
The Germans have grasped the vital importance of this ethnographical zone of Central Europe: their plan of Central Europe controlled by Germany has been conceived from the German standpoint. The tactics may change according to the situation: divide et impera was the rule up to now; for some time past they have been trying to persuade the nations of Central Europe that Germany is their best friend, that the Germans aspire to the ruling control, not only in her own interest but also in the interests of these nations themselves.
At any rate it is obvious that the German plan of Central Europe is a far-reaching and grandiose plan; the Allies must have an equally far-reaching plan for the treatment of Central Europe. And the German plan is not only grandiose and far-reaching, but it is at the same time practical: the Allies must have an equally practical programme.
29.—Independent Poland—Independent Bohemia—Independent Greater Serbia.
This plan of the Allies can only consist in an energetic endeavour to liberate the Non-German nations of Central Europe.
Central Europe comprises the East of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Balkans and the Eastern part of Russia (Poland). The restoration and liberation of Poland, of Bohemia comprising the Slovak country of North Hungary, and the organisation of Greater Serbia is the first and essential task of the Allies; all other questions will be solved easily if the Allies perform this task.
Free Poland with independent Bohemia is the direct check against Prussia.
Very often it is proclaimed that the Allies are going to crush Prussian Militarism. How is that to be achieved? If this plan has a practical meaning, it can only consist of the plan to weaken Prussia directly and permanently by liberating the Poles and Czechs, and creating buffer States against Prussian aggression. Free Poland reaching to the Baltic would make East Prussia an enclave, as it was in the past, and Germany would be proportionately weakened.
The significance of Independent Bohemia may be seen from the history and the geographical position of the country. The Bohemians were strong enough to resist the German Drang nach Osten; it was the union with Bohemia which made Austria so strong and powerful. Bismarck observed very rightly, that the possession of Bohemia guarantees the dominion over Europe. The liberation of Bohemia is, for the Allies, as important as the liberation of Poland and the Southern Slavs. In fact these three tasks must form the main object of a sound anti-German policy on the part of the Allies.
Of course Austria-Hungary must be dismembered. It can and must be manifest now that any scheme for the preservation of Austria-Hungary is a direct form of “travail pour le roi de Prusse,” for Austria-Hungary has proved herself, and that not only during the war but before it, to be a mere instrument in the hands of Germany. It is the Pan-German plan to preserve Austria-Hungary.
The liberation and union of the Southern Slavs under the political guidance of Serbia would mean a further stage in the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary, and in the organic re-modelling of the Balkans on a racial basis. And surely Serbia has proved her loyalty as an Ally!
Italy’s just national aspirations also demand the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary. Italy would be then the neighbour of Greater Serbia, and would complete the anti-German barrier formed by Poland, Bohemia and Greater Serbia.
Further, the organisation of a Magyar as opposed to a Hungarian State and the liberation of the Hungarian and Austrian Roumanians are necessary political corollaries.
There still remains the question of Constantinople and of European and Asiatic Turkey. Can the Allies come to an understanding on this vexed question?
30.—Germany’s weak spot is in the East.
Germany’s weak spot is in the East, not in the West. By liberating and organising the smaller nations of Central Europe against German aggression Germany will be weakened in the West also, and that is the only way.
Germany’s historical Drang nach Osten must be checked and stopped—that is the task of Russia and her Western Allies. Germany when driven out of the East, will not be strong in the West. It was Bismarck who proclaimed that the Polish East has a greater significance for Germany than Alsace-Lorraine. France, the principal west Continental country, claims a comparatively small rectification of her frontier.
Holland, Denmark, and Belgium are populous countries, countries economically and culturally equal to Germany, and even in certain directions on a higher level; Germany, even if she could subdue these nations, would not find the colonies and “Hinterland” that she longs for, nor would she find a working class which was helpless and at her mercy, as in the East. Moreover, these Western countries, in the event of German aggression would always find France and Britain on their side, just as now Britain has protected Belgium— of course protecting herself at the same time. There can be no doubt that Germany in already controlling Luxemburg, eagerly looks to Antwerp and to the Channel coast, and at the same time looks with disfavour upon Denmark. But it is safe to assume that Germany’s pressure on the West will be all the stronger and keener, if she has a huge economic Hinterland easily accessible on her eastern frontier.
Hence to contend that by liberating Central Europe the Allies would cut off Germany from the East, and thus force her to press the harder against the West, is an argument much more apparent than real. On the contrary, Germany cut off from the East, and no longer having Austria-Hungary and the Balkans at her disposal would be forced to rely upon her own forces, and would cease to be a danger to the West. Germany would be forced to revert to the agricultural pursuits which she has abandoned; her surplus population would be forced to emigrate, as in the past. The Eastern nations, Poland, Russia, &c., are under no obligation to render it possible for the German butcher, grocer, or professor to rear the largest possible family for the “inferior” nations of Eastern Europe to supply with food.
31.—France and Russia—Britain and Russia.
Viewed from this standpoint, the Franco-Russian Alliance has a greater significance than the mere negative and anti-German rôle ascribed to it by German politicians and historians. That it is anti-German is natural enough; for French and Russian politicians perceived the real situation of Germany and the meaning of her Drang nach Osten, and combined a programme to protect and liberate the Slav nations of Central Europe.
Britain’s accession to the Franco-Russian alliance proves the very same political idea. The fact that the long antagonism of Britain and Russia was bridged over, is an even clearer proof that the political evolution of Central Europe has been forcing upon the two former rivals a perception of the identity of their national and political interests. As so often happens in politics, the first overture was made in a secondary and local field (Persia, etc.), but the march of events widened the plan and brought out its real underlying idea. An idea, at first abstract and unclear, has to be put into concrete forms and clearly worked out. But in this case events so precipitated themselves, and the war took Russia and England so completely by surprise, that there has been practically no time to think out a political programme.
The German politicians perceive the real inner meaning of the Anglo-Russian agreement. More than once during the war they remembered Bismarck’s attitude towards Russia. It is not difficult to detect in many utterances of prominent German publicists and politicians (among others of Hindenburg himself) a hidden appeal to Russia. Russia and Germany, even a victorious Germany and a defeated Russia, would by their mere union be able to partition Europe and Asia.
But the Russians know that they would be a mere tool of Pan-German aspirations; and both Russian and British statesmen will agree that the liberation of Poland and Bohemia and the organisation of a Greater Serbia suits not only British and French, but also Russian political plans every bit as well. Germany separated from Russia will be weakened.
32.—Austria and Germany once more.
Often an objection is made that the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary would strengthen Germany: questions are put as to what would become of the Germans in Austria, and what Francis Joseph would do? Obviously it is Francis Joseph’s own business to take care of himself and to decide, whether he will continue to be the tool of Germany or not. Some politicians were even harassed by the question, what title the Austrian Emperor would have!
I look at all these questions of New Europe from a liberal and democratic standpoint. The Austrian Emperor, if he chooses, can continue to be Emperor of Austria, as the Byzantine Emperors kept their Imperial title even after their dominion was more reduced than Austria would be.
And supposing that German Austria were to become in one or other way a member of the German Empire. In that case Germany would have at her disposal only 10 extra millions, whereas Austria, if only reduced but not dismembered, would strengthen Germany twice or three times as much. The very idea, that after the war Austria will be inclined to go against Germany, is simply näive. Only one thing can be expected: Catholic Austria, if included in Germany, would naturally weaken Protestant Prussia.
The same remark holds good for Hungary. The Magyars will be forced to renounce their anti-Slav policy, if once the Slavs are free and under the protection of the Allies. But, of course, the plan of the Allies pre-supposes their victory and the defeat of the enemy, who until now has been victorious.
33.—How Germany’s defeat and retreat would take place.
Very often this victory is belittled. Our papers, publicists and politicians try to keep up their spirit by explaining away the enemy’s achievements. This old-fashioned method strikes me as less effective than its adherents suppose. It is always dangerous to underrate the enemy, truth is, that the Germans have won a great victory, and that it will be a heavy task to defeat them. How, then, is that defeat to be accomplished?
The first phase of the German defeat would be accomplished, when they will have to retire from the occupied territories; after that the second phase would follow, the invasion of the Allies into Germany, Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria. If the first task is difficult the second will be even more so. Especially the Germans will fight very desperately to prevent the occupation of their territory. In the East and in the West the frontier is already fortified by trenches, and every possible means of defence is provided. The Germans will fight fiercely to the very last, and will not be demoralised by having to retire to their own soil. The Austrian troops will be weaker in that respect, and doubtless the same holds good with the Bulgarians and Turks. Yet it must not be forgotten that the Austrians have also fortified and prepared some parts of their territory; the passes into Hungary from Galicia are fortified, the territory of Cracow and Moravia, Vienna and Budapest are fortified also.
Germany, if pressed by the Allies, would withdraw her forces from Austria and the Balkans, would abandon her Allies and defend her territory with all available forces. The fighting line would be considerably shortened; the resistance would be stronger. It will be very difficult in the West to cross the Rhine; in the East is the ominous East Prussian lake country, while both the Silesian coal mines and the collieries and the industrial centres of Rhenish Prussia will be defended very fiercely. The Germans expect that France would be satisfied with the occupation of Alsace-Lorraine, and that she would not sacrifice her troops to invade the Transrhenish territories. The occupation of Berlin would be, of course, a hard piece of strategical work. Personally, I had expected the Allies to penetrate from the Balkans towards Budapest and Vienna; I expected that the Serbians, backed by the Allies, would be able to occupy Zagreb (Agram). Even now the Allies could make use of the Balkans by marching against Hungary-Austria, the Russians proceeding from the East; in that case the Roumanians would join—but for this we need soldiers, soldiers, soldiers!
The Russians were expected to occupy the North of Hungary, Moravia and Bohemia; that will be their task again, for the occupation of these countries is of great political significance. The occupation of Vienna or Berlin is more of a demonstrative character, whereas the occupation of Alsace-Lorraine, Poznan (Posen) and Prussian Silesia, Galicia, Moravia, Bohemia and of Croatia in the South has a great significance as a first step towards the organisation of Central Europe on anti-German lines.
The occupation of the Slav countries of Germany and Austria-Hungary is the end of Pan-German imperialism; Austria-Hungary is the weakest point of Germany, every weakening of Austria is a blow to Germanism.
Often the expectation is expressed that Germany will rapidly collapse after the first defeat. I can only re-affirm my scepticism in that respect. But it is probable that Austria would not stand a serious blow very well.
34. The Neutrals and Germany’s defeat.
A decisive victory of the Allies, especially of the Russians, would soon induce Roumania to join the Allies, and perhaps Greece as well. It will depend on the intensity of the Allies’ victory whether Denmark would not march against Germany to recover the lost Danish territory; Holland’s help could be expected to assist in the recovery of Belgium. The diplomatists will have an opportunity of atoning for their shortcomings in the past.
35.—The economic significance of Free Central Europe: Boycott of Germany.
The strategic and political defeat of Pan-German imperialism and the liberation of Central Europe must be intensified by an economic defence.
Britain, Austria-Hungary, Russia, France, and the United States; then Belgium and Holland, Australia and Denmark had the largest trade with Germany. The Allies could, therefore, by special treaties prepare the economic boycott of Germany.
The dismemberment of Austria-Hungary, and the creation of the new States of Poland, Bohemia and Greater Serbia will affect the international market; the industry of Poland and Bohemia would be open to Russia and the Balkans; Dantzig as a Polish port would be of great significance for Russia, Denmark, Sweden and for Britain. Not merely Salonika and Constantinople, but also Trieste, Fiume and Spalato on the Adriatic would increase in importance as commercial centres.
The economic and financial exhaustion of belligerents and neutrals alike will give to the United States an opportunity of interfering in Europe; the financial policy of the United States will be able to promote new political schemes. Once more the diplomatists will have a new field of activity.
But the first demand is, and must be, to form a plan as clear as possible for the political and economic re-shaping of Europe in the future. Bismarck condemned every war in which the possible fruits of victory have not been considered before the war is in progress. Bismarck initiated three wars (against Denmark, Austria and France), and all these wars were a success not least of all because they were the means to a well-shaped and grand political plan. The Allies also must have a well-shaped and grand political plan. They have, in fact, proclaimed the liberation of Europe and of the smaller nations from Pan-Germanism and Prussian militarism, and that is a grand and noble plan; but it still has to be clearly worked out in detail.
On the battlefields, of course, strength and orce decide, strength and force as they have been accumulated in years, centuries, ages; one of the forces acting and deciding is our conception of history, the capability and aptitude to understand the direction which historic development has taken, and the strong will to shape the future of our own nation and of Europe as a whole. I never could agree with those critics of Pan-Germanism, who sneered at the ink-wasting German generals like Frobenius, Bernhardi, Eichhorn, Keim, Bronsart, right back to the days of Moltke. These generals prepared this war, and their writings are as essential a part of German preparedness as their stocks of ammunition. Our leaders in the war must have a clear idea as to the direction in which they wish their own nation and Europe as a whole to develop. The war is not only a display of blind forces, but also of intelligence, insight and knowledge. Knowledge is Power.
The programme of the Allies cannot be a mere plan to crush Germany; for a nation of 65 millions (with German Austria 75 millions) cannot be crushed. It must be a plan of defence a plan for promoting the moral and political progress of Europe and of Humanity. It is a plan to force Germany to be human, to accept and to comprehend the humanitarian programme of the best German thinkers. Germany, when she has abandoned the ferocious philosophy of the superman and the policy of the “blonde beast” aspiring to the bloodstained dominion of mankind, will easily find her place as an equal among equals.
- From a reliable Russian source I was informed that the number of German officers taken prisoners is remarkably low: among the Austrian prisoners one officer out of 60, among the German prisoners one officer out of 560 soldiers! I cannot explain how the German officers could thus escape—at any rate, the German army is adequately supplied with officers (and non-commissioned officers), whereas the Russian and British armies have not enough experienced officers. The French army has enough officers.
- See “The Problem of Small Nations in the European Crisis.” (Council for Study of International Relations.)
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