The Czechoslovak Review/Volume 1/Germany's Partner in Crime
Germany’s Partner in Crime.
On the very day when Germany proclaimed its intention of destroying every ship found by its submarines in certain areas of the open ocean, the new Austro-Hungarian ambassador, Count Adam Tarnowski, arrived in New York. Through the successive stages of the growing enmity between Germany and the United States—break of relations, blowing up of English ships with loss of American lives, destruction of American ships with warning and without warning, ships with contraband and legitimate merchandise and in ballast, while America announced armed neutrality and waited for another overt act—the nobleman from Austria was cooling his heels in Washington, an ambassador to the United States and yet not an ambassador, properly accredited to our government, but unable to obtain presentation to the President and formal recognition by the State Department. The newspapers and the public forgot him, just as they forgot Austria and ignored the fact that Austria-Hungary is a partner in Germany’s iniquity as well as in its military and naval campaigns.
America is divided from Europe by three thousand miles of water, and what happens in Europe is seen here as from a distance, the most prominent features only and not the details, however important. Not that America lacked the means to obtain a true and accurate view of the right and wrong of the struggle or how the blame should be apportioned and what the relations were between Germany and its partners. But the might of Germany, its military and economic efficiency, its unprecedented frightfulness and barbarism so dominated the American horizon that few people here appreciated the share of the Hapsburg Empire in all the schemes and plans and crimes of Germany.
The attitude of the American people toward Austria-Hungary was one of good-natured contempt. Contempt, because of the defeats of Austrian armies by both Russia and Serbia, because it was known that German receivership saved the bankrupt empire from complete defeat. But contemptible as Austria proved itself in more ways than one, it is still Germany’s chief support. For it must not be forgotten that the monarchy on the Danube covers an area considerably larger than that of Germany and that it has fifty-two million people as against Germany’s seventy. It possesses important industrial provinces which produce a large share of the immense stores of ammunition used by the Teuton armies, and the Skoda guns have earned a reputation superior even to that of the Krupps. Nor should one forget that Austria-Hungary is more of an agricultural state than Germany and that the produce of the weaker empire has been used to supplement the rations of Germany’s industrial population. Without Austria’s resources in men and supplies Kaiser William could not sustain a war on two fronts for three years.
The contempt for Austria was rather good-natured. Poor old Francis Joseph was dragged into the war unwillingly; Austria is merely a tool of Germany and should not be held to strict responsibility for the sins of its domineering partner. Such views do not agree with the facts of the case. After all the general war was brought on by Austria’s aggression against Serbia. The murder of Francis Ferdinand by Austrian subjects of the Serbian race, a murder welcome to the ruling clique of Vienna, was made a pretext for the wholesale slaughter of Europe’s manhood. The responsibility for the horrors of the past three years belongs to Austria-Hungary fully as much as to Germany. Nor is the frightfulness confined to German military methods. In Serbia Magyar soldiers committed atrocities no less horrible and fully as well authenticated as the worst German excesses in Belgium. And while within the German Empire we have no record of executions of German subjects, in the Hapsburg monarchy in the first eighteen months of the war four thousand gallows have been erected.
The good-natured tolerance of Austria by the American people is less easy to understand, when one recalls the conduct of the diplomatic and consular representatives of that decrepit monarchy in this republic. Just as over there across the ocean Austrian ministers and generals took their orders from the German general staff, so in Washington the Austrian Embassy was employed to do the dirty work of Germany. Count Bernstorff took care not to become implicated personally in plots violating American neutrality and passed on this delicate work to his colleague, Dr. Dumba. The Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the United States subsidized editors of foreign language newspapers to keep alive sentiments of loyalty to Francis Joseph among their readers as against loyalty to their adopted country; he stirred up strikes in munition works and became implicated in acts of violence, until the long suffering President Wilson sent him home. It should not be forgotten in this connection that credit for uncovering the machinations of Austrian diplomatic representatives in this country belongs to that enterprising newspaper, The Providence Journal. In publishing confidential correspondence of the Austrian Embassy The Journal has done a great service to America and earned the gratitude of Bohemian and other immigrants from Austria-Hungary who were thereby put on their guard against intrigues financed by money supplied by the consuls.
But the American people forgot the Dumba incident, forgot that they had good cause to distrust Austria. Baron Zwiedinek took up Dumba’s work and carried it on with more circumspection. And in course of time Count Tarnowski landed here, a far more clever and dangerous man than the run of noblemen employed by the Vienna Foreign Office; the man who outplayed the Entente diplomats in Sophia and dragged Bulgaria into the war on the side of the Teutons.
Count Tarnowski comes of a well-known Polish family. He is a Slav by birth, and that was one of the main reasons why he was selected for the Washington post at this time. The fact is that Emperor Charles realizes the insecurity of his throne. Not that he fears much the chances of a revolution like the one which has just taken place in Russia. A revolution by the people is impossible without the co-operation of the army. The Hapsburg motto “Divide et impera”, setting soldiers of one race to watch the people of another race, works well in practice. Bohemians for instance cannot revolt, as long as their cities are garrisoned by German and Magyar soldiers. But the voice of ill-treated majority of the races of the monarchy has reached the councils of the Allies, and their peace terms note demands the disruption of the Hapsburg Empire; for in that step lies both the recognition of the rights of small nations, and the best safeguard against future aggression on the part of Germany.
This fear that the Allies will win and that their victory will put an end to the Hapsburg Empire dictates the new policy applied by Austria, of course with the full approval of Germany. The policy is this: to make it appear that a new regime has been installed in Austria by the new emperor, a regime of justice to all, recognition of the rights of subject races, a reconstruction of the Dual Empire on a federalistic basis. For that reason men with Slav names, Counts Czernin and Clam-Martinic, have been placed in the highest posts of the empire, and a Pole was selected to represent the monarchy in Washington. In addition to that a news bureau was organized in Vienna, copied after the Berlin Overseas News Agency, with the purpose of creating the impression that all is well on the Danube and everybody is satisfied with the existing Austrian rule. A branch bureau was opened in New York under the auspices of certain Jewish financiers whose sympathies are on the German side.
Deathbed repentance is proverbially suspicious. In this case the real facts contradict absolutely the claim that a rule of justice and equal rights for all has been inaugurated in Austria-Hungary under Emperor Charles. Political executions continue, parliamentary leaders of the Slavs are in jail; German language is forced upon all in Austria, and in Hungary the Magyars do not even pretend to make any concessions to Slavs and Roumanians who have no political rights. Bohemian deputies, deprived of most of their old time leaders, cast aside all their former differences, and all parties, liberals and conservatives, agrarians and national socialists, Catholics and social democrats, present a united opposition to the Vienna government and make the calling of parliament impossible. They do not trust the new policy which with the exception of a few Slav names is absolutely German.
America should study more closely that anachronism known as Austria-Hungary. It should receive no sympathy from the people of a republican country. It is not a nation, it is the empire of the Hapsburg family. Today it is entirely under the control of Germany and is just as much an enemy of the United States as its dominating partner. Sixty-seven years ago, when this republic was not yet one of the great powers of the world, Daniel Webster dared to speak boldly to Austria. In a diplomatic note he told the representative of Francis Joseph that “all the possessions of the house of Hapsburg were but as patch on the earth’s surface compared to the United States.”
The democratic countries of Europe—England, France, Italy and Russia—are agreed in this: that the empire of the Hapsburgs forfeited all rights to existence. Let the great American republic make it unanimous.