The New York Times/Germany Still Hostile

Germany Still Hostile
by Edward Breck

From The New York Times of May 29, 1898.


The Press Filled with Articles
Unfriendly to This Country.


Remarkable Development of a Temperance
Party in Germany and Revival
of the Shakespeare-Bacon

BERLIN, May 17. — To my astonishment I read in the latest American papers received that the correspondent of The Associated Press informs the American public that, in consequence of the influence suddenly exercised by the Berlin Foreign Office, by inference at the Emperor's request, the hostile tone of the German press has suddenly changed, and that “not a line directly hostile to America has since been printed in any paper!” How it is possible for any one residing in Berlin to make such an astonishing statement passes all comprehension. The assertion is absolutely without foundation. It is impossible for two or three Americans to be gathered together in this city without hearing from their lips the most bitter denunciations of the unfairness and brutality of German newspapers, and it is impossible to go out without hearing on all sides remarks disparaging the Americans. Only two days ago the conservative Kreuz Zeitung commented in the most hostile manner upon Carl Schurz's excellent article in Harper's Weekly, entitled “A Case of Self-sacrifice,” a translation of which was published in Dr. Barth's weekly, Die Nation. The Kreuz Zeitung attacked both Mr. Schurz's motives and his facts, and wound up by denying that Mr. Schurz was a man of any authority whatever either in America or out of it. Instead of the statement of The Associated Press I would venture the assertion that not one German paper in fifty can be produced to-day that does not contain “a line directly hostile to America.” The same correspondent regaled the American public with an alleged conversation between the Emperor and our Ambassador, in which the former is supposed to have denied that the German Government had any hostile feeling toward America, the inference being that Germany would preserve strict neutrality.

The Words of the Kaiser.

As was explained in last week's letter, this conversation took place some time before the outbreak of hostilities, and contained no mention whatever of Germany's attitude during the war. Numerous German papers copied the story from their American contemporaries, so that the Foreign Office felt obliged to publish yesterday evening in The North German Gazette a dementi, to the effect that no such conversation as was described in The Associated Press dispatches had taken place, and that in view of the repeated assurances given to Mr. White by the Foreign Office, and the significant words of his Majesty in his late speech at the closing of the Reichstag, nothing further was necessary to assure America of Germany's neutrality. The unaccountable hostility of the German people to the Americans is instanced in many small ways, such as the fraternizing of the crew of the German warship Oldenburg with Spanish silors at Cadiz, the former drinking heartily with the latter to the downfall of America.

Quite in line with the “distinctively friendly tone” of the German press noticed by The Associated Press is a notice printed in the Berlin Echo and many other papers to the effect that on the 1st of May 40,000 workmen became breadless in New York City, and that by next Autumn 50,000 or 60,000 children in New York would enjoy no education whatever, as the schools were too small to hold all the children. Needless to say the German public believes all these things, and with great satisfaction.

Two Papers Are Friendly.

But there are at least two organs of the press in Germany which are not hostile to America on principle — the democratic Frankfurter Zeitung and the weekly, Die Nation, published by the well-known National Liberal member of the Reichstag, Dr. Barth who has spent some time in America, and was an eyewitness of the late McKinley-Bryan campaign, which he was able to observe from the inside, as he was personally acquainted with several of the campaign leaders. Both these periodicals published translations of Carl Schurz's excellent article in Harper's Weekly, entitled “A Case of Self-sacrifice,” which sought to prove that the vast majority of the American people had entered upon the present war from principles of humanity alone. Unfortunately the German press is not to be moved from its standpoint of absolutely prejudiced hostility to America by any arguments, however good. I have not yet read a single article in any German paper containing a temperate, logical, and objective discussion of any subject connected with the present war, and it is sorrowful to relate that this is entirely characteristic of the German press as a whole. As to Mr. Schurz's article, it has been received by those papers which have noticed it at all with sneers, most of them drawing the most unfair conclusions from it, and paraphrasing it in the most incorrect and unjust manner, one of the principal offenders in this respect being the conservative organ, The Kreuz Zeitung, which is the oracle of the Prussian landed gentry.

An Amusing Letter.

The letter from Mr. F. Kuchler, published in The Times of May 1, is extremely amusing, particularly when he gravely informs you that I am “mistaken in stating that the German people dislike the Americans.” Mr. Kuchler has probably passed much of his life in America, and does not fully appreciate the fact that Germans in Germany and Germans in America are, very fortunately for us, in many ways, different people. That the German-Americans, as many of them regrettably like to call themselves, do not dislike us goes without saying, and they themselves are for the most part deservedly popular with their adopted countrymen. It will interest Mr. Kuchler to learn that among the Americans in Germany who express the greatest indignation at the unfair treatment accorded us by the German press and people is Consul General Goldschmidt, himself born in this country, but whose Americanism can stand alone without the prefix German, agreeing in this with the precept of that great American of German extraction, Carl Schurz. Still harping upon the theme of German hostility to America, it is interestting to observe that the editor of the Kladderadatsch, the vulgar Herr Trojan, has lost his appeal, and has had to take his medicine in the shape of a short imprisonment. The Kladderadatsch brought out for three successive weeks so-called comic poems, the theme of which was the general degeneracy and blackguardism of Uncle Sam, one of them ending with the pious hope that, if Uncle Sam did win the fight, “at least the rascal would have to pay dearly for it.” Another unfortunate editor who was condemned to two weeks' imprisonment is Maximilian Harden of the political weekly, Die Zukunft, whose offense was telling the truth about poor King Otto of Bavaria. Herr Harden also appealed, but his sentence has been upheld by the higher court. Curiously enough, he could not be prosecuted for lèse majesté, because such a prosecution must always receive the consent of the monarch who is supposed to be insulted, but, as in this case such a consent was unobtainable from a crazy man, Herr Harden was prosecuted for “grober unfug,” which may be translated, in a general way, as “breach of the peace.” The case has occasioned a great deal of amusement and disgust throughout Germany.

The State of Politics.

There is very little of interest going on in Germany just at this time, as the elections are too far in the future, and general interest is centred in foreign affairs. Nevertheless, the forces of the different German political parties are mobilizing as best they may for the coming conflict. It is noticeable that the Conservatives and their allies bear a much more self-satisfied mien than their opponents, who, at all events, at this early stage of the game, are exhibiting much more nervousness and activity, particularly the National Liberals, whose raison d'être is denied by many German politicians, and the Freisinnige, or radicals, appeared to be in a somewhat uncertain position. Their opponents — the Agrarians, the Clericals, the Social-Democrats, and whatever else they may call themselves — each have a distinct programme and know what they want, whereas the objects of the two first-named parties are altogether too general in character. In the case of the National Liberals this is the more to be regretted, as the party contains some of the best material in the German Nation. I have reason to believe, however, after talking with several of the principal members of the faction, that, although absolutely loyal to the Emperor and the Constitution, it is so imbittered by the slight returns it has received in the way of leading offices, that it would not be averse to allying itself, for the time being at least, with any one of several parties which it considers far below itself. Only a day or two ago one of the most respected National Liberals in the Reichstag, relating to me with a certain pride the compliments paid to him by the Emperor at his Majesty's late dinner to the members of the Reichstag, remarked that recognition of this kind was about all that this party, in spite of its vast deserts, could expect from the Government. “Any Conservative,” said my acquaintance, “who shows any talent whatever is practically sure of an office of influence and power, but although a Liberal may be the most talented and most loyal German in the empire, he will never be rewarded with office of any kind.” The case of Herr von Bennigsen, who was for a short time President of the Province of Hanover, was the exception which proves the rule.

The approaching electoral campaign will offer one feature hitherto unknown in German politics, for the advocates of temperance in a certain district of Schleswig-Holstein have organized and will nominate a candidate for the Reichstag. A prohibition member of the German Parliament would be considered here quite one of the best jokes of the season.

Some of the advantages to Germany which were prophesied in a late letter on account of the friendliness shown by the German Government toward Chile are likely to be realized in the near future as a military commission, sent by the Chilean Government, is on the point of arriving at Berlin for the purpose of placing large orders of war material with the several leading German manufacturers. This commission consists of about a dozen Chilean officers, several of whom will have an opportunity to serve in the German Army.

Bacon's Writings Again.

A new phase of the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy has arisen in the shape of a new theory to the effect that not only did Bacon not write the works of Shakespeare, but, on the contrary, Shakespeare wrote the works of Bacon. The author of this new theory points out that Bacon, well-known to be one of the busiest men of his time, did not have time to write even his own works, much less those of one of the most voluminous of dramatists, while historians of literature notoriously fail to tell us how Shakespeare put in the most of his time, and claims that the case is a very simple one — that is, Shakespeare not only wrote his own works but those of Bacon also.

One of the most interesting books recently published in Germany is by Eduard Stucken, entitled “Astral Myths of the Hebrews, Babylonians, and Egyptians,” which has just been published by Eduard Pfeiffer in Leipsic. Anything like a criticism of this work would take up at least a whole page of The New York Times, and my object here is merely to call it to the attention of those readers of the paper who are interested in this kind of literature. Two parts of the work have already appeared, and have for their subject “Abraham” and “Lot,” while the others will treat of “Esau,” “Jacob,” and “Moses.” These Biblical heroes are treated in connection with the other famous myths of history, Stucken endeavoring to prove, for instance, that Abraham is originally the constellation Orion, and Sarah that of Sirius, Abraham and Sarah being parallel figures to Osiris and Isis of Egyptian mythology. The accounts of Abraham go back, according to our author, to two Babylonian sources, the legend of “Etana” and “Istar's Journey to Hell.” The book is, in its iconoclastic tendency, somewhat sensational, but is being treated by serious critics of this country with a good deal of respect.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).