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by Grand Admiral Von Tirpitz

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Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, and below his World War 2 namesake (click to enlarge)

return to World War 1, 1914-1918

A Modern Introduction

Visitors to World War 1 additions to Naval-History.Net might have noticed that one of our aims is to make contemporary accounts of the war at sea more easily available. Doing so has been a privilege as it has meant working through a number of fascinating books in some detail.

The first chapter of this volume (chapter XVIII) has little to say about the war at sea, and is in the nature of a harangue by Admiral Tirpitz against German politicians as well as "perfidious Albion" - England. The reader might therefore prefer to go direct to the next chapter (XVIII).

However, Appendix 2 on the development of U-boats and their comparison with the submarines of other nations is particularly interesting. The outcome of the war if Germany had started and sustained unrestricted submarine warfare in 1915 or 1916 might well have been different.

Any transcription and proofing errors are mine. My apologies for the lack of German accents in the text.

Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

see also

Expansion and Organisation of the Imperial German Navy

1897-1918 - A Note

Germany's High Sea Fleet in the Great War by Admiral Reinhard Scheer

Pour le Merité, the "Blue Max", Imperial German Navy

including naval aviation 1914-18



Volume II




 New York
Dodd, Mead and Company




I. Military opening. - 2. The question of the principal enemy. - 3. Our weapons. against England. - 4. The possibility of a separate peace with Russia. - 5. The ideas of the war. - 6. Home policy in the war. - 7, The Fatherland Party. - 8. At the collapse


I. The navy at the beginning of the war. - 2. The achievements of the navy. - 3. The plan of operations. - 4. My verdict. - 5. The crippling of the fleet. - 6. The lack of a Supreme Command. - 7. The Battle of Jutland. - 8. The last phase


I. The cause of the declaration of the war zone. - 2. The first reverse. - 3. Lusitania and Arabic. - 4. To and fro. - 5. My resignation. - 6. Sussex. - 7. The unrestricted submarine campaign, 1917. - 8. The sum total


Extracts from my letters written during the war (until 27 August 1915)

Remarks on our shipbuilding policy




Kaiser on his birthday being greeted by von Tirpitz
(Library of Congress)

Military opening. - 2. The question of the principal enemy. - 3. Our weapons against England. - 4. The possibility of a separate peace with Russia. - 5. The ideas of the war. - 6. Home policy in the war. - 7. The Fatherland Party. - 8. At the collapse.


England hoped to overwhelm our country with the Russian steam-roller, whilst the Franco-Anglo-Belgian army brought ours to a standstill, and intended then to stop the war if the danger arose of the Russians winning too big a victory. The enemy assumed that Italy's secession would upset our calculations and cancel our numerical superiority in the west during the decisive weeks.

The enemy's well-founded hopes of victory were disappointed by the way in which our military machine did its work and the speed with which we seized Belgium. The Russian masses did what could be expected of them. But they had the misfortune soon to stumble across great generals, who, favoured by the luck of battle, brought out by magnificent manoeuvres the best qualities of our nation in arms. The Schlieffen plan of attacking France through Belgium was intended to stave off from Germany the first vital danger. I am not in a position to judge whether the


plan of campaign, which was unknown to me before the outbreak of war, was absolutely right as a result of the increasing technical developments towards trench-warfare, and in view of our political situation in the world. At any rate it ought to have been carried out by those who possessed the genius completely to control such a gigantic operation and the incidents which it would naturally entail. Our army leaders could not estimate too generously the coefficient of safety for the enormous circular movement; but they ran it too finely.

The army was kept too small in time of peace, and the fatal omission was made of not drawing sufficiently on Germany's defensive powers. At the end of 1911 the Chancellor introduced an Army Bill. This, however, was not big enough, and the 1913 Bill came too late to take full effect during the war. I myself had proposed to the Minister of War, von Heeringen, at a suggestion from Admiral von Muller just before Christmas, 1911, that together with me he should insist upon the immediate introduction of a Defence Bill, and I expressed my readiness to subordinate my demands to those of the army. The opinion at General Headquarters in the autumn of 1914 was that the war against France would have been won if the two army corps had been there which the General Staff had allowed itself to be done out of in 1911-12, contrary to the demands of its experts.

In addition there was the under-estimation of the British army, which our public still liked to imagine as the Aldershot Tommies with their little caps and swagger canes. When I warned the Chief of the General


Staff, after war had broken out, against rating these troops, which were almost all sergeants, too lightly, he replied: "We shall arrest them." In this hope he probably did not foresee that he would have to detach two army corps from the right flank for the eastern front. Even in the late autumn of 1914 I encountered doubts at General Headquarters as to the seriousness of the new Kitchener armies. In August, 1914, I wrote from Coblenz: "The difficulties will come when the army thinks it is over the hill."

At that time it seemed to be more important than anything else to cut through the English lines of communication and to get to Calais. Everything else would have been easier for us, if only we had compelled the English by cutting off the Channel Ports to transport their troops to Cherbourg or even Brest, across the Atlantic therefore instead of an inland sea, and this would have put quite a different face upon the war in France.

It was in vain that I urged Moltke to do this, and even Field-Marshal von der Goltz, who shared my opinion, could not do so. I could not obtain any influence over Falkenhayn's decisions. My desire to cut the English lines of communication would only have been possible from the sea, in my opinion, by engaging the High Sea fleet and not by isolated sorties of lighter craft. This was only one side of my demands for the use of the fleet. It is confirmed at this


moment (beginning of 1919) by Lord Haldane, who, according to newspaper reports, indicated in a letter to The Times, as a mistake of German strategy, the fact that "it hesitated to make immediate use of its submarines and torpedo boats to prevent the transportation of the British army after its mobilization on the morning of August 3rd." If we had systematically prepared for this, and then attempted it, the British High Sea fleet would undoubtedly have appeared, and the naval battle would then have developed, so much the better for its being so soon.

Moltke was a very sick man. The reins trailed on the ground, and the uniformity of the army's operations went to pieces. In spite of his unfortunate personality I had perfect confidence in Moltke. His successor did not give me the impression of having been trained to master the task, which the development of the war into a war of attrition increased beyond all bounds after the Battle of the Marne. Until then the army had been animated by one idea: Cannae.

In the war of attrition, however, the superiority of the enemy, thanks to his mastery of the seas, was bound to bear fruit more and more. All victories on land trickled away owing to the unparalleled disadvantages of Germany's position. Wedged in between enemies on land, we could not even save ourselves by making ourselves unassailable like a hedgehog. For our life-threads ran across the seas. Therefore only the greatest boldness and resoluteness could save us. Land war must also adjust itself to the general aim. After


the Battle of the Marne the army had to revise its methods. The Supreme Command at that time allowed the big aims to go begging. Hindenburg and Ludendorff, however, who offered a prospect of annihilating the Russian armies in 1915 by turning their flank at Kovno, and consequently did not agree with the frontal attack at Gorlice, were not allowed to carry out their scheme. If it had been successful, their position would certainly have dominated that of General Headquarters.

In war, a definite great political aim is needed, towards which one can proceed with concentrated politico-military forces. And indeed the chief enemy decides in the war. Partial victories over lesser opponents are at best only means to the end. There ought to be only one real aim:... to strike at the heart of the Coalition. Our fate depended on our recognizing this objective.

But who was our main opponent? To me, without doubt, he who had the greatest resources and the highest determination. London, which had always been the political nerve-centre of the Entente, became ever more definitely the military centre also. It let no real opportunity slip, not even the construction of a new Eastern Front in the year 1918. While London stood, no victory over the Russians could be regarded as more than a partial victory, serving merely to render possible the swift conclusion of a separate peace with the Czar and thus to free our strength for employment against the chief enemy.

The dismemberment of the Czar's empire, the aim of our diplomacy and democracy, was of no help to us if we could not wound the chief enemy.



Our national sentiment shows a sound judgment in attributing not to our military leaders but to the statesman Bismarck the chief credit for the successful wars which have made Germany free, united, and prosperous. As long as our people remained sound and loyal, and our defence impenetrable, as was the case in the first years of the world-war, our statesmen had political military and naval material enough to enable them to emerge with honour from the war with England into which we had fallen. The army, which in its own particular domain was not drilled to fight the English, under-estimated these as it were unattainable enemies.

I was attacked as a pessimist, and the saying at the "Lion d'Or " at Charleville ran: "There isn't an officer in G.H.Q. who doesn't think the war will be over before April 1st, 1915, except the Naval Secretary of State." In the Anglo-Saxon world I was regarded as an opponent whose isolation in the German Government was most welcome; for this quite comprehensible predominance of the "dry-land" point of view in the army would have been quite harmless, if only the Chancellor had been on my side.

The war could not be won, even in a military sense, without a sound policy which gave due weight to the naval position. If the Chancellor had really understood the nature of the war, the army would have been


ready to attach more importance, at the very beginning of the campaign, to the English lines of communications; and in that case we should have carried out the offensive measures at sea which form the subject of this and the following chapters.

On August 19th, 1914, I said to the Chancellor, in the presence of Moltke and Jagow:

"Whatever we achieve against Russia is not an embarrassment but a relief to England. Conditions have forced us to fight on a front which is not in accordance with our political interests. The Russo-German War is very popular in England. The English statesmen are absolutely determined to hold out to the end. We can only save our future by pressure on England. The decision of the war turns exclusively on whether Germany or England can hold out the longer. It is absolutely necessary to occupy Calais and Boulogne."

This point of view seemed unintelligible to the Chancellor. He held that, even if the war went favourably for us in the West, we ought to limit our activities there and direct our full strength to the East. As early as the first half of August, he had remarked to a mutual acquaintance: "The war with England is only a thunderstorm, and will pass over quickly. Relations afterwards will be better than ever."

Bethmann's policy was to reach an understanding with England, and he accordingly held it right, even in actual warlike operations, to handle that country gently. To him, England was "a bulldog,


which must not be irritated." He was still seeking for the hand of friendship, which he had not found in Grey's proposal of a conference. He failed to realize that England, now that it had once come into the war, was clearly, coolly, and consistently bent on winning it.

The dry-land point of view of the army, a certain weakness of the Emperor, and the hazy political views of wide circles in Germany, enabled the Chancellor time and time again to rebuild his fallen house of cards. He never forgot the peaceable attitude shown by Grey in the first half of July, and as he had never understood that the reason of this attitude was simply the grave risks inseparable from naval warfare, he assumed that it was still present now that England had made up her mind to come into the war, and had had her prospects of victory strengthened by the manner in which the war had actually broken out, by our failure to occupy the Channel coast, by the inactivity of our navy, and by the events of the Mame.

As I have already said, England was following her old traditions in seeking to increase her predominance by war against whichever continental power is the strongest for the time being. Puritanically pharisaical, the practical and utilitarian British politicians, dominated by the interests of Anglo-Saxon capitalism, were absolutely united in their determination to fight Germanism all the harder, and more mercilessly, just because up to July, 1914, it had been possible that we would win through in peace. How could anyone think that England would not use to the full the opportunity


 thus given to her, to strike down at the very last moment the competitor who had very nearly overtaken her in the race? As our lack of determination showed itself, England's determination increased; the influence of Lloyd George increased at Asquith's expense. With us, the opposite development was seen, the determined leaders being thrust into the background; such conduct was bound to lead to defeat.

Since 1911 our policy has consisted in chronic misunderstanding of England. This mistake was continued during the war. The Press were instructed not to speak too severely against England, these instructions being repeated again and again by the Foreign Office at the meetings of Press representatives in Berlin. The English of course were not ignorant of this, and drew their own conclusions, which were certainly not those which the dear German expected them to draw.

As our leaders were ignorant of the strength and determination of England, they half assumed that it did not exist, and never realized that we should have to accept defeat unless we succeeded in pressing her so hard that she would regard reconciliation as more to her advantage than the continuance of the fight.

The knowledge of England, in spite of all our writers, from Gneisenau and Frederick List to Karl Peters and A. von Peez, had not penetrated our leaders. In the Bismarck period, which was largely used as a model for the present time, our policy was of necessity


based on different problems and conditions. Outside the navy, the power of England and her determination to beat us back were quite overlooked, and this all the more readily as we were wholly ignorant of the great means we already possessed for combating this determination. The navy was, however, still too young, and not sufficiently a part of the national life, to infect the people with its point of view.

The ever-increasing isolation of the navy, which combined strong patriotism with international experience peculiarly useful for the world-war, showed that the nation, or at all events its upper classes, was not ripe for such a war. In the first months of the war, men from all circles of the people approached me with the request that I should send the fleet to battle; when later public opinion lost this enthusiasm, it was merely following the lead given by its political chiefs.

On August 27th and 28th, in connection with my plans for the formation of a corps of marines with a view to attacking England from Flanders, I once again urged the Chancellor to concentrate against England. It was even then almost incomprehensible to me how the war could be expected to be won against England on land alone; four weeks later, when the fighting fronts had begun to stiffen, the idea seemed absolutely Utopian.


As I have stated, I stood alone in my views at General Headquarters, and especially among the diplomats. I could scarcely speak with anyone of my view of the position. Surrounded by these men, who consciously or unconsciously agreed in their superficial optimism in differing from me, I often asked myself: "Have I been stricken with blindness, or have all these others? Do I take too gloomy a view? Have I really been deceiving myself all through my career as to England's stubborn determination to prevail?" Our leading circles were dull of comprehension in dealing with the nature of sea-power, and the fate that threatened us; they were unwilling to realize that England wanted to drive us off the seas. Not until events unfortunately proved me right did I fully understand the terrible meaning of that English phrase: "but you are not a sea-going nation."

Again and again I emphasized to the Chancellor that England would never stop fighting while any prospect remained of breaking our world-position. Our democrats, more than any of us, should have been afraid of this. Had not Lloyd George said: "I am not afraid of von Hindenburg, von Mackensen, and all the other Vons, but of the German workmen"? The longer the "knock-out" was delayed, the more dangerous it became for us, for the main weapon of the British, the fleet, could only work by long years of blockade.

Even on land, after England had failed to gain a swift victory with other people's armies, years passed before she created one of her own. But, once England committed herself to this gigantic undertaking, which threatened her whole economic organization, it was certain that she would demand a reward commensurate with her efforts, in the assurance that she need not fear a recovery of the German people for centuries to come.


To my urgent attempts to reason the Chancellor out of his false estimation and incorrect treatment of England, he returned, as his character was, no definite answer. There was no doubt, however, that he was clinging to his old ideas. When on August 19th he informed me that the British were diverting into English ports Dutch corn ships bound for Holland, I could not persuade him to expose this breach of neutrality in the manner proposed by me.

Even then I said to him: "Every display of the desire to reach an understanding with England will simply work against an understanding and be regarded as weakness on our part. The utmost stubbornness in dealing with England is the only means of turning her from her present course."

I wish to state here that my advocacy of a determined conduct of the war against England in the years 1914 to 1918 never prevented the Government from seeking a peace of understanding with England. I am not seeking to defend myself, for the story spread among the masses, that I had prevented the Government from concluding an early peace with England, is too foolish to require any defence on my part. So far as I can tell, there never was in all those years a moment in which England would have given us any peace but that of destruction. My influence was never strong enough to have thwarted any possible peace, even if I had wished to do so, nor did the Chancellor ever communicate to me any tangible possibility of peace.


I am rather speaking simply from the point of view of political tactics, which of course became more and more important as our position changed for the worse. The moment when one desired to reach a tolerable peace of renunciation with England was just the very time in the war when it was most necessary to show a determined fighting front against England and to seek a rapprochement with Russia. Such a point of view in the matter of tactics is so simple and elementary that it is adopted by everybody but the Germans. In national questions of life and death, the German does not seem to have sufficient enthusiasm to bear this principle in mind.

(I could value it properly, even when it worked inconveniently for me. For example, a decade earlier, when the Navy League was making higher demands than I did myself, and was attacking me personally in a most unpleasant manner, its activities made it much more easy for me to have my more moderate programme carried through the Reichstag.

It was with the same motive, with a view to giving the Government a tactical advantage by supplying the necessary support in a firm morale at home, that at a later stage the "Fatherland party" was founded. I have often been amazed, and am still amazed, that even intelligent men wholly failed to see the quietening effect produced abroad, and often regarded the Fatherland party as a mere breeding-ground of uncritical optimism. Its true meaning and purpose could only be understood by those who fully realized that we were fighting a foreign foe.)

The last prospect of achieving a tolerable peace with England disappeared when we adopted the exactly opposite tactics of public peace offers. To show his goodwill, the German in international matters is quite ready to hand over his trumps in advance to his


opponents, in the hope of making them more friendly-disposed. From these peace offers onwards, the British statesmen watched with unerring certainty the progress of our internal crumbling. Natural instinct must show that it is wrong to strike the enemy with one hand only, while one strokes him with the other. That was, however, the line of conduct we followed, in order "not to irritate" the chief enemy.

Anyone who understands the English knows that they can only be brought to reasonable terms by the utmost firmness and determination. How justly were we criticized by the Irish, the Indians, the Egyptians, and other enslaved peoples. They know by long and terrible experience the proper way to deal with the British. They hoped to realize their freedom through us, and now they saw how, by false tactics, we were placing ourselves under the control of the Anglo-Saxons while our fighting strength still stood unshaken.

When on September 4th, 1914, all the bourgeois parties of the Reichstag, then in complete unity, planned a telling demonstration against England, in the shape of a proposal for the increase of the fleet, of their own motion and wholly without any suggestion from me, the Chancellor prevented the proposal being brought forward. In such a war, such a policy of repressing national determination was nothing less than morbid.


When I learnt in the early part of November that the English, in order to block the entrance to the Channel, had established a war zone by laying mines in the open waters of the North Sea, thus committing an exceptionally grave breach of the laws of the sea as they then stood, I could not persuade Jagow to adopt the declaration of protest which I drew up.

In lieu of this, the Foreign Office, with the aid of the Naval Staff, which had never previously had experience of such matters, drew up a declaration which may have appealed to specialists in international law, but which was in general of more harm than good, as its meticulous and juristical arguments served to throw doubt on our adherence to the rules of international law, which up to that time we had observed with the greatest strictness. It had no effect because it did not contain any reservation of the right to use reprisals.

New proofs were continually arising to show that it would have been better to show a determined front against England. For this reason there was anxiety in England lest the Chancellor might fall, and a stronger hand take up his work; for this reason the exchanges rose in London when I resigned. The English worked skilfully to retain the Chancellor in office. Since they had obtained in 1911 and 1912 an insight into his manner of doing business, he seemed to them to offer the best guarantee of their victory. Accordingly, wide circles in Germany looked on Bethmann as Europe's man of confidence, and our democrats, to whom for other reasons his weakness and confusion were necessary, willingly fostered this belief. It is tragic to reflect that this man, who had destroyed our prestige and by his diplomacy had given to the


world the deadliest weapons against us, should be thought capable of bringing the English into a lenient frame of mind. The Emperor, however, thought himself compelled to stand by the man who appealed to the German democrats and the English. Thus did Bethmann retain his office, in spite of his failure through three long years of war to provide any evidence that England would concede him a favourable peace. But the English declared that their irreconcilable attitude was only directed against the leaders of the armed forces of Germany, and that, once these forces were defeated, we should be well treated. And many a good simple German really believed that!

Even newspapers of the type of The Daily Mail sought by their praise not to discredit, but to strengthen the Chancellor, as may be seen from a few sentences from their leading article, "The Chancellor and the Pirate," on August 31st, 1915, after our diplomatic defeat in the Arabic case:

"It is difficult not to sympathize with the Chancellor in his fight with Tirpitz. For the past year he has been Chancellor only in name. His business has simply been to extricate Germany from the complications brought upon her by the real directors of German Policy, the War Office and the Admiralty. They pursue their courses with the usual disregard for civilian opinion. His function is to clear up after them. At last he is beginning to claim a voice in deciding the policy of which the diplomatic consequences are borne not by those who initiated it, but by himself."


Passages of this sort were quoted among us, and taken at their face value.

(How well, on the other hand, the British people really understood conditions with us may be shown by the following small but characteristic example, given to me by a German officer on his return from captivity in England. He had heard an English coal dealer, who had been called up for service, called by his fellow soldiers by the name of the Chancellor, and when he asked the reason for this, he received the reply: "He always calls him Bethmann-Hollweg, because he says things which one must not say.")

The most obvious proofs that England and France, at first at any rate, were unwilling to make a peace of understanding were ignored. Our peace offer of December, 1916, which was accompanied, to the best of my knowledge, by the greatest spirit of accommodation, was answered contemptuously with the Entente's well-known programme of conquest. Even at this time we should have been confronted with conditions similar to those which the German Government accepted in November, 1918. In spite of this, the Chancellor and the democrats still failed to realize that their tactics were wrong. They went farther down the slippery slope, undermining the confidence of the German people and strengthening that of the enemy by an uninterrupted series of offers to capitulate.

The worst feature was that this policy was fed on illusions about a victory in the East. If England was to be regarded as invincible, and our defeat was to be accordingly accepted at once, that would after all have been better than years of a war of exhaustion


with the same result. But a certain part of the Press in Germany, with which our political leaders unfortunately co-operated, was hostile to "Czarism'' for reasons of internal politics. On England's alleged invincibility were founded the prospects of a German victory over "Czarism"! I would like to quote here a typical example. An official of the Wilhelmstrasse, on April 12th, 1916, calmly developed this view of a future for Germany, founded on her defeat by England:

"For us, as the central power of Europe, the first necessity is to be victorious on the continent, and to group our neighbours here centripetally around us (Poland). We must not compromise this objective by unnecessarily embarking in a risky adventure (submarine warfare). From this firm European basis we can construct our position in the world, and our foreign trade. What has up to now been done in this direction is pure dilettantism. Any injury done to England is of course welcome, but it is simply impossible to defeat her. We must, therefore, retain sufficient strength and credit in the world to be able to continue our work of outstripping her after the war.

"In the future, dangerous undeveloped forces are to be found on Russian soil, not in the riddled purse of England. I think that peace at Russia's expense offers a possible solution of the problem. As this peace would be made at the expense of reactionary Russia, it would not exclude the possibility of future ad hoc understandings with another Russian Government. If we become strong in Europe, and the guardian power towards the East, an understanding with England would not be difficult, and it might even be the case that the interests of Albion would for once coincide with those of the strongest continental power."


At the beginning of July, 1916, Secretary Helfferich placed before the heads of the German States the following views which I quote from a contemporary memorandum:

"We must make our choice between England and Russia, in order to gain, for the ultimate peace as well as now, protection for our rear against one or other of these two main enemies. We must choose England, since the Russian programme is wholly inconsistent with our position as the guardian power of Western European civilization and with our relations to Austria-Hungary, the Balkans, and Turkey.

"On the other hand, a division of spheres of interest between England and Germany is quite possible. Accordingly, we must not treat the fleet as a necessity of Germany's existence, and must weaken Russia as far as possible. We must do full work at one task, instead of half working at many. England's interests would permit us to work with our whole strength against Russia. The determined fight against Russia restores to our procedure in the world-war its moral justification, which consists in coming to the aid of Austria, and not in the fight for the freedom of the seas. The public indignation in Germany against England should accordingly be diverted to Russia."

Thus wrote Helfferich, closing his statement with the following sentences:


"The above remarks will no doubt meet with the objection that I am reckoning without my host, seeing that in England itself hatred and the lust for destruction make any understanding impossible. Chamberlain sums up this tendency with the remark, which had aroused considerable opposition even before the war, 'We must crush Germany'; but both Chamberlain and our newspapers and pamphlets omit the subordinate clause of the sentence, which contains the logical explanation of the hostility, to wit, 'before it crushes us.'

"In the abyss of deep mutual mistrust, brought to a head by conscienceless demagogues and too powerful to be checked by the respective Governments, but having nevertheless no foundation in the true political conditions, that is to say in the necessities of existence of the two countries, lies the whole tragedy of the situation; and only the greatest wisdom of the statesmen, combined with unconquerable determination, which must be present in equal strength on both sides, can pull the coach out of the mire of demagogy. This hope is not so vain as might appear, for Asquith's ministry of demagogues is not assured of perpetual office. The English desire for our destruction may in part exclude the possibility of an understanding, but it in no way compels us to take up the fight at the points where the English are strongest, that is to say, on the seas and in Egypt."

Thus Helfferich too saw no more than vague hopes of an understanding with England, and nothing tangible whatever. But these vain wishes were enough to lead him and those who shared his views to refrain, during the precious years which could have been used


to save Germany, from the one step that might have forced England to relent - to wit, an understanding with the Czar, and the utmost development of our strength at sea. We did not deal the blows against English sea-power that we could have done, and thus, by sentimentality, too clever calculation, and an unmilitary conception of sea warfare, there resulted the achievement of England's desire to administer in this war the awful decisive blow against the mighty German competitor, from which he could never recover. In the autumn of 1916, when the English defence against submarines was becoming as it were settled, and our lack of courage had become notorious through the Sussex case, Lloyd George ventured already to talk of a "knock-out."

The hope above mentioned of a German victory to be based on an English victory seems to be a mere riddle, but it was unfortunately allowed to determine the fate of Germany in her most anxious hour. Rebounding from England's prestige, our statesmanship followed blindly the impetus given it by England in the direction of Russia. Countless Germans at home and at the front had a truer instinct, but they could not prevail.

This attitude of the Wilhelmstrasse was accompanied by the further pious and unconquerable conviction that the outstripping of England, which was not permitted to the German Empire while it was powerful by sea, would be readily conceded to a navyless Germany. The Chancellor and his friends,


who hoped for a swift and complete reconciliation with England after the "thunderstorm," believed that the means to achieve this was to sacrifice the German fleet. As late as October, 1918, German politicians still dreamt of buying the mercy of the Anglo-Saxons by abandoning submarine warfare. Their awakening after November, 19 18, was a cruel one, and it is now too late to know better.

My standpoint was that we must either treat England as invincible and accept our defeat, the sooner the better, or else that we must use every political and military means to shake her position. In practice, I could of course only contemplate the second course. But we must clearly understand the way we were to follow. All the subtlety and waiting, not based on this plain choice, could only lead to destruction. All my efforts for the occupation of the Channel coast, for forcing a battle at sea, and for the early adoption of submarine activity, were based not on any departmental considerations, but simply and solely on this line of reasoning.


What means did we possess for the exercise of military pressure on England?

At the outbreak of war I was surprised to learn that the navy's plan of operations, which had been withheld from me, had not been arranged in advance with the army. The army based itself on the view, quite comprehensible from its standpoint, that the war at sea, and indeed the whole campaign against England, was merely a secondary matter.


Steps could have been taken before the war, under the control of the Chancellor, to draw up a single plan for a war on three fronts, or a world-war, but, as I have already stated, no such steps had been taken. Only a homogeneous Supreme Navy Command would have possessed the necessary authority to compel a proper employment during the war of the valuable information and expert knowledge gained by the navy as to the strength of the English; and such a command was never established.

Of the three possible means of fighting England, I will first discuss the occupation of the Channel coast. It was easily to be seen by the end of August that the operations of the army would lead us to the Flemish coast, and that the capture of Antwerp would only be a question of time. This rendered possible the use of Flanders as a base for naval warfare, and a substantial improvement of our naval strategical position. In my capacity as Secretary of State, it lay in my power to develop these possibilities, and I seized the opportunity with all my strength, forming the corps of marines and fortifying the Flemish coast (see Chap. XVIII). Beyond this, however, an intelligent Government should have aimed at the capture of Calais. So long as the army hoped to capture Paris, I waited for the coast to fall into our hands of itself. I leave undiscussed the question whether it would not have been right to treat


the coast as the objective from the start. Stationed on Cape Grisnez, our artillery could have gravely hindered traffic in the Channel, and our naval forces could also have worked more effectively from there. The continual interference with the traffic based on the Thames would have caused grave interruption to English industry, and thus, at that time, when Germany's strength was wholly uninjured both at home and abroad, might have greatly increased English readiness for peace. Later, too, it would have been possible to shell London itself from Cape Grisnez, which with the long duration of the war would have been far more effective than the bombardment of Paris which was carried out in 1918.

As I have already stated, I have always opposed measures that are of no military importance, including casual air raids on towns in the interior. On the other hand, a really effective concentrated bombardment of London by all available means from land and air would have been thoroughly justified as one way of shortening this inhuman war, and particularly so since England was notorious for observing international law only in so far as it suited her own interest.

The second means of exercising pressure on England was an engagement at sea. The Entente has defeated us by means of the British ships of the line, which made the starvation blockade possible, and whose prestige yoked to England's chariot all the peoples of the world. Of all the reproaches heaped upon me, one only has really affected me, that I did


not build more battleships. The reader will, however, have learnt from an earlier passage of this book that a sea battle would not have been without prospects of success for our fleet. In the next chapter I shall discuss the domestic considerations which crippled the navy at that time. Here I will only mention in advance the main point, the failure of our political leadership.

As already stated, the point of view of the Chancellor was that, if we were to come to an understanding with England, we were not to irritate her, and further that at the end of the war the fleet should as far as possible be still intact, in order to influence the peace negotiations. This latter view has always been as incomprehensible to me as the former. Other important persons shared the views of the Chancellor. Ballin, for example, wrote to the Chief of the Cabinet and to myself, that we should be content with the "fleet in being," this being the only right policy during the war.

The Chief of the Cabinet fell in with this suggestion; he had never been much in touch with opinion at the front, and in his close association with the Crown he became more and more a compromise politician. Under his influence and that of the Chancellor stood Admiral von Pohl, who wrote to me on November 12th, 1915: "While I held the office of Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chancellor impressed upon me many times that it was absolutely necessary that the fleet should be preserved intact until the conclusion of peace."


In my opinion, it was simply nonsense to pack the fleet in cotton wool. The "fleet in being" had some meaning for England, for her fleet thus achieved its purpose of commanding the seas. But the principle was meaningless for Germany, whose object must be to keep the seas free for herself. Besides, we could not allow the war to develop into a war of exhaustion, but must attempt to shorten matters. How cleverly the English must have worked to cripple the determination of Germany's leaders is shown by the remark, which is reported to have been made by one of the Emperor's nearest advisers after the battle of the Skager-Rak, and which is at any rate absolutely consistent with the whole outlook of that circle: "What a pity! We had been near to getting peace from England." Among such influences the Emperor's own work was destroyed.

In July, 1914, our politicians were playing a dangerous game, which, if it were to be played at all, could only be based on a strong Imperial sea-power. As soon, however, as the war had broken out, the fleet was as far as possible thrust into the background, and the impossible task undertaken of defeating England before the walls of Paris, and above all of bringing England, by fighting her in a forbearing spirit, to consent to a favourable peace, which she was simply not ready to grant. In peace the Chancellor had wished from the bottom of his heart that we had no fleet; in war he behaved as if it did not exist. The German Government had never approached the question how one should win a


war, simply leaving the matter to the General Staff of the army, which in its turn was not competent to deal with the political, economic, and naval questions raised by a world-war. Thus the Chancellor's only hope of bringing the war to an end rested on - the generosity of the English!

Many persons will no doubt ask: "In the most favourable circumstances, of what use would a successful sea battle have been to us? Were the English not in a position to restore their North Sea fleet rapidly from their reserves, and if necessary to draw on the battle strength of the French?"

The answer to these questioners is that the world-prestige of the English rests in the main on the very belief in the invincibility of their armada. A German sea victory, or even a doubtful success for England, would have worked the gravest injury to England's position. To estimate correctly the importance of such a loss of prestige for England, one must have seen the impression made abroad by our victory in the battle of Coronel. The English fully understood the effect of this victory, and for that reason they sent out from home an overwhelming force to wipe out their defeat. The fear of an even greater loss of prestige led them to act with ever-increasing caution in the face of our North Sea fleet. The question whether a victory at sea in 1914 would have had the effect of breaking the blockade was not at that time in itself decisive, for the English, having regard to their oversea position and the existence of Japan,


could not risk any substantial weakening of their seapower. If we had won naval prestige at that time, the whole course of the war would have been different. Italy's secession to the enemy camp would have been prevented, and our relations with the Scandinavian countries would have been altered at one stroke.

(The occupation and fortification of the Aaland Islands, which was recommended to me by Swedish friends, seemed to me to deserve special consideration. With the occupation of the islands as a base we would have controlled the Gulf of Bothnia, the main line of communication between Russia and England, and strengthened the good-will of the Swedes. As our prestige sank, both the sympathies and the business interests of the Swedes were more and more transferred to the English. The absence of any general mobilization before the war, and the departmental limitations of the naval staff in their relations to me, were the cause of my being unable, until the war had actually broken out, to consider the question of isolating Russia by the occupation of the Aaland Islands.)

In particular the Czar's readiness for a separate peace, and our prospect of an understanding with Japan, would have increased as our prestige grew and that of the English fell. It could not be contested that we were strong enough at any rate to reduce the English fleet considerably. The sea-power of the British lay like a nightmare on the whole of the non-Anglo-Saxon world. We, and not the British, were the natural protectors of the smaller maritime powers. All eyes were turned to us. It was the critical hour of the world's freedom. Yet greater things were at stake on sea than on land, and at sea many of our momentary enemies secretly sympathized with us. Only strong measures could help us. We were certain,


at the least, to do substantial injury to the "Grand Fleet." Any penetration of British naval power would awaken the Indian, Egyptian, and other questions, deprive England of the further allies that she needed to encompass our defeat, and incline her to peace, England understood the danger, and appreciated our strength, better than we did at home. That was why she hesitated to enter the war, and that is why, when she had entered, she avoided battle.

In the first year our prospects were good, and even later they were still tolerable. In the later stages of the war the English Press were merely echoing the views of the Admiralty when they spoke warningly against an engagement at sea. England could, they argued, gain nothing by a "precipitate and costly action." "So long as the German fleet remains in hiding, we reap all the advantages of sea-power," wrote The Daily Telegraph. If this sea-power had only been challenged by us and kept in doubt, we should at any rate have had a better standing among the neutrals.

In the face of the British Fleet tactics, we could only gain by a spirit of offensive, and not by passive waiting. It is only with almost unbearable sorrow that I can now think of the world-wide difference that would have been produced had a sea battle been fought to a decision in the early months of the war. Indeed, even an incomplete battle like the encounter at the Skager-Rak would at that time have had a great effect, whereas that engagement, victorious although not fought out, was unable, after nearly two years of the


war, to achieve any lasting political result, in spite of our advantages in the actual contest. For in the time that had elapsed the general position had changed and settled too much in England's favour, and the countries that were still neutral had lost their belief in our ultimate victory since our surrender to Wilson's brutal and energetic note.

Even an unfavourable sea battle would not have made our prospects materially worse. It could be safely assumed that the losses of the enemy would be as great as ours. Nothing, indeed, that could happen to our fleet could be worse than its retention in idleness.

The alleged inferiority of the German ships, which constitutes one of the most tragic and disastrous libels in the whole history of Germany, was invented and spread abroad as an excuse at this time to justify the inactivity of the fleet. The "naval policy" of the pre-war years was, according to the Chancellor's wishes, to be put forward as the true cause of the war, although in 1896 and 1905 England had been far more exacting in her demands on Germany, who had then in the one case no fleet, and in the other only a weak one, than she was in July, 1914, after we had built ourselves a fleet and had refused in 1911 and 1912 to abandon it.

But if the navy policy and myself were to be found guilty, it was impossible, with the best will in the world, to separate the person of the Emperor from this policy. But for him such a policy could never have existed. And now Bethmann intended to buy friendship and peace from England


at the price of the definite abandonment of the policy, that is, in truth, of our one source of strength against England. The Emperor, as the leader of the navy in war, should have resisted this policy of self-deception, that contradicted the whole nature of the world-war. But when the report was spread that the fleet could not go out to battle because of its inefficiency and bad material, then I and I alone was answerable, and the Emperor was relieved of all responsibility to the people for the inactivity of the navy.

From the divergence of political views between the Chancellor's party and myself there sprang an enormous flood of allegations against the fleet material which were not disposed of until the test at the Skager-Rak, and prior to that event it had been used to persuade the Emperor to hold the fleet in check, and had had great effect in crippling the activities of the navy. If the Emperor had taken other advice, if he had followed his own real instincts, Germany would not now be lying in ruins.

We were defeated by the old traditional English naval prestige, which had never been put to the test in modern times. This prestige made our governors fear to send our fleet to battle when the time came to do so. And thus, with the failure to use the best, indeed at first the only, weapon against England, began the tragedy of our lost opportunities (for details see Chapter XVIII).


After the prospects of a separate peace with Russia, and with it the solution of our problems, had for the time being become much more remote as a result of this naval policy, of Italy's entry into the war, and of the failure to carry out the Hindenburg plan of campaign for 1915, we were blessed at the beginning of 1916 with another gift from Heaven for the salvation of Germany in the shape of the submarine campaign, which was then ripe for execution. A subsequent chapter will give the story of the stupidities which led to the employment of this last decisive weapon being undertaken too late by one crucial year, to the consequent ruin of our future. Time worked against us, and at the beginning of 1916 we were no longer strong enough to survive any further slovenly wasting of our strength and our prestige.

I left the service at this period because the persons in authority would not recognize our prospects at sea, and would not act in a manner befitting the real seriousness of our position. The economic war had become the main fight, while the military front, in spite of the tremendous forces which were necessarily employed in the defensive fighting, was now the secondary theatre. Even the great leaders who in 1916 were appointed to command our glorious army, and who brought it renewed strength, were faced by but limited possibilities of development. The moment had arrived, as in the Seven Years' War, when the question of a separate peace with the Czar was definitely become a question of life and death for us.



In the autumn of 1916 I had conversations with certain pro-German Russians, which in conjunction with other indications gave me ground for the belief that a separate peace was then a possibility, I of course could not then, and cannot now, know the exact terms on which such a peace could have been concluded; but I assume that the following basis of negotiations could be regarded as giving promise of success:

we would have to settle the Serbian question in an accommodating spirit, agreeing to the ten points of the ultimatum which the Czar had accepted in 1914, and consenting to arbitration on the two remaining points, thus in the main bringing about a Russian success without an Austrian defeat.

We could demand the Narew line on strategical grounds, to protect East Prussia from invasions like that of 1914, offering Russia in exchange an equivalent portion of Eastern Galicia, Austria in her turn being indemnified, if necessary, in the Sanjak of Novi-Bazar and in Albania.

We would have to secure for the Russians the passage of vessels of war through the Dardanelles, and also, if they made an alliance with us, an island in the Aegean Sea.

We would either abandon the Bagdad railway, or share it with them.

We would leave Persia to them and take over their debts to France.

We could have given them even better terms if they succeeded in obtaining peace with Japan also for us.


With reference to Constantinople, the Russians would have to realize that we could not leave Turkey in the lurch. We would have had to promise, however, gradually to drop our Turkish policy.

Provision could easily have been made for the personal employment of the Grand Dukes, and other matters.

Austria could have been persuaded to join in such a peace, and Italy could then have been forced to an understanding.

To the Japanese one could have suggested the restoration to China of Tsingtao, to be held on lease by us, without fortifications, on the terms that Japanese and Germans should have equal rights there. We would pay them in return a certain war indemnity, and would also propose an alliance bidding us come to their aid if they were attacked by a European power, as well as by a non-European power, they in their turn having to help us if we were attacked by a non-European power as well as by a European.

All this is little more than an indication of the sort of basis on which we should have had to attempt an understanding with Russia and Japan. The important point beyond any doubt was that at all stages our whole policy should have been directed against England. The Russo-Japanese rapprochement of 1916 offered the foundation for this last great anti-Anglo-Saxon alliance.


The matter should have been set in train by a personal interview with the Czar. If I may put myself in the place of some person having the confidence of the Czar, I conceive that he might have spoken as follows:

"Your Majesty has expressly assured me that you did not desire war with Germany. To me it appears as the greatest misfortune that Germans and Russians should weaken each other, and if a stop is not put to the process the future development of both peoples, and the thrones of the Hohenzollerns and the Romanoffs, are in peril. I understand that your Majesty is convinced that I have always attributed the greatest importance to Russia's friendship. Give me, therefore, a man with whom I may negotiate without the feeling that he is boxing my ears."

The effect after all depends less on what one says than on success in catching the ear of the other party by intuition or old acquaintance. The Czar, for example, would listen gladly to an officer. I know from my own experience it was possible to address him in this manner. In addition he had already, in the person of Sturmer, appointed a most suitable negotiator.

Such a conversation could have been arranged by an autograph letter from the Emperor to the Czar, so worded as to restore the latter's self-confidence, and pointing out, in language that would be sure to have weight with him, that there were no substantial conflicts of interest between the two old friends that could not be adjusted, but that the present unfortunate position threatened to become irremediable; that the letter was written from anxiety for their two dynasties, in confidence in the Czar's discretion, and in the certainty that he would never allow it to become an official document.


Once the Grand Duke Nicholas was removed, the party of the Grand Dukes could not create any irremovable obstacles. The Czar was an honourable man. Such an opportunity to escape from the cul de sac would have seemed to him most tempting, and the undertaking, in the then feeling at the Russian court, could only have ended in success.

The attempt to establish communication was condemned to failure by the much too ostentatious dispatch of Prince Max of Baden, who was little fitted for the task. The premature attempt through the Danish court failed equally, its only result being to enlighten the Danes as to our need for peace. Above all, however, no success was possible while Bethmann continued to rain blows upon the Russians, compelling them to believe that we were determined to betray them to the English and the Poles.

I doubt whether even the German supporters of the Chancellor can have remained unaware of the fact that his personality obstructed the materialization of the peace tendencies in Petrograd. The Czar would have presumably written in answer to a letter from the Emperor: "I am ready for peace, but only with a government which gives me some guarantee of anti-English and pro-Russian sympathies, and which enjoys the confidence of Japan." The attitude of our political leaders, as shown in the above-quoted memorandum of Helfferich, was certainly well calculated to lose this excellent opportunity to save our country.


Never in the whole of our history had we had as much to offer Russia as we had in 1916.

Among remote possibilities, too, there were many favourable prospects, as, for example, that of a revision of the Treaty of Prague in the event of Denmark following Russia and entering into more intimate relations with us both, which was fully consistent with her natural interests and with her geographical relation to both Russia and Germany. Through the mediation of the Czar, we could also have brought the French, in their then position, to make peace, by conceding them, say, the small portion of Alsace which they had conquered. The peace of the whole continent could, and ought to have been secured from Petrograd.

By the time that the suicidal policy of Bethmann and the German democrats had established the Polish kingdom, making the Russians still more hostile to us and leading them to their revolution, and by the time that the submarine campaign, begun too late and under still less favourable circumstances, had in combination with the clumsiness of our diplomacy brought America into the war, Germany was externally so fast in the mire that the decision of the war was for the future to be sought mainly in her internal affairs, in the economic war, and in the comparative strength of the nerves and patriotism of the Germans and the English.



The Anglo-Saxons had fully understood that in this tremendous struggle the power of ideas bore within it the seeds of victory. They cried aloud in all languages: "Hear, ye nations of the world, there is among us a people which is ever disturbing our concord, which declares war and desires to conquer the world, while we are ever bringing you but freedom. It began with Alsace, it seeks now the same end in Belgium, and if it succeeds there a like fate awaits you. This people is held in bondage by a bloody caste of soldiers and Junkers, and their autocrat, the Kaiser, sets the world aflame of his own will. Aid us to defeat this people, that we may punish it as it deserves. Only when that is done can that league of peoples be formed which is the desire of all noble men, only then will there be peace upon the earth. Mankind will then be as a herd of sheep, and so far as a shepherd be needed, we will readily perform the task."

Thus, more or less, flowed the story from the lips of the Anglo-Saxon leaders in a thousand tones, with never-flagging repetition. With such tales did they drug themselves and their peoples. In order to maintain a sufficient degree of hatred among their peoples to ensure war to the knife, they cried to the world: "See these Germans, who destroy the art of France, who violate her women, and in devilish lust of cruelty hack off the heads of her children." For this work our enemies' funds were distributed in all


countries, even in Germany itself where opportunity offered. Worse still, use was made of the German's ignorance of the outside world, and of that strain of self-destruction which runs like a thread of blood through the thousand years of our history. Clever advantage was taken also of international capitalism, which here and there had found its way into Germany, and of that ferment of decomposition which is so admirably represented by such organs as the Frankfurter Zeitung.

What response did our political leaders make to these intellectual and commercial attacks of our enemies?

They might have said: "For centuries you Anglo-Saxons have set the peoples of the European continent one against another. Out of scattered fragments of tribes and strips of territory Prussia rebuilt a united Germany, and the stronger she has grown, the more clearly has she realized that it is her mission to fight for the freedom of Europe against the giant powers beyond the seas. For Europe, the sea-girt continent of many states, will always reach the highest level of intellectual achievement while her many closely neighboured civilizations are free to develop and to advantage each other by mutual intercourse. Germany stands and falls with Europe, and Europe with Germany. It is thus Germany's deepest interest to maintain the peoples of the continent in their full liberty and their full power.


You Anglo-Saxons, on the other hand, enslave the peoples body and soul. See, ye peoples of the earth, how many of you are already more or less but their comatose vassals, and how much greater the danger will be in the days to come. Thus, we are fighting for the freedom of the world against the all-throttling tyranny of the Anglo-Saxons,

"You Anglo-Saxons call us militarists and autocrats, whilst among yourselves you have established for the maintenance of your own fighting spirit the most absolute dictatorship that history has known, and you exercise a military power of Draconic severity without regard for personal freedom or the principles of democracy. You rail at us for militarism, but Germany is in truth the only independent power left in the world, walking her own path and capable of maintaining the balance in Europe. Your masters in the City of London and in Wall Street, New York, know quite well that Germany alone stands between them and the propagation over all the world of their capitalistic 'Understanding theory.' If they succeed in removing this last obstacle and in establishing an unlimited world monopoly, then indeed will a Pax Britannica bring the world the quiet of the graveyard for many years to come."

A similar line of thought to that sketched out above should have been encouraged before the war, and spread by all possible means, for our people lacked great ambitions, and their feelings of patriotism had not been sufficiently developed, while they misunderstood the strength of the Anglo-Saxons, and had allowed the sense of our imperative need for external strength to be largely overlaid by cosmopolitan Utopianism. But in the war itself, when life and death depended on it, the determination to survive required to be awakened and kept alive.


And what did our political leaders do? They did, it is true, rebut this and that slander. But in the main their attitude could be expressed thus:

"It is true that we declared war, but we do not, however, want to defeat you, but merely to defend ourselves. It is true that we have done Belgium a wrong, but we are ready, as far as possible, to make it good afterwards; we have no intention of wholly conquering that country, but we would like to retain part of it. In this war, we have simply no aim, no objective, no idea. We are, it is true, fighting for the balance of power at sea, but for the present only with words, as we have at the same time to secure that the reactionary and corrupt Russian bureaucracy should not again lord it over the noble Poles.

"That our unfortunate navy should incommode the Anglo-Saxons, we can well understand, and we concede their right to resent it, although our fleet has really only half the strength of the English alone. Please do not be angry about it; I, your friend, could not prevent this fleet being built, although strictly speaking I had as Chancellor the power to do so, and am the responsible party. You are right in the main, too, when you say that our institutions are less democratic than yours. It is true that our national character, the experience of our history and our geographical position render an executive of very wide powers a necessity of our


Government, and that our Emperor has not even the same power under the constitution as President Wilson; but we will alter all that. If I had had my way, we should already, long ago, have handed over Alsace with the Vosges barrier to the French propagandists, so that it might be wholly free. On principle I support actively the party quarrels in the Reichstag, in order to help forward democratic feeling in Germany.

"It would no doubt be better to leave such internal changes to be dealt with after the war is over, as their discussion at present diverts the attention of our people too much from the terrible seriousness of this hour of their fate; but I feel, in agreement with my democratic friends, that by democraticizing ourselves we may win your approval and the good-will of the whole world. I am accordingly taking steps in this direction at once, and as I admit your nobility of character even while you are hostile to me I feel sure that we shall soon reach a peace that will be just to all parties."

To establish these views in Germany, the natural instincts of our people, which were so emphatically displayed at the outbreak of war, were systematically diverted and broken by Press censorship and by a regular drainage system of repression of opinions worked from the Wilhelmstrasse, which resulted finally in the destruction of the popular morale and power of resistance, and indeed of all our self-confidence. In the great dangers of our position, which were obvious to every statesman, an active development of patriotic


ideas and a full maintenance of morale was essential from the first day of the war if we were to hold our own and reach a conclusion rendering it possible in some degree to make good our heavy losses and to continue the mission of Prusso-Germany in the world.

Bleeding from a thousand wounds, underfed, with its back against the wall of its home, the best of Germany stood fighting for its life, when suddenly the wall was overthrown from behind, and the people lost their control and fell into delirium.

The curse of history, and, if Germany survives, the curse of posterity, will rest on the men who brought about this disaster.


Our political leaders gained us neither allies nor sympathies; they neither gave the people inspiring ideals for the fight, nor opened their eyes to the terrors of defeat. The talk of a pure war of defence was an illusion, and bound to lead us to destruction; for England had already during the war destroyed our position in the world, and there was nothing more to defend; merely at the best something to rebuild if we could.

The German people could not hope to survive unless the terms of peace ensured this reconstruction, but the thoughtless talk of a pure war of defence concealed this necessity from the masses. How different was Lloyd George, with his talk of the knock-out! Those Germans, however, who could see that there was no other outcome but that either the English


must achieve our destruction or we must ourselves achieve our future, and who spoke this truth boldly, were sacrificed by the government to the hatred of the unintelligent masses. Bethmann's conduct was the exact opposite to the statesmanship with which Lloyd George and Clemenceau led their peoples to victory.

The Chancellor and his friends the demagogues ever directed the sharp arrows of their political warfare against their homeland instead of against the enemy. Thus they destroyed the resistance of the people, and paved the way for the collapse, until at last the people and the demagogues who had come to rule over them threw down their arms and laid themselves at the feet of their enemies, with the cry:

"We who have always believed in the conscience of the world, forswear the accursed disciples of the policy of force, the greedy foes who wanted to swallow you. We never wanted victory, we feared it even, for would it not have left the yoke of the autocrats and militarists firmly upon the neck of the enslaved German people?

"Now defeat has freed the German people from the despotism of the Emperor and the soldiers, has brought it happiness, and made it worthy of a great future. Now we will compel you, not by hateful force, but by good and noble words, to love the German people and further their interests. We will gain the confidence of the world, and make free the way that leads from Imperialism to Idealism; we will sow in German hearts, not hatred against the imperialism of the British who have starved us, nor against


the French and the Poles who seek to dismember us, but hatred against the men who once made the German Empire powerful, who formed armies and built ships to protect it, and constructed a mighty dam to protect its prosperity against covetous neighbours."

This end of Germany's power has been brought about by the deception of the mass of the German people throughout the war. Now that the awful test of facts has been applied, it is terribly painful even to think of the false hopes which Scheidemann and Company, with the complaisance of the Government, held out to the people. Their theory ran thus:

"1. If Germany will democratize herself at once, we can obtain a peace of understanding; the only obstacles are the monarchy and the military."

When the Northcliffe propaganda for the undermining of the German army had made full and successful use of the explosives thus supplied to it by the German democrats, Prince Max of Baden, Erzberger, and Scheidemann could not rest until they had tested their theory of the "peace of justice, not of force," at the cost of our monarchy, our army, our honour, and our freedom.

"2, If we only state frankly that we will give up Belgium, we can have a peace of understanding."

The doves of peace had been flying without ceasing across our frontiers since 1917, bearing in their beaks the renunciation of Belgium, but each flight merely confirmed the resolve of our enemies to wait until the patent internal decay of Germany had achieved their true war aim, the ruin of our country.


"3. The Junkers, captains of industry, and annexationists made the war, and prolong the war, for their own profit. Overthrow them, and the free peoples will stretch out their hands to you, and perpetual peace will come."

Even ancient Rome knew how to build a policy on the internal dissensions of the Germans. The Entente had further help from the jealousies of the agitator-ridden classes, who were always ready to destroy the true upholders of their own economic existence, since these "earned more" than they did themselves.

Thus, many Germans welcomed the "Dawn of the Revolution." Our proud, strong, respected Empire has been broken, not by our enemies, but from inside. Our unconquered army collapsed because our people was not ripe to fulfil its political tasks in the framework erected by Bismarck. In London or Paris the man in the street feels of himself what is good for the country. Among us he fills himself with illusions gathered from certain newspapers and parties, well fitted to lead him on like a will-o'-the-wisp from disaster to disaster.

Only recently, in March, 1919, the socialist Paul Lensch, in the Glocke, showed how quiet those elements among us now are, who, like the Berliner Tageblatt, and papers of that stamp, have been assuring us for years that we need but drive the "Pan-Germans" to the devil, and make a frank declaration as to Belgium, to achieve a favourable


peace. Whether these newspapers to which Lensch refers are ever quiet, I cannot say. I am, however, quite certain, as must everyone be who has followed the effusions of the Frankfurter Zeitung with any attention and who believes himself to stand for Germany, that this journal, in war and peace, has in effect played right into the hands of our deadliest enemies.

With a lack of national feeling that would be inconceivable in any English or French newspaper, it has always attacked the State, and since the days of Bismarck has continually advocated the decisions best calculated to weaken the power and dignity of Germany; at every critical moment it has dealt its country a stab in the back; and at the last, absolutely consistent, it has warmly welcomed the revolution, the ruin of our honour and our future. In its task of deceiving the German people, it has made a clever use of that ignorance of the outside world which is characteristic of many of our fellow-citizens, who know nothing of the spirit and national pride of other peoples, and draw conclusions as to foreigners from their own character.

Loyal and simple, but at the same time confused and forgetful of their duty, they miss every opportunity for political achievement or increase of strength. They fail to see that every weakness involves an enemy advance and increased attacks; they fail to see that in our position in the world freedom and a tolerable economic situation can only be maintained for Germany by exceptional unity, honesty, and self-sacrifice on all sides.


Another socialist, the federal minister Dr. David, said at the beginning of 1919: "The main cause of our defeat was the weakness of our sense of duty to the State." That is absolutely right. Many years ago an Italian friend. Admiral Bettolo, said to me: "The only dangerous socialists are the German, for they make a dogma, a religion, out of their party principles, and are comrades first, and Germans only second. Exactly the reverse is the case with the English and the French and even with our socialists in Italy."

The hope, which I had for a time in the autumn of 1914, that the elements with a proper sense of patriotism would gain the upper hand in our Social Democracy, soon disappeared. The international Marxist propaganda, after decades of work, the narrow-minded class hatred, the German leaning to utopianism, had sunk too deep for that. A number of able men among the Social Democrats displayed during the war sound patriotic instincts.

If the Government had encouraged them, instead of following at the heels of stupid or malevolent demagogues of the international wing, the German workmen might have grown with confidence in the school of war to a ripe German patriotism, and they would thus have been now in as good a position in the world as the workers of England. But our politicians of the left showed the basest ingratitude to the Prusso-German State, the best of all governments. The wise and statesmanlike traditions of Frederick the Great and Bismarck counted as obsolete against the views of agitators, the


mention of whose very names must be repugnant to true Germans, although these undesirable individuals, not content with having ruined our country, are now actually ruling it for reward.

Thus many circles of the people fought passionately against those truthful ones who from the first said: "Whatever we do, whatever we offer to the enemy, this war must end either in our complete salvation or in our complete destruction."

When Germans contested this position they were injuring our strength from behind. After the first years of the war our enemies knew that the country was wearing itself out with this friction, and the knowledge gave them more confidence than their own strength. Scheidemann thought that, by loud and energetic renunciation of the idea of victory, he could encourage the "comrades" in enemy countries to take a like step. He never realized that he had exactly the opposite effect, and that he enabled the enemy Chauvinists to gain the upper hand over the peacemakers. And what real, terrible annexationists there were among our enemies, in comparison with the men who were so labelled in Germany!

A declaration by the Government and the majority parties of positive war aims would not have prevented, but would in fact have assisted, negotiations with England for a peace of understanding. The Germans alone did not know that war aims, the desirability of which is understood by the population, have the practical effect of reducing the demands of the opponents.


In fact, in the fight for the life of a people there is but one spirit which makes its armed forces invincible; this lies in the words:

"Man must soar, or cower low;
Either conquer and be free,
Or lose all in slavery;
Triumph or disaster know:
The hammer or the anvil be."

Owing to the conduct of the Government and the party leaders, the masses remained wholly ignorant that the reviled annexationists were really advocating nothing more than this plain truth. They thought them monstrous, and condemned them without understanding.

Cohn, the member of the Reichstag, taught the masses to sing:

"The rich draws profits from strife,
The poor pays with his life!

"The name of "never-endian" became a term of abuse. Gambetta had been canonized by his people because by his work in prolonging the war he gained them better terms of peace, and above all saved their honour and their self-confidence, the foundations of all national prosperity. The German people did not understand that England would not have a peace of understanding (how warmly any possibility of it would have been welcomed by us!), but was simply


waiting for the stupidity of our misguided masses to overthrow our so-called "never-endians," that is, to prevent the employment of our strength, the application of our energies. The aim of the enemy was, as must now be plain even to the most stupid among us, our destruction. There was, after all, nothing to move England to a peace of understanding, since that much, such were our policy and the conduct of the war, brought about thereby, she could always have when it suited her. It was thus clear that she wanted something more. Every right-minded German would rather fight the longest war, with the smallest prospect of victory, than accept final judgment of destruction without a most crushing necessity. This latter course was simply a betrayal of the nation.

I do not of course overlook for a moment the trials to which the nerves of the masses were exposed by the starvation blockade. The mental and physical effects of this, the most cruel of all weapons of war, which it was left to the English to introduce into modern warfare, must not be underestimated; they offer indeed a strong excuse for the gradual weakening of the power of resistance among the people. But it was correspondingly the more urgent duty of our national leaders, and indeed of every far-seeing politician, to survey the problem calmly and to do everything possible to maintain and direct into the proper channels the fighting spirit of the people. Where the real wish for victory is absent, strength and spirit are crippled as well.


My so-called "annexationism" consisted simply in a pessimistic view, which has unfortunately been proved correct by subsequent history of our politico-economic prospects. I was unable to console myself with ideas about a peace of justice and a league of nations, as did all our varieties of international capitalists and socialists. I asked myself what sort of a peace would be required to secure to Germany, in her difficult geographical position, equal weight with the other natural world-powers.

Our world-power could only cease to be artificial if we succeeded in reaching a position of primus inter pares in Central Europe, a position in which the majority of the continental nations was the guarantee of their own full freedom. That was the true objective, and until it was gained the power of Germany would be as little consistent with the standing of the German people in the world as in the eighteenth century the standing of Prussia was with its material strength.

"Territory is future" was a true motto for the empires of the British, the Americans, the Russians, and even of the French, who were capable of expansion in North Africa. Territory in this sense could not be won by the German Empire, wedged in in the heart of Europe. In the world and for the world, her future rested on her work, and in the existing political position could only be secured by concentrated defensive strength at home, compelling the respect of all neighbours. That is the real reason why our enemies wanted to crush Prussian militarism, for then


our greatness would be gone. For the Czar or the French an army of millions might perhaps be an immoral luxury, for who ever thought of attacking those countries? On the other hand, we did need great military defensive strength to counter-balance our extraordinarily unfavourable conditions of territory and frontiers, and our neighbours' centuries-old lust of conquest; this was expressly confirmed by Lloyd George at the beginning of 1914 - and who could deny it now, after the final experiences of the world-war? But from the point of view of international politics Germany could not after 1914 be capable of defence, or even of survival, unless the English supremacy over Belgium was disposed of.

I never expected, not even before the battle of the Marne, a complete German military victory in the sense of 1870. In any case the Americans would have robbed us of many of the fruits of victory. Even a century ago, in 1815, the President of the United States, in spite of the then hostility of the United States to England, is reported to have stated in a Presidential message: " It will be the aim of a resolute statesmanship to prevent the ripening of the seed that lies in Germany." (I only know this quotation from England's Predominance, the Days of the Continental System, by A. von Peez and Paul Dehn (1912))

My own view was that a complete military victory of either side was unlikely, and that the decision would rest with the moral elements of determination and power of resistance. I did not doubt that, if we succeeded in opening the eyes of the German people to the full meaning of British supremacy in


Belgium, we should develop strength enough to secure a peace that guaranteed us against that danger. In the event of defeat, the fate of Germany would be subjection to a foreign power. It was better to go to the farthest lengths to tempt victory, than to accept such a helot status.

Since 1870 our greatly increased population, on which the growth of our prosperity and power depended, could no longer, with our limited territory, be all accommodated on the soil. Land hunger thus led, as it had done in the early days of German history, to the emigration and loss to Germany of the surplus population. An artificial increase in the numbers the country could support was only to be gained by trade and industry. Even if our population had remained stationary, we could not have remained the predominantly agricultural country of a generation before, since after 1870 the great plains of America and Russia began to compete with our agricultural exports, and had indeed put a stop to them.

To our export of raw materials, if our population was to increase or even to keep its level, had to be added the export of the manufactured goods, and for their production we had again to import large quantities of raw material, as indeed we had also for our agriculture, if it was to increase its output so as to support an increased population. Under these circumstances a stoppage of imports and exports would amount to a terrible disease of the


whole body politic, a crash from wealth to misery unprecedented in the world's history. Throughout the war there lay upon my mind like a nightmare the picture of millions of starving and workless proletarians, rooted from their homes and driven to destroy each other that the survivors might have bare room to live.

Throughout history the possession of the coasts of the Netherlands has always meant English domination on the Continent. England has long regarded the Belgian question as her own affair. If she held Antwerp, she held the Hague too, and Cologne, and from her points of vantage on the Scheldt and the lower Rhine she could master Europe. Germany could not make her war losses good to any extent if the Meuse territories, which had been part of the empire for nearly a thousand years, were again brought under her protection. For an export trade such as, up to 1914, lay at the root of our national existence necessitated a high political standing in the world.

Only German dreamers, who did not know on what they themselves lived, could imagine that the Anglo-Saxons would permit a Germany for which they did not have a certain fear ever again to work so freely and unhindered for its own profit all over the world. Before 1914, however, our world-position was not based so much on our actual strength as on the respect won in 1870. If we did not maintain this respect - that is, if we did not emerge from the war as well as England - then we lost everything we had built up in the world.


Our homeland flourished on our prestige abroad, and this would vanish like the old Hanse League if we did not win an independent position over against England.

If only in order to make good the enormous direct war losses that we suffered overseas, it was vitally necessary for us to emerge from the war on a broader economic basis in an age when, as the British said, the great grow unceasingly and the small become smaller. The maintenance of our pre-war economic influence in Antwerp, the liberation of our kinsmen, the Flemings, from the foreign rule of Franco-Walloons, the removal of the English from the continental coast, were my only material war aims, and they cannot be called annexationist.

I pass over here the point of view of naval strategy, which laid down that our position in the Heligoland triangle became untenable if England drew Belgium and Holland into her group, and thus extended her political power to the Ems.

What harm could have been done if the whole German people had taken the liberation of the Flemings as a serious war aim! And would this have been in any respect more immoral than the reannexation of German Alsace by the French? One would have left the Flemings their independence, whereas the French refused even to grant the Alsatians self-government. The only difference is that the French, according to their own point of view, hold the government of others to be their natural right, and the Germans concede this to the French, but suffer from attacks of conscience when an opportunity arises of themselves gaining in influence.


Our aim should have been to maintain the economic prosperity of our people, to preserve our beloved lands on the Rhine from encroachment, to save our Hanse towns from degenerating into English agencies, to secure our whole country from the death by strangulation plotted for it by the English, and finally to reconstruct after its collapse the whole artificial structure of our standing in the world. A peace, however, which left the English standing on the Meuse and the Scheldt meant for ourselves and for the whole of foolish disunited Europe the end of freedom and prosperity, and was only to be accepted if and when the very last chance of a better end was really and finally lost.

After the war, however, there was no neutral Belgium, any more than there has been at any time since 1905. Belgium and Holland lived on our prosperity, as the outlet of our industrial activity. It was to our interest to maintain them in freedom and prosperity, while the English simply desired them as bridge-heads.

The Government should have copied Lloyd George and Clemenceau in giving the people an outward and visible war aim, if only to divert them from vain and fruitless civil strife over reforms which could not benefit any party in the event of defeat. They should have taught the people to look at the essentials, and to leave secondary matters alone.


I felt certain from the very beginning of the war that defeat would be surely followed by a revolution, although I certainly never dreamt that there could be Germans who would yield, before the war was over, to the temptation to revolt and deliver the whole country into the hands of a foreign enemy. Our policy, leading as it did to disaster both at home and abroad, led others too to take gloomy views; as early as 1915 the Crown Prince asked me whether I thought he would ever govern the country. But if the old State were to collapse, the strength of the German people would fall with it, for they had hitherto always shown their incapacity to prosper without firm leadership. They needed the Prusso-German State. Their guardian angel was the tradition of Frederick the Great and of Bismarck. Our people lack natural political genius, such as, for example, the French possess.

We had a powerful monarchy because history had taught the Germans that in their perilous position they could not stand without it. And now we were demolishing our constitution at the time of our greatest danger, while our enemies were following exactly the opposite course, and increasing the power of their executives to the greatest possible extent. By this, we did not merely lose the advantage of homogeneous leadership, which we had had at the beginning of the war. We rather added to our material inferiority a moral and spiritual weakness, by opposing in the last year of the war to the dictatorships of Wilson, Lloyd George, and Clemenceau, a weary, worn-out old man like Herding, and finally by permitting purely destructive party-leaders to divide up the power among themselves.


The internal health of a people depends on the possibility of its freely developing its strength abroad. By employing their strength against each other at home, the Germans introduced a new stage of decay in which the unhappy nation, deluded by the sorry spectacle of demagogues squabbling over "power," was to be robbed of its prosperity, its dignity, and its great ideals.

In any event, and from whatever point of view the subject was approached, the only escape from immeasurable misery was to be found in making the people fully conscious of the sorrows that threatened them, and really imbuing them with heroism and loyalty to the State of their fathers. It would then have been as possible for us to hold out as it was for the French, and the German people would not have had to undergo the physical and moral trials and humiliations which their weakness and their internal collapse have brought upon them.


The lack of comprehension of the views developed above, and the endless tactical mistakes of our Government and our democrats in the attempts to obtain peace, found disastrous expression in the peace resolutions of July, 1917. It at once became clear to me that, after such an obvious nervous collapse, the prospects either of the early conclusion of a peace of renunciation or of a further successful prosecution of the war were very


seriously diminished. If there had ever been in England any real desire for a termination of the war on the footing of an understanding, it was clear that after this proof of our moral and political instability the well-known remark of Lloyd George - that England need never make any sacrifice for a peace of renunciation, because that could still be had under any circumstances - gained a fuller meaning than ever. The course we had chosen was, in addition, wholly unlikely to help towards a separate peace with Russia.

If in these circumstances there was to be any hope of salvation - great hope there could no longer be - the attempt should have been made to develop a strong national counter-movement among the people, in order to create the impression abroad that the German power of resistance was still strong, to give the Government a footing for the exercise of a shrewd and strong policy, and finally to prevent any further advance down the slippery slope of public peace offers.

It was these considerations that led District Governor Kapp and a number of East Prussians of all parties to form the German Fatherland party. The first of the three desired effects, the impression abroad, was undoubtedly achieved by the tremendous national strength of the movement. The German Government was, however, far from understanding what a weapon


the creation of this party had placed in their hand. They never dared to make use of it, doing on the contrary all in their power to hamper the movement. Such an attitude, indeed, was prescribed by the immediate counter-operations of the authors of the peace resolutions, who, in order to maintain their position, succeeded by a well-organized campaign of lies in fathering internal political aims on to the new party, and in bringing it into suspicion as reactionary.

Further, in complete and thoroughly German misunderstanding of the object of a "war aim," they charged the party and myself with "annexationism." Apart from the fact that the leaders of the party had held aloof from any particular policy of annexation, merely making certain definite demands in respect of Belgium, the crucial point as against England, there was no necessity to do more than impress, as above mentioned, upon the people some sense of the matters that were indispensable to our future existence. This, our Government had unfortunately wholly omitted to do. It should at least have been grateful that the task had been undertaken for it by a great popular movement, and should have made use of the movement in the way one can be sure that an English or French Government would have done.

At this very time, if it was necessary and possible to conclude a peace of renunciation (which the Fatherland party could never prevent), the Government, relying on the existence of that party, could have stood out for better terms. It is also an essential point that during the


whole period of the party's existence no opportunity arose for a peace of understanding. Nothing but the everlasting and baseless delusion of our democrats, that Germany, to obtain an acceptable peace, had but to ask for it, made it possible to attach the name of "never-endians" to the men whose views, had they been allowed to prevail, would have brought the war more rapidly to one or the other conclusion. The parties really guilty of prolonging the war were those who steadily undermined our power of resistance, and gave the Entente that certainty to which Lloyd George has given expression.

The Fatherland party did not achieve its aim, and indeed could not do so when it was opposed not merely by the hostility of the authors of the peace resolution, but also by the strong machinery of the Prusso-German State. Its work of political explanation, however, was not in vain. If anything can give us hope that German patriotism will again build us a strong and habitable German home, it is the fact that, after three hard years of war, and in spite of the activities of Bethmann and the democrats, a movement could arise of such power and patriotic feeling as this party displayed. The spiritual and material liberation of our country, which is now fallen under foreign domination, and the foundation of a new well-being, can only be begun when disaster has led to disillusion and disillusion has awakened in all sects and classes of our people a spirit of self-sacrifice and a determination to maintain Germany's civilization.



When in October, 1918, the democrats who had come into office seemed likely to make the terrible mistake, unprecedented in history since the time of Carthage, that one could throw oneself on the mercy of one's enemy without perishing, I wrote the following letter to the then Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden:

"Berlin, October 17th, 1918.

"Your Grand-ducal Highness,

"In accordance with orders, I have the honour to transmit hereby my views on the present position.

"I regard as fundamentally false the political tactics which we have adopted towards England and America both before and, above all, during the war. We assume in our opponents points of view which we alone, not they, possess. In these tactics I perceive one of the greatest causes of the war and of our present position. The aim of the Anglo-Americans, followed with the most delicate political cleverness and the greatest consistency, has been the destruction of Germany, as a further step towards world-domination by their capitalism. It was only by a display of strength and particularly of determination that we could impress upon them that the business was not a paying one, and thus secure for ourselves tolerable conditions.

"Our continually repeated public oflfers of peace have constituted grave tactical errors. Wilson's demands rose at each such step. We did not understand that we were faced by deliberate extortion. Their talk of peace and the happiness of the nations are noble, but most naively intended only for the benefit of their own peoples; they are designed, too, expressly for the politically unsuspicious German people.


"Our latest offer of peace and armistice, which is so accommodating as to amount to a renunciation of any claim on our part to rank as a great power, has been answered bluntly by Wilson with a demand for our complete disarmament. He knows quite certainly that the cessation of the submarine campaign makes any further resistance on our part impossible. This demand for cessation of submarine warfare, the present and future importance of which is shown by Churchill's speech to be thoroughly understood in the enemy camp, forms the kernel of Wilson's note, which is surrounded by a husk of pathetic moral indignation.

"As this indignation, were it limited to the war at sea, would be too transparent, a further covering is provided in shameless libels on the army. At the same time, Wilson is beating the victory drum and working his people up to the highest pitch of fury. He would certainly not do this if he intended to treat us with any leniency afterwards. The reverse will be the case, notwithstanding the suggestions in his note. These are merely the tricks of the political extortioner.

"Wilson's answer shows further that it was quite a mistake to assume, if anyone did assume, that the Entente would be so obliging as to concede us an immediate armistice on any terms that would admit of our putting our army and our frontiers in a position of defence in the event of the peace negotiations breaking down.

"There is but one means left to secure better terms, perhaps even but one means to secure the existence of German civilization. We must make an appeal to the whole people to defend with determination our honour and our future existence, and we must at the same time act at once, both at home and abroad, in such a manner as to leave not the least doubt of our determination. This is the right course to follow, even if we


are even now desirous of answering in an accommodating spirit. If we were to answer in that spirit, there is grave risk that neither the enemy nor ourselves would believe that we were still in earnest. The decline in our morale and sense of honour, beginning at home, has travelled through our lines of communication and reached the fighting fronts. The troops cannot hold out and fight when they see only too clearly that everything is being sacrificed at home. What are the men to fight for, and how are their officers to keep up their morale? It is impossible under such circumstances,

"We require resolute reinforcement of the western front with every available man, the formation of citizen battalions for the maintenance of order at home, and the relentless prosecution of the submarine campaign, which has had far greater effects than is believed at home. We must take every imaginable measure to maintain the spirits of the troops, the officers must have the same rations as the men, and the Government itself must give the widest possible explanations of what is really at stake. Every German must understand that if we do not fight on, we fall to the level of wage-slaves of our enemies.

"To carry through this policy, a dictatorship, such as the enemy in direct contrast to ourselves have established, is essential. It is absolutely immmaterial of what party tendencies this executive power is composed, for its activities must be directed simply, solely, and exclusively against the external enemy.


"These are my views, hastily dictated, but the product of the thought of years; they have nothing whatever to do with Chauvinism, annexation, or a failure to understand our need for peace; they are directed solely to the rescue of our people from the supreme danger. My policy may not succeed, but it at any rate offers the only possible avenue to success, for other courses lead with certainty to a shameful issue.

"If your Grand-ducal Highness desires to have a further opinion on our naval position, I strongly recommend you to grant a short interview to Admiral von Trotha, the Chief of Staff of our High Sea fighting forces, who is at present here. There is no one so capable of giving so clear a general opinion on the matter as this officer, who enjoys the confidence of the whole navy. I believe that he is staying with Admiral von Muller, the Chief of the Naval Cabinet. Having regard to the urgency of the subject, I have ventured to send a copy* of this letter to Field-Marshal von Hindenburg and to Secretary Scheidemann,

"Your Grand-ducal Highness,
"I remain with the greatest respect,

(*Prince Max read this letter with great care, marking certain passages, and sending it on to the other Secretaries of State, at any rate to Vice-Chancellor von Payer and Secretary Solf. On October 17th and 18th the majority in the Imperial Government were in favour of negotiating, sword in hand. On the 19th, however, the Scheidemann group, with the addition of Count Wolff-Metternich (a particularly unfortunate selection), succeeded in bringing the majority round. Wilson's desire, trading on our utter lack of political instinct, to render us defenceless before the negotiations were opened, was fulfilled, and with that our utter defeat was assured.)


Prince Max's Government rested on appallingly dishonest and anti-national influences. The submarine campaign was abandoned, our capitulation undertaken, and a peace of justice "agreed" with the Entente, and everyone who disagreed, every honest German-thinking man, was treated as an outlaw, although the army and navy could, without a doubt, have held out until the spring of 1919, and thus have rendered possible real negotiations for peace. In these darkest days of Germany's history, when we were still fully capable of making, with our sword in our hand, an offer of a just peace to our equally war-weary enemies, but instead rejected the opportunity and went down into chaos, I, in my capacity of chairman of the Fatherland party, wrote a further letter to the Chancellor, as follows:

"October 30th, 1918.

"Your Grand-ducal Highness,

"You graciously received my respectful letter of the 17th instant, but in one important respect, to wit in connection with the submarine campaign, you have arrived at a decision which is contrary to my advice, and, I am told, also to that of our naval and military chiefs. I conceive it to be my duty, in the existing situation, to bring once again to the attention of your Grand-ducal Highness a consideration which I did not sufficiently emphasize in that letter.

"Every military retreat which is not to develop into headlong flight has to be accompanied by well-timed and well-planned counter-attacks against the advancing enemy. The same rule holds good beyond doubt, indeed, with even greater force, of a political retreat. Even if we feel convinced that we can achieve nothing more by militay means, it must never be forgotten that for purely psychological reasons the desire of the enemy to avoid further sacrifices has now


risen very high. In 1871 a similar attitude on the part of France, even after the armistice was concluded, rescued Belfort in the peace negotiations. In battle, if a soldier lays down his arms, he can count on mercy. But if this is done in the political field, if the losing party deprives himself of weapons and surrenders without dignity, his attitude commands anything but respect from the enemy, who is on the contrary more inclined to relentless 'punishment.'

"For these reasons, regarding the matter from a purely material standpoint, and leaving on one side the centuries of harm that would be wrought by such a shameful surrender, I can think of no worse peace than that which would be forced on us, if we were simply to capitulate at a time when we still have left to us a considerable power of resistance. The enemy, who can well estimate our true strength, will not treat us any more mercifully if we disarm prematurely, but all the more roughly and brutally, since to the sensation of victory will be added a feeling of contempt for us. Here again we are faced by the difference in the points of view of ourselves and our enemies. In this respect we should have fared better if we had sought peace through England rather than through America and Wilson.

(I did not of course suggest that it would have been more advantageous to throw ourselves on the mercy of England rather than on that of Wilson. Such a capitulation meant national destruction in any event. I rather meant that, for negotiations sword in hand, it would have been more favourable from a business point of view to treat with England, mainly because of the effects of the submarine campaign. I am still of this view.)


"I would like in conclusion to draw attention to one more point. At the moment, not only are our enemies enjoying the full flush of victory, but their people have the feeling that at last they are at the point of securing the peace that they have longed for, for years, the end of sacrifices and hardships. All the nerves of the great masses are, as it were, screwed up to this. If we now make up our minds, in the face of the enemy demands, to a political 'Halt! About turn!' if we show our teeth once more in determined fashion, and declare that we will not accept these terms, the sudden need to resume the fight will have the greatest psychological effect. A terrible disappointment will await the war-weary masses of the enemy peoples, and a powerful movement will develop for forcing their Governments to reduce the terms. In connection with the increasing strength of the heroic resistance on our front, and the fully justified fear of Bolshevism, such an attitude can alone give any prospect of obtaining tolerable conditions.

"Your Grand-ducal Highness,
"I remain with the greatest respect,

As I wrote this, I had but fugitive hopes that the attitude of our "rulers" could change. The letter formed the conclusion of my political activities.

The unfortunate result of the war has given to those who are really responsible for the disaster the opportunity, although hardly the right, to accuse before the uncritical masses the men who, if they had had a free hand, could have won the war or at the least brought it to an honourable conclusion. A court for State trials is, it is said, to be established; if this is done, there should be placed in the dock others than those who will be called thither, including many who will want to sit as judges. I would gladly have spared the feelings of others, but I must expose before history the system which has brought us to destruction.


This political system, which Bethmann-Hollweg, doubtless unintentionally, had in fact aided greatly in developing, and which at present enjoys an almost grotesque access of strength, involves the sacrifice of all our constitutional achievements by a blindly credulous adoption of the avaricious and dishonest misrepresentations of our foreign enemies, and of certain international dreams of our own. We seem to have forgotten all our traditions, and all the experience gained by the tragedies of our history, through which we shall need to pass again.

I am convinced that our enemies, in their desire to attack us, found their opportunity, or their pretext, in this system. At home, it so softened our policy that our people lacked the necessary moral strength to hold out through the world-war. The same system was the true cause of the strength of our navy not being brought to bear in the war. The same system gave us the wrong strategical aim during the war, turning us to attempt the defeat of Russia while sparing England. The same system is to blame for the unexampled stupidity and loss of dignity involved in our capitulation in the autumn of 1918, the terrible results of which it made worse by subsequent follies. After the revolution the same system raged against the last remnants of political intelligence left to us,


so that it seemed to have become a shame and a crime to be a German, which it was once my greatest happiness and pride to be. Firmly led, there is no more capable people in the world than ours; but in the hands of bad and incapable leaders the German people is its own greatest enemy. It will soon tire of the black-red-and-gold pre-Bismarckian imitation of a State that has for the present been foisted upon it; but what will then be left to it of the essence of the good old State, which our enemies envied so much that with the help of our radical democrats they set about the destruction of all its virtues, its monarchy, its fighting power, the integrity and industry of its officials, the State-creating power of Prussianism, its patriotism faithful unto death?

We are now in a worse situation than we were at the end of the Thirty Years War. Without a new Potsdam, and an earnest effort to restore our self-consciousness, without a spiritual renaissance, without a wise, powerful, and dignified statesmanship, the German people will never again be free, but will slowly or quickly, according to its constitution and population, drop out of the ranks of the great nations; and then a new Weimar will be wholly impossible. We have fallen from the greatest height to the lowest depths, and it is idle to talk light-heartedly of reconstruction so long as one is ever sinking deeper. The ascent of recovery is terribly hard and difficult. It can and will succeed, if and only if our people are resolute and untiring in national fortitude and


national determination, like the French, the Italians, the English, the Serbians, and even in recent times the Indians. So long as we remain the people with the weakest national feelings, answering every seizure of our territory or other indignity with talk of reconciliation, thus leaving the insult unavenged and inviting further encroachments, so long as, lacking any national pride, we ape the forms and customs of other nations, and so long as fighting fellow-Germans of other parties means more to us than holding together against the foreign foe, so long can we never rise, but only fall farther. In the battle of the Alemanni, the Germans called to their chieftains, "Dismount from your horses," and with that they lost the battle. Internal dissensions have again brought us to disaster, for our generation, politically and in some sections morally too, was not great enough for its time.

Past, present, and future have thus shown me my duty, to fight this system.

But if on the other hand the German people awakes from the chaos of the collapse, and remembers with pride and emotion the strength, courage, and self-sacrifice which even during the war it has displayed under the Prusso-German State, then it will do right to count its events of the world-war among the most sacred memories of its national history. How, in spite of the poor quality of our allies, we held our ground against overwhelming superiority of strength, how we defied England's world-conspiracy against us, how we kept up our courage for years in spite of


the slanders uttered against our peaceful disposition, and in spite of the brutal destruction of the countless little settlements of Germans in all parts of the earth, and how our men by sea and land knew how to strike the foe and give their lives for Germany - the memory of all this shall make future generations of Germans marvel, and give them faith. But Germany was, as in Luther's day, "A fine horse, needing but one thing, a rider," In every respect the fight that was forced on us bore promise of success, and even after all our errors it was still possible in October 1918 to resist a peace of destruction. But the greeds of internal politics, which throughout the war had been ready to capitulate to the external enemy, had seized the bridle of the riderless people.






Battlecruiser Derfflinger (Maritime Quest)

I. The navy at the beginning of the war. - 2. The achievements of the navy. - 3. The plan of operations. - 4. My verdict. - 5. The crippling of the fleet. - 6. The lack of a Supreme Command. - 7. The Battle of Jutland. - 8. The last phase.

I COME now to the most painful part of my task, the discussion of the causes why our fleet, after our politicians had failed to avoid the outbreak of war, was not allowed to win us a just peace in battle, but itself met the most shameful end. I have no intention of giving a naval history of the war, which would be outside the scope of this book, but I desire merely to mention the points that are essential for the formation of a judgment on the fleet; and in the first place I would mention that even our army, which at the outbreak of war had reached absolute perfection, had finally to succumb to overwhelming superiority. I have already refuted the suggestion that, but for the navy, there would never have been a world-war, for it has for many years been a cardinal point of England's policy not to suffer any defeat of France.

In the year 1914 our naval power was already considerable, but it was not large enough to provide that margin of safety which is a necessity in peace and war; it was still in the full course of its development when it was faced with war against the five greatest naval powers, to which in 1917 the United States of America was added.


In spite of everything, I am still to-day convinced - and that is the tragedy of the result - that the fleet could have fulfilled its destiny, and could have aided us to secure an honourable peace, if a right use had been made of it. The fleet was good, the men full of eagerness for the fight and highly trained, and the material was superior to the English. The most striking proof of the fighting value of our navy, and of the high opinion held of its capacities by the enemy, is to be found in the fact that the English avoided a meeting, and that the more emphatically the longer the war lasted.

In spite of their ever-increasing superiority, they never attacked our forces of set purpose. They never sought any encounter. In the end our fleet was seized with the same disease as attacked all Germany. If it broke out on our large ships a few days earlier, and in a more striking form than occurred in the army, the real reason for this is merely the close relations which could spring up in the dockyards between the agitator-ridden masses of the working classes and the crews, and more especially the stokers. This party-political movement which was controlled from Berlin was permitted to exist by the Government then in power.


As in the whole population, so too in the fleet, the war was begun with the confident belief that there was not a man in Germany who had wished for war; cleverly as England had utilized the opportunity that was offered to it in 1914 to bring the war about, its long-prepared plan for the destruction of our future had become far too widely known. As a result, the morale of the navy at the beginning of the war was very high, and permitted us the most rosy hopes. Old reservists on their recall begged to be allowed to serve the guns and not to work in safety below decks on the ammunition hoists. Our torpedo-boat commanders were longing for the order, "Z flag to the fore." (The signal to attack.) 

The cadets and midshipmen from the naval college, which was closed, and the training ships, which were placed out of service, were wild in their desire to get on board ship, even if only as captain's messengers. The usual prizes for records in coaling were refused by the stokers and seamen, who said: "We work without prizes." Engineers and fighting ranks vied with one another in bringing their ships to the highest point of readiness.

Every man in the navy was quite clear at the outbreak of war that he was meeting an enemy possessed of a great superiority in strength, and whose invincibility at sea had become almost a dogma. French, Russians, Italians were, so to speak, not reckoned at all as opponents. In peace the German and English navies had had a particularly great respect for each other. The story that our naval officers' messses used to drink to "the day" (the battle with the British fleet) is of course pure invention; it is merely one


of the many lies in the long chapter of attempts to fasten on us a desire for war, with which the Press of the world was flooded. Besides, the fellow-feeling for the English naval officer was much too strong before the war, and our admirably correct attitude would have made such conduct wholly impossible, apart altogether from the stupidity of wishing to seek battle with an enemy twice our strength.

Before dealing with the two main causes of our fleet's being prevented from working out its destiny, I will give a short account of the actual effects which the fleet did have on the course of the war.


At home the fleet, unaided, kept our long coast from the Memel to the Ems free from all enemy attacks; not a gun was fired at our coasts. Its virtually unlimited mastery of the Baltic ensured the free import of the materials, and in particular of the ores, which formed an urgent need of our war industries, and protected the left wing of our forces in the East against raids in the rear, which had been planned by the Russians and had been a feature, I believe, of the naval convention concluded between England and Russia in 1914. Later the fleet rendered possible the carriage of reinforcements by sea. The successful undertaking against Osel and the Moon straits under the command of Admirals Schmidt and Behncke, in happiest co-operation with the army, assisted in breaking the last resistance of the Russians.


The fact that our fleet was not defeated, and that the English could not accordingly establish a closer blockade of our coasts, made it possible for the northern powers and Holland to remain neutral in spite of British threats. In the first decade of the present century, when our fleet was still weak, England had planned a landing in Jutland, involving a violation of Denmark similar to that to which Greece was later subjected. In the face of the German fleet this was impossible.

If one imagines for a moment that our fleet had been completely defeated, or that it had never existed, one can realize how grave the consequences would have been for us, both economically and from a military point of view. With a northern front broken in, or even severely threatened, we could not have held our fronts in the east and west. But there are other considerations too. Our fleet forced the British to undertake an enormous increase of their own sea forces. The numbers of their navy alone were more than tripled. The entire complement of men employed for sea warfare on the British side must have been from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000, a figure involving a very great relief to our western front.

In the preceding chapter I have pointed out what a blow would have been dealt to England by the occupation of the French Channel ports by our army. Such an occupation could only, however, be a substantial, perhaps even a decisive, danger for England if we had a fleet which could use these ports as a base.


In the hope of realizing this, the marine corps was formed, constituting the only direct war activity which I, in the Admiralty, could achieve for the fight against England.

Our army, however, was unable to reach the northern French ports, taking only the Flemish harbours, which, owing to their geographical position, were of much less importance, as they did not directly threaten the Channel. In addition, they could only accommodate submarines and torpedo boats. Nevertheless they had the great advantage that the distance thence to the English coast was only a quarter of the distance from our German river mouths, and thus relatively smaller submarines, which could be built in a shorter time, were suitable for employment here.

Attacks by English naval forces on Zeebrugge and Ostend were to be expected. As I doubted whether the army would be ready to undertake the necessary organization of the coast defence, and as, on the other hand, the landward fronts of our naval ports were no longer really threatened, it seemed wise to form out of the men thus released a Marine Corps for the defence of the Flemish coast. The army consented to this, but only on condition that the corps should be under army command.

In order to get at any rate something done, I fell in with this stipulation, although experience shows that in all combined operations of army and navy the danger is ever present that the particular objectives of the latter may be neglected. The Emperor studied the matter with the greatest under


standing and gave me extraordinary powers for the work of formation. Our marine infantry, which had to form three regiments out of two battalions, were picked troops from the very first in spite of this great dilution, thanks to their three years' service system. The naval gunners, drawn from various forts and garrisons, were to undergo their infantry training in the neighbourhood of Brussels, but owing to the operations in September had to be employed against the Belgian army advancing from Antwerp, some of them being detrained and marched straight into battle. These troops showed their value here, as well as later in the capture of Antwerp and in four years of stationary warfare.

With the passing of time the Marine Corps under Admiral von Schroder rendered the seaward flank of our western front impregnable, and with various contrivances turned the Flemish ports into quite serviceable bases for T.B.D. and submarine warfare. Our forces stationed there, although unfortunately I was not strong enough to secure them sufficient accessions of force from home to make them as powerful as Admiral Schroder and I could have wished, were a sharp thorn in England's side right up to the autumn of 1918.

In the early months of the war, also, the eastern half of the Mediterranean developed into a theatre of war of increasing importance.


Already on August 3rd, as news had come of the conclusion of an alliance with Turkey, I had, in spite of the hesitation of the Chief of the Naval Staff as to the Goeben and Breslau, sent instructions to our Mediterranean squadron to attempt to break through to Constantinople. This order was cancelled on August 5th, as the embassy in Constantinople, in view of the position there, thought that their arrival would not yet be desirable. The vessels were now instructed to go to Pola, or else to break through into the Atlantic.

There was a naval agreement, concluded in time of peace, between Austria, Italy, and ourselves, according to which in the event of war our whole naval forces were to be assembled together in the Straits of Messina against the double alliance. On the proposal of the Italians, the command of the triple fleet was to be in the hands of the Austrian Admiral Haus; I do not discuss the question whether this had been seriously intended. The Emperor was particularly proud of our Mediterranean squadron, while I regretted the absence from the North Sea of the Goeben in particular.

When the Goeben and Breslau arrived at Messina, after successful bombardments of Algerian ports, they met neither the Italians nor the Austrians, and the former, who had declared strict neutrality, scarcely allowed them one coaling at Messina. Enemy ships were cruising at both ends of the straits. As Austria had not yet declared war against the powers ranged against us, difficulties of form stood in the way of our gaining help from the Austrian fleet. The Admiralty's demands were answered on the afternoon of August 5th by the Foreign Office to the effect that our ambassador


at Vienna had been instructed to press urgently for a declaration of war. In the evening the news arrived that the Austrian naval commander, owing to the position, the distance, and the state of readiness of his fleet, was unable to help - a typical instance of our preparation for the war in the political field. Under the circumstances Admiral Souchon was informed by telegraph that he might himself choose in what direction he should break through. He thereupon, following the lines of the orders he had at first received, chose the way to Constantinople.

The whole Turkish question received its definite favourable ending through the success of this breakthrough. Before the war, our Eastern policy had always seemed mistaken to me, as Germany's only real prospects of release from encirclement were to be found through Russia; but once we were actually at war with Russia all considerations of this sort vanished, and I accordingly supported Turkey so far as lay in my power. Her weakness made it impossible for her to remain neutral in the long run, and the arrival of our vessels made it possible to ensure that she came in on our side rather than against us.

The support which the German navy was able to give to Turkey under the difficult circumstances is an episode of itself, and it can only be mentioned here that our navy took a leading part in the glorious defence of the Dardanelles, thus assisting in the saving of Constantinople. On this depended victory or defeat on the Balkan front, which was so important for the


Central Powers. The approach from the Mediterranean to Russia thus remained closed, while the maintenance of communications with Asia Minor rendered possible our serious threats against the English in Egypt and Mesopotamia, which drew off in that direction strong English land forces and transport vessels. With our "dry-land" point of view one is apt to forget that the British attempt to force the Dardanelles was undertaken with insufficient strength, and accordingly failed, only because our fleet forced England to keep the greater part of her navy concentrated in the North Sea. Thus the distant eflfects of our naval strength protected Turkey. We helped Austria too by sending her submarines, and established bases in Pola and Cattaro.

The entry of Japan into the war wrecked the plan of a war by our cruiser squadron against enemy trade and against the British war vessels in those seas, leaving our ships with nothing to do but to attempt to break through and reach home. On its way home the squadron, under the brave Count Spee, destroyed without appreciable loss to itself the English squadron stationed off the coast of Chile, whose commander had only shortly before the outbreak of war enjoyed friendly social intercourse with Spee. Only one small English cruiser escaped from the battle of Coronel.

The ammunition left to Count Spee after the heavy expenditure in this engagement seemed to me insufficient for a second battle, and we had news of the assembling of strong English forces on the east coast of South America. I therefore proposed that we should place Spee, with whom we could communicate by wireless via Valparaiso, at liberty to avoid the east coast of South


America, making his northward voyage in the middle of the Atlantic or nearer the African coast. My intention was to draw Count Spee's attention by this message to the fact that having regard to his shortage of ammunition, we did not expect any further active operations of him, and that the main part of his task was now to make his way homewards. Spee would then be able, sailing his ships separately through the vast tracts of the Atlantic, to get home in the same fashion as was later followed by the Moewe and other vessels. The prestige of Coronel would then have been established in the eyes of the world.

As Count Spee was not informed of the general position of the war, such an instruction from home seemed to be highly desirable. The chief of the Naval Staff, however, regarded it as unwise. There were differences of opinion between him and myself on the matter. He was unwilling to encroach in any way on the freedom of action of the Count, who, he thought, would be better informed as to the strength of the English forces than we were. Unfortunately this was not the case. Our cruiser squadron was destroyed at the Falkland Islands by a force of crushing superiority, including two dreadnought cruisers, whose presence had not been anticipated by Spee.


Questions have been asked as to what can have moved the distinguished admiral to make the Falkland Islands. To destroy the English wireless station there would not have been of much purpose, since that station would have done all it could when it sent out: "The German squadron is here." The attempt may have been due to the fear on the part of these brave men, in their ignorance of the war situation, that the war might reach its end without any further achievement on their part. The victory of Coronel had increased the pride of our fellow-countrymen in all parts of the world, and now the loss of the crews, who, with Count Spee and his sons at their head, refused to surrender, awakened sorrow and admiration in every heart.

The single cruisers stationed in different parts of the world also did their duty fully. This cruiser warfare, which could not last long owing to the lack of bases, had been very well prepared by the Naval Staff. Agencies, and the supply of coal and stores, fitted their work in well so long as the prestige of Germany in the world was not falling. The activities of Captain Muller on the Emden and those of the Karlsruhe were glorious and effective. The commander of the Karlsruhe, Captain Kohler, never dreamt of taking advantage of the permission to make his way homeward; working with four auxiliary vessels in the Atlantic, surrounded by English cruisers, but relying on his superior speed, he sought ever further successes, until he was destroyed with his ship by an explosion, the probable cause of which was some unstable explosive brought abroad. The Konigsberg, under Captain Loof, succumbed after severe fighting against great superiority.


The commander and a large part of the crew subsequently went through the campaign in East Africa under General von Lettow-Vorbeck. Good and loyal Germans also earned much honour in later cruiser undertakings. Bold enterprise let the auxiliary cruisers Meteor, Greif, Moewe, Seeadler, and Wolf through English waters to the ocean. Their spirit of enterprise, however, was but the spirit of the High Sea fleet, for they were manned by officers and men of that fleet.

Our ships abroad could not produce any permanent effect on the course of the war, since, deprived as they were of the assistance of any base of their own, they could only hold out for limited periods. Nevertheless, the losses which they caused to the enemy must have been at least three times as great as the strength involved on our side. It is remarkable that our ships were never destroyed on the high seas, but only when they were forced to come to the land.

If one keeps before one these effects of the navy on the course of the war, one is bound to confess that its deeds were great and glorious. I know of no case, apart from the final collapse, in which the crews did not fight with the greatest courage and devotion, or in which the superiority of our personnel and materiel was not displayed. It would not be unjust to say that nothing more could have been demanded of a fleet fighting against enemies five times its own


strength with no base abroad and with a bad strategical position at home. Nevertheless our navy was so good that it could have achieved the greatest things had it only been encouraged instead of being blocked.

I thus come to the two fundamental causes why the navy's highest aim, the winning of a just peace by battle, could not be attained. The one cause of the navy's tragic fate, as has already been mentioned, is to be found in the obstacles placed in the way of its active employment throughout the war for political reasons; the other cause is the lack of a single responsible command of the whole of Germany's naval strength.


The plans of operation which I settled in the 'nineties of the last century, and at that time submitted for the approval of the Chief of the General Staff, all presupposed the benevolent neutrality of England. When in the middle of the 'nineties this supposition had to be modified, I was no longer, as Secretary of State, concerned in the working-out of the plans of operation. Nevertheless, I always exchanged views with the Chief of the Naval Staff, according to his character. When Count Baudissin was Chief, in 1908, he put in the forefront of his plan the immediate and unhesitating engagement of battle by the active fleet, with which I was fully agreed. In subsequent prewar years, however, the plan of operations was treated by the Naval Staff as secret even from me.


The plan of operations which, in accordance with the Cabinet order of July 30th, 1914 (to be discussed later), was now laid before me by von Pohl, the Chief of the Naval Staff, in the event of an English declaration of war, consisted, as I found to my surprise, of short instructions to the commander of the North Sea fleet to wage for the present only guerrilla warfare against the English, until we had achieved such a weakening of their fleet that we could safely send out our own; if before this time there should be any good prospects of a successful battle, a fight might then be undertaken.

At that time there was a strong Press campaign in favour of the so-called guerrilla warfare, supported amongst others by certain discharged naval officers. It was forgotten that the whole prospects of such fighting depended on the enemy being kind enough to provide us with opportunities, which they were not likely to do. Guerilla fighting would only have been feasible if the English had decided on a close blockade of our coasts immediately after the outbreak of war. Whether it would even then have been the correct policy, I need not discuss. The news from England, and especially the plan of their strategical manoeuvres, made it improbable that a close blockade of the German coast would be undertaken.

The Chief of Staff thought personally that more weight should be given to the English eagerness to come to blows, and expected that there would assuredly be a battle in the neighbourhood of Heligoland, which would of course be the most favourable position for us. I learnt later that the specialists on the Naval Staff held the view on this question that the British strategy would become


clear in the first few weeks of the war, and that new directions could then be given according to what that strategy proved to be; they were also of the opinion that the addition of several large battle-ships of the Kaiser class, and the reserve squadrons, which had been mobilized, but were not yet ready for action, made our prospects in battle more favourable from October onwards than would be the case in the first weeks of the war. Political obstacles were not expected in any naval quarter. From the point of view of numbers alone, the above attitude was not incorrect. The only point of anxiety lay in this, that early orders imposing restraint might easily lead to our wasting favourable opportunities, a recurrence of which, having regard to the impossibility of prophesying the enemy's line of action, could not be regarded as certain, and at the same time to giving the enemy advantages which we could not estimate. I accordingly raised objections to this plan of operations, which were recognized by the Chief of Staff to this extent only, that they were altered to read that, in the event of good prospects appearing for a successful battle, a fight must, not merely might, be undertaken, I considered that with this the commander of the North Sea fleet retained sufficient freedom of action.


In favour of immediate activity on the part of the fleet, apart from political factors, there were to be reckoned the probability that considerable naval fighting forces were immobilized in connection with the transhipment of British troops across the Channel, the fact that the British had not really any more experience of modern naval warfare than we had ourselves, and lastly the circumstances that at the beginning of the war they were not yet acquainted with the superiority of our naval guns and other material. They were probably not enlightened as to the terrible strength of our armour-bursting shells, which would gain double effect by surprise, even by their defeat at Coronel, the cruiser fight of January 24th, 1915, being the first occasion on which they certainly learnt of it. And, finally, another point in favour of immediate action was the holy eagerness for battle of our whole personnel, who longed for the opportunity to compete with the great achievements of the army.

Against an immediate fight was the fact that the whole English fleet was ready for battle when the war broke out, owing to the test mobilization, whereas only our active squadrons were ready. Further, Pohl had, much to his officers' regret, yielded to the pressure of the Foreign Office, which desired, in order to preserve a pacific attitude, that the fleet on its return from Norway should be divided between the North Sea and Baltic harbours. As a result of this step, which did indeed give a new demonstration of our anxiety for peace, but impaired our readiness


for war, that part of the fleet which had proceeded to Kiel had first to coal, etc., and then to pass through the by no means safe Kiel Canal before it could join the remainder.

(At the outbreak of war the canal was not absolutely finished, the draught being in places too shallow. Damage which in part was not discovered until the ships were at sea through loss of speed, excessive coal consumption, etc., was caused especially to the screws, hampering subsequent offensive operations. )

Contrary to the expectations of many officers, von Ingenohl, who was in command of the fleet, was brought to take a strongly defensive view of the operation order, so far as concerned the battle fleet. The position was not altered by a few bold mine-laying undertakings on the English coast. Ingenohl was awaiting the English in the Bight of Heligoland in defensive formation, a point which they were bound to find out after a time. So arrived August 28th, a day fateful, both in its after-effects and incidental results, for the work of our navy.

Early that morning, in murky weather, small English cruisers and torpedo boats of the newest design had attacked our outpost vessels stationed between Heligoland and the coast, sinking an oldish torpedo boat. As the English vessels drew out to sea again, the order was given to our small cruisers lying in the river mouths to take up the pursuit. These ships, not being informed as to the general position, left their anchorages alone, without the support of the torpedo-boat flotillas which had been allotted to them, rushed out to sea with all the enthusiasm of the first fight,


and, about sixty knots (nautical miles) from Heligoland, met a large number of enemy reconnaisance vessels, including four battle cruisers. It was doubtful whether heavier squadrons were present in the rear. The Koln and Mainz, fighting bravely against far superior forces, were shot to pieces and sank.

The crucial point seems to me to be that on the approach of the English the order was not instantly given, "The whole fleet to sea, with every vessel we have!" If there were larger elements of the British fleet in the Bight, there could be nothing better for us than to come to battle so near to our own ports. If the English had only weak forces, and fell back, the fleet had at any rate the opportunity of a remarkably good practice in the deployment of all our vessels from out of the river mouths and in their assembly, with the prospect of a battle. Unfortunately this was not done, nor were the cruisers reinforced. The order was merely given for one of the squadrons to put itself in a fuller state of preparation to sail. I, in G.H.Q., did not at first understand the incident, and I wrote to a friend who had been engaged for an explanation, mentioning at the same time the consequences that would arise if the fleet did not come to battle. In the answer which I received the view of the navy command, that we ought to await the English in the Bight of Heligoland, resting on our mine barriers there, was recognized as correct, and the loss of the cruisers was attributed to their recklessness. The judgment of the majority of officers was to the contrary.


The crews too were disappointed that they had not come to a fight, and their bitter criticism found expression in some instances in a regrettable manner. Messages were chalked on the walls expressing their anxiety to come to blows with the enemy.

That mistakes should be made in the early stages of such a war was natural enough. In this case there were plainly results to be seen of the plan of operations being drawn up in the defensive spirit. It was now the duty of the supreme naval command to deal with the matter and point out the mistakes which had clearly been committed. If that were done the damage was soon repaired.

But the reverse course was followed. The Emperor did not wish for losses of this sort, and the Chancellor gained further pretexts for the doctrine of keeping back the fleet which has been described in the previous chapter. The outward sign of the victory of Bethmann's views were the orders issued by the Emperor, after an audience to Pohl, to which, as always, I was not summoned, directed to restrict still further the initiative of the commander of the North Sea fleet: the loss of ships was to be avoided, fleet sallies and any greater undertakings must be approved by his Majesty in advance, etc.

I learnt of this orally, and took the first opportunity to explain to the Emperor the fundamental error of such a muzzling policy. This step had no success, but on the contrary there sprang up from that day


forth an estrangement between the Emperor and myself, which steadily increased, not without encouragement from various quarters. A little later the rumour ran in Berlin that I was driving the fleet into battle for parliamentary reasons.


As an example of the efforts which I made at this time, I publish below certain opinions which I sent to the Chief of the Naval Staff. Their aim was to bring about a battle. In my statements I adapted myself in passages to some extent to the views then prevailing, in order to get something done. Thus, for example, I recognized the view that we should make efforts to have the battle fought within a reasonable distance of Heligoland, a view correct in itself, but brought into one-sided importance by the Chiefs of the Naval Staff and the Naval Cabinet. Certainly the important thing for me was not the place of battle, but that battle should be joined. At this time, too, there was talk from time to time at G.H.Q. of a future doubling of the fleet. I fought consistently against the false "futurism" of this chatter; it is to this that the sixth paragraph of my letter of September 16th refers, a passage in which, through an almost incredible feat of distortion on the part of the opponents of the fighting policy, the suspicion was built that I attached more importance to future parliamentary successes than to anything else.


"Luxemberg, September i6th, 1914.


"With reference to our discussion of to-day, I humbly submit to Your Excellency the following points for consideration:

"1. The report of Admiral von Ingenohl of the 12th instant, Gg. 1738 A1, confirms the opinion which I had already put forward, that we cannot achieve an equalization of forces by means of the so-called guerrilla warfare.

"2. The aim of all our combatant and administrative work for twenty years or more has been battle. Accordingly we have relatively our best chances in battle. Nevertheless, having regard to our numerical inferiority, we must strive to give battle within a reasonable distance, at the most not more than 100 knots, from Heligoland.

"3. Our best opportunity for a successful battle was in the first two or three weeks after the declaration of war.

"4. As time goes on, our chance of success will grow worse, not better, as the English fleet receives a substantially greater increase by new building than we do, and keeps in full practice.

"5. In addition, the spirit of our men, which was admirable to start with, is bound to depreciate if there are no prospects of a fight.

"6. If one has confidence in our fleet, one must hold that in a battle the English fleet will suffer as many losses as we do. I personally have this confidence. In my view, the actual decision on such a matter can of course only be taken by the man who


has the responsibility for it, that is, the commander of the High Sea fleet. He must also have confidence in himself, and carry the genius of victory in his heart. Almost always, throughout the history of the world, smaller fleets have defeated greater ones.

"7. I cannot see the use of preserving the fleet intact until the declaration of peace.

"If we come to the end of a war so terrible as that of 1914, without the fleet having bled and worked, we shall get nothing more for the fleet, and all the scanty money that there may be will be spent on the army. The great efforts of His Majesty the Emperor to make Germany a naval power will have been all in vain.

"8. We must, however, wait for a short time before giving battle, until Turkey has definitely come in and the main decision has been reached in the west.

"9. I would regard the dispatch of our three available large battle cruisers, without other vessels and without support, against the supposed enemy blockade line at Lindesnaes, as a mistake, on the ground that the expenditure of force seems to me too great in comparison to the possible gain.


"Charleville, October 1st, 1914


"I have the honour to bring to your Excellency's notice the following comments on the letter of the Commander of the High Sea fighting forces of September 25th, 1914, which has been passed to me for information:

"I am of opinion that the submarine danger has hitherto been underestimated, but that it is now exaggerated as a result of the success of U9. (This refers to the tactical danger of submarine attacks on warships.)


"Shooting from a submarine is extraordinarily difficult if the vessel attacked maintains a good speed and changes direction frequently when near submarines. Before the attack by U9 the three cruisers were strolling along at ten knots and the Hogue and Cressy were stationary when attacked.

"Nevertheless our corner of Heligoland, owing to the frequent presence of enemy submarines, is less fitted as a point of departure for offensive movements than we had hitherto assumed on the basis of our experience in peace-time. Its unsuitability is, however, perhaps due more to the enormous size of our fleet, which has to defile out of the narrow river channels, than to the submarines. Our peace-time manoeuvres did not draw our attention sufficiently to this point.

"The fleet is now faced with the danger that it must either while away the war in virtual uselessness behind the river barriers, while Germany fights out on dry land the battle for its existence as a power worthy of the name, or else for honour's sake see itself compelled to go out to battle at a moment when the prospects of success are at their lowest.

"The present effect of our fleet (20 large battleships, about 25 pre-Dreadnoughts, 100 torpedo boats, etc. ), could have been equally well achieved with much smaller forces, if we had merely confined ourselves to the defence of the Baltic.

"The English fleet, on the other hand, is achieving the full effect of a 'fleet in being': extraordinary and increasing pressure on the neutrals, complete destruction of German sea-borne trade, the fullest practical blockade, steady transport of troops to France. With all this is connected the isolation of Germany from news, and the incitement of the whole world against us.


"The English fleet, and England, are Germany's most dangerous enemy.

"The use made of our after all very strong fleet in no way corresponds to the relative strengths of the two fleets. I do not propose at the moment to go farther into the reasons for this, but merely to state a fact which we must all face,

"For this reason also I cannot agree that the maintenance of the fleet intact for the conclusion of peace can have the least political influence.

"With regard now to the second point, that we may be forced to give battle under unfavourable circumstances for the mere honour of our arms, the English need only to bombard Heligoland one morning from the north. A squadron of fast vessels, keeping a great distance and steering a zigzag course, would suffice. In such a case there would lie farther in the offing the whole English fleet - that is to say, every vessel they have, torpedo boats included, that is fit for high-sea fighting. In the Bight, before our river mouths, there would be stationed in such a case, not just one or two submarines - the highest number that the English can spare for keeping perpetual station in the Bight - but every submarine of long radius that they possess.

"It is in this risk, that we may have to fight for honour's sake in an unfavourable situation and without full preparation, that I see the greatest danger for our fleet.

"If the fleet continues to remain in its withdrawn position, its moral strength and capacity will of necessity deteriorate, with results that may easily be foreseen.


"For these reasons I am of the view that Admiral von Ingenohl's initiative should not be limited in any way, and that it should be left entirely to him what he thinks possible and right to do under the circumstances. He ought not either to have to ask, for that too is a crippling of his initiative. He alone must decide. My personal opinion is that the fleet has considerably more fighting power than the present conduct of the war assumes. That is particularly true of our torpedo boats, which are not being used at all. That the English torpedo boats can attack viciously was proved on August 28th.

"For these reasons I am of the view that farther advances of our whole battle fleet have become an absolute necessity. To refer to the incident of September 22nd, in which the attack of our three large cruisers, which was ordered, did not take place, because fleets of twelve and sixteen ships were reported in the neighbourhood of Lindesnaes, why could not our entire fleet have sallied out? It is improbable that the whole English fleet would make such a cruise; and even if we had known that we had to face not merely the first fleet, but their entire forces, we could have taken measures to meet the situation, and lengthened the battle considerably, for example by letting the slower vessels follow on the same course at a distance of fifty knots (echelon order).

"It is now objected that in battles developing out of such attacks our damaged ships will be lost on the return. But why are we to assume that there will be many damaged ships? Is it not definitely one thing or the other? In a large battle, will not the bulk of the damaged ships be torpedoed, so long as the result appears in doubt? Are the English not in the same position? The long nights are beginning now, and are our far more highly trained torpedo boats to be found wanting against the English fleet?


"The objection is also raised that the retirement to our river mouths will be barred by the detachments coming from the South of England. Is the distance to Heligoland so much greater from Lindesnaes than from England? And if we seize the initiative, will all the detachments of the British fleet be ready for instant departure and linking-up? Linking-up is as difficult for them as it is for us. There will not in the future be many English ships stationed at the Hook of Holland or anywhere in similar range. Fortune favours the initiative; (Emden, U9, Konigsberg, U21). But if in the end it should prove impossible for us to withdraw to Heligoland, and we have to go into the Kattegat, we are after all at home there, and the English are not.

"Admiral von Ingenohl is now demanding that the Belts should be opened. After recent occurrences the Danes cannot well consent. The demand ought not indeed to be made, for the very reason that it must become known at once in England.

"In case of need we shall have to retire through the Kattegat and the Belts without asking. Besides, at the beginning of the war, Denmark gave us to understand that she was dividing the Little Belt into two parts, a Danish part by Baage which it was closing, and a German part, the Aroe Sound, which it was for us to look after. Denmark could take shelter behind this excuse, that we had used the German part of the Little Belt, and for our part there is no question of an offensive from the Belts, but only and strictly of the refuge of damaged ships. It would be


an act of necessity. Denmark would thus not declare war against us, and the worst that could happen would be a demand by the English for passage for themselves through the Belts. This they have not already demanded, only because it is not to their advantage. They have not recognized the right of the Danes to close the Belts, and indeed, according to the rules of neutrality as they stand, the Danes have not the right so to do. The passage through the Little Belt is thus available for us. The closing of the Belts by the Danes, which has so far benefited us, is now certainly a disadvantage.

"A favourable levelling-up of forces through guerrilla warfare is not to be expected, to judge from our experiences to date; indeed, the reverse is likely, which would have a bad influence on general opinion on the fleet. A similar bad impression will be produced by the impending storming of Tsingtao, and the slow but inevitable destruction of our cruisers in distant waters.

"There is nothing that argues against the concession of the fullest freedom of action to Admiral von Ingenohl. In my view it is necessary for the general conduct of the war. The operations and the forces in the Baltic should be adjusted accordingly.


"October 11th, 1914.


"The letter of October 6th of this year - 168 - addressed to the Chief of our High Sea fleet by Your Excellency, as a result of your audience of his Majesty, moves me to place the following matters before Your Excellency:


"1. The instructions that the fleet is to be held back and is to avoid actions that might lead to serious losses will in my view result in the fleet never having an opportunity of a decision by battle. It is indeed more probable that the fleet will only succeed in finding favourable conditions for battle if it seeks, by attacks such as those proposed by the Chief of the High Sea fleet in his letter of September 25th, 1914 - Gg. 2030 - to force the enemy into a position which will permit us to attack parts of their fleet or to undertake night torpedo attacks against them. The appearance of our fleet outside the Bight of Heligoland will of necessity create some uncertainty in the dispositions of the enemy command, and lead to counter-measures that will bring their fleet, or substantial parts of their fleet, into the neighbourhood of our coast. It is only thus, that is, by our seizing the initiative, that the fleet can obtain the opportunity of giving battle or at any rate of successful torpedo-boat action. If it leaves the initiative to the enemy and waits in the river mouths until the latter more or less offers battle, it will always be faced by vastly superior and fully prepared fighting forces, against which it can hardly hope to deploy from the river mouths with any prospects of success.

"2. The energetic employment of torpedo boats is, in my view, only possible if these vessels can rely on the support of strong forces, or, best of all, of the whole fleet. Otherwise they must soon come up with mixed forces of superior strength, and thus achieve nothing. On the other hand, I hold that, if we can succeed in bringing our torpedo-boat flotilla either by day or night to bear against important parts of the British fleet, we can achieve great successes. A guarantee of this is to be found in their thorough efficiency, based on decades of training.


"3. The continual retention of our squadrons in the river mouths is bound to have a bad effect on the readiness of the fleet for battle. Not only is the whole fleet deprived of the chance to maintain its tactical training, but, without the least reflection on the personnel, one must recognize that in the nature of things their magnificent morale is bound to be affected as the prospects of warlike activities become ever more remote.



I did not mean that we could seek battle in any case, and in any position. I rather desired that the North Sea fleet should create by continual activity a position compelling the English to draw nearer to us. If a battle developed in this manner on our initiative, not too far from our home waters, there was a possibility, especially in the earlier part of the war, that the English would not throw the whole of their forces united into the fight. The history of the war, which it is not my intention to write in this book, will show that such opportunities were in fact given. At the beginning of the war the fact had not emerged so clearly as it did later that the British fleet fulfilled its raison d'etre simply by lying quietly at Scapa Flow. Public opinion in the enemy countries might have made it very difficult at that time for the British to avoid battle. Even minor successes on our part might have driven them to seek us out.


There was further to be considered the comparatively favourable numerical relation between the two forces in the first year of war.

(The splendid increase we maintained up to 1914 as a result of the four-a-year programme prevailing from 1908 to 1911 fell off from 1915 onwards as a result of the two-a-year programme of 1912 and onwards. At the same time there came into the scale the enormous English increases from the programmes of 1910 to 1913, which we expected, owing to their great speed of construction, to be ready in the spring of 1915, but which in fact did not swing the scales against us until the autumn of that year.)

Further, the mistaken and purposelessly exhausting guerrilla warfare was bound to depress the morale of the fleet. Although the moral endurance of the personnel lasted until 1918, and made our fleet capable of any battle, as was proved at Osel at the end of 1917, it cannot be doubted that the systematic undermining of the men by the social democrats, which alone rendered possible the destruction of our sea-power and our whole empire, found a certain receptivity owing to the long inactivity of the navy.

The battleships lay behind their booms in or around the river mouths, without any apparently useful function, seemingly nailed fast, and the hard but monotonous daily service became almost unbearable after from five to seven years' unbroken life on shipboard. All peace-time comforts, scanty as they were, were banished from these iron boxes. At the same time, the men were always on the qui vive, so that they had little leave and hardly any relaxation. Thus with time this life, which would depress any but the most fish-blooded, became a school of grumblers and a hotbed of revolutionary infection.


While, however, in accordance with a fundamental principle of discipline, punishments for the weak or undesirable elements ought to be made more severe in war, especially when large numbers are mobilized, we had to surrender, in accordance with the whole policy of the Government, to the demands of our popular representatives, relaxing punishments and undermining the authority of the officers and petty officers by over-frequent pardons. Our enemies acted in exactly the opposite manner, just as we had done in 1813. At that time, when the Silesian Landwehr was threatening to break up, we even went so far, with Blucher's approval, as to apply the remedy of flogging, in itself naturally inconsistent with the spirit of a fight for freedom. In the days we have lived through, however, the darkest days of Germany's history, our Government's fatal system of loosing the reins, even in matters of military service, held the field. Officers and petty officers saw clearly the harm that was done, but could only obey the orders of the authorities. After the sabotage incidents in the summer of 1917, the naval command again pressed upon the Government the necessity of rooting out the nest of treason in Berlin. The seriousness of this movement for the navy was probably never understood by the Government. I myself, with all the experience of fifty-one years' service in the navy, regarded as absolutely impossible such a mutiny as broke out in the autumn of 1918.


When, in 1917, the leaders of the independent Socialists, instead of being prosecuted for high treason, as the navy expected, were shielded by the Reichstag and the Government, and permitted to continue their hellish activities, the doom of the sea-power of Germany was in truth sealed.

Wherever the centre of the revolution was not in touch with our crews, as was the case with the ships in the eastern part of the Baltic, and wherever, too, the ships kept in continual contact with the enemy even under dangers and with heavy losses, the morale remained unbroken. The naval history of all nations shows that it is difficult to maintain discipline on large ships in relative idleness. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, there was a mutiny in the English fleet at the mouth of the Thames and in the Channel, and Parliament had to negotiate with the mutineers. But whereas at that time there was a certain ground for insurrection, in the bad food (doubtful salt pork and ship's biscuits), the cruel and more or less arbitrary flogging, the numerous death sentences, etc., our men had no real ground for complaint. The majority of them did not even know what they were doing, the leaders of the movement taking advantage of the low state of their morale to bring the mutiny to a head on the large ships.


In dealing with the prospects of guerrilla warfare, apart from its incorrectness in principle, one must remember that the very point in which we could not hope to compete with England is in the craft required for light warfare. The large colonial requirements of the English ensure this, and the development of our fleet had for similar reasons been concentrated on battle fighting. The possibility, too, that a battle might arise from the initiative of the enemy and not from ours, also constituted a danger for us. The English only needed to conduct a feint attack on our coast. An attack, for example, on Borkum or Sylt might easily force us to battle. For such a movement they could bring up their whole fleet, including a portion of their coastal vessels. We would then fight near our own ports, but against an overwhelming superiority of forces and at a point which could be rendered most unsafe and thus unfavourable by mines and submarines. It is true, as the facts have shown, that the English estimated our superior quality so highly that they did not even seek battle under these favourable circumstances.

The English squadrons, however, gained during the war experience of the sea and of sea-fighting in the wide waters at their disposal, thus equalizing the original superiority we had obtained by our training, so thoroughly undertaken in peace-time, and they became more and more imbued with the feeling that they were continuing the invincibility of the English seapower of the Napoleonic wars.


The organization, the training, the point of view, and the spirit of our navy were all directed to swift action and sudden attack, just as that of the army was directed to the war of movement. Battle offered us our best opportunity. The English hoped to gain their end without battle, and their hope increased as time passed. It was thus for us to force them to fight. The only right action, politically and strategically, was to seize the initiative. The fleet, by not being put to use, lost its raison d'etre. It wasted the great strength it possessed, disappointing both the hopes of the nation and its own expectations. If the army and the diplomats had been equal to gaining a favourable result, the throttling of the navy might well have been borne; but it has been explained in the preceding chapter that the idea of our leaders, that we could come out of the war alive without showing the strongest military and political front against England, was a fatal illusion, and lay at the root of our loss of the war.

The prospects of a modern sea battle are difficult to estimate, and it is easy to fall into the error of calculating too much in mere terms of material. One often compares the relative strengths in the Navy Lists, making an equal deduction on each side for ships requiring repair, and forgetting that the side whose initiative brings about the battle can choose a moment advantageous to itself and unfavourable to the opponent. Numerical superiority is of course always important, but when it is not overwhelming, one has to consider also the quality of men and material,


the degree of tactical training, and the value of the leadership. Most of the naval victories in the world have been won by the smaller fleet. When fleets are over a certain strength, it becomes tactically difficult to reap the advantage of superior strength on the water, for in the main, after all, the battle is of ship against ship. As there is no land at sea, and outflanking, among other matters, is far less important than in land warfare, numerical superiority does not play the same important part as do the "biggest battalions" on land. Simultaneous fire of several ships on one target is of very doubtful advantage at the very long ranges that are now possible, for it renders artillery observation difficult, and in any case involves a wasteful use of ammunition, which is scanty, and, during the battle, wholly irreplaceable.

Besides, all the naval fighting of the last century has confirmed the experience of Nelson's day (a treatise on Naval Gunnery, by the English General Archibald Douglas, 1829), that there is one critical moment in every battle; and that from the moment that one of the ships has established superiority of fire over the other, the latter's fighting capacity falls rapidly and soon ceases entirely, while the victor, if only injured above water, survives virtually intact for further activity. Thus in the few naval fights that have been fought out in modern times, the defeated party has lost everything, and the victor suffered extraordinarily little, as happened in the destruction of the Spanish fleet at Santiago, at the battle of Tsushima,


and at the battle of Coronel. In this way the smaller fleet, if only her ships have a higher value in themselves, has within certain limits no need to despair in the face of a numerically stronger enemy. The consciousness of superiority in each ship is thus the foundation of the spirit of the whole fleet. Who can judge what the end of the battle of the Skager-Rak would have been if the night had not fallen? One need only remember that, at the long ranges at which the English preferred to fight, their guns could only fire some sixty shots before losing greatly in accuracy, whereas ours could last much longer. After the fight a feeling of definite superiority ran through our fleet.

What crippled our conduct of the war at sea in the early period, so rich in possibilities, was, besides the already-mentioned political obstacles, the naval prestige of England, which had its effect on our navy, or at any rate on many of the senior officers, who were too modest in their judgment of themselves and of our young navy. The habit of grumbling at our material, so popular in peace-time and in part encouraged in high quarters, had a bad effect on our energies, which should have gone far beyond the operation orders received. On this point one must be just, and not judge the navy of 1914 by comparison with the army of 1870, which had gained by the trials of 1864 and 1866 the full consciousness of its own strength and the confidence that it possessed the right leader.


The position was extraordinarily difficult for the commander of the fleet. He was only to risk a fight under favourable conditions, but our unfavourable strategical position made it very difficult to recognize when such conditions were present, while we were able to learn from the wireless messages of the English that they were always informed immediately any substantial forces on our side even left the river mouths. This created the possibility of our striking an unfavourable moment, and we had always to be prepared for a substantial numerical superiority of the enemy. In addition, the commander, having regard to the local limitations of his position, could not keep au courant of the general, political, and military position so as to know whether it was necessary to come to battle within any given time. Equally little could he estimate the general results of a defeat, with the possibility of which he of course had also to reckon. He should, as a matter of principle, have been relieved of this responsibility. I shall return to this point later.

In their view of the position, the Chancellor, the Chief of the Cabinet, and the Chief of the Naval Staff were opposed to any offensive activity of the fleet against England. They were able to gain increased authority for their views owing to the respect which it was thought necessary to pay to the Russian fleet. My basic idea, that we must keep our forces as united as possible in readiness to deal the main blow at any time, whether against the chief enemy or for once in a way against a secondary opponent, never gained acceptance. In the whole of the first stage of the war


a substantial part of the fleet was cut off for use in the Baltic, without any useful result; and yet it was scarcely ever strong enough to have dealt a decisive blow in that theatre. Owing to the feeling that after all something must be done, several enterprises were carried out even right into the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Finland, but they always proved to be blows in the air, merely delaying or interrupting the massing of our strength in the North Sea. The opponents of the policy of seeking a sea battle with England even carried their Baltic views so far as to develop in several quarters the policy that the centre of gravity of the fleet should be definitely transferred to the Baltic. This view was approved by the Chief of the Cabinet among others. To my mind such a policy could only be considered if we had no longer any prospect whatever of bringing the English to battle. In that case the old Stosch plan of operation might revive in this sense, that we might deal a really heavy blow against Russia in co-operation with the army, and thus either make the country more disposed to a separate peace or tempt the English to come to the aid with their naval forces.

(I may mention here that at the outbreak of war we had made an agreement with Denmark, by which the Great Belt was to be closed, under Danish guarantee, to all belligerents. England, however, did not recognize the right of Denmark to do this, and if the English had desired to force their way into the Baltic they would have had no difficulty in overcoming the weak Danish barriers. This agreement, which was unfortunately approved by myself also in the early days of the war, proved disadvantageous to us, since we felt constrained throughout the war to pay respect to Denmark, while it prevented us from improving, by the use of the Kattegat and the Skager-Rak, our unfortunate strategical position in the Bight of Heligoland.)


In all the early period of the war I fought against the withholding of the fleet from the pursuit of its great aim and object. Our brave men did not know how often I struggled to establish the policy of the strategical offensive, but the greater number of the officers no doubt understood the tragic situation. The Emperor found it necessary on several occasions to quiet by messages to the fleet the anxieties as to whether the war was being conducted on the right lines. On September 7th, 1915, a Cabinet order was issued against the " incorrect conception of the whole position of the navy, which tends to cause depression."

(I quote here the main contents of this Cabinet order word for word, because certain conscienceless journalists used it, with convenient abbreviations, as a proof of the bad morale of the navy. The reverse is the case; the order was issued because the Emperor's advisers believed it necessary to restrain the overflowing eagerness of the fleet for battle.)

The Emperor urged the fleet -

"to maintain the spirit of cheerful fulfilment of duty even where there has so far been no opportunity for active employment in the face of the enemy, or where in all human probability, in view of the course which the war is taking, no such opportunity is likely to arise at all.... The greatly complicated conditions of the war make it particularly necessary that all officers should have confidence in the supreme command, which in deciding where to advance and where to withdraw has to consider all military and political factors, which in greater or less degree are withheld from the view of the people in general,"


The order proceeds then to describe it as a grave political mistake, having regard to the strategical position in the North Sea, to send the fleet to battle under conditions which can be seen in advance to be unfavourable, and, after ordering officers not to presume to form judgments on the subject of submarine warfare, closes with the words:

"I demand finally the dutiful subordination of all to my will as supreme commander; I carry the heavy responsibility for the future of the Empire, and the navy should be convinced that I would be only too happy if I could send it out unhampered to fight the enemy."

These last words show the tragedy of the Emperor's position. The men who, in order not to irritate the British lion, recommended to his Majesty the shackling of the fleet, a policy contradictory to the whole spirit of the war, must have wholly failed to understand that this point of view involved the destruction of the Emperor's own great work. How could a nation build a fleet, and not send it to battle in its fight for existence? And on the other hand, how could anyone adopt the policy followed by Bethmann in 1914, save in reliance on mighty naval power?


On every occasion that offered itself, I placed before the Chief of the Naval Staff, orally or in writing, my views, which were wholly in contradiction to the spirit and tone of the Cabinet order. To submit similar documents direct to the Emperor seemed to me hopeless of success, and, as being beyond my province, only likely to increase the tension. I became more and more isolated. Already in the late autumn of 1914 persons in the Emperor's immediate entourage only dared visit me in my quarters after dark, in order not to expose themselves to misconstruction.

The touchiness of the Chief of Staff prevented me from getting into direct touch with Ingenohl, the commander of the High Sea fleet, a personally brave and chivalrous man. The impression which I gained on October 25th in Wilhelmshaven of the manner in which the fleet command did its work was the first incident to strengthen my anxiety as to whether the hitherto inactive attitude of the fleet was solely due to the instructions received from Headquarters. After the conference with me, Ingenohl obtained the Emperor's permission for an attack on Yarmouth, which was carried out on November 3rd. This, and a hopeful letter from Ingenohl of November 9th, in which he informed me of his confidence in the fleet in the event of an encounter with the English, which he expected to arise out of some such attack, gave me the task of securing him the utmost possible freedom of action. The Cabinet at that time were no doubt quite rightly of the opinion that a change in the command of the fleet would be at the least premature. It was not until after the later attacks of December 12th, and particularly of January 24th, 1915, and as a result thereof, that Ingenohl was relieved, his


place being taken by Pohl. This change, in connection with which the Chief of the Cabinet studiously avoided any contact with myself, started a movement within the navy which aimed at the union of all the various controls of the navy in one hand, with correspondingly large powers.


When one bears in mind the complicated nature of our naval operations in the separate theatres of war, and the check imposed upon our activities by the limits of our possible reinforcements of personnel and material, one cannot doubt that a united command was the most urgent necessity for the proper massing and employment of our available forces. Just as the various authorities governing the land army, who in time of peace worked independently side by side, were united under a single G.H.Q. during the war, so should the navy also have had a single head. The tragedy of our naval warfare can be expressed in the one fact that a supreme naval command was not established until September, 1918.

Again, in all negotiations with the military or civilian authorities, nothing but a single supreme naval command could have the weight necessary to secure the successful conduct of the war against England.


The Emperor's personal retention of the command of his favourite arm was no substitute for united leadership. For apart from the many other duties that claimed the attention of the sovereign, it was impossible that such an immense technical responsibility, for example, as the decision to force an early battle could be allowed to rest personally even upon him. The Cabinet advised the Emperor badly when it retained for him, and thus, for itself, the direct control of the High Sea fleet. The result was that the great sea weapon forged by the Emperor himself lay in a sense rusting in the Cabinet chamber, where the decision to send the fleet out could not be taken. The Cabinet, seeking for excuses for their own weakness, hit on the idea of blaming the material of the fleet. When, after Skager-Rak, the scales fell from the eyes of the doubters and they realized how greatly our ships were superior to the British, it was historically too late for repentance.

Whether the supreme command should be given to the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Secretary of State, or to some other official, was in itself immaterial, and a pure question of persons. The command should have gone to the individual enjoying the greatest respect and confidence in the navy. If this were the Chief of the Naval Staff, then he certainly should not have set up a hastily improvised machinery for dealing with questions of organization, politics, international law, and economics (which was what actually happened, owing to the separation of functions), but should have employed for these purposes the organization of the Admiralty, which had been developed in peace-time by the work of years for this very end. The dualism which prevailed in the war brought about


a gradual side-tracking of old and proved officials, and a disproportionate and often untrained activity on the part of newly created departments, which, with the jealousies inevitably involved, led to a fatal reduction of the authority of the navy in the Emperor's councils and of its prestige among the people. The Chancellor and the Foreign Office often had recourse, in questions with which the Admiralty alone was competent to deal, and on which that office had the accumulated experience of years, to the Chief of Staff, whose peace-time activities had not enabled him to realize that inadequate treatment of these questions, which were wholly strange to his officials, was bound to lower the prestige of the navy.

Although I could not of course foresee all the misfortunes that were brought upon the nation by the disjointed treatment of naval questions in the war, a right presentiment moved me as early as July 29th, 1914, to request the Emperor, through the Chief of the Naval Staff, to place the control of the navy in the hands of one man.

Had the Chief of Staff been a suitable person, I should have suggested him as the chief, just as later, when I despaired of any other solution, I offered to Admiral von Pohl at headquarters, in the presence of the other officers, to place myself wholly under him, if only he would discuss his decisions with me beforehand. It was, however, the unanimous view of the officers of the navy that it was impossible for me to propose to the Emperor the appointment of Pohl as


the supreme commander. He was a good seaman and an excellent navigator, and he had led a squadron very well; but he had no further capacities. Accordingly, I told the Chief of the Cabinet on July 28th that, in the then position of the parties concerned, the proposed office would presumably have to be entrusted to myself.

After audience of His Majesty, Admiral von Muller informed me that the Emperor had not seen his way to take this step, but that my co-operation was to be secured by providing that in all questions relating to the conduct of the war at sea I was to be consulted by the Chief of the Naval Staff, and that any unfavourable views on my part were to be brought to His Majesty's notice. A Cabinet communication ordaining this hapless half-measure was delivered to the Chief of Staff and to myself on July 30th, but it proved in the course of the war to be a dead letter.

The opinion was later expressed in the navy that at that time, when my influence was still of weight, 1 missed an historical opportunity, in not persevering to the utmost logical conclusion in my demand for a single leadership; but no one acquainted with the Emperor's character could have expected any greater success to attend my demands if I had appealed directly to His Majesty or had tendered my resignation. In the first case the Emperor would merely have discussed the matter with the Chief of the Cabinet before deciding, and in the second he would not have


accepted my resignation. And to have persevered in my request to resign because my own demand for a higher post had been refused was impossible for me as an officer. I should only have caused grave misunderstandings, and to no purpose. The army too, it may be remembered, had to wait two years for the leader it longed for, and the hint given in the winter of 1914-1915 in this direction by the man most trusted by the army brought no improvement, and merely made the possibility of his own further usefulness more difficult.

I did what I could; the rest was for others to attempt. What they did, and with what success, as I myself took no part in the discussions, I can best explain by quoting an extract from the diary of Admiral Bachmann, which has been placed at my disposal:

"February 2nd, 1915:

... The Chief of the Cabinet informed me that I was to take the place of Admiral von Pohl. I begged that, if it were still possible, I should be passed over for the post, as I regarded the position of Chief of the Naval Staff at G.H.Q. as an absurdity. The war at sea could not in my firm conviction be controlled from G.H.Q., lying as it did far inland, nor should its conduct be hampered by the need for obtaining the decision of His Majesty on every occasion. It must, on the contrary, be under one and the same control in all theatres, and that in the hands of a single supreme commander... in the closest touch with the fighting naval forces, armed with the fullest powers and ... able ... at any


moment to take decisions independently. His Majesty should resign de facto the supreme command of the navy, and confine himself to laying down general lines of policy. After the earlier mobilization orders, I had never dreamt that such a commander would not be appointed immediately on the outbreak of war. The existing situation, with the Chief of the High Seas fleet and the Commander of the Baltic fleet and Marines each in command of one theatre, with the Chief of the Naval Staff at G.H.Q., as so-called leader ... but without any proper power of command, was in my view disastrous and ought to have been abolished at the earliest possible moment ....

"When the Chief of the Cabinet asked who, in my view, could undertake this supreme command, I answered that in my view the only possible person was Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, the man who had created the German fleet, with which his name was indissolubly linked. He possessed the greatest authority with the navy and the people, and the necessary personal qualities for this most important of all naval posts.

"Admiral von Muller expressed the view that, as Grand Admiral von Tirpitz had been out of actual service for eighteen years, he was no longer capable of leading the large forces which were now at our disposal.

"To this I answered that the actual leadership was primarily in the hands of the head of the fleet and the other commanders, and that provision could easily be made for the purely technical part of the general command by the appointment of an experienced staff. I was personally ready at any time to give up my position and to accept the appointment of Chief of this Staff, if I was thought to be suited for the post.


"The Chief of the Cabinet explained that it would still be impossible to appoint Grand Admiral von Tirpitz as supreme commander, since as a Secretary of State he was subordinate to the Chancellor, and that he had so frequently quarrelled during the war with the departments with which he had come into contact that his appointment would certainly lead to further conflicts. Further, he had forfeited a great deal of the confidence of the officers of the navy, since the material (with regard to the material see Appendix) of the fleet had not proved equal to the demands made upon it.

"I objected that it would be quite simple to release Grand Admiral von Tirpitz from his under-secretaryship for the duration of the war, and replacing him for the time by Admiral von Capelle, and that in my opinion the disputes which the Grand Admiral had had, the causes of which were quite unknown to me, should not be judged so severely as to justify the exclusion from the command of the navy of a man deserving so well of his country, and, further, that the fleet criticism of the material was in many points hasty and unjust.

"Admiral von Muller finally added that such a reorganization could not be improvised in war-time, and should have been prepared in peace-time if it was required.

"To this I could only reply, that in my view the appointment of the supreme commander could be carried out by a Cabinet order of a few lines in length.

"The Chief of the Cabinet closed the discussion with the remark that nothing could now be altered, and that I had been appointed as Chief of the Naval Staff."


Several other officers of high rank have informed me of similar steps taken by themselves, with like results. The real ground on which I was excluded was the difference between the strategical points of view of myself and the Cabinet. When at last the battle of the Skager-Rak showed the baselessness of the suspicions as to our material, which had been widely used against me in the country, I had already been dismissed and the general situation had been entirely changed to our disadvantage.

That curious and somewhat incomprehensible person, von Muller, Chief of the Cabinet, has an excessive share of the responsibility for Germany's fate. An amiable man of no mean artistic gifts, he made his reputation in Sweden and had a long career as a courtier, being very popular with the ladies of the Court and in society; at the same time he had a strain of fanaticism, being a teetotaller, a pacifist, and a friend of Stead. He was not primarily a naval officer. In contrast to his predecessor, Senden, he had failed to imbue himself thoroughly with the noblest and most distinctive features of Prussianism. In a sense, he succumbed to the temptations of his office, being too weak and lacking firm judgment of men and of naval or military questions. In discussion he was easily convinced, and as easily talked round again by a third party. Himself a master of language, he was easily captured by fine phrases such as Bethmann-Hollweg knew well how to turn. Much impressed with his own authority and living in the


atmosphere of the Cabinet, " if he could not achieve anything, he could at any rate prevent anything." He of course only wanted what was best, but it was a great misfortune that two such congenial natures as his and Bethmann's came to work together in such intimacy.

Unfortunately the Emperor was slow in not realizing the extent of the combined influence of these two gentlemen on the formation of his own judgment, which was generally more correct. He rather saw in Muller an admirable go-between between the two markedly opposite characters of Bethmann and myself. Muller, however, was anything but a go-between, as had already been proved in peace-time, for he took Bethmann's side almost invariably; as he used to say at that time, he much regretted that he had to vote against his own colour.

The phrase has been used: "I will have nobody between myself and my navy." To encourage the illusion that the Supreme War Lord himself directed the operations of the fleet, there were people who took delight in asking the Emperor for instructions even in smaller undertakings of the fleet, and even in matters of detail. The Chancellor and the Chief of the Cabinet, who held Pohl in the hollow of their hands, made use of his peculiarities to inflate to an almost morbid extent his departmental jealousy of myself. I am anxious to believe that the serious malady to which he succumbed a year later was in part the cause of this. When we met shortly before his final illness, he expressed his regret that he had not followed the same course as myself.


I had moved to G.H.O. with the rest, and remained there so long as I had any hope that I should not entirely lose my influence with the Emperor. The whole atmosphere surrounding the important persons assembled there was absolutely strange to me, and I became more and more worn out. I now think that the position of under secretary, clipped and cut short on all sides, would have remained stronger if I had stayed in Berlin. A supreme commander, or rather a chief of the Admiralty, on the other hand, should not have been tied to any place, but should have been at liberty to go where he needed, sometimes to G.H.Q., sometimes to Berlin, sometimes to Wilhelmshaven or possibly on board ship. To take up his post on the flagship, where he would lose the general view of the situation, would have been as antiquated as for the leader of a modern army to remain on his horse on a hill on the battle-field.

I must renounce the task of describing in particular the damage caused by the lack of a unified command and the independence of the various navy departments and theatres of war. The bitterest recollection for most officers was the fact that no battle took place, and this filled them with the greatest anxiety for the future of their country and their navy. In 1806 events moved too rapidly for many to foresee the catastrophe before its arrival; but in this war many recognized it.



In connection with the appointment of Pohl as Commander of the Fleet, which was received with the greatest astonishment by the navy, the Chief of the Cabinet attributed great importance to finding a successor to him at G.H.Q. who would fall in with Bethmann's naval policy. If, however, he regarded Admiral Bachmann as suitable from this point of view, then, as was so often the case, his judgment of men was at fault. Far from falling in with the Chancellor's policy, Bachmann was such a frank supporter of the views prevailing in the navy that his position as Chief of the Naval Staff was soon rendered difficult and he was succeeded by Admiral von Holtzendorff in September, 1915.

During his short tenure of office, however, Bachmann succeeded in obtaining full freedom of action for the Commander of the Fleet, Pohl, it is true, still held to his views in favour of the Baltic theatre, and felt himself bound to conform to oral instructions which he had received from the Emperor. At the same time, too, the actual prospects of success in battle seemed to become less favourable for us, owing to the increase of the English fleet through new construction and the more pronounced massing of the enemy's main strength. The most important operations were now those of the submarines, which were begun in 1915, without my approval and on lines which in my view and that of Bachmann were not the most suitable.


When, at the beginning of January, 1916, Admiral Scheer replaced the now invalid Admiral von Pohl as Commander of the Fleet, he and his Chief of Staff von Trotha (his own choice) took over their duties with the firm intention of bringing the fleet more strongly to bear in spite of the less favourable general situation. Scheer accordingly took measures, and successful measures, to deal with the decline in morale brought about by the long previous inactivity of the fleet.

The recent efforts of the British, undertaken at the cost of enormous exertions, to close our tract of the North Sea from Borkum to Jutland against our high-sea fighting vessels and submarines by means of broad minefields had already made it much more difficult to realize his intention of giving battle. To frustrate these efforts, we had to create a large organization of vessels to keep safe fairways open on a regular system through these minefields. We gradually developed a most exacting and dangerous minesweeping service, which cost us many losses, but nevertheless fulfilled its task in the main up to the end of the war. The fleet had to pass through these fairways to reach the open waters of the North Sea, and on its return to keep the same course. It is easy to see how this hampered our movements in comparison to previous years.


On one of their more distant advances, originally designed to reach the English coast, our cruisers, at a considerable distance from the mair body of the fleet, came up off the Skager-Rak with the numerically superior English cruiser fleet, and immediately attacked. The battle that thus developed soon made it clear that our vessels were substantially superior to those of the enemy. At the start there were six English battle-cruisers against five of ours. The air was clear as crystal, and the initial battle range some 15,000 metres. Eighteen minutes after opening fire, the battle-cruiser Indefatigable blew up, followed twenty minutes later by the Queen Mary. (In this connection one should remember the criminally false reports that had been spread about the alleged inferiority of our large-calibre guns.)

In the further course of the fight the British were strongly reinforced by five of their newest ships of the Queen Elizabeth class, only completed during the war; these vessels, driven exclusively by oil-fuel, possessed such a high speed that they could take part in cruiser fights. They attached themselves to the English cruisers, and joined in the battle from long range. Up to the moment when the English Admiral Beatty, sighting our battle fleet, wheeled about and went on a northerly course, the fighting capacity of our squadron had hardly been diminished. The most badly damaged of our ships, the Seydlitz, had received three bad hits, including one from a 38-centimetre gun, as was later seen from the shell fragments. Even a torpedo hit, which she received later from an English destroyer, had little or no success, its effects being limited by the


torpedo bulkhead. In the next stages of the battle the Seydlitz was able to attack the main body of the enemy fleet at high speed, receiving twenty more heavy hits, and nevertheless to return to port under her own steam. While the feeling of danger surmounted was still fresh in his memory, her brave commander, Captain von Egidy, sent me, to my great joy, a telegram of thanks in the name of his officers and men for the splendid material of the vessel. (The public manifestations of gratitude from the whole fleet made it clear to me that the true value of our ships had been established by the ordeal of fire.)

Admiral Scheer and his Chief of Staff von Trotha learnt from the wireless reports that the cruiser fight was bound to lead to an encounter with the Grand Fleet, whose numerical superiority and at that time homogeneous composition of ships of the line of the battle class was well known to them. History owes them a great debt of gratitude, that they hastened out to battle with all possible speed. They formed a better judgment than had hitherto been held of the personnel and material of our fleet.

When our battle fleet accordingly began to take under their fire the English battle-cruisers and battleships which were making off to the northward, the "forward" position of the enemy prevented any of our vessels from firing save the battle-cruisers who had placed themselves in advance of the fleet and the leading ships of the Konig class under Admiral Behncke. The English admiral, moving gradually


from a northerly to an easterly course, forced the head of our line also to turn. After defeating in a few minutes the battle-cruiser Invincible, and two armoured cruisers of the Warrior class, which came up at this point, the head of our line suddenly came upon the main body of the English fleet, lying in haze and mist and deployed in a long line; all the vessels of the fleet immediately opened a heavy fire upon us. The position thus became, by accident, tactically very unfavourable for us. Not only would our ships, in order to obtain a good tactical position, have had to deploy under the fire of the whole enemy fleet, but light was now such that the German ships were silhouetted against the evening sky in the west, thus presenting, in the occasional moments of good visibility, admirable subjects for artillery observation, while on the other hand the mist in the east so concealed the hulls of the British ships that their position was hardly to be discerned save by the flashes of their guns.

Admiral Scheer withdrew from the position of danger thus created, by a simultaneous wheeling of the whole fleet, a manoeuvre which few fleets in the world could have succeeded in carrying out under a rain of fire. In this manoeuvre the fleet was supported by two of our torpedo-boat flotillas under Captain Heinrich, which, recognizing the fleet's dangerous position, attacked the main body of the British fleet and drew its whole fire upon themselves. As soon as Admiral Scheer had re-formed his fleet, he swung round again on the enemy, to repeat his attack. The approach of


darkness soon afterward made any deliberate fighting formation impossible. If the English fleet at this stage had felt superior to us, they would have clung to our fleet in all circumstances, for as we had with us a squadron of pre-Dreadnoughts, and their fleet consisted exclusively of new battle vessels, they were superior to us in the general speed of their fleet, in addition to having available a group of battle-ships of especially high speed.

Under these circumstances Admiral Scheer and our whole fleet regarded a renewal of the fight on the following morning as a certainty. They preferred, however, to face this fight at a less distance from the mine-free fairway, and accordingly decided to move thither in the night, and take station close to Horns Reef. When the day broke, the sea lay empty as far as man could see, and nothing was to be found of the British fleet until an airship reported the approach of a new and apparently large body of ships far to the westward. It appeared later that this was in fact the main body of the British fleet, which, however, soon steamed off to the northward. The probable course of movement of the British fleet was that it steamed off to the west at nightfall, passing to the south of our fleet, with the rearguard, consisting of cruisers and a large part of their torpedo boats, following at a somewhat considerable distance. Our fleet on its journey southwards must have struck the gap so existing between their main body and their rearguard. The mass of English torpedo boats, supported by cruisers,


were thus presented with an incredibly favourable opportunity to attack our fleet, which was steaming in close formation in one long line. The attack was carried out with courage, but little skill. It cost us the Pommern, a pre-Dreadnought, but several English cruisers and at least six torpedo boats, under the fire of our ships, burst into flames, which shot into the sky high above the masts of the vessels. As a high officer of the fleet staff described it in a letter to me, it was like sailing through an avenue of fire. In addition to the flames, there was the glare of the searchlights and the sparking of the wireless. The main body of the English fleet, which must have been at no great distance, cannot thus have remained in any doubt as to the whereabouts of our fleet.

Fortune did not present such a favourable opportunity to our torpedo boats; they passed the night without finding the British fleet, and their splendid training for such fighting was not brought to bear.

On June 1st, in the afternoon, our fleet arrived back in the river mouths, elated and in a sense surprised by their success and by the clearly proved superiority of their personnel and material. Most of the men simply had not known how splendid the fleet was. After this battle, in which conditions had not favoured us and only the armoured cruisers and the leading ships of one squadron of our whole fleet had been able to take any real part, they thought of the success which we could have expected if at the


beginning of the war we had sought for a favourable opportunity and had sent the whole fleet to battle. In spite of our numerical inferiority and the unfavourable conditions, our losses were only a third of the British.

In the course of the year 1916 Admiral Scheer made several further earnest attempts to bring the English fleet to battle. The enemy, however, were quite obviously avoiding a "costly and precipitated action," and the numerical inferiority of our High Seas fleet, and the general conditions, made it too unfavourable for us to fight a battle at Scapa Flow or off Dover.

It is worthy of notice that one advance made by our fleet brought us to within 30 knots of Sunderland, and into touch with the English fleet; we lost sight of it in a heavy rainstorm, and when the weather cleared it was not to be seen.


With the commencement of unrestricted submarine warfare on February 1st, 1917, the navigation of our North Sea waters became more and more seriously harassed by minefields, and the difficulty of keeping the fairways open increased. The continual presence of our heavy vessels for the protection of our minesweepers became more and more essential.

There remained one possible course which, right up to the last, might have changed the whole position once again. This consisted in a complete suspension of the submarine campaign, the withdrawal of the


submarines, and the attempt to employ them in battle in co-operation with the fleet. But once this campaign, which according to all our reports was causing the English great embarrassment, was undertaken, all its effects would have been lost by a pause which would have been bound to cover many weeks, during which substantial period of time the enemy would have full freedom of movement for his merchant ships. We should have had to some extent to start wholly afresh. In addition, the effect of submarines in battle, having regard to the high speed of the fighting ships, was almost entirely a matter of chance; indeed, their real value was rather that they rendered tracts of the sea unsafe, somewhat after the fashion of a movable minefield, and in the danger created by them for any enemy ships that might be rendered incapable of movement.

I will not discuss here the question whether the introduction of surprises in the way of constant changes in the conduct of the submarine campaign, and the employment of cruisers, would not have succeeded in restricting, or even temporarily or partially preventing, the operation of the enemy's counter measures.

When, however, in October, 1918, by sacrificing the submarine campaign on the demand of Wilson, we abandoned the only weapon which still embarrassed the English, and as a result everyone who possessed any real conception of our enemies, or of the spirit and meaning of the war, expected us to be faced by the most merciless and humiliating armistice conditions,


Admiral Scheer decided to employ this last remaining means of utilizing our submarines. He had only a short time previously, under the pressure of events and with the concurrence of Field-Marshal Hindenburg, succeeded in prevailing upon the Emperor and the Chief of the Cabinet to place the entire command of the navy in his hands. A substantial number of submarines sent out in advance of the fleet, and confining their activities to a certain tract of the sea, could always make good our numerical inferiority to a certain extent, and above all could cover the withdrawal of the fleet in the event of defeat. In order to inspire strength into the now generally ebbing line in Flanders by offensive action, an attack was to be made on the eastern mouth of the Channel by our faster ships, in support of which the battle fleet itself, protected by submarines and minefields, was to take up a covering position on the Dutch coast.

The possibility of a fleet battle had in the circumstances to be borne in mind. If one should develop, it could be accepted in such a position with favourable prospects, and in the event of success this well-prepared undertaking might turn the fortunes of our people once again into a happier course. But just as the poison of the revolution, for four long years almost encouraged, and at any rate not resisted by the weak rulers of our ancient country, had made its way from home through the lines of communication to the army front, so also had it found its way, without giving any outward sign of its presence, into the navy. At this point the revolution broke out in the fleet, and our democrats were openly proud to strike out of their country's hand the last weapon that offered salvation.


How badly must a brave people have been led, to have lost their head in this manner! Faithful even in a sorry cause to the duty of obedience which our old country had taught its subjects for their good, Germans now delivered up our magnificent ships to the enemy. May the world judge justly, and remember that the men who under a revolutionary government obeyed the order to deliver up the ships had hitherto performed deeds of heroism whenever they were given the opportunity.

The disappearance of the German navy robbed the other small navies of the world of their life. Their importance and their independence depended on the possibility of a league against English monopoly, a law of world-politics which we have never fully understood. Now, the maintenance of the balance of power at sea depends solely on the American navy, and I have no belief in the reality of the alleged conflicts of interest between the two Anglo-Saxon powers. Their capitalism works in unison for the enslavement of the rest of the world, which since the collapse of the German fleet has no support in the fight for the maintenance of its freedom.




 U.20 (Maritime Quest)

1. The cause of the declaration of the war zone. - 2. The first reverse. - 3. Lusitania and Arabic. - 4. To and fro. - 5. My resignation. - 6. Sussex. - 7. The unrestricted submarine campaign, 1917. - 8. The sum total.


The more England, after the first weeks of the war, kept her fleet back in order to deprive us of the opportunity of achieving a swift decision by force of arms, and to strangle us economically by every means in her power, the more necessary it became for our navy to fight the enemy with similar weapons. The most effective weapon that we possessed against England's commerce was the submarine. If it was to be employed against enemy freight vessels, it was clear from the outset that the existing rules of maritime law, which in the main dated from the days of sailing vessels, did not properly cover the circumstances of the present day. The rules most nearly applicable were those of the old blockade. In the American war of secession, the blockade-runners had been simply shot down by the Federal ships, with cannon it is true, since there were then no torpedoes. Just as the English, in their declaration of the war zone, stated


that it was "in effect a blockade adapted to the conditions of modern warfare and commerce," so could we also without any doubt claim formal justification for a submarine blockade. True, we could expect the neutrals to adopt a different attitude to actions on our part from that which they adopted to similar steps of the English. As a result of the great sea-power, the traditions, and the diplomatic skill of the English, the neutrals submitted to almost anything the English did at sea; but if Germany adopted a corresponding line of conduct, much greater neutral opposition had to be expected. It was clear to the majority of Germans that in a war with England we were strongly "handicapped" from the start.

The main difficulty was to be expected in our relations with America, especially since this country, against the whole spirit of neutrality, had developed shortly after the outbreak of war into an enemy arsenal. Since the bulk of the freight trade of the North Atlantic sails under the British flag, any attack on English trade must of necessity injure the American manufacturers. We had already discovered in connection with our oversea cruisers, which had observed the rules of the old maritime law with the greatest care, that the attitude adopted towards us by the United States was by no means an impartial one.


These considerations led me, with a view to sounding and also to preparing public opinion in the United States, to receive the American journalist von Wiegand in November, 1914, and to ask him what America, which had submitted to the absolutely unscrupulous breaches of maritime law by the English, would say if we were to reply with a submarine blockade as we were clearly entitled to do. With the assent of the Foreign Office, the interview was published. It was later alleged that this course betrayed in advance the idea of the submarine campaign, and had unnecessarily irritated the English. Both allegations are unsubstantial and irrelevant. The employment of submarines against English freight vessels had already been discussed in the press in the early stages of the war, and indeed even before the war; and if there ever was any prospect of forcing the British Government to place any limits to their disregard of maritime law it could only be by holding a loaded pistol at their head. No political consequences need to be considered until the pistol was fired.

From the beginning of November onwards, there had been discussions between the leading authorities of the navy as to the possibility of a submarine campaign. On November 7th, 1914, the Chief of the Naval Staff brought forward for discussion a draft of a declaration of the submarine blockade of the whole coast of Great Britain and Ireland. I pointed out that the legal position of a blockade by this new form of vessel in international law had never yet been discussed, and that we ought not to select a date for such a declaration of


blockade until such time as we had available a number of submarines more or less sufficient to maintain it. (On the question whether we could have built more submarines in peace-time, see Appendix.)

It seemed to me that it would perhaps be better that the Admiral in command of the Marines in Flanders should declare the blockade, so that the Emperor and the Government should not be committed in the matter. "The blockade of all England," I remarked in concluding my short argument, "looks too much like bluff; blockade of the Thames to start with seems to me better." I thought it would be more correct to start with small beginnings, in order to see how matters developed from both the naval and political point of view. Such a limited declaration would have been more in accord with the means available, and would have accustomed the world gradually to the new idea of blockade. We should have spared America, in particular, not touching the Atlantic passenger vessels, which always sailed to Liverpool, and should thus have lessened the danger from that quarter.

Admiral von Pohl did not share my point of view. On December 15th he laid before me the draft of a letter to the Foreign Office, in which he requested their approval of the opening of a submarine campaign at the end of January, the English Channel and all waters surrounding the United Kingdom to be declared as a war zone.


On December 16th, 1914, I answered this proposal as follows:

"In reply to Your Excellency's letter of December 15th, I have the honour to state that I would regard the dispatch to the Foreign Office of the request therein enclosed as premature.

"In my view one cannot well ask the Foreign Office at the present time whether there will be political objections in February of next year to so momentous a step as the proposed submarine campaign.

"I have in addition certain objections against the form of conducting the campaign which Your Excellency proposes to adopt. Submarine warfare without a declaration of blockade, as Your Excellency proposes, is in my view much more far-reaching in its effect on materials than a regular legal blockade, and is thus considerably more dangerous politically.

"Our experiences of the war so far have unfortunately made it clear that Germany has to pay more respect to the commercial interests of neutrals than England. The reference to the measures taken by the English, in designating the navigation of the North Sea as dangerous, does not seem to me apt. The English have not merely declared these waters to be dangerous as of their own motion, but only on the ground of their allegation (false, I agree) that we had laid mines there, and that neutral ships were exposed to the danger of being mistaken for German mine-layers, and treated as such.

"Finally, I would expect that certain official quarters in Germany, where objections are already harboured on grounds of international law and morality against a submarine blockade, would object still more to this form of procedure, and make their objections effective. The draft put forward by your Excellency is more likely to increase than to pacify these protests.


"Apart from the above comments, I am wholly of the view that a systematic attack on a large scale against English trade by means of submarines must be prepared by the navy with the utmost energy and all possible resources. So far as my department is concerned this is already being done."

Admiral von Pohl replied that he could not agree that it was too early for the proposed step. He informed me that, after full and detailed discussions with the Foreign Office, and on the basis of a memorandum of the Permanent Under-Secretary Kriege, it had been decided to keep to the form of a declaration of a war zone, and not to that of a blockade. The Foreign Office was quite ready to justify the new form, and the decision thus turned on considerations of legal doctrine.

At a later stage I recommended that the Chief of the Naval Staff, before conferring with the Chancellor, obtain the concurrence of the Chief of the General Staff, von Falkenhayn, in writing if possible. So far as I know, this advice too was ignored.

On January 27th, 1915, I was invited to a conference with the Chancellor on this question. I explained to him that we could only make progress against England by making her feel the effects of the war, and that in my view we should not be able to avoid adopting submarine warfare in one form or another. I stated that I was not sufficiently au fait with the legal and political aspects of the question to make a final decision as to the most suitable form without further information. In this conversation


the Chancellor did not, as a matter of principle, reject the possibility or necessity of a submarine campaign against enemy commerce. In his view, however, political conditions made it impossible to take a decision before the spring or summer of 1915. I was quite agreeable to such a postponement of the matter, as it had not yet been sufficiently worked out. Among other points I thought it right to await the completion of the Flanders submarine fleet and of the dockyard installations there.

On this occasion I stated to Bethmann-Hollweg, in answer to a question on the matter, that one could not of course give an unqualified assurance as to the effectiveness of the submarine from the naval point of view, having regard to the novelty of the weapon, but that I was convinced that we should produce very considerable results and that the danger threatening merchant vessels would deter many of them from venturing to sea.

After these proceedings my surprise can be imagined when, on February 4th, 1915, only a few days after this conversation. Admiral von Pohl in concurrence with the Chancellor submitted to the Emperor in Wilhelmshaven the war-zone and submarine declaration. This document proclaimed the waters round Great Britain and Ireland, including the Channel, as a war zone, and announced that every enemy merchantman found in that area would be destroyed, without it being in every case possible to avoid danger to the crew and passengers. Neutral ships, also, would


be in danger if they navigated the proclaimed area, since owing to the misuse of neutral flags ordered by the British Government it would be inevitable that neutrals should in fact suffer from attacks intended for enemy ships. For neutral vessels the waters to the north of the Shetlands and a strip along the Dutch coast were left free. The difference between this declaration and my proposal is easily seen. I wanted a blockade of the Thames only in the first instance. A blockade is effective when every ship passing through the zone is in substantial danger of capture or destruction. If we had concentrated on the Thames, in order to achieve an absolute stopping of all traffic there, neutral or otherwise, the rest of the coast would have remained free, and no serious inconvenience would have been caused for the time being to neutrals.

The Naval Staff was engaged in working out my proposal of a Thames blockade when Pohl, on January 31st, in reliance on the Chancellor, put a stop to the work. By its extension to the whole coast, the scheme was rendered less effective, of ambiguous legality, and more exacting. The declaration was not effective, and lacked substance, thus encouraging objections. It injured the credit of our own declarations, and thus in a sense damaged the prestige of the German navy. It had the appearance of bluff, and the ambiguity arising from our obvious efforts to spare neutrals, coupled with our threats not to spare them, raised doubts as to our right to carry on this mode of warfare. But, apart from legal considerations,


the declaration was, both navally and politically, ill-conceived. I never learnt what reason there was for ignoring my view and beginning the submarine campaign, but in any case this constituted one more instance in which - and this time in one of the most important questions with which my department was concerned - I was not consulted at all, the campaign being started over my head and against my will, and that in a form which did not promise success.

(A communication of February 2nd from the Naval Staff to the Admiralty, which arrived on the 3rd, announced that the Chancellor had approved the war-zone declaration, and enclosed a copy of the proposed declaration. I did not hear of this, as I left Berlin for Wilhelmshaven on the morning of the 3rd. As, by the Cabinet order of July 30th, 1914, decisions of this sort could not be taken without my being consulted, the fault lay in the fact that a decision of such great moment was taken without waiting to hear my views. Such a step should have been fully worked out before being finally settled. Admiral Bachmann writes to me, with regard to his advice in these events: "I expressed unreservedly to Admiral von Pohl my objections to so early an introduction of submarine warfare on February 2nd, 1915, when I was called to Berlin to learn that I was to become Chief of the Naval Staff. My objections, based on the small number of our submarines, the lack of bases in Flanders or elsewhere, inexperience of submarine warfare against merchant ships, etc., were all rejected by the Admiral, who stated that the matter was already decided, that the Chancellor, the Foreign Office, and the General Staff had approved, and that the Emperor's ratification was to be granted immediately. When I entered on my new office on February 6th, the war-zone declaration was already published, with the signatures of Bethmann and Pohl.")

The Emperor agreed. I happened to be present, but the only modification I could procure was that reference should be made in the declaration to the misuse of flags by the English.


I learnt later that this decision, so important in the history of the world, was in fact arrived at during a meeting at the Chancellor's, with the approval of the Foreign Office, in the presence of the Imperial Ministry of the Interior, and apparently without any objection on the part of the General Staff. After that meeting, late in the evening of the same day, and shortly before Pohl's departure for Wilhelmshaven, the international law expert of the Foreign Office, the Permanent Under-Secretary Kriege, on the Chancellor's instructions, forced upon the reluctant Chief of the Naval Staff yet another alteration in the draft of the declaration. I only mention this to show the close co-operation of the departments concerned, and the full agreement of the Chancellor with the course followed by the Naval Staff. On March 8th, 1915, Admiral von Muller wrote as follows on the subject:

"The Secretary of State and myself disapproved the manner in which the submarine campaign against merchantmen was introduced. The time was ill-chosen, the means insufficiently prepared, and the wording of the notification characterized by the greatest clumsiness. Pohl obtained the concurrence of the Chancellor, who was still very ill-informed on the technicalities of the matter, and then took the Emperor by storm, with the already settled draft of the declaration, on February 4th, on the boat journey through the harbour of Wilhelmshaven to the Seydlitz. It was a disloyal act on Pohl's part not to have discussed the draft beforehand with the Secretary of State. It was disloyal to me too, for he had previously invariably sought my advice in all important


decisions. He was anxious at all costs to get the declaration published in his own name, and February 4th was certainly the very last day on which this was possible, for on that very day he had taken over the command of the High Sea fleet, and strictly speaking was no longer Chief of the Naval Staff."

The die was cast. On February 18th, 1915, submarine warfare was to begin, threatening, in accordance with the decision taken by Bethmann in opposition to my advice, the destruction of every ship bound for England or Ireland.


The declaration was in my view premature and unhappy, but once it had been solemnly published, and that with something of a flourish of trumpets, it was vital to hold fast to it, if the dignity and thus the power of the Empire were not to receive a severe injury and the confidence of the enemy were not to be fatally raised.

On February 12th the Americans dispatched their first note against the submarine campaign, which can hardly have been unexpected by the responsible officials. Nevertheless, from this day forth, to Pohl's astonishment, the attitude of the Foreign Office changed. Its representative at General Headquarters, Treutler, stated that Pohl had misunderstood the Chancellor, but Pohl categorically denied that any misunderstanding had been possible, as he had explained the whole matter thoroughly to the Chancellor.


Thus, before the campaign born on February 4th had drawn its first breath, its own parents were hurrying panic-stricken to throttle it.

In my view we might possibly have considered the abandonment of the submarine campaign if England had made corresponding concessions in the realm of maritime law. The civil departments thought that a sufficient concession on England's part would have been to take her stand on the Declaration of London. I certainly thought it possible that England would change her course to this extent, if she regarded the dangers of the submarine campaign as greater than the advantages she reaped from ignoring the Declaration of London. We might have been well content with this, for although the Declaration of London would not offer any really decisive relaxation of the naval blockade of Germany, the English would at any rate, by adopting it in the circumstances, suffer a severe loss of prestige, while we, although having to abandon the campaign for the time, would at least have gained something by its introduction.

The Chancellor, in drafting the answer to the American note, did not wait for the concurrence either of the Chief of the Naval Staff or of myself, but on the contrary, with the aid of the Naval Cabinet, refused von Falkenhayn's demand for our co-operation, and sent the draft directly to the Emperor, who was then at Lotzen. The newly appointed Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Bachmann, entered a protest to the Emperor on February 14th against this course of procedure, as also against the contents of the draft itself, which was calculated to betray to the enemy in the most dangerous fashion the vacillating nature of our policy.


On the evening of February 15th the Chief of the Naval Staff quite unexpectedly received from the Emperor the order not to begin the campaign as announced on February 18th, but to await a special order for its introduction, and on the same day, February 15th, the submarine commanders were instructed to spare neutral vessels in the barred zone. At the same time a telegram arrived at General Headquarters from the Chief of the Cabinet, to the effect that the Emperor required an immediate telegraphic answer whether, and to what extent, it could be guaranteed that England would be forced to modify her attitude within six weeks of the opening of the campaign. My own attitude was to be mentioned in the answer.

The kernel of our altogether too humble answer to America, which was dispatched on February 17th, lay in the invitation to the American Government to find a way to procure the observation of the Declaration of London by the English, with the suggestion that in that case the German Government would be ready to follow out the logical results of the new situation thus created. That meant of course that in that case we would abandon the use of submarines not merely in the barred zone, but also against enemy vessels. I was by no means opposed in principle to


the point of view that our aim should be to force the English to observe the Declaration of London; and the following telegram was accordingly dispatched to Lotzen: "Secretary of State and Chief of Naval Staff are convinced that England will modify attitude within six weeks of opening of new campaign if all available forces be energetically employed from start." We had puzzled for hours over the telegram of the Chief of the Cabinet and the answer to be returned to it. We arrived at the conviction that the question as to the six weeks was designed to force us to answer in the negative, with a view to the use of our opinion to justify a surrender to the Americans. I still remember Admiral von Capelle's remark: "A silly question deserves a silly answer."

It was unreasonable and contrary to all principles of warfare to attempt to pin us to such a limited period; and on the other hand it was in fact reasonable to suppose that the great effects, at that time limited by no counter-measures, of even a relatively small number of submarines would force England to yield and to observe the Declaration of London. This was the first of those unhappy attempts to fix limits for the performance of warlike operations which were so frequent and so dangerous in later stages of the war. I always regarded such attempts as altogether wrong, but both now and later the navy was forced to submit to it.


It was of course not impossible that England might arrogantly despise the submarine weapon and remain obstinate. In that case we should have had to continue the campaign on its full scale, and that solution would have been the one most in accordance with our own interest. It was, however, in any event quite clear that there could be little hope of effective results for the campaign in the form in which it was in fact opened on February 18th - that is to say, on the footing that no neutral ships were to be sunk; for the English ships naturally began to sail regularly under neutral flags, as indeed they had to our sure knowledge already largely done. The misuse of neutral flags, which was recommended by the British Admiralty to their merchantmen, thus became very effective. Many brave submarine crews were the victims of these directions; the Baralong murder will be remembered in this connection.

We left the war-zone declaration standing, thus retaining the shell of the campaign, which had angered the Americans, in order to give an appearance of firmness for the benefit of German public opinion; but at the same time we removed the kernel by means of the modified orders which were given to the submarine commanders, at the instance of the civil authorities; we acted, in a word, fortiter in modo and suaviter in re (gently in manner, firmly in action). The submarine warfare now became, as Bachmann had prophesied, of no effect in securing the ultimate victory of the German people, but still had material enough to create incidents and quarrels with the Americans.


As I have stated, although Admiral Bachmann and myself regarded the declaration as premature in time and unfortunate in form, we were both of the view that, once it had been announced to the world, it must be stood by at all costs.

If we had returned to the first American Note a polite but definite refusal, I am convinced that there would not have been, either then or later, a declaration of war or even a rupture of relations. The Americans had not then become so embittered and partisan; they still respected us, and were not so involved in their loans to the Entente. The sensitive respect of their citizens for maritime law even found the unneutral attitude of the States disquieting. The pacifist Bryan was still Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

It would have been quite impossible for Wilson at that time to make the country hostile to us. In this lay our great opportunity. For the negotiations then being carried on by Prince Bulow to secure the neutrality of Italy, also, our embassy at Rome expressed by telegraph the desire for "unwavering maintenance of our attitude and of respect for the might of Germany and the Germant fleet." It is essential from the start to carry on a strong diplomatic campaign by means of notes against the unneutral attitude of the United States; we ought to have made protest after protest against the supply of arms and munitions, the manipulation to our prejudice of the wireless telegraph service, the silent acquiescence in the illegal English blockade, the measures taken against our overseas cruisers and against neutral mails, etc. Such a policy against America would not be


dangerous, for we were after all not compelled to add an ultimatum at the foot of a sharp protest. Even if we had not prevented the Anglo-American "mutual guarantee association" which grew up during the war, it would probably have been rendered less dangerous. We should have given a definite cry to which all the elements in the United States which were working against Wilson could have rallied: the Germans, the Irish, the Quakers, the cotton interests. We never adopted the right tone in dealing with the Americans. When we said: "You Americans are in form quite correct in supplying munitions and so forth to our enemies, but it is not nice of you," the effect was, as results have shown, exactly the opposite of what we desired, apart altogether from the fact that the transformation of America into an enemy arsenal was in the circumstances the most outrageous breach of neutrality imaginable. As between Germany and America there was even a direct precedent on the point; during the Spanish-American war, on the suggestion of the American ambassador, Andrew White, we held back in Kuxhaven a vessel laden with arms bound for Cuba.

Had we dealt with the submarine campaign coolly and consistently, we should have prepared the ground for the view that the campaign was not merely justifiable as a reprisal against the starvation blockade (which, unfortunately, was the only argument put forward on our behalf), but that it was clearly and irrefutably justified by the maritime law created by


the English themselves at the beginning of the war. The new weapon could not be bound by rules made in the old sailing days of a century ago, but had a right to new law. Does anyone seriously believe that in any future war a people fighting for its life will not use the submarine as we have used it in this war, even if new rules of international law forbid them so to do?

We ought to have recognized at the latest in February, 1915, that there were elements of blackmail in Wilson's policy. In our earnest efforts to spare neutral ships, we had offered to permit the Americans to send their vessels through the barred zone, if they were made unquestionably recognizable as neutral (through convoys). America had not sufficient goodwill to agree to this. When English submarines torpedoed our merchant ships in the Baltic, even in Swedish territorial waters, or in the Adriatic, thus doing exactly what we did, and worse, nobody was in the least agitated.

In America, the awful catalogue of England's reckless breaches of international law lay closed and unread, while everyone pored over the page of the German submarine campaign. The weakness of our politicians, which was bound to give the impression of a bad conscience, was largely the cause of this unjust attitude of the world. Repeatedly, but in vain, I pointed out to the Chancellor the true character of Wilson's policy, begging him to modify his attitude accordingly. We, however, evacuated one just standpoint of principle after another, only succeeding


thereby in encouraging Wilson to further claims and further threats. Demands which in the first years of the war we could have rejected calmly and firmly without fear of a breach hardened more and more into questions of prestige. While our credit suffered immeasurable damage with all maritime nations, who must have thought that our own hopes of victory were shaken, we were screwing Wilson more and more up to a standpoint the maintenance of which in the end became a question of honour for him.

Of the practical advantages which were eagerly promised as a reward for a compliant attitude by Bethmann, Helfferich, Count Bernstorfif, and others, we never reaped a single one. America never made us any really tangible concession. In our capacity for self-illusion we got along without that. And as our prestige and the neutral belief in our victory declined, the only real avenue to success, a change in our political relation to Japan and Russia, became more and more difficult.


On May 7th, 1915, the Lusitania, an English passenger vessel, which at the same time figured as an auxiliary cruiser in the British Navy List, was torpedoed. American citizens who in wanton recklessness, and in spite of the warnings of our ambassador, had embarked in this armed cruiser, heavily laden with munitions, lost their lives in the sinking of the vessel. It may be mentioned that the commander of the submarine


which torpedoed the Lusitania did not know that it was the Lusitania until it turned on its side in sinking. He attacked the ship from forward, so that he could not at first count the masts or funnels. After the torpedo had hit the vessel, there was a second explosion in the interior of the vessel, due to the quantities of munitions on board. It was this circumstance alone that led to the immediate sinking of the vessel, and the high loss of life, I was at the time in Berlin, and on May 9th telegraphed to General Headquarters that it was now urgently necessary to make good our legal position, and that compromise was more dangerous than firmness.

One could regret the loss of life, but must insist on our clear rights. Our prestige would then be increased in America, and the danger of war thus most effectively diminished. On May 12th I had an answer from the Chief of the Cabinet to the effect that the Emperor agreed with my point of view. On May 15th we received the first American Lusitania Note, which demanded an expression of our disapproval of the torpedoing, and an indemnity. Our answer temporized. Weeks of discussion between the various departments of the Government followed. On May 31st there was a general meeting at Pless to discuss the question, the Emperor presiding. Admiral von Muller informed Admiral Bachmann and myself immediately he arrived that the Chancellor refused to be responsible for the campaign in its existing form. Von Treutler and General von Falkenhayn were of the same opinion as the Chancellor.


The Chief of the Naval Staff and myself on the contrary maintained the view that it was technically impossible to comply with the Chancellor's demand that the campaign should be so conducted as to avoid any political conflict, and that His Majesty would accordingly have to decide whether it was to be carried on at all or not. The Emperor agreed with our point of view and said that if the Chancellor would not accept the responsibility for the entire abandonment of the campaign, the existing orders must stand. The result of the discussion was accordingly the issue of an order to the submarine commanders containing renewed and comprehensive instructions as to sparing neutral vessels (which had already been the subject of an earlier order), leaving untouched on the other hand the instructions for the sinking of all English vessels, without any exception.

However, soon after, on June 2nd, the Chancellor wrote requesting the Chief of the Naval Staff to have large enemy passenger vessels spared. There had been no suggestion of this in the discussion of May 31st. Admiral Bachmann put forward his objections, but the Chancellor rejected them. Von Bethmann thereupon, without our concurrence, appealed to the Emperor for a new decision as to what after all was the technical conduct of the campaign. On June 5th, in accordance with this appeal, a new order of the Emperor was given out that passenger vessels, even enemy vessels, were not to be sunk. No attention was paid to a telegram shortly setting out our objections, which the Chief of Staff and myself at the last moment dispatched to the Emperor.


The Chancellor had not the strength of mind to decide on the complete abandonment of the campaign, as he wanted to keep up the appearance of maintaining it, in order to save his face before public opinion at home. In practice, however, after this order, it was impossible to attack large vessels, as it was in virtually every case impossible for the submarine commanders to distinguish between passenger and cargo vessels. Both Admiral Bachmann and myself tendered our resignations on account of the course adopted by the Chancellor, but they were refused, in my case in a most ungracious manner.

On June 2nd our Ambassador in Washington reported that Wilson had stated to him in an audience that he was aiming at the complete elimination of the submarine campaign. We ought, he suggested, to make by its abandonment an appeal to general political morality, since the war could not be finally decided by force of arms, but only by an understanding on this point. Count Bernstorff recommended urgently that we should agree to this, stating that there was some prospect that in that case the export of munitions would be prohibited, whereas otherwise there was the possibility of a rupture of diplomatic relations and a tremendous increase in the supply of munitions. In my view the Ambassador was overlooking the fact that the American munitions industry would in any event extend to the utmost of its power, and that it was simply Utopian to hope that America would specially prohibit the export of munitions.


At the beginning of June the Foreign Office at last dispatched its answer to the American demands on the Lusitania. This brought about a further American Note, which was certainly unfriendly and contentious, but was so framed as not to make an answer formally necessary. The matter was thus settled for the time being. We continued the campaign in a form in which it could not live and at the same time could not die.

A large number of men of my acquaintance, who were intimately acquainted with American conditions, expressed the firm opinion that the policy of our Notes was fundamentally wrong as a method of dealing with Wilson and the men who stood behind him. Even those who in the main used all their influence to bring about an early understanding with England and America did not agree with the legal-bureaucratic tone adopted by the Foreign Office on every occasion. Thus, Ballin wrote on August ist, 1915, dealing with our Note of reply as follows:

"Once again, in connection with the further treatment of this American question, I find myself in complete opposition to the views of the Wilhelmstrasse. The last Note should have been answered immediately, that is to say within twenty-four hours; and it was so easy to answer. One need only have said: 'The Imperial Government expresses its lively sense of regret on learning from the Note which your Excellency has had the goodness, on the instructions of your Government, to hand to me, that the Government of the United


States of North America is not prepared to recognize the exceedingly accommodating spirit displayed by the Imperial German Government in its last Note of reply. Under these circumstances the Imperial German Government can but express the wish that citizens of the United States will be suitably warned by their Government against embarking upon ships of enemy flag which propose to pass through the war zone declared by the German Government.'

"As I have mentioned, a short answer of this sort should in my view have been given to Mr. Gerard within twenty-four hours. Another fortnight's brooding gives the Americans the impression that our responsible persons are at a loss what to do. One knows that Washington conducts its politics in its shirt sleeves, and American questions of this sort should be handled in a manner adjusted to American psychology."

Those are the views of Berlin, but I would like also to quote a representative of the opposite point of view. On August 5th, 1915, Secretary Helfferich wrote to the Chancellor urging that the submarine campaign should be still further restricted for a few weeks, or under certain circumstances even for three months. He believed that the American Government had extended a definite invitation to us to co-operate with them in securing the freedom of the seas, and he accordingly hoped that if we yielded to their Note we should be able to establish a common Americo-German front against England. The cotton planters would exercise so strong a pressure on Wilson that the German textile industry could be preserved from shutting


down and starving. If we were to offer Wilson this "good chance" to stand up for his ideals, he could not help taking it, Germany ought, thought Helfferich, to dispose of her enemies separately, like the last of the three Horatii who in the story defeated the three Curiatii who were attacking him, separating them by a clever retreat; the German Government could no more be accused of weakness in adopting such conduct than could the ancient Roman. Helfferich thus took for granted that loss of prestige counted for nothing, and that the world-powers of to-day would be as foolish as the three Curiatii.

I imagine that Ballin knew better than Bethmann or Helfferich how to treat the Americans. In any case, we gave up after the Arabic case a great deal more than Helfferich proposed, without getting a single bale of cotton. Besides, we had already, at the time of the first exchange of Notes in February, 1915, given Wilson an opportunity to establish just the sort of community of interests that we, with our illimitable capacity for self-deception, went on expecting year after year; and this although, even if we succeeded wholly, the Declaration of London, that alpha and omega of our jurists in the Foreign Office, would not have brought us any decisive advantages.

Secretary von Jagow stated to the Reichstag Committee on August 15th that we would not allow our submarine policy to be influenced by America. As soon, however, as the Reichstag had substantially finished its session - it actually rose on August 27th -


the Chancellor, supported by Falkenhayn and Admiral von Muller, set to work with all his strength to have the campaign stopped. The sinking of the English steamer Arabic was used as the ground for this step, although there had up to then been no report at all from the submarine and no complaint from the Americans, As von Treutler stated in the later audience of His Majesty, it was not a question of the Arabic case itself, but of a final understanding with America.

In the face of his promise to me of August 7th, the Chancellor took Admiral Bachmann and myself by surprise with the decision. The navy was to be presented with a fait accompli. I was called to Pless by telegram shortly before the departure of the night train, to attend an audience on the following morning. I was only able to get into touch with Admiral Bachmann on the short stretch from Kattowitz to Pless.

Arriving there on August 26th, we had at once a brief discussion with the Chancellor. He described the position as very grave, basing himself on a report from our Naval Attache at Washington and a statement of Ambassador Gerard. He, the Chancellor, could not stay for ever on the top of a volcano. A telegram was to be sent to the Ambassador at Washington, that the submarine commanders had definite orders not to torpedo passenger steamers without warning, and without opportunity being given for the rescue of passengers and crews. The question of a Lusitania indemnity was to be submitted to arbitration, and we were further to request the United States


to bring England to observe the Declaration of London. I said that the Chancellor plainly over-estimated the importance of the Declaration of London, and that an arbitration over the Lusitania case would be quite certain to result unfavourably for us, as there were so far no international rules about submarines.

We came to no agreement at this discussion, and the audience of the Emperor followed immediately, being cut somewhat short by the fact that, through the open door of the adjoining room, breakfast could be seen waiting on a table. I emphasized the view that in any event we were bound to await a report of the sinking of the Arabic from the commander of the submarine before any decision could be taken. If it was absolutely necessary to avoid misunderstandings with America for the time, we could withdraw the submarines entirely from English waters for a certain period, and send them to the Mediterranean, as I had mentioned to the Chancellor in a conference on August 7th. For the rest, I thought that a sufficient Note could be drawn up to America without abandoning the principle of submarine warfare.

Bachmann, who had had favourable reports as to feeling in America, pointed out in the general audience of the Emperor that a public declaration such as the Chancellor desired was unnecessary, since instructions to submarines to spare passenger vessels had in fact been in force since the beginning of June, having been kept secret merely because they were not consistent with the statements in our Notes in reply to the Americans.


If the declaration were now publicly made, we should be admitting the correctness of the enemy contention that the submarine campaign was unlawful. If anything at all need be said, it would be sufficient to state that measures - what measures was a matter for us alone - were being taken to preserve passenger vessels. A too hasty abandonment of the campaign - to which the declaration desired by the Chancellor would amount - would be taken as a sign of weakness and would have an unfavourable effect on home and neutral opinion. In spite of the opposition of the Chancellor and of von Treutler, the representative of the Foreign Office, the Emperor decided in favour of the proposal of the naval representative, that the cable should not be sent to the Ambassador in Washington. He ordered that the Chancellor, the Chief of the Naval Staff, and myself should prepare and submit to him a draft of a declaration which could be dispatched to the United States if it should become necessary.

On the next day, August 27th, the Chancellor, in spite of this clear settlement, obtained a new decision from the Emperor in the direction desired by him, without giving any notice whatever to the Chief of the Naval Staff or to myself. We were informed of this last decision by word of mouth, on the afternoon of the same day, by von Treutler, who added that a cable to that effect had already been dispatched to the Ambassador at Washington. To hasten this decision, it was said, another telegram had just arrived, at the psychological moment, from the Pope, urging us to adopt this attitude. "Now they are eating out of our hand," remarked Gerard on August 27th; he obviously had a poor opinion of our diplomats, and knew that America could do what she liked with them.


Already on August 27th there were articles in English and American newspapers on the lines of "Exit Tirpitz." This information had thus been allowed to pass by the German censorship, that is to say by the Foreign Office, actually before the Emperor had given his decision. Thus was the submarine campaign stopped for the time, amid resounding cries of triumph from America and our enemies, Germany had lost heavily in prestige. The neutral world was full of Germany's surrender, while the position of Wilson everywhere, and especially in America, became very high.

On the ground of this conduct of the Chancellor in taking me by surprise, I requested His Majesty on August 27th to release me from my position as Secretary of State, placing myself at his disposal for any other employment as a naval officer. On August 30th my request was refused.

"On the other hand," so ran the Cabinet order, "we have in this and in many previous instances gained the conviction that co-operation between yourself and the Chancellor is impossible in naval questions touching on the domain of foreign politics, and this includes almost every question relating to the conduct of the war at sea." (Accordingly, my regular advisory activities in this connection were to cease.)


"We refuse, however, most decidely to release you from your position as Secretary of State for Naval Affairs. You cannot ignore not only that a change in this office during the war - especially in the present position of the personnel at the Admiralty - would have serious disadvantages for the work of the whole navy, but that your departure from office at the present moment would involve the most regrettable results at home and abroad, which it is Our sacred duty to avoid. Further, We cannot permit an officer to ask for his release during the war on the ground of differences of opinion on questions of the employment of Our fighting vessels, for these are questions which in the last resort have to be decided by Us as supreme war lord, in the full consciousness of Our responsibility," '

On my stating that the contents of this order made it impossible for me to remain in office, the Emperor granted me a short private audience, and I was promised a modified order. Accordingly, on September 19th, 1915, I received the Imperial assurance that it was His Majesty's full intention "to take my opinion on all important questions of naval policy"; and I thereupon resolved not to insist on my release. A large number of politicians and persons of very high position had urged me to this resolve.

Admiral Bachmann, however, who had protested against the Emperor being thus taken by storm by the Chancellor, was relieved, being replaced by Admiral von Holtzendorff, who had been placed on half pay after the naval manoeuvres of 1912. Prior to his appointment he had on several occasions expressed himself in favour of the views of von Bethmann. He was instructed to take up his regular residence not at General Headquarters, but in Berlin, a course which circumstances at that time also prescribed for myself.



It will be useful to examine the development of the submarine campaign from the point of view of the fleet command, which was entrusted with the control of the campaign except in the Mediterranean, Flanders, and the Baltic. The then Chief of Staff of the Fleet has given me the following tabular statement on the matter:

"February 4th, 1915. - Declaration of war zone.

"February 14th, 1915. - Request, on urgent political grounds, to send orders by wireless to the submarines sent out, not for the present to attack ships sailing under neutral flag. (In the then state of submarine wireless, the request could not be complied with, as the boats were already far off. Besides, every ship at that time sailed under neutral flag.)

"February 15th, 1915. - Order from General Headquarters, that submarine and trade campaign against neutrals was not to begin on February 18th, but only on receipt of special order. As a result of this order, the next batch of boats to be held back, thus causing a pause.

"February 18th, 1915. - A belt between Lindesnaes and the Tyne is to be kept free for Danish and Swedish vessels, in which there is to be no mining or sinking.

"February 20th, 1915. - Order to open campaign in North Sea and English Channel. American and Italian flags to be spared even here, A free safe belt is provided for Scandinavians to sail to England.


"February 22nd, 191 5. - Order to open campaign on west coast of United Kingdom. Especial care recommended to spare American and Italian flags.

"March 7th, 1915. - The free belt for Scandinavians is abolished, but is not to be mined; it is thus really hardly endangered.

"March 30th, 1915. - The free belt is wholly abolished,

"April 2nd, 1915. - After loss of several submarines through traps, order that safety of our own boats is to come before all other considerations. No longer essential to rise to surface.

"April 4th, 1915. - New warning as to sparing neutrals.

"April 24th, 1915. - Ditto.

"May 7th, 1915. - Lusitania case. Regarded as great success in the fleet. An English, that is to say, an enemy steamer, not within any of the existing limitations, and armed into the bargain. Commander called to General Headquarters and treated very ungraciously by Chief of Cabinet.

"June 6th, 1915. - Orders to attack no large passenger steamers, not even enemy.

"June 26th, 1915. - Chief of Fleet Staff writes to Naval Staff: 'In my view, which is shared by the whole navy, we should yield no ground in connection with the submarine campaign, for the following reasons:

"'(1) Any surrender from the position taken up in the declaration of war zone must be regarded as a political defeat.

"'(2) The intention of that declaration was not the destruction of certain ships, but an attack on the import and export trade of England. Sparing neutrals or compensating them for the sinking of their vessels actually encourages sailings to England under neutral flag,


"'(3) Any yielding gives assistance to the enemy arguments that the proposed method of warfare is barbarous.

"'(4) Only the energetic conduct of the campaign can turn the insular position of England from advantage to a disadvantage. Is also of tremendous importance for the future development of Germany. To yield is to sacrifice the whole effect of submarines against England.'

"The Chief of Fleet Staff requests permission to support his arguments in person to the political authorities, since he has undertaken responsibility from the start for the campaign. The personal attendance of the Chief of Fleet Staflf is not permitted, but instead the chief of the submarines and one submarine commander are ordered to attend the Chancellor to give information.

"August 19th, 1915. - Arabic case. Count Bernstorff states in America that the commander is to be punished. (Submarine commanders again instructed to observe the restrictions laid down.)

"August 27th, 1915. - Orders not to send out further submarines for trade war until the position is cleared up.

"August 30th, 1915. - Orders that until further notice no small passenger steamers are to be sunk without warning and rescue of crew.

"September 1st, 1915. - Chief of Fleet Staff telegraphs to Chief of Cabinet for submission to His Majesty, that this order can only be carried out at the utmost danger to submarines, for which he cannot be responsible; accordingly asks permission to resign. Answer from Chief of Cabinet, that His Majesty forbids Chief of Fleet Staff to question His Majesty's commands.


"September 18th, 1915. - General position necessitates that for the next few weeks all risk should be avoided of breaches of regulations laid down for campaign. Order accordingly to suspend all submarine activities of any sort on west coast and in Channel, and to carry on in North Sea only in accordance with Prize Order. Practically complete cessation of all employment of submarines."

Such are the impressions from the fleet. Order, Counter-order, Disorder!

When one reviews these commands and counter-commands, which in part were quite impossible to carry out, and when one remembers further that they had to pass through the different commands to the individual commanders, one can well understand what confusion and irritation must have been caused to the commanders by this perpetual and often self-contradictory interference of the political authorities and the Cabinet. On the one hand their own strength and energy, the views of their fellows, and no doubt also of their immediate superior, all called aloud for effective action; and on the other hand punishment and court martial awaited these brave men if they misunderstood these ambiguous orders or caused any political difficulties.


How differently has England dealt with similar cases of sea fighting! For centuries the principle has held good there that any action on the part of a British officer, so long as it be energetic, will be protected against outside consequences.


In December, 1915, the Austrian Government, which in the Ancona case had scored a remarkable and well-founded prestige victory over Wilson, was forced by the German Office to say "Father, I have sinned"; however, about the same time the point of view of the German Army command in relation to the submarine campaign underwent a certain change. The fighting fronts had stiffened, and a decision of the war had become still more difficult to achieve. It was probably under the impression produced by these circumstances that the army command requested a conference on the question of the submarine campaign, which was held at the Ministry of War on December 30th, 1915, and January 5th, 1916.

General von Falkenhayn stated that now that Bulgaria had come in on our side, he was ready to accept unrestricted submarine warfare, if the navy guaranteed success. He stated that his reason for supporting the Chancellor in his opposition to the campaign in the autumn of 1915 was that he feared, on the strength of statements of the Foreign Office, that Bulgaria might be led by such a campaign to refrain from joining us. Communications from Enver, and remarks of Radoslavov and of Ambassador von Wangenheim, however, contradict this assumption of the Foreign Office most emphatically.

(A Dutch press report in the second half of August, 1915, stated that Bulgaria had hesitated to ally herself with us when she saw how we kow-towed to America and England after the Arabic case.)

At the meeting at the Ministry of War I explained that the campaign was both possible and practicable. In place of the former declaration of war zone, I recommended a sort of embargo on commercial traffic to and from England. Admiral von Holtzendorff described the opening of such a campaign as the salvation of the navy, but recommended that it should not be begun until March 1st. Falkenhayn, Holtzendorff, the Minister for War, Wild von Hohenborn, and myself were entirely at one, both as to the opening of the campaign, and as to the date of opening.

Holtzendorff's oral statement of his views in favour of the campaign was confirmed by a memorandum of the naval staff of January 7th, which stated that if all the restrictions were removed it could be confidently assumed, on the strength of our earlier experience, that the English resistance would be broken in at most six months. The memorandum recognized the danger from America, but explained that, if we could not secure a favourable decision of the war by October, 1916, all hope would be lost of a peace that would render possible for Germany in the coming generation reasonable security of existence and chances


of economic development. A further memorandum of the naval staff, of February 12th, 1916, which was to the same effect, was submitted to a large number of economic experts, who all expressed their agreement with it, and in general described the immediate opening of unrestricted submarine operations as the last and only chance for Germany.

I, too, in February, 1916, sent a memorandum to the Chief of the General Staff, dealing with the necessity and practicability of the submarine campaign. (A similar memorandum was first sent to the Chancellor.)

Captain Widenmann on my behalf had an exhaustive discussion with Falkenhayn at General Headquarters, on February 11th and 12th, on the subject of this memorandum and of the submarine question in general. The effect of Falkenhayn's remarks was roughly: "We all agree that England will fight to a decision. The decision turns on the possession of Belgium. If we restore it, we are lost. I have made up my mind in favour of the campaign, and I count definitely on it being carried out. I will work for it with all my strength, and secure that it is decided on."

In complete contradiction to the Chancellor's views, I was then already absolutely convinced that any further delay in beginning the campaign involved the greatest danger, and I concluded the above-mentioned memorandum with the following remarks, which unfortunately for Germany have been subsequently proved correct:


"Immediate and relentless recourse to the submarine weapon is absolutely necessary. Any further delay in the introduction of unrestricted warfare will give England time for further naval and economic defensive measures, cause us greater losses in the end, and endanger quick success. The sooner the campaign be opened, the sooner will success be realized, and the more rapidly and energetically will England's hope of defeating us by a war of exhaustion be destroyed. If we defeat England, we break the backbone of the hostile coalition."

A large number of public bodies and individuals approached the Chancellor at this time to urge upon him the adoption of the campaign. Among these was Hugo Stinnes, whose letter to the Chancellor is worthy of notice; according to reliable information it counts for as much in Sweden as my memorandum. These representations of politicians and other persons in important positions were in no way due to any initiative of mine.

On February 23rd I chanced to have the opportunity in Wilhelmshaven to say to the Emperor how happy I had been to learn that there were prospects of a real campaign against English freight space. I mentioned that freight space constituted the decisive question of the whole war, and that it permitted no delay. The fight was a fight for life for Germany. The small neutrals presented no real danger. The Emperor must come to a decision.


The decisive audience took place on March 6th, 1916, and that without my being summoned, in spite of the above-mentioned modified order. I heard unofficially that the audience was to be held and had the question asked of Admiral von Muller whether the Emperor desired my attendance. The Admiral answered: "No, His Majesty has not commanded the presence of the Secretary of State." The Chancellor, Falkenhayn, and Holtzendorff were present. Against Falkenhayn's advice, the campaign was postponed indefinitely. On March 8th I reported sick, and immediately received the request, sent over by telegraph, to hand in my resignation. I thereupon dispatched the following request:

"March 12th, 1916.

"I have served Your Majesty with all my strength in the advancement of Your Majesty's life-work of showing to the German people the way across the sea and into the world.

"In the decisive fight against the enemies who seek to bar us by the sword from this path of national development, Your Majesty has not been able to follow my advice.

"In the most recent and most vital decisions as to the employment of our naval forces, I have not been able to exercise the influence which Your Majesty has repeatedly been so gracious as to assure me that I possess.

"I find myself unable any further properly to act as the representative of Your Majesty's Government before the German people in naval questions. My great grief at seeing the life-work of Your Majesty and the future of Germany as a nation moving to its destruction along the path that has been chosen makes it clear to me that my services can no longer be of use to Your Majesty's Government,


"Your Majesty found yourself unable to grant my previous request to be relieved of my office.

"The exhaustion of my spirits as a result of the increasing mental conflicts which I have lately undergone has made it, however, absolutely essential for me to report to Your Majesty that I am no longer able to carry out the duties of the Secretary of State for Naval Affairs.

"After Your Majesty's most gracious decision, I venture now to beg most humbly for gracious permission to resign my office as Secretary of State."

On March 17th I received my dismissal, being succeeded by Admiral von Capelle. In the summer of 1915 a decided supporter of the submarine campaign, he was now compelled, before accepting office, to undertake to support the Chancellor in all naval political questions of which the submarine campaign was regarded as one.

My position with the Emperor and the Chancellor was in March, 1916, so insecure that I had to reckon with the possibility of any convenient opportunity being used to force me to take my departure. I had already had to endure grave insults without protest. I tendered my resignation when my most intimate advisers had become convinced that it could no longer be postponed, since my exclusion from discussion in the face of all the assurances to the contrary had finally deprived me of any opportunity of useful work. I had also learnt from the Emperor's entourage that my


position with His Majesty was regarded as past any restoration. I could see the nation rushing into the abyss, and could no longer represent in the Reichstag or be responsible to the people for the dangers involved in any further procrastination in the conduct of the war. Nevertheless, I regarded my retirement as a very serious matter, since I knew that it would encourage the enemy in this confidence of victory. I had offered to His Majesty to make my departure less striking by basing it on grounds of ill-health, but this opportunity was not taken, and I was only able to lessen the impression created by the event by suppressing, in concurrence with the military government of the district of Brandenburg, and without any consideration for the feelings of the would-be participants, the popular demonstrations planned in my honour.

If I had foreseen that the battle of the Skager-Rak would once again strengthen my position, and that Hindenburg and Ludendorff would come to the command of the army, I would probably have sought to hold on in spite of all humiliations; and in that case, having regard to the greatly shaken position of Bethmann in the autumn of 1916, the Polish Proclamation might not have been published, greater efforts have been made to secure peace with the Czar, and the submarine campaign might after all have begun in time. But who can tell what Providence holds in store?



On March 24th, 1916, the French steamer Sussex was torpedoed. To a question on the subject from the United States of America the Naval Staff replied on April 10th, before the arrival of the report of the submarine commander, that the German Government must assume that the damage to the Sussex was due to some other cause than the attack of a German submarine. Later, however, the report arrived that the Sussex had really been torpedoed by one of our submarines. According to the report of the particularly experienced and cautious commander, the vessel was painted as a warship, and there were a large number of British troops on deck in uniform, so that he thought he was even technically in order.

To our Note of April 10th, the incorrectness of which in fact was proved by the Americans, there followed the well-known American bullying Note of April 20th, which demanded the abandonment without delay of the system of submarine warfare that had hitherto prevailed, and threatened a rupture of relations. After this Note became public, I sent another memorandum to the Emperor, on April 24th, begging him urgently not to give way to Wilson. I received no answer to this Note, but the Government on May 4th sent a Note to America, yielding to their demands, but inviting them to insist on the observation by the British Government of the rules of international law as they were recognized before the war; the Note further stated that if the United States did not succeed in this, the German Government would be faced by a wholly new position, in which it must reserve for itself complete freedom of decision.


Wilson had demanded the punishment of the submarine commander who had torpedoed the Sussex. The admiral in command of the marines in Flanders did not impose any punishment, since the commander had been in the right; whereupon the commander was punished by the Emperor himself. Save for the Mediterranean, the feeble remains that still survived of the campaign in effect vanished.

The events which followed the arrival of my above-mentioned memorandum at General Headquarters, as reported to me by an eye-witness, are characteristic of the forces that were at work against the submarine campaign. The memorandum was most unwelcome to the opponents, but it made a lasting impression on the Emperor, probably because it confirmed his own views, and he resolved to refuse Wilson's demand and to carry on the campaign without restrictions. He informed the Chancellor and the army chiefs of this decision.

The Chancellor's objections at first met with no success. The Emperor was then strongly pressed by the Chief of the Cabinet, von Muller, to give way to the Chancellor, which in the end he did. Some weight is due to the fact that the Chief of the Naval Staff, in contradiction to his earlier memoranda to the Chief of the Cabinet, had come round to the Chancellor's view. In this last decision of the Emperor the army chiefs do not seem to have been asked for their views. In any event General von Falkenhayn immediately tendered his resignation, which was not, however, accepted.


The Sussex Note was a decisive turning-point of the war, the beginning of our capitulation. All the world could see that we were breaking down before America. From the time of this decision we went downhill. The moral indignation over submarine warfare in England and America had at first been only a piece of bluff designed to deter us, but it had gradually become more than bluff. Those persons in Germany who had a sensitive feeling for the idealistic and yet at bottom highly material power of prestige were greatly moved by the acceptance of the demands. Our decisions of March and May, 1916, freed England from the gravest material danger that it had ever known in all its history. In rejecting the submarine campaign, a last chance of salvation which had fallen into their lap like a gift of the gods, the German people not merely determined their own disappearance from the ranks of world-powers, but at the same time strengthened the determination of the English to hold out until they achieved the complete destruction of the Germans.

There were factors of uncertainty about the adoption of unrestricted submarine operations in the spring of 1916, just as there are in all questions of strategy, politics, and economics, but one can assert now, with more assurance than ever before, that it would have


brought the English to a conciliatory frame of mind, not of course to one which would have found such a lamentably stupid expression as the peace resolution of our Reichstag democrats of 1917 - the English are politically too well educated for that - but to one sufficient to ensure us an acceptable peace. In the spring of 1916 we could certainly not afford to lose so much as a month, not only on account of the increase of the enemy defensive measures, but also because of the decline in our strength of resistance.

If after at most a year of a freight space war England had felt the pinch of famine, the morale of our people and their reserves of strength would still have been high enough to enable us to wait for the result. For the really effective strength of a campaign undertaken at that time, and for the vital danger that it would have brought to England, I can now rely on a long series of English admissions, which our democrats and other interested parties in vain wish to sink in oblivion. Even in 1917, a whole year too late, we were close to the goal, so that one can see that the submarine campaign, undertaken only six months earlier, would have still been effective.

Thus, for example, on September 7th, 1917, The Economist writes:

"Though few realized the imminence of our peril at the time, we came within very little of losing the war because we forgot that a fighting control of the seas is without value unless one possesses also the means to use those seas which one controls...,


"Once during the past four years, the Germans came within a measurable distance of winning the war. This was not in the spring of 1918, when the British and French armies were reeling before the German assaults. It was in the spring of 1917, when the prospects on land appeared to be favourable. The Germans, defeated on the Somme, had retired to the Hindenburg Line and taken up the defensive on the west. Russia was still a factor in the war.

"Yet that spring of 1917 was actually the most critical and deadly dangerous period through which we have lived since the war began. For a short time it looked as if the Royal Navy had failed, and that our sea communications, upon which everything depended, were about to be broken. If the losses of British and Allied merchant steamers by submarine attacks had continued at the rate recorded for April, May, and June of 1917, the Germans would have won the war before that year had closed. But the navy... got to grips with the U-boat peril and much reduced its effectiveness."

The Morning Post of October 3rd, 1918, writes:

"Had Germany chosen to distribute her large force of cruisers upon the distant trade routes a week before the outbreak of war, she could have wrought what might have been disaster, and what would certainly have inflicted very serious loss. Then Germany delayed the great sea battle for the crippling of the British fleet until it was too late.... At a later period of the war Germany sought to achieve the same end by submarine warfare. It was the greatest danger with which this country has ever been confronted, and by virtue of determination, invention and indomitable hard work, Germany was once more foiled when she was almost within reach of success."


A statesman and an expert on the matter, Chiozza Money, stated in the House of Commons in November, 1918:

"In April, 1917, the German submarines were so successful that England would have been ruined in nine months if the destructions had continued at the same rate."

This Reuter report of November 15th, 1918, was sufificient to enrage any patriotic German who realizes what an utter ignorance of the nature of naval warfare was allowed to prevail in Germany and to throw away the last chance of our salvation.

The strangest incident in this great crisis for Germany, to my mind, was that those civilians who based their hopes of a tolerable peace, not on our arms, but on Wilson fighting for the freedom of the seas and England becoming of her own motion ready to arrive at an understanding, did not confine themselves to these political convictions, but also assumed a right to support them by judgments of their own on purely technical naval questions.

Contradicting all expert authority, they took upon themselves to decide that in the historical moment in the spring of 1916 we "still had too few submarines." These men of the Wilhelmstrasse, or even of the editorial department of the Frankfurter Zeitung, stated in February, 1917, with


arrogant certainty: "We are beginning the submarine campaign at the right moment, as we now have enough submarines." And when the campaign, delayed by their fault, did not produce its effects as rapidly as it would, according to the experts, have done a year earlier, these men lost nothing of their audacity; instead of feeling ashamed that their delay had reduced the results of the submarine campaign by just the decisive degree ....

(If Chiozza Money says that nine months of such success as we had in April, 1917, would have ruined England, there would still have been time in August, 1916, but not in February, 1917. )

... they now condemned, after the event, and in contradiction to their own position at the beginning of 1917, the whole submarine war! To gain a proper impression of the manner in which, in the hour of Germany's destiny, questions of naval warfare were gambled with, one need only imagine diplomats, journalists, and members of parliament seeking to pronounce decisive strategical judgments on questions of land warfare. But it seemed that in sea warfare, a question of life and death to us, all things were possible among Germans.

Instead of confining themselves to the American question, the political seriousness of which I certainly never misunderstood, our Germans, with their instinct for self-destruction, consoled themselves with the formula: "We had not enough submarines in 1916." Just as I was to be the scapegoat for the failing to give battle, on the pretext that the fleet material was too bad, so now those who had not enough courage to carry on the submarine campaign in defiance of Wilson laid the blame, to themselves and to the world, on " the insufficient number" of boats. (On submarine construction before the war, see Technical Supplement.)


This rumour, which was circulated everywhere, was the main means employed by the diplomatic and democratic supporters of the Government to prevent the timely use of the submarine weapon, and to substitute for a swift and mighty blow, and thus a blow most in accordance with the dictates of humanity, a policy of hesitation and delay, betraying weaknesses and a bad conscience, and setting the seal on all our misfortunes.

(The parties of the Left in the Reichstag have so large a share in the responsibility for delaying the campaign that justice compels me to mention that at the beginning of 1916 several sound men among the Social Democrats fully shared my point of view, but were unable to prevail. )

In truth, as I prophesied in February, 1916, the damage that our available submarines could have achieved in 1916 was far greater than that caused in 1917. The decisive factor is not the number of submarines, but the number of sinkings. Our hesitant politicians were too clever to grasp this simple truth. The yield of the submarines sank as the enemy's defensive measures increased. These measures required years of preparation, years which we gave them. The submarines could only bring us victory during a certain period, and this period we threw away through fear of Wilson and hopes of his aid. The tragic figures which prove this could not be made public during the war,


a fact of which the opponents of the campaign took advantage to continue their misrepresentations. Out of the mass of proofs I select but one single fact.

In the spring of 1916, with restricted, that is to say with quite inadequate, submarine warfare, the sinkings amounted to 17,000 tons per boat per voyage. The experience of 1916 shows that the results of unrestricted warfare are at least thrice as great as those of restricted. We should thus have been sure at that time of reaching a figure of 51,000 tons per boat per voyage. But in the summer of 1917 the actual sinkings were only 14,000 per boat per voyage, and in the autumn of 1917 they had fallen to 9,000. In the spring of 1916 we could reckon on 205 submarines (in commission, building, or undergoing tests) for the financial year then beginning. Of this number, 147 were building for delivery in the financial year.

(I do not trouble now to deal with the amazing rumour, typical indeed of the then conditions, that I had false figures submitted to the Budget Committee of the Federal Council, since it has been disposed of officially and judicially (only, it is true, after it had done its political service against me)).

From this one can calculate the results which would have attended a real submarine campaign in 1916. One must admit that the English are right in their view that they would have lost the war at that time if we had only had the courage to win it. When one looks through the submarine diaries of the year 1916, one can realize with what grief the commanders had then to let the easiest and richest booty pass before their eyes, and it becomes plain that they could have sunk on each voyage five or six times as much as was possible a year later.


Below I quote as an example the experiences of Senior Lieutenant Steinbrink, a particularly able commander, who was told off to test whether, under the regulations laid down in 1916 for submarine operations, any success was possible without infringing the regulations.

Commander's Diary, July-August, 1916

"The weather being very unfavourable for torpedo attacks, station could only be kept before the mouth of the Seine for four days, as long as the wind and sea made it easier to escape observation. During this time the incoming steamer traffic was watched day and night at a distance of from three to eight knots from the main point of entry, and each single steamer that came sufficiently near was approached, and an estimate of her character made at the shortest possible range. In all forty-one day-approaches (that is, approaches ready for discharging torpedo, but without actually discharging) were carried out, and none of the steamers showed the signs indicated as distinctive of transports, nor did their appearance in general give a pronounced impression of their being transports.

On the other hand, in the early morning light, we saw in all six camouflaged 1,500 to 3,000-ton steamers (three collier-type and three cargo vessels); they were painted black, with grey or brown upper works, and showed no flag. Each ship was separately convoyed by a camouflaged destroyer, or by one or two armed trawlers. I was firmly convinced that they were transporting troops or important material, but as my view was not confirmed by the signs mentioned in the regulations (troops in large numbers, parks of guns or waggons, dispositions of men on deck), I could not attack these either.


"Under the conditions at present laid down for submarine attacks on transports, there is absolutely nothing to be done, and the attempt, which in view of the efficient counter-measures of the enemy is not without danger, is hardly worth the efforts of the crew."

Attitude of the flotilla to the above diary extract:

The object of the undertaking was to ascertain whether, with the regulations now in force - that is to say, that merchant vessels are only to be dealt with on the lines of the Prize Order, and that no vessels other than transports ascertained to be such beyond question are to be torpedoed without warning - it is possible to cause damage to the communications of the English army in France, which in my view is at present the navy's most important task.

The result is unquestionably as follows:

Under the present restrictions, the dispatch of submarines against the lines of communication offers no prospects of success.... Attempts in this direction are accordingly abandoned for the time, until the regulations permit the torpedoing without warning of all vessels other than hospital ships sailing between England and France.

Trade warfare in accordance with the Prize Order is still to be carried on in the western part of the Channel, in spite of the danger run by the submarines on rising to the surface. We are forced to this decision, since this is at present the only means we possess to damage the enemy.


This result of the undertaking was only to be expected, but I thought it nevertheless valuable to have the evidence of actual experience.

It is obvious what a great influence our submarines could have had on the course of the Somme fighting. But, apart from all such questions of detail, anyone who was clearly conscious that the whole existence of the German people depended on this war could not read without the deepest emotion such reports as the above of the crippling of our most effective weapon.

Our conduct in the spring of 1916 showed the whole world, save a few German diplomats and democrats, that Germany was moving to her destruction.


Not having had any part in the events which led to the opening of the unrestricted campaign on February 1st, 1917, I can only deal shortly with them here. So far as my information goes, they presented a typical instance of the disorganization of the Bethmann system of government. If it be true that just about the New Year negotiations were in progress between Bethmann and Wilson which gave us promise of a reasonable peace, or which at any rate Bethmann himself regarded as hopeful, then it is incomprehensible that at that very moment he should have allowed the campaign to be opened. I cannot think that the military authorities, if the politicians kept them sufficiently informed of the negotiations, would have resisted a


postponement to enable the diplomatic situation to define itself. In the autumn of 1916, G.H.Q., in view of the attack on Roumania, had thought it necessary to take seriously the danger of war with Holland, which was incorrectly reported by the Chancellor and Ambassador von Kuhlmann, and accordingly agreed to some delay in the opening of the campaign.

After the overthrow of Roumania the situation was different. G.H.Q. doubted seriously whether we could hold out for another winter (1917-18). As the Chief of the Naval Staff, von Holtzendorff thought himself in a position to promise that England would be ready for peace after a six months' submarine campaign; the conclusion to be drawn from the desire to obtain peace by August, 1917, was that the campaign must be opened in February, 1917. This calculation had, however, only a limited value, and could not be taken as dogmatic.

As I have stated, I think too that, if the various separate departments had been permitted to keep sufficiently in touch with general policy, none of them would have clung so rigidly to their own calculations. The old weakness of our system of government, the exclusion of the separate departments from general responsibility, and the withholding from them of information necessary for the formation of their views, seems thus, if my impressions are accurate, to have been responsible also for the submarine campaign cutting across pending diplomatic negotiations.


If it is further correct that Wilson felt himself insulted in his confidence in German politicians by this brusque change of front, then there was here, too, another parallel to the methods of surprise employed in July, 1914, and the Polish " slap in the face for the Czar." But at this stage of the war repetition of such conduct virtually amounted to the final loss of our capacity for international negotiation. The damage caused by this loss would have to be paid not so much by our diplomats as by the people in general and the Hohenzollern monarchy in particular.

The strangeness of the proceedings would be still more striking if the statement is correct that the Chancellor even then personally disapproved of the campaign, and allowed himself to be out-voted by others. It is impossible to understand why Bethmann, if those were his convictions, did not take the obvious course and why the Emperor did not allow him to resign and replace him by a Chancellor who believed in the campaign.

The crowning touch to a piece of recklessness which no amount of ingenuity could render harmless is to be found, if the above assumption be correct, in the fact that Bethmann expressed the view in the Reichstag, against his own convictions, that the very moment had now arrived which, politically and navally, gave the greatest promise of success from the unrestricted campaign. One may just point out in passing how presumptuous it was to hold such a view in the face of the opinions given by the Admiralty, the Naval Staff, the High Sea fleet, the Marine Corps, and G.H.Q., in the spring of 1916, even if the Chief of the Naval Staff had about the end of 1916 brought himself somewhat nearer to Bethmann's standpoint.


However that may be, it was certainly unfortunate that the campaign should be under the control of a statesman who was at bottom unfavourably disposed towards it and who accordingly, just as he had hitherto prevented its adoption, now in this last stage, hampered its operation. In 1916 we could perhaps have accepted the responsibility of weakening the campaign by exceptions in favour of certain neutrals. In 1917 it was too late for such measures. If we staked everything on this one card, it was the very first necessity that all means, military, naval, political, personal, and technical, should be placed at the service of the campaign. The navy should have postponed every other task, and put absolutely every available man and machine to work constructing boats or engines, or in the yards.

The army should have released the workmen, the politicians should have done their part, and the diplomats, instead of standing on one side and waiting on events, should have worked with all their heart for the campaign. Instead, exceptions were made in favour of European neutrals, which weakened the effect of the operations, and both in naval and in constructional work there was not that extreme concentration on the submarine campaign that alone in this advanced stage could have given it the necessary force. The fundamental fault of our whole conduct of the war, the lack of any unity and determination comparable to that displayed by the English, persisted so long as the Bethmann system held the reins of Government.


When the Government undertook the responsibility first of undertaking a campaign in which it had no real faith, and then of hindering its operation,the prospects of the campaign were for that reason alone far worse in reality than they would have been in 1916. Until my retirement the Admiralty were building as many submarines as was in any way possible. I thrice toured all the yards and personally examined every slip to ascertain whether an increased output could be achieved.

(I mention in passing that if the campaign had been opened in 1916, it would presumably have been impossible for the British High Seas fleet to have remained so consistently in hiding at Scapa Flow after the battle of the Skager-Rak. I would also mention that at the beginning of 1916 I urged at a council that orders should be given to the captains of the German merchantmen lying in America and elsewhere to sail out to sea and sink their vessels, or otherwise to render them useless. As they were not of course warships, they could not have been prevented from doing this. Ballin spoke against the proposal, saying that the Americans would have hanged the captains (which was impossible), and that we should lose our fine vessels for good. The result was that in 1917-18 it was these very fast-sailing vessels that did us the greatest damage by transporting American troops, etc.)

I am not aware whether the construction of submarines was continued with the necessary energy after my departure. The fatal element, however, was the increase of the enemy counter-measures, which exceeded even all our fears. England had entered the war unprepared against the submarine danger. As soon as it recognized the deadly nature of the danger, it set itself, with the ample aid of America, to the creation


of defensive measures, which began to operate with great success, not indeed in 1916, but in 1917. The Entente was industrially our superior in quantity, and the defence thus improved more rapidly than the number of submarines could be increased. In the spring of 1918 we were at times losing more submarines than we were completing.

This position was, indeed, to be foreseen in 1916. I mention a few of the more important of these defensive measures: transformation of merchantmen into warships by the supply of 15,000 guns with trained gun-crews, systematic sweeping of the seas by aeroplanes, airships, and surface vessels, extensive employment of submarine sound apparatus, construction of submarine-chasers, traps, and depth bombs; defensive obstacles such as nets and mines; further, indirect measures such as the tripling of the American shipbuilding yards, the feverish haste in construction of cargo vessels, the utmost possible accumulation of stocks, the development of the intelligence service, the monopolization and rationing of freight space, the establishment and development of the convoy system, which involved years of work, and constituted a tremendous achievement on the part of the English, and lastly the steadily increasing pressure on neutrals, ending in the robbery of their commercial shipping.

The consequence of these measures was the serious reduction of sinkings, amounting, as explained above, to the loss of four-fifths of the former effectivness of the submarines. One should bear in mind that at a later stage there were many thousands of submarine-chasers, gradually built up, at work against us.


In February, 1916, our boats could still play havoc among enemy merchantmen like wolves among a flock of sheep; later they had to carry on a regular fight. A mere work of destruction had become a warlike operation involving great danger and loss.

The question now arises whether the campaign, if it had opened in the spring of 1916 instead of in that of 1917, would not simply have resulted in the arrival one year earlier of those hordes of American troops on the continent which turned the balance against us on the western front in 1918.

I leave on one side the fact that General Headquarters, like everyone else, had not thought it possible that these enormous numbers of American troops could be brought to Europe, and had accordingly, at the cost of substantially thinning our fighting strength, sent a million men to the East for economic purposes which must after all, in comparison to the main aim of the war, be described as secondary. I would only point out that in the spring of 1916 the probability that the Americans would send troops across was much less than it was a year later. In the first place, the greater effects of the campaign on enemy freight space would have limited from the outset the possibilities of American military development of strength. In addition, American opinion was not then ready for a declaration of war against us.


In February and March, 1916, an overwhelming majority in the American Congress had, in opposition to Wilson's views, expressed itself in favour of a warning being given against American citizens travelImg on armed vessels of belligerents, so far as it could do so without formally disowning the President. The same thing happened in the Senate. The arming of merchantmen and their employment to attack war vessels, against the existing conventions of maritime war, was at that time not yet regarded as legal. As the Government did not pass on to me its political information, I did not see so clearly in the spring of 1916 as I do now, that Wilson, especially before his re-election, could not have declared war against us at that time.

By yielding to Wilson then in sheer fear of this bogy, and by falling back on pretexts such as the Roumanian harvest, the need to consider the American Committee for Relief in Belgium, and the like, we turned the bogy into a genuine terror for 1917. The great debates of February and March, 1916, in the Congress and Senate were, as Hale described them, an exhortation to Wilson for peace, as urgent as any a Congress had ever made to a President. But the success of his bullying note raised Wilson to a height such as a President had seldom occupied before, and, as was natural, fundamentally changed the attitude of the American people to the submarine question.


According to the view of our ambassador von Hintze, who travelled through America at this time on his way home from Peking, Zimmermann's well-known Mexico telegram rendered Wilson decisive assistance in the realization of his wish to take his stand against us. Ballin, who knew my views, wrote to me on July 19th, 1917, that he had recently given to innumerable questions the answer that the submarine campaign as now carried out "was not a realization of the Tirpitz idea," adding the following remarks:

"Last winter I had already expressed both orally and in writing the view that, if Your Excellency had remained at the helm, you would not have begun the unrestricted campaign at all at the present time. And I hold to my view that if you had been in office while Wilson was led by the nose in the way he was, his ambitious efforts for peace were thwarted, and he was finally placed in an impossible position by the Mexico telegram, you would certainly have considered very carefully whether it could be right, either politically or navally, to announce and introduce unlimited submarine operations, without giving Wilson an opportunity to withdraw with dignity from the situation.

"In my view - which is shared not only by Count Bernstorff, Prince Hatzfeld, and Privy Councillor Albert, but also by everyone else who was on the other side up to the outbreak of war - Wilson would never have been able to declare war against us if we had not turned the population of the Western and Southern States, which were wholly friendly to Germany, against us, by the Mexico telegram and a whole series of other mistakes.

"What the entry of America into the war means for the Entente, I do not need to explain to you."


My answer of July 23rd, 1917, is well illustrated by the following quotation:

"My telegram to Bassermann and to Excellency Spahn was intended to show my conviction that the proposed Reichstag declaration seemed to me misconceived from the point of view of both home and international politics. Even if one desired to take the standpoint that an agreement with Wilson should be reached as quickly as possible at the price of abandoning the campaign, it would from that purely business point of view seem to me to be wrong to depreciate at the same time the effect of the campaign to the whole world, and to whine for peace.

"As you know, I was taken by surprise, both as to manner and time, by the declaration of submarine warfare on February 4th, 1915, and this all the more since on January 27th I had been in agreement with the then Chancellor as to the postponement of the campaign for the time being. But once this decision was announced to the world, and that with a certain flourish of trumpets, it was vital to hold to it. By our continual, and in part undignified, yielding to his jostling, we have really made Wilson what he is. The true policy for us was to take the diplomatic offensive against Wilson's incredible breaches of neutrality, nor would this have involved any danger.

"The bullying note we should never have accepted, on purely material grounds. I do not deal with the by no means wise or happy manner in which we handled the diplomatic side of the Sussex case itself. In the spring of 1916 the United States would not have declared war against us, as is sufficiently proved by the then discussions in the Senate and Congress. That was the right moment to conduct the campaign with


more severity; both ourselves and our allies still had a considerable economic strength to throw in, and Wilson was not in a position to declare war, for the further reason that his election was then imminent. The submarine needs time to produce its full effect, and time we then had to spare. We could thus too have afforded to make greater concessions to neutral shipping than may be presumed to have appeared possible later to our authorities. In truth, on February 1st of this year, we had already been thrust close to the edge of the abyss.

"There is a further point of view, arising from the English counter-measures against the submarines. In your letter you mention the convoys. Now, convoys are only an effective measure after large numbers of submarine-chasers have been built. We have given the English time to build them and time too for the effective arming of their entire merchant fleet and for a whole series of further counter-measures. In quantity, the Entente can outstrip the increase of our submarines. It was of course not possible to determine in advance exactly to what extent these counter-measures would balance our increase, but anyone who has worked on such technical questions will know that such a balance can always be reached.

"It was thus economically, politically, and navally a mistake to postpone the energetic employment of the submarine weapon. I held this conviction just because, as you rightly assume, I never underestimated the effect of America's entry into the war. I know of course that you hold the view that I neglected submarines in favour of dreadnoughts. I feel sure that you are wrong in this; at the outbreak of war, although we certainly did not boast about it, we led the world in submarines. Further, the long-range submarines could not be developed more rapidly than the engines permitted; ordinary internal-combustion engines were not sufficient for them.


"With regard to the effect of the campaign in its present form, and to the question of its continuance, the fact that I should have selected another method of campaign and that I am compelled to regard prospects as seriously lessened by the delay in opening the campaign cannot deprive me of the firm conviction that, once it has been undertaken, we have no option but to continue it with all our energy until England is forced to make such a peace as will give us a basis for our economic reconstruction and for the maintenance of our position as a world-power.

"I think, too, that it is still possible, although at a slower rate and with more difficulty than would have been the case before, to achieve such a peace by the campaign against enemy freight space. For this, it is true, we require of the Government and the nation an energy not diverted or weakened by any obstacle, and a political activity that will fully support our conduct of the war."

In any case, even if America had acted in 1916 exactly as she did in 1917, it would always have been better for us to meet her a year earlier, when we and our allies were stronger. It is certain that America would in no case have permitted an absolute defeat of England. But what the campaign, if begun in 1916, could have achieved was to prevent an absolute defeat of Germany. According to all the experience acquired both then and later, the campaign in 1916 would have had at first a monthly result of at the very least 700,000 tons of sinkings, rising later in all probability


to 1,000,000 tons. I do not rely here on the higher estimates given by experienced commanders. Of these results one can at any rate say with confidence that the resulting damage to England's world trade and military strength, apart from any general political effects, would have substantially and permanently relieved our Western front, and would have gravely hampered the application of such great American strength in the land war.

The increase in freight space, also, that the Entente received in 1917 could not have been obtained in 1916, as the newly built yards were not then at work. It would be foolish to deny that the views which I formed in the spring of 1918 might also possess elements of uncertainty, but we had then already sufficient experience to know that the longer the war lasted the more the menace of Atnerica would increase. In 1916 it was more dangerous than in 1915. The increase was continuous, and we had to face this development squarely.


The tale of the submarine is long and painful. The character of our political system in these last few years was bound to produce one step after another of muddled confusion.

The first step in the submarine warfare, the declaration of a barred zone, was undertaken prematurely in an undeveloped and unsuitable form, and with unnecessary flourish. We followed that up by not holding our ground, continually displaying weakness and fear.


We yielded to Wilson, and raised him to a greatly strengthened position in America. Our appearance of an uneasy conscience encouraged the English case that the campaign was immoral. By this most unwise behaviour we made it more difficult and dangerous to resume the campaign. For now, after we had so long foregone our clear rights, it seemed, as if even from our own point of view we were sinning against humanity, although the world said never a word of protest when England did much worse things. In determination, cruelty, and cynical depreciation of her opponents, England is four times our superior, as she is too in her cleverness in making her case plausible even to the enemy.

And so the German people, in its unlimited capacity for belief in the foreigner, was misled by our wavering, and patiently regarded as nothing but an act of divine ordinance the English war of starvation, which brought bankruptcy and destruction, consumption and death, to this hitherto flourishing people. And in comparison to this form of warfare, if you please, the submarine campaign was to be called cruel and immoral, the campaign which aimed at cargoes and cost the enemy scarcely a human life - in all the years of war not so many lives as there fell Germans on a single day on the western front, or as died daily among the German civil population actually after the armistice was signed, through the inhuman retention of the starvation blockade. But there is no limit to Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy, or to German lack of judgment.


The orders to submarine commanders constitute a string of riders, restrictions, and contradictions, which have cost us most precious German lives and robbed us of final victory. The campaign failed because Germany did net hold consistently to the view that every just weapon available for naval warfare should be used relentlessly to the bitter end.

If this course was not to be followed, we should have frankly accepted defeat in the spring of 1916. The terms would have been less severe then than later. The army and the diplomats had no means of averting defeat, and in that case it was a crime not to end the war against England. Time was working against us. Still, but not for long, the navy had a weapon that could strike at England's heart. The question was simply, would we risk the American danger? If we would not, then we were bound to grow weaker and weaker until we collapsed. If we would, then not a month was to be lost. This was the simple matter for decision. We could not try to evade it. It was pure waste of time to wait for America's intermediation against England. That was my view of the position at that time, and results have shown that it was the true view.

The declaration of February 8th, 1916, that we would thenceforth attack armed merchant vessels was a mere trick to deceive the people. After this declaration a perfectly lawful torpedoing, in the Sussex case, was at first denied and then disapproved. And after this second surrender to Wilson, instead of clearing


our decks, we decided in the autumn of 1916, over the heads of Hindenburg and Scheer, to test the new half measure of the submarine cruiser campaign. Then there came the muddle of combined unlimited campaign and peace negotiation at the end of 1916. Finally we undertook the unrestricted campaign, which a year earlier would have appeared as the act of a strong people confident of victory, as a measure of despair, half-heartedly and with already broken prestige. Then came the further sickly story of strategical weakening, under a political chief who had no real faith himself in the success of the weapon.

Had we been able in Germany to foresee the Russian revolution, we should perhaps not have needed to regard the submarine campaign of 1917 as a last resort. But in January, 1917, there was no visible sign of the revolution. On the other hand, even Government departments in Germany were plainly not fully aware of the devastating effect of our diplomatic mistakes in dealing with Wilson, in particular from the Sussex note to the Mexico telegram, which alone rendered it possible for the American people to be swept with such amazing vehemence into a war which had so little to do with their own interests.

It is difficult to say, whether, if I had been a responsible statesman, knowing then all the available details, I should have still begun the campaign at the beginning of 1917. Our desperate position of course hardly left us any other way of escape from complete ruin. The value of the campaign was by now lessened and


the dangers involved were greater. As a private citizen without inside information, I had at the time a profound feeling that it was dangerously late, but was convinced by the attitude of the men then in office that the risk could be and would have to be taken.

(As no official material was at my disposition, I was not sufficiently well informed to give any authoritative weight to my own instinctive fear that it was then dangerously late for the campaign to be undertaken. As the Government held it to be necessary, at any rate as a last counsel of despair, and even those who had hitherto opposed it seemed now to have wholly changed their views and were awakening in the public mind the greatest expectations of success in the campaign, it was plainly my duty not to take any steps.

In confidential circles, however, I certainly could not suppress my anxieties as to this last and perhaps effective means of salvation. I remember how a well-known member of the Reichstag hastened to meet me as I was walking in the Tiergarten in February, 1917, and congratulated me on the submarine campaign, and how he became silent with amazement at the anxious tone of my reply. When I discovered that in May, 1917, there was even a note in The Times that I had expressed myself pessimistically over the campaign as having been begun too late, I refrained with even more care from expressing my fears.)

And as a matter of fact, if we had then directed our whole undivided strength to this one aim, as our last chance, in the manner in which England set to work on her counter-measures, we should have inspired instead of depressing the moral resistance of the people; and in that case we might perhaps have achieved, not victory, as we might have gained had we begun the campaign at the proper time (1916), but at any rate a tolerable peace. In the late summer of 1918 the supreme naval command held the conviction that in spite of all the increased difficulties the submarines were still causing such serious damage to England that we might expect on her part a substantially greater


readiness for peace in the spring of 1919. The campaign was sacrificed in October, 1918, just at the very worst moment, when it had just been restored to full operation by a substantial increase in the number of submarines. The navy had such complete confidence in the results of this arduous and dangerous service that the sudden suspension of the campaign, even before the conclusion of an armistice based on the preliminaries of peace, had a most destructive effect on the morale of the whole fleet. The crews felt that they had been deceived when the Government on Wilson's demand suddenly disowned what was our most important weapon. This feeling of disappointment and discouragement was one of the causes of the men's loss of confidence in their superiors.

Little was wanting for the achievement of a good peace. It was not the fault of the fighting forces that we did not obtain it. True, when Hindenburg and Ludendorff were at last called to the command, it was too late for the army to win it; but the navy was twice in a position to bring a possible peace within grasp - in the autumn of 1914 with the fleet, and (still more probably) in the spring of 1916 with the submarine. Terrible is the realization that our present position could have been avoided not only by political means, but also by naval action.




The German people did not understand the sea. In the hour of its destiny it did not use its fleet. To-day, all that I can do for the fleet is to write its epitaph. Our people has passed through a tragedy without parallel in its swift rise to the position of a worldpower and its still swifter decline, due to the temporary littleness of its politics and its lack of national feeling.

If one considers the tragic fate of our fleet, which is bound up with that of our people, one might come to the view that every effort of a European State to win itself equal weight at sea with England is waste labour from the start, but I do not think that a careful and accurate historian would arrive at this conclusion.

Spain was mistress of the world of her day, when England in the fight against the Spanish silver ships - Westward Ho! - developed from an agricultural people into a piratical State, and finally defeated the Great Armada. Spain was equal to military conquest and could hold her overseas colonies for a time, but she lacked trade and traffic, which form the second condition of lasting influence at sea.


Holland had a vast and wealthy trade, and thus excited the greed of England. She possessed too a good war fleet, which once, under de Ruyter, gained her a just peace with its guns trained on London. But Holland was small and had no hinterland of her own. While Germany lay bleeding from the Thirty Years War, Louis XIV committed the great historical error of attacking Holland, his natural ally, in the back. But the Netherlands might have held their own for a longer time, and have bridged the gap until a new ally grew up for them in Germany, if the Mynheers of Amsterdam had not given too much thought to immediate profits and worshipped their pepperbags. In spite of the urgent representations of their great Admiral, they let their fleet fall into decay, and thus brought about the downfall of their country.

The rise of France to power at sea varied with her political changes; the way that Richelieu and Colbert trod was often deserted. Nevertheless, before the outbreak of the revolution, the strength of France at sea stood as high as that of England. It was mainly through her fleet that Washington secured freedom for America. Suffren had maintained the balance against the English in India, and the Mediterranean was in the main French. The revolution destroyed the corps of naval officers and let the ships and crews go to ruin. Napoleon then learnt that not even his energy and genius could create sea-power at a blow, and thus the numerically superior Franco-Spanish fleet was defeated by the better quality of Nelson and his "band of brothers."


The naval prestige of England then lasted through the nineteenth century.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany possessed all the conditions of sea-power: trade and commerce of world-wide importance, moving almost too rapidly in their mighty development, military genius, organizing capacity and an industrious temperament, a strong constitution and a patriotic people. The time was short to make good the delay of years. But we were near to our peaceful goal when a calamitous policy set us at war with the four strongest naval powers of Europe, of whom England alone was doubly our superior.

From the start we could not reckon on complete victory, on the defeat of England; but I dare express the conviction that our sea-power, taken all in all, was very considerable and already strong enough to harass England to such a degree that we could have been able to reimburse ourselves for our heavy losses. To obtain this end we should have grasped the idea that a war of annihilation was being waged against Germany, and in military matters as well as politically have acted accordingly, and above all staked our fleet fearlessly at the right time and under a single command. The general situation did not permit us to miss opportunities.

More terrible than the sale of the old German fleet by Hannibal Fischer is the end of the Imperial Navy. That attempt of our fathers was premature and attempted with inadequate means; while our attempt, though it was late in beginning, depended on a Prussian Germany


and ought to have succeeded. Whether our grandsons will again be able to make the attempt lies hidden in the lap of the future. Should they ever do so, may they learn from our attempt and gather confidence.

If we consider the rise of Prussia-Germany without any illusions, from the complete disorganization after the Thirty Years' War to the height of our prosperity in July, 1914, it appears almost a miracle that our country succeeded as well as it did. Situated in the middle of Europe with difficult access to the ocean; possessing natural boundaries of only moderate strength; surrounded by nations who to-day, as for centuries, have been lying in wait to attack us - such is Germany's position. Possibly these conditions, and possibly to a similar degree the characteristics of our race are the reasons why Germany's power and prosperity did not proceed from the people itself, but is almost in the nature of a work of art, erected by a series of constructors of the state whom destiny has granted to us in the last three centuries. Can anyone believe that the "Ewige (everlasting) Reichstag" which outlawed Frederick the Great, that the Frankfort Parliament or any other plebiscite would have helped us forward? Prussia-Germany was on the contrary the work of strong individuals who demanded and enforced fulfilment of duty and subordination of the individual to the interests of the State, and who had the ability to keep their aims in sight.


At the beginning of this century we entered on a new period with utterly new conditions of life. Our nation with its flourishing industry was forced to take part in international trade on a large scale or see its growth stopped. States are upheld by the forces which have created them. Such forces were for Prussia-Germany real power and devotion to the state as an entity, a state which was not a visionary project of a fraternization of Teutonic nations, which scheme the Anglo-Saxons have twice in our history pressed on us in order to choke German national aspirations.

It was my conviction that the mission of Germany for the good of Europe and of the whole world never reached its complete fulfilment. We had almost but not quite succeeded in bringing Germany as a pioneer into a new age. A sea-power of considerable strength made it possible to obtain peace with honour, or if it was unavoidable, of waging war with tolerable success. Our fleet was besides an important and necessary instrument for bringing our people more in touch with the everyday work and the current thought of the outside world. When our future powerlessness at sea has rendered our decline still more acute and made reconstruction impossible, coming generations may possibly recall this fact.

After peace and war, power and honour are lost, those who are to blame stand on the ruins and forge history. They deprive our simple and politically incapable race of belief in itself and in the logical consistency of its history; they revile the old German State, its prosperity, and its achievements, among the


latter especially our navy which was our best political trump card, and take the greatest trouble to break the threads which bind us to our past development. To be sure, our old State needed certain reforms, but it possessed in full the capacity for development to meet the requirements of a new age of our children and their descendants. But the Revolution, throwing overboard everything that had made us great was the greatest crime ever committed against the future of our people. Our breakdown is not due to any defects in our old state system, but to the inadequacy of the persons who tried to run it.

Our upper classes had to a large extent sunk into decadence; materialism had become a national characteristic; the influence of universal suffrage and the vote by ballot, which always tends to place power in the hands of demagogues, was not counterbalanced by a strong government or a steady upper class. Thus the men who formed our Government, whether in the Bundesrath or in the Reichstag, and represented the State during the war, were not equal to their tasks. If even one of the legislative powers had worked correctly, our disaster would never have attained its present proportions.

Our enemies placed dictators at their head who, when necessary, enforced with iron will the determination of their people to win victory or death. On our side the government in power openly allowed processes of disintegration to go on in Germany's most dangerous hour, when all thoughts, all hearts should have combined against the outer foe. The worst


instincts of our race were fostered by the disintegrating, un-German spirit which gradually gained the upper hand with our people. It now penetrates our whole life, and German national feeling seems at present too indolent to oppose it. A realization of the State as a whole has hitherto been insufficiently developed in our democracy.

The new era in our national life began its reign by stripping our people of their honour, in addition to their other misfortunes, and exposing them to the contempt of the world. Thus only has it been possible for our enemies to destroy us so mercilessly, as they can persuade the better part of their population and the rest of the world that we are criminals and deserve no better treatment. Admiral Beatty furnishes me a painful example of this. On August 23rd, 1914, he signalled to the officers and crew saved from the sinking Mainz: " I am proud to welcome such brave men on board my squadron." In November, 1918, on the contrary, he gave the order to his own crews before meeting the German crews who came to deliver up their ships: "Never forget that the enemy is a despicable beast."

Though I cannot shake off the fear that Germany has lost her last chance of rising to the rank of a great Power, she will at least attain to a new life with honour when she shakes off this depravity and lack of discipline which are now holding her, and coming to her senses recognizes her old traditions and the forces which made her great. Personally I do not


at this time believe that this can happen under a Republican Government. We lack too many of the qualities of the men on the Rutli (site of ancient oath of independence taken by the Swiss); and in addition there is our difficult geographical position, the constant influx of non-German elements, and the divisions of creed. All these considerations seem to make monarchical power indispensable for a German State. Breaking down our historical development was therefore a mistake, no matter what kind of constitution one may advocate. The great deeds of the Hohenzollern, which cannot be wiped out by recent mistakes, of necessity determine the destiny of our people. The republican idea as we have developed it is based on promises to the masses which cannot be fulfilled. In order to keep the masses in hand, therefore, democracy is continually forced to give "rights" the first place and consign "duties" to the second rank. This course can never get Germany to its feet. If in future we desire to live again as a nation, we must return to the fundamental principle of our old State, that only work for the whole produces in the end benefit for the individual, and unrestricted individualism destroys the State.

There only remains for loyal Germans to-day concentration against the madness, both material and moral, that has overtaken us, to keep us from still more dreadful ruin. To save all that we can that is German is worthy of the best efforts of our noblest souls.


Let our hope be the coming generation. We were never born to be slaves. During two thousand years our race has risen again and again, no matter how complete the overthrow.

Should these memoirs of mine support and further strengthen faith in ourselves, the last service which I can render my country will have been performed.




The notes in diary form of which a selection is given below were regularly jotted down in haste, late every evening, or shortly before the departure of the dispatch-rider. I must not, therefore, be taken to task for disjointedness, and defects in style. The idea of publication never entered my head. When, after the debacle of our Fatherland, I decided on publishing a part of these fleeting past impressions, it was only because they seemed to serve as a not unimportant supplement to my recollections, and above all because they show that the opinions therein expressed did not arise after the war ended, but in all essential points agreed with the judgments I had formed while the war was running its course.


Coblenz, August 18th

A whole world is mobilizing against us. We must see it through to the last - that is the only possibility of maintaining our position in the world. Up till now, I feel that in this connexion I am of more use here than in Berlin. Will this feeling continue? Chi lo sa? (Who knows?)

Pohl, released from his office, is more accessible. I pay him all honour and hitherto have given him the chief initiative.


Coblenz, August 19th.

Ultimatum from Japan destroys twenty years of successful activity; but we must go through with it, so long as it is in the least possible. To-day, conversation with Bethmann and Jagow, lasting an hour - Pohl also there. I have used every endeavour to keep them firm. Breakfast with His Majesty. His Majesty was pretty well pleased with the news from the seat of war. After the meal I had to walk about the garden with him, for more than two hours. Fortunately we walked slowly, and it was warm. I tried all I could to keep him firm. Most of the time it was not required. He saw the situation with complete clearness, and his opinions were clearly expressed.

If only he had not had Bethmann during these last years, all might have gone better. He was proud that his six sons were facing the enemy, I congratulated him thereon. It was necessary that this should be so, for the sake of the Hohenzollern dynasty. He was, to my mind, a bit too optimistic with regard to the beating of England, and expressed his strong belief in the justice of God. I confirmed this belief, but added that we must, on our side, be deserving of it. Men were wanted in all positions. I couldn't very well lay my finger on the wound, especially as I am convinced that he entirely recognizes Bethmann's shortcomings.


Coblenz, August 20th.

Again this morning, long confabs with the very incompetent Bethmann and with Jagow. Bethmann has merely continental conceptions. He doesn't see that we can, as a purely European continental State, cease to exist. In spite of that, be prepared for the great possibility, that, later, anathemas will fall on me.

Coblenz, August 2lst.

How much I wish, personally, that I hadn't to experience this war. I still cannot comprehend why we couldn't come to a modus vivendi with Russia. The Balkans, according to to-day's news, seem to be again lukewarm. Shall we ever tear to pieces the world-web which perfidious Albion (England) has spun around us? Alas! how terribly right I've been.

Coblenz, August 22nd.

It is hard to sit here, comparatively inactive, at a moment when the world is in conflagration. The victory of the Bavarian Crown Prince has excited here great jubilation, all the more that further developments are expected. We, the navy, can. for example, contribute so little towards anything, and that is what makes our position so abominable. The English fleet stays in its ports and operates as a fleet in being. That is what is so rarely understood among us. The English aim at the starvation and paralysis of our economic existence. It is to be hoped that providence will let them too suffer some time or other for so unconscionably setting Europe in flames. It is a remarkable situation; the North and East seas free, yet we commercially strangled. In the meantime, the war on land rules everything. But how will it be later?


Coblenz, August 23rd.

No, in spite of the news of victories, which up till now come pouring in, one cannot rejoice, and it is to be hoped that our press will put restraint on itself. So far there have been no decisive results (though certainly in the fighting south of Metz 150 guns have been captured), and nobody seems to understand that the great danger against the polo-playing Englishmen is still to be overcome. If we had had no fleet, England would have been against us ever since Sedan. If we had made more progress with our fleet, England wouldn't have risked it. If we don't want to be utterly beaten, we must build fleets; that is the only way by which we can again get an outlet for our exports and industry. I tremble for our Germany,


Coblenz, August 24th.

Our military harbours are no longer threatened. I am preparing to utilize further the personnel there. The army has so far had enormous successes and the navy none. That is what makes my position here so dreadful, after twenty years of effort. No one will understand. It is always possible that it won't come to fighting in the North Sea, and further possible, if not very probable, that the end may come sooner than we thought. England alone is the obstacle. The strength of the French army is now nearly broken. All depends now on the battles on the northern front. Since this morning our troops (Brandenburgers it is to be hoped!) have been fighting with two English divisions; pray God that the arch scoundrels may be annihilated, for it is they who have set light to our cultured Europe, in cold blood, from sheer lust for conquest and gain. I can do but little, and, despite the glorious victory, a great weight oppresses me. You will help me to bear it when the time comes and the finger of scorn is pointed at me. Inwardly I am, of course, absolutely certain that the only thing for Germany was to take up the question of the navy, if our people were not to sink -

Coblenz, August 25th.

Don't let the reverse in the East alarm you. That was foreseen. Certainly our generalship there, at the start, may not have been A1. The struggle from Basel as far as Namur is gigantic, and not yet over. The Crown Prince is hard pressed, and the French are fighting well. We ought not to crow too soon.


Coblenz, August 23th.

The sinking of the Magdeburg you will have heard of. What a pity! Such a beautiful ship! The Mainz and other cruisers have accomplished a daring feat. Almost past understanding that they got away. Here hopes are high, although the general order for a retreat by the French High Command has not led, as hoped, to a cutting off of a great part of the army. The English have also withdrawn, though our cavalry are on their heels. The latter, however, are in need of provisions. The forced marches of Pomeranians and Brandenburgers have been colossal. It appears that my Brandenburgers have fought against the English. Yesterday evening I met King Ludwig on the Rhine-promenade, and he shook both my hands. Later in the evening went to the Kaiser... found him very pleased, especially about his sons.

To-day, all decisions take place in Prussia. One is a little anxious on account of the enormous preponderance of power there. I still cannot bring myself to be glad and rejoice over our victory.

So many have confidence in me, and I can do so little. I must keep myself in the background so long as the army has solely conquest of the French in view, and no one can see what the end will be.


Coblenz, August 28th.

I am greatly distressed by the affair in Heligoland. It seems to me that they let themselves be surprised.

Our light fighting forces are not sufficient for such skirmishes. If things go on thus, they'll soon be wiped out. The English will enclose us in a great circle of mines; then our fleet will be "bottled." It is awful for me! I have always been opposed to a great bottling-up of the fleet, but against the opinion of Pohl, Muller, the Kaiser, and Bethmann there was nothing to be done. Of course the decision lies with Ingenohl, to whom one can't dictate the details. In this acute phase I don't naturally overlook the general situation. The army marches from victory to victory, and for it the situation, above all, becomes increasingly difficult.

In my opinion, one is apt to underrate the obstinacy of the Englishman - a considerable factor in the outcome of the war on land, in spite of our victories over the English army.

Coblenz, August 29th.

I can scarcely hope that Wolf (his son, officer on the Mainz) will be among the few saved from the Mains; circumstances were too little in his favour. The small cruisers were too reckless, and, apart from that, I feel very bitterly that my advice did not appear to be properly followed. One doesn't send them forward into the battle with armed forces unless one has his ships and torpedoes close behind. But I won't remonstrate, as I can't review the events that preceded it. This much seems to me certain, that our fleet gains nothing by pushing out to battle. The superiority of the English in light forces is so tremendously great that any loss in this direction signifies nothing to them.


Coblenz, August 30th.

Words fail me at the news of Wolf's rescue. We must all make sacrifices for our country. But what made it so especially bitter for me was that the sacrifice of our small cruisers seemed the unnecessary consequence of mistaken tactical operations. It is truly too early to pass judgment, but has Ingenohl the genius of a conqueror? Pohl certainly hasn't. But, in these things, I can't approach the Kaiser in an analogy of what the military staff, aided by Muller, has effected. Obviously the Kaiser is prejudiced against me. Apropos of which I feel, where these questions are concerned, that I have more in my little finger than Pohl in his whole anatomy: Bethmann continually tried to influence Pohl not to coop up the fleet. That would be the death of our navy, after the war. He and the whole bunch of diplomats want to sell the fleet at the conclusion of the peace with England; that is the whole secret.


Luxemberg, September 2nd.

The great wave of offensive that rolled over France and Belgium, like a cylinder, begins to roll more slowly. Just now I hear that the Austrians' main army has been unhappily beaten (this quite entre nous). That is very bad, on account of the reactionary effect on the Balkans. At supreme headquarters they are beside themselves with rage. The English are making gigantic efforts and are, in my opinion, the most dangerous adversary. I believe the province of Prussia is meanwhile safe. There we have at present excellent leaders, after lopping off the short arm we began with. I have got from Longwy packets of dum-dum bullets taken as proof that the French War Office ordered them to be used.

Luxemberg, September 3rd.

It is the Kaiser who puts the brake on Ingenohl. He won't run any risks with the fleet. He will hold back till the winter, if not altogether.

Hardships are now telling heavily; one doesn't know how long it may be before France will collapse, and then we shouldn't have to contend with the double or rather fourfold enemy. Added to that comes the winter. For the rest, I have made some use of being here, while the Admiiralty have been doing excellent work. The whole expedition got under way by Usedom and Schroder, and now I am looking for a third.

During the time of sharp distress which is sure to set in after the war, the navy, to my mind, will be lost if we haven't deeds of some sort to point to. The small skirmishes are nothing, and through ill-success don't count. Here in grand headquarters we


are more cut off than you would credit, getting only scanty news of the whole army. Our position, through force of circumstances, is extremely unpleasant. No one comes to me, of his own accord, because they are too afraid of me. Audiences here are not practicable. I can't accuse Pohl. The analogy with Moltke operates too forcibly... it would be put down to forwardness. I must reserve that for quite big resolves.

Luxemberg, September 4th.

I mistrust the Chancellor and his set. I am convinced that they are not equal to the stupendous times; and just as their policy could not prevent the war, it will bring about a lamentable peace. The English, low and brutal as a nation, are to be esteemed as individuals. In a hundred years they have created a morality for themselves in which they believe. Everything is just, good, and even religious that brings grist to their mill. All the peoples of the earth are their squeezable objective, according to God's decree -

Luxemberg, October 5th.

People seem to be somewhat victory-mad in Berlin, as I gather from various letters. As yet, we haven't by any means won, regarding the war as a whole. We ought therefore to be modest, as only through tenacity of purpose can we be preserved for ultimate victory. The hardest days are yet to come. England is hounding the whole world upon us, and the unspeakable fabric of lies publishes our so-called defeats and our infamy throughout the globe. We have nothing to set against this.


Luxemberg, September 6th.

There is so much to be done, and yet I do nothing. I have too little influence for my task. Even the interest of Muller is sheer water-soup. He is soon absorbed again by Bethmann, and Pohl is in the same category. All that creates for me a very melancholy position. For the army the situation is difficult. We haven't succeeded in entrapping and taking prisoner vast masses of troops; in consequence the French army, by means of their network of railways, are constantly taking up new positions. The English make huge efforts and have again landed 40,000 to 60,000 men in Northern France. It is to be hoped that Maubeuge will soon fall, and the army corps held up there be set free, which is very necessary. An army corps already means a great deal. In spite of all promises, the Turks have not struck a blow. Feeling in Scandianvia is increasingly unfavourable. Italy is burning to be at our throats. The diplomatic conduct of affairs is slackening the bridle, as heretofore. If Bethmann stays, everything is sure to be bungled.

I'll now go at once to the Chancellor and try to get a new enterprise inaugurated.


Luxemberg, September 7th.

I am always anxious about our diplomats, who on one side are indifferent to mighty historic events, and through their feebleness render the English ever stronger, and are duped by their bluff.

The Austrians' condition is very critical. Here in the West, fighting is going on along the whole front. Fortunately, as we succeeded in getting wind yesterday evening of the French order for attack to-day, and were able to meet it with counter-commands, I hope that we may conquer. But we must do more than conquer, for Italy can hardly be kept off Austria. It is now certain that England is bringing over great numbers of troops from Asia. But all would go well if we had an Iron Chancellor and an "old Kaiser."

Luxemberg, August 9th.

The weapon of lies and calumny which England is using against us is really a frightful one. The whole world is being hounded on to us. I dined to-day with His Majesty: our conversation naturally turned on the Paasche affair. (Compare below, September 10th.) I think it is rather precipitate; but perhaps to be greeted as calling the tune for the navy. On the other hand, it will put the army out of tune. Yesterday too I conversed for a long time with Oldenburg, on the question of peace, and on the same subject to-day, with the Crown Prince's civil adjutant (Maltzahn). Hold out, hold out is the only solution for us... though hard to fulfil...


Luxemberg, September 9th.

Things are not going at all well with the Austrians, and that keeps all the Balkan States back. We too, in the west, are faced with a great crisis. The troops that we are now sending to the extreme right wing have assuredly come too late. We have over-estimated the value of our first successes. The French have withdrawn according to plan, and now advance in enormous masses and with a great show, while our troops are exhausted from marching. But they will, all the same, hold on, till the next new batches come up, whereas the French will be withdrawing their new batches. The navy has no success to record. If the fleet would only come into action, and no blunders were made, it would fight brilliantly. The drivel about peace is immeasurably absurd. Even if we wanted peace with England we should be obliged to open our jaws as wide as possible. We don't understand this sort of bluff. Read the statement made by Goschen about the last conversations with Bethmann and Jagow.


Luxemberg, September 10th.

The Chancellor has naturally his suspicions about me, in regard to the Paasche affair (introduction of an urgency bill for the strengthening of the fleet), that is to say, at least, he thinks that I suggested it. He is especially furious at Reventlow's article, and even here thunders at the Admiralty. Things don't go forward in Turkey. A part of the blame lies at the door of those who cause the Turks to be anxious with regard to the Dardanelles, which is to me incomprehensible. In the Balkans the opinion prevails that the Austrians will suffer a great defeat. If this comes to pass, we may abandon all the hopes which we have built on this corner of Europe and on Islam.

The English send out strong reinforcements, and the progress of our army has of late come to a standstill. Notwithstanding, I hope for ultimate victory here. We have been rather belated in learning the intentions of the French. The movements of our troops no longer take place exactly at the right time. The French have a dense net of railways behind them. Our brave soldiers have mostly to march on foot. The French get all their intelligence through the Eiffel Tower, We, on the contrary, get almost none in this direction,

Luxemberg, September 11th.

The war will not last such a short time as many think. England, which is the cause of all the evil, sees that she is fighting to maintain her position in the world. In the month of August she sacrificed 40 per cent, of her trade and commerce; that, in a certain way, is effective. Women in England are said to be especially angry with us, and ride straddle-


legged through the streets to recruit for the army. To-day I have been with Hopmann by motor to a forest and took a beautiful walk, lovely scenery, deep valleys. The badly forested woods have on that account a very picturesque appearance. On the whole, Luxemburg seems to me to be a slovenly country. The unrelaxed exertion of every faculty and military service in Germany have borne brilliant fruit. That makes one reflect on liberal squabbles about militarism, Zabern affairs, etc. How silly all that was. The Kaiser must be credited with having done one good thing... he didn't allow the military machine to go to sleep, in spite of the Imperial Chancellor.

Luxemberg, September I2th.

It just amounts to this, that we could never get England to agree to a peace in which we dared hold ourselves as blameless. This talk of a separate peace is impossible. If we don't want to be trodden under foot, and wiped out as a great world-power, there remains no choice for us but to hold on and see it through. Therefore we mustn't let ourselves be misled into a peace a la Bethmann, Harnack, and so on, or openly hanker after such a thing, for this feeble flummery only strengthens England in the hope, Germaniam esse delendam (Germany must be destroyed).


I haven't at all given up my idea of concentration in the North Sea. I was only of opinion that a battle in the North Sea with any hope of success was hardly possible with the, at that time, planned and now carried out preliminaries of Prince Henry and the Moltke's and Tann's need of repairs. Then we should have been forced to conceal this intention, according to plan, for ten days, and in that time go forward towards the east with large forces and fanfare in order to produce a lasting effect. Had we, in carrying out the plan, actually come in collision with the Russian fleet, at least equal in strength to ours, we should have sustained losses, even in a victorious encounter. Every loss against Russia would be a pity, because my view is that we must stake all against England. Therefore: only with superior forces against Russia.... But I will not speak yet.

Luxemberg, September 13th.

The battle on our right wing has not been going well, but on the left wing von Bulow's guards advanced victoriously. The French generalissimo seems to be a fine fellow. It would have been better, people think in this place, if we had let the troops have time to breathe a little before going on. Meanwhile, despite the withdrawal of our troops, there is to be a renewal of the attack to-day, that is, on the side of the English, and there is some anxiety about reinforcements arriving in time. We were too confident of victory, and regarded persistently the retreat of the English and French as defeats. At present spirits are damped, especially in the camp here, because the


Austrians have not held Lemberg and are crying out for help. The new victory scored by Hindenburg in East Prussia does not apparently extend so far. I set little value on Polish aid. Although the Guards were victorious on their wing, on the last day of the battle, they had to leave their wounded behind lying on the field.

The Admiralty has worked famously, but this kind of assistance is little noticed or appreciated. The Kaiser endeavours to suppress his own excitement, but he is, from a military point of view, out of it. When one thinks of 1870, the dignity, the seriousness of the men, clear as crystal, who could both weigh and dare, and finally of the "Iron" one - the victory-crazed Berlin of to-day, when all is at stake, can only fill one with anxious fears. The immense moral exaltation with which our whole nation took up the perfidious brutal gauntlet alone gives us cause to feel truly proud, and to look forward to a decent peace. But it is too soon to talk of what form peace will take.

Luxemberg, September 14th.

Here we are still more or less in painful anxiety (entre nous). It is said that the 1st Army wanted the victory for themselves, and hadn't sufficiently considered the whole... thus the gap arose into which the English with great skill wedged themselves, and up to now there has been no successful closing of the gap. Great masses of troops are, moreover, in formation


in the rear of the 1st Army. The French have the whole of their railways at their disposal and seem to be shifting all their men towards their left wing. Our troops must run vigorously, the poor fellows! Whether we can make good is now the great question. Now, too, the heads of the army are beginning to find out that the significance of England as an opponent has been underrated. Pohl is ghastly. There isn't a scrap of nerve in the man. If our dear God doesn't help the navy, gloomy indeed is the outlook.

Luxemberg, September 15th.

Here the crisis is by no means over; it will explain itself to you by the changes in the High Command, of which I may not write. Perhaps I am wrong, but I wouldn't have chosen Falkenhayn, for all his qualifications. The 1st Army is engaged in heavy fighting, and the reinforcements expected from all quarters don't arrive any longer in the nick of time. All this is pretty fatal, and the victory-delirium of the Berlin press, which has always been repugnant to me, is now more than ever repulsive. Plittenberg has clearly announced to the Kaiser the fact that in many regiments of guards whole companies have only about 50 men fit, against 300 fallen out. Pohl is very secretive in his attitude towards me, perpetually suppresses Ingenohl, which isn't really a bit necessary. He is thick with Muller, with the Kaiser and Bethmann, so that I am, as it were, quite out of it.


Luxemberg, September 16th.

To-day is, at all events, a crisis-day of the first order. But even if we should win, our position, all the same, has become bad. We ought to do more than just win battles, if we are to come out of this war with a prospect of rebuilding Germany. I have been asking myself for years whether things can go well, with such business representatives as we have in high places? Yesterday I had a visit from the General Director of the Dillinger huts, Herr Wemlig, who, at the time, was responsible for the decision about acquiring the iron-works in Tsingtao. An energetic man, a specimen of what the people's grit can produce, compare him with the "green" (Official uniform of the Diplomatic Corps)  fellows that take up a long table.

These folks didn't stop Austria making war on Serbia in July. The joke "Serbia has nothing to do with us" was too fatuous.

The Austrians continue to cry aloud for help.

Luxemberg, September 18th.

Just as I was on the point of writing to you, Hintze suddenly appeared. I regard him as the one safeguard against a certain clique. Whether the Kaiser, in this extraordinarily perilous hour for our fatherland, will be inspired to take him on, is another question. Nothing decisive has taken place here, but


defeat has been averted. Things are essentially better than they were a few days back. If we ever actually win, we haven't succeeded in smashing the French army, and that is what we want. Italy is ready to spring, and Roumania, at the same time, has become very dubious. May God help us! England goes on arming mightily, though of course her elite army sticks fast now in the great mud-slough. It is said they have done it on purpose so that they will be safe in retreat.

Luxemberg, September 19th.

My hopes of Hintze have, alas! ended in smoke. "They" have been successful in shunting the dangerous man. The Kaiser may after all be right. It would have involved a great upset, and as this must have happened, it is better to avoid it. Hintze's view was that the lack of leadership in the ruling classes, either in victory or defeat, must forfeit them their position, and that immediate big concessions (such as Social Democrats being appointed to high posts, and reform of the franchise in Prussia) was the only means by which the gigantic upheaval in the nation could be guided into some sort of equable channel. With regard to the starting of the whole war, and the simultaneous collapse of his colleagues, he was exceedingly wrathful. He is very clever. The battle is still raging. An improvement is expected in two or three days. The Austrians are wretchedly despondent, and we shall now have to take the matter in hand.


Luxemberg, September 20th.

Owing to the collapse here, of which I have given you a hint, and which is already known everywhere in Berlin, the frightful sacrifices have been in vain, bringing no real success, and Germany is in a most dangerous position. All is to be attributed to the last act of the old childish pantomime nearing its end. Perhaps the people, and the power of the people, will save us. It is all up now with the rule of caste and class. Victory or defeat, we shall get pure democracy.

Luxemberg, September 21st.

How hard this war is, above everything the great, great danger that all the blood may have flowed for nothing. Roumania's attitude must now be definitely defined; should she strike against us, I can scarcely dare say what'll happen. America, at heart, is on the side of England, and supplying France with munitions and war material. In the dearth of munitions there lies danger for us. The French are splendidly led, which unfortunately is not the case with us. Physically, Moltke is a wreck. Don't breathe a word of it to anyone, but our position has become as perilous as it is because Austria is so completely disheartened. She is said to have still 500,000 men in Galicia out of the 800,000 that marched out. Here in the


west the position for us has become very difficult, I wouldn't write this to you on my own authority, if I hadn't yesterday talked to a Berlin man (a motordriver), who knew everything and said that all Berlin knew. The English send over masses of troops, but the quality of the latter must certainly be getting poorer and poorer. It's not that I think that we shall be positively beaten here, though that is not absolutely impossible. Our men in themselves are superior to the French, but the French have their railways to back them and can perpetually arrange new movements, and added to this there's our terrific loss in officers: in Augusta Regiment, fifty-three out of sixty, and in the 1st regiment of guards only a few less, and so on. It is the much-caricatured lieutenant who does most of the work in the higher command. He is not to be replaced.

Luxemberg, September 22nd.

My position here continues abominable, for I am quite superfluous. Meanwhile there is a lull in this frightful war, though things are not going well with us on the whole. Our chief plan of campaign having manifestly failed, we stand facing a superior force which has all the local advantages on its side and without doubt is capitally led, America is really against us. I have just heard the news that 100,000 Japanese have landed in Shantung, which demonstrates great designs on the part of Japan, and our colonies haven't a chance now. That is to me especially awful. If we had scored great victories here at once, our position would be different. That is what I hoped when in Coblenz I adopted the point of view that we oughtn't to give up Tsingtao without a fight. So far as I can see, our fleet won't come out.


Luxemberg, September 23rd.

Hopes of the Balkans are now nearly extinguished. We are already glad that Roumania will give us fourteen days before declaring war. All depends now on whether the great battles now pending bring us any genuine success during the next few days. The Russians are turning out vast hosts. One wonders whether poor East Prussia will have to endure another Muscovite occupation?

To-day the forts south of Verdun have been bombarded; their fall would make a breach which is of the utmost importance. It is so difficult to judge whether England is suffering economically more than we are. Up till now, as far as one can tell, the hitherto opposite assumption has actually been the case.

Luxemberg, September 24th.

I shall tender my resignation immediately after the war. The reconstruction of the navy, if it comes to that, must be undertaken by someone else. Pohl, Muller, the Chancellor, and the Kaiser have kept back the fleet. I believe now that they won't let off a single gun, and the work of my life ends with a nought.


Luxemberg, September 25th.

The general opinion is that the system of the Wilhelmstrasse must cease. The war will certainly not come to an end before the New Year. Thus we have a rigorous winter campaign in front of us. The great struggle here is imminent and probably the military decision will come then. We can't count, any more, on a Sedan or Metz, as, through mistakes on our side, the brilliant drive has not met with the success desired. In Galicia, the renewal of the struggle is calculated to begin about October 1st. The Russians are said now to have an almost superstitious terror of Hindenburg. May he have further success in good fortune over there. The Minister of War yesterday declared that the danger of Eastern East Prussia being again invaded by hordes had disappeared, because 70,000 Russian corpses so poisoned the atmosphere that one couldn't breathe.

Yesterday we had an exciting night. The news came that the English had broken through the Beit. Whereupon Prince Henry, with two squadrons and all the ammunition, had been caught. I had implored Pohl and his subs, most urgently to adopt different methods, but in vain. I was beside myself, and couldn't sleep the whole night. In the morning, early, the news turned out to be false,


but the English are plotting something of the kind and we know nothing about it; add to that the impassiveness of our fleet, which the longer it lasts, the more useless it becomes. The submarine successes counteract much. Thank God that we have more submarines for offensive purposes than England - it is to be hoped that they'll meet with still greater success.

Luxemberg, September 26th.

We - that is to say, the Court and Admiralty - still remain here. One can't be sufficiently certain what the outcome of the great forthcoming combats is going to be, to move. While the withdrawal of Grand Headquarters is not feasible, advances on our side are made at only a moderate pace. Though we have need to advance, as time is not operating on our behalf. It is very curious how we have come to be the least beloved people on the face of the earth. Everyone wants us to be laid low. The Crown Prince has just 'phoned to me congratulations on U-boat 9, and then went on to converse about affairs in general, about Bethmann, Jagow, the beginning of the war, etc. I reserved my opinion, but did say this much, that we have the strength to hold out, and must, if the rising of our nation doesn't go against the Government. The war, in the end, is a life-and-death struggle with England. I hear from a gentleman who comes from the Front, that in the Army an idea has leaked through


that the command is beginning to throw up the sponge. One is getting serious,... estimates the enemy very highly, and our first wonderful elan is failing. But nothing is known of this in the nation at large, happily. The Luxemburgers are getting restive at our staying on, they imagine things must be looking bad at the Front. It seems that the jackals, Roumanians and Italians, want to wait and see how the cat jumps here before coming in. Our hopes of Turkey, according to a letter from Usedom, seem to have come utterly to nothing. Then think of the lazy Austrians, for whom we are shedding our blood. It's not pleasant. But the whole business was inevitable. An expanding Germany suited nobody's game.

Luxemberg, September 27th.

With regard to the Rohrbach matter ( Rohrbach and Jacky had asked for an interview, in order to work a better way of distributing information among representatives of the neutral press), I have finally advised the gentlemen not to come. For me to receive a visit arouses the suspicion of the whole clique, and I am correspondingly picked to pieces. I have, however, taken the matter in hand here, and shall effect a change. But under Bethmann, nothing can be much better. When once the German people are behind anything there's a catastrophe. The riddle of the future is how this war will end. How can a respectable peace be made by the men who so stupidly let themselves be driven into it, the men who were blind to signs in the heavens, and prepared for nothing? That seems to me the positive quadrangle in the circle. We feed together in the same hall, but never exchange a word with each other.


Charleville, September 28th.

The Kaiser said good-bye to Luxemburg two days ago, and the postponement of main Headquarters' departure was giving cause for remark. Therefore at one o'clock to-day we were off. Three hours' journey here via Sedan. Everywhere, where the fighting had been going on there were villages in ruins, not a human creature to be seen. Sedan, which once interested me so deeply, I scarcely noticed, so overmastering is the spirit of the present.

The navy is quartered here at No. 1 Place Carnot, in the house of a rich captain of industry, or rather in his widow's. The man was old and she was young. The house, just as it was, with everything in it, had been deserted by the family. Only the porter and the housekeeper had stayed. Their unique peur was of the soldiers. We are, naturally, regarded as robbers, murderers, and ravagers of women. We pacified them thoroughly and assured them that we weren't Russians. But it is nevertheless a strange feeling to take possession so completely, for a time, of a foreign well-to-do household. Downstairs are the salons, salle a manger, billiard-rooms, and so on. On the second floor nothing


but extraordinarily arranged bedrooms, I believe for the children of the first marriage, now grown-up. I was first quartered in the Chambre a coucher de Madame; but as it faced north, I exchanged it for a more retired room that had a little sun. Madame's room was furnished in Renaissance style, good pictures, chest of drawers full of things. A dressing-room and lavatory attached, but nowhere a bath - very remarkable. Now I have a room which one of the daughters had occupied. Besides the chief piece of furniture, a French bed, there's a night-stool upholstered with cushions apparently for decency's sake. The whole main Quarters is now scattered; General Staff, War Minister, Chancellor and officials, all live by themselves and I believe cater for themselves. I have a feeling that not anyone will have us. That is what makes my position so horrible.

I have worked like a horse all my life for the navy, and now that it has come to the breaking point I am not allowed to influence its use. I willingly admit that the position of the navy is extremely difficult, but neither Pohl nor Ingenohl have the necessary genius. The first onrush of our army had cost an enormous amount of bloodshed and brought in proportionately very small results. "The silent pressure of seapower" will grow greater with time. The small successes of our fleet do not deceive me. The cruisers out at sea must one after the other perish for lack of coal provisions and revictualling ports. England has even prevailed with Switzerland to issue a ban on


our exports and Holland likewise, and added to that there exists in Holland an aversion towards us; Sweden and Norway are in many ways suffering the small miseries of war. Norwegian newspapers, for instance, are not allowed now to be sent to England. If we don't get a bit of extra-good luck soon, the situation will be very grave. We had this good luck once in our hands. But it seems Moltke was wrongly advised.

Charleville, September 29th.

This place is not beautiful. Were I to compare it with any German town of the same size, the comparison would be greatly in favour of ours.... Houses, streets, squares - somewhat dingy. And although the Place Carnot is evidently inhabited by well-to-do bourgeois families, it looks like a very badly kept parade ground. Nowhere is a grass lawn to be seen, or any sort of town beautification. The chief square, Place Ducale, is much prettier in the pictures than in reality. As far as possible, I am not going to let myself be depressed; but the whole attitude of Bethmann and company does, somehow, depress - more profoundly, it is true, in present circumstances, than ever. Ingenohl asks, only, of course, to get a declining answer from Pohl and the Kaiser. In this state of things the only remedy for danger at the helm is acting - if one knows how to act rightly.

Mere asking doesn't satisfy me at all.


Charleville, October 1st.

Here things go neither forwards nor backwards; and time, into the bargain, is not on our side. Even in the east we are not altogether pulling it off. The world is ranged against us, even the neutrals. The gigantic hopes of August are flown. The Kaiser and Bethmann are not holding out. The former appears, forsooth, to have given permission to Bethmann to go begging! Italy is on the prowl! I am of no earthly use here; I haven't since we were here, as a matter of fact, seen the Kaiser, How can the finish be any good, after such a start. In the last few decades an incalculable capital has been squandered; somewhere and somehow the bank must break. Our people are sound, and have proved it. After the war there will be great changes. We shall all rub our eyes. The suppression of Vorwarts ("onward', "forward", a newspaper) is a piece of crass stupidity.

Mediation would have had a better effect on the more reasonable socialists.... So is the divine peace for which have we such a burning need torn in pieces. The French will perceive now the folly of their Revanche idea..."travailler pour I'Angleterre" I am impressed, in spite of everything, with the bull-dog energy which England is now displaying.


Charleville, October 2nd.

To-day I have written a really desperate letter to Capelle. Pohl has to-day gone off to Ingenohl with the instructions that he is now to put out and do something. Ingenohl is no leader; else he wouldn't ask leave. Now he's got the answer. Pohl shields himself behind the Kaiser, Muller is weak and vacillating. My position is simply vile. I am quite isolated.... The end I see before me is not what my work has deserved. Only the poorer classes have hung on here. All the rest have stampeded in terror of the "Barbarians."

Twice a day I take an hour's walk; mostly in the streets, for the town is very straggly. Early this morning I saw the gigantic work of repairs in progress on the Maas Bridge here and the tunnel. The capability and the resource of our people are magnificent. Therein exists our one hope. But those who hold the ruins are unspeakable. Man to man the French are not to be compared with our soldiers, but they are excellently led. They have better guns than we have, and know how to manage them considerably better, also they are very skilled in making use of the country.

There is no saying beforehand how and when the present situation will end.... Great leaders have not arisen with us, except in the East, where since the settlement of early differences, Hindenburg and his Chief of Staflf, Ludendorff, are rendering brilliant services. Pray God that in the next few days they may again meet with success. I am not at all satisfied with the fleet, but I am utterly powerless, for though I must be consulted, I accomplish nothing, and you know "the absent ones are always wrong."


Charleville, October 3rd.

Just now Admiral von Muller came to call on me here. He was not in agreement with me about our naval war policy. The Foreign Office is behind this question. Muller is evidently now completely in their hands. It goes to this length, that he has let himself even in what concerns Hintze be talked over absolutely. "He had been convinced by persons who knew that Hintze had been guilty of big blunders and discourtesies, and he must, in short, go on at once." When I made closer inquiries, out came incredible quite distorted banalities - the whole Muller of 1911!

This afternoon I went by motor to see a blockade fort, which had been frightfully battered by our shells. The garrison of the fort very soon couldn't hold out. It must certainly have been beyond human endurance. The shells pierced and shattered everything and made the fort a perfect hell. The commander couldn't keep his men in hand, and, in despair over it, shot himself. A company of the Landwehr buried him in the part of the wood glacis which hadn't been entirely ignited and set up on the grave a pretty cross. On it is the inscription:

"Here rests the Captain of the Fort, because he would not desert the citadel entrusted to him." And then something like the following:

"In diesem Kreuz aus Holze schlicht, ehrt der deutsche soldat den Fcind als Ritter seiner PHicht."

("In this cross carved out of wood, the German soldier honours his enemy as a knight who did his duty.")


Charleville, October 4th.

This war is really the greatest insanity in which white races have ever been engaged. We are exterminating each other on the continent, in order that England may get the profits. Moreover, perfidious Albion is ready to indict us before the whole world as the guilty party. One almost loses one's faith in goodness. Of course we are not without blame. That is chiefly the fault of our leaders; but this braggadocio was always sickening, and especially hateful to me. And the wrong of it all is, as Capelle quite rightly wrote to me recently, that I am now counted among the Chauvinists and Jingoes.

Antwerp is not likely to hold out much longer. For the rest there are two lines of fortifications that run across France, opposed diametrically, up till the present partie remise. Whether the new command is any good is a pronouncement which can't be made yet. Before it was undoubtedly very bad, and that fact is gradually leaking out. The biggest reputation is that of Ludendorff, Hindenburg's Chief-of-Staff. But he has a very heavy task before him, as our brothers-in-arms in Galicia are extremely cautious. Napoleon III was right when he said:

"On ne s'allie pas avec un cadavre." (one cannot be allied with a corpse)


Charleville, October 6th.

Pohl has just come back from Wilhelmshaven, having got Ingenohl's consent to nothing being done. The submarine danger, and the idea generally to preserve the fleet, outweigh everything else. Pohl has got hold of the childish notion that the fleet must be doubled after the war, and Bethmann shares this opinion, while the highest probability points to its being reversed, politically, financially, and also with regard to the submarines. Neither have I much faith in the wild expectations of a rising in our favour on the part of Indians and Mussulmans. Harnack's answer to the English savants is good, I think; but we and the English don't understand each other any more, and never have understood each other since we wouldn't go on owning that they were the chosen people of Israel, and all other nations merely lemons for them to squeeze.

To-day I had a long letter from Ballin in answer to one from me. He is working hard for a better understanding with England, and demands of me an attempt to come to a naval agreement with Churchill - that is to say, in other words, to abandon our independent attitude towards England and vassal states, after the French pattern. If the liebe Herr Gott (dear Lord God) doesn't make a special intercession it may really come to that. The ground is preparing for this new departure, and I am the wicked scoundrel of the war. I'll know how to behave myself in the role....


Charleville, October 7th.

A storm has burst in Tsingtao. The Japanese are sending more troops there. It is significant that the English are taking a share in the conquest of Tsingtao, with 1,000 native regiments. They have lost now all sense of blood relationship between us. Japanese, Indians, Niggers, all are being goaded on to fight us. The latest acquisition are the Portuguese. Buchsel's criticism of our command, in the cruiser-skirmish on the 28th, 1914, is also mine. I dare, however, hardly hint at it; according to Muller all has been splendid. Just now Captain Mann was here bringing messages from General von Schroder. Our sailors acquitted themselves very well at Antwerp. Pohl has come back a smaller and at the same time bigger man than ever. I am not at all delighted at the resignation and want of initiative in the fleet. Once more we have been lulled into inaction, for me a horrible thought, and I am powerless.

Charleville, October 8th.

I came home the day before yesterday from seeing the Kaiser, quite depressed. Nearly an hour's lecture on a political conversation with a bourgeois, with whom he lodged in St. Quentin, and to whom he laid bare his whole political faith. Picture to yourself the Kaiser's grandfather in his position. Then little details about the battle-field.... What will happen if his nerves break down? That has not been foreseen in the calculation of events.


What makes my position so difficult it is impossible to tell in a letter. I have guaranteed that Germany should have a place in the world. For this she was bound to have a fleet. To build this fleet took a long time, but it is now in a considerable measure ready, so that it should be able to take part in a world-war. During the last two years it has been well known to us and the English that the submarine must play a more prominent role in the North Sea than heretofore. That is part of the technical development. It was clear to me even last winter that we would have to change probably the basis of the law for the navy. But for that years would be required (by the by, we are stronger in submarines than England).

After recent events, the significance of the submarine (what is meant, is against warships) to-day will be overrated. I don't want to have our fleet start for England straight away and fight there. But I do believe it to be absolutely wrong policy that Ingenohl should be given the command "to risk nothing " against superior forces. That means, in other words, that our fleet is to be embalmed, and then talk about peace. It requires in addition a man of resolute power to make anything of our fleet, and with all his good qualities Ingenohl isn't that.


Added to that comes the political side of the question. As you know from Tarasp, we have, from a diplomatic point of view, in an irresponsible manner "drifted" into this war. With England for a year and longer we'd been playing a see-saw game, which finally incurred for us the enmity of the world; and Bethmann was up in the clouds. Therefore he fell a cropper out of them when England's ambassador left Berlin. Later a hundred pens will be set in motion to maintain that the breach with England wouldn't have come about if the "dangerous man" hadn't been present, and now there's his work lying idle. It didn't rest with me, but with our people.

I can hardly imagine how we can come out of this war with honour, after the frightful mistakes made by our generals during August. The one hope is in holding out, and in being able to hold out,.. but for that we want men of iron, and when one sees the men around the Kaiser and Bethmann, hope sinks. After the war will come, of course, mighty changes at home. You know, don't you, how often I have said a catastrophe was bound to come, though one couldn't say when and how. One saw it creeping on; couldn't alter anything, and in the end was accused of being the delinquent. That is why my presence here is so hard.

Many have counted on me, and I can't alter things, and the little that I could have done in the maritime department has been forbidden because they didn't want to lose their plaything. For like everything else, this was only play. Japanese are not coming over, that report was rubbish - but 20,000 Indians are in Marseilles, and amidst the acclamation of the populace marched up the Rue Cannebiere. In Havre, 20,000 Canadians; Portuguese may be coming too. That isn't bad, but the general combination of British cold-bloodedness with fiery French blood is very effective on the battle-field.


Charleville, October 9th.

His Majesty has just summoned me for a discussion. I met him in the street with his entourage. The discussion consisted of being told that Antwerp had fallen. Afterwards I had to go to supper. The Kaiser was naturally in the rosiest humour. General von Beseler pour le merite. "Our cousins on the other side of the Channel will be angry now we can go ahead." The cardinal point, i.e. that the garrison could have moved on northwards, seemed not to trouble him in the least. Prince Eitel Fritz was there; he had been thrown from his horse, and had a few days' sick leave; simple and jolly as usual. On the whole, however, he saw the position was serious, as indeed it is. It is almost painful to hear that the Russians are once again converging on East Prussia. This apparent success, together with Antwerp, made us all inwardly anxious.

I forgot to tell you that yesterday morning I was in Sedan, and explored the battle-field there pretty thoroughly. We stood on the famous Knoll, whence the old Kaiser watched the panorama of the battle, I believe, near Frenois; then we went to the house at Donchery where Bismarck and Napoleon met. The


house is still inhabited by the same woman, who at that time was a young woman of twenty-seven. She makes a kind of business of showing the room in which Bismarck negotiated with Napoleon. Three Napoleon d'ors given her by l'Empereur are framed. It is a diminutive room, poorly furnished; a narrow staircase leads up to it. We went on to Bezeille; there in the house of the derniere cartouch is a small local museum. A French battle-painter has made the event a subject for a great picture, which was also exhibited in Berlin (although it depicted the Germans as monsters). Through Sedan itself, and from there to the statue of General Marguerite and his cavalry; a great block of marble, on which is a figure of "La Franc " with lowered flag, on the front side. The moment when the cavalry suddenly see and plunge into a quarry... rather theatrical, but a piece of real art.

It was a wonderful October day. How I should have once enjoyed it all; now the grim reality of the present and the distress of our country have swept away all Interest in those great times. Then I was a young lieutenant; we were anchored for six months at Schillia Reede, till the ice drove us inland. We had only three ships, and there were eight farther out; in spite of that we twice attempted to achieve something. Now I am a man of sixty-five; I sit here and our great fleet is again lying in port. It is sad for me.


Charleville, October 10th.

As many as there were places for were asked to supper. Before the soup this time sack was poured out. The Kaiser made a speech in which he first of all praised the officers and men in the ranks, then Moltke for having conceived the plan, and Beseler who carried it out, then three cheers! It had a curious effect on those present, the cracking up of Moltke more than the others at this juncture! It is so mistaken not to invalid him home as a heart and mental patient, which as a matter of fact he is; so the poison of slanderous rumour percolates through the army, and one asks "Who is leading us?"

The retreat of the Belgian Army is valued at its true significance by all thoughtful people. A submarine saw it, and thinking that the soldiers were merely refugees, didn't fire. It is open to question whether the 50,000 Belgians and English wouldn't have been better in the Antwerp Mouse-hole than now free for army uses. Nevertheless the fall of Antwerp has made our country's position easier. From East Prussia too, where things were very anxious yesterday, excellent news has come in to-day. But still the thought of how we are to come out of this war with honour and without irreparable losses is always weighing on us. My staff doctor, a reliable witness, said recently that all three of the Cabinet chiefs blindly acquiesced in everything the Kaiser said. The whole entourage takes its lead from that. [The Kaiser said, for instance, to Bethmann


and Jagow, that they, the diplomats, must never lose what the German sword had won, embarrassed smiles on the part of both.] Admiral von Muller now too deplores the order which the Kaiser sent by Pohl to Ingenohl, which practically is an order for the whole fleet to be capsuled, and moreover with openings the employment of which would be objectless and dangerous. This is a historic document, and I must sit with folded hands, and do nothing to save the navy from an unheard-of scandal. If only the War Minister was a man with whom one could reason; but I have no one except Hopmann, who thinks the same as I do, and who has told me that at last it was coming to the knowledge of men under Pohl.

Charleville, October 11th.

Letter of the 9th with copy, by the purser of the Mainz, just come to hand. My poor boy, who felt so strongly about the blunders in our leadership on August 28th! But it is doubtful whether he would suffer less now if he saw how his father's work was being turned to no purpose. I had a letter from Capelle yesterday, which at several points I was not in sympathy with. He too has misunderstood me. These great, sweeping questions are too difficult to deal with in letters, without verbal discussion. He of course is certain of this much, that I must still stick it out here. And that's what I intend to do, as the mental atmosphere of Berlin would be scarcely more congenial. Capelle thinks I am, in a sort of way, here, "the fleet in being."


The fall of Antwerp and the method of conquest have made an impression abroad. It is indeed undeniable that the German people are making a powerful demonstration of their strength - here in the West pitted against three nations, in the East against the great Slav wave, and besides slimy Austria to be snatched out of the furnace. To-day comes the news that Turkey will strike. I shan't believe it, though, till the guns begin to crackle. We've been disappointed too often.

God grant the poor troops in the trenches good weather; the French, of course, will stand the rain worse. A remarkable war this! From the -----  over Paris, as far as the Channel, a long improvised chain of fortresses on both sides. On the other side a fortification built by a hundred million of workers in twelve days, without any great losses. Aeroplanes, motors, etc., play an undreamed-of part, as does machinery altogether. Bridges and tunnels, the building of which in other conditions would have taken years, are produced in about a fortnight. When one sees this colossal industry on the part of our people, the belief is forced on one that they can never be beaten. Only the "silent pressure of sea-power" is the critical element. As Herr von Hydebrand said in 1911, in the Reichstag, "England is the enemy."

It is maddening to see how those fellows go on enjoying their sport while through them Europe is being rent asunder.


Charleville, October 13th.

Just a few lines. I am going to-day to Brussels and Antwerp by motor, and intend, to-morrow or the day after, to come back here. The spirit in main Headquarters is again somewhat exalte. Owing to the fall of Antwerp and the repulse of the Russians in East Prussia, in spite of their great numerical superiority, Capelle says that Bethmann, having begun it, must drain the dirty soup to the dregs. That's not my view. Only a younger, more iron-hearted man can be in at the finish. Bethmann would make it sheer wishwash... then we shall see where the wave breaks.

Brussels, October 13th.

The journey here was very fatiguing, immediately after lunch, no stopping for rest, and five hours' journey with interruptions. I shall have no time to see anything of Brussels, for to-morrow early I go on to Antwerp, to discuss matters with General Schroder, and find out his wishes. Uncertainty still prevails here, as to where the Belgian army is hiding; probably it has gone to Holland and England in mufti.

Charleville, October 14th.

To-day after a journey of five hours, with some delays, via Namur up the Maas, returned from Brussels. Invited this evening to sup with His Majesty, probably because of submarine success in Gulf of Finland. The son of Count Berkheim did very well


there, a pity the enemy wasn't England. My journey was very arduous, and not quite so satisfactory as I perhaps hoped. Before we got to Brussels we passed Charleroi, where Napoleon had his headquarters in 1815, before the Battle of Ligny, now it's a monstrous manufacturing town with hideous dwellings, a small handful of the Landsturm quartered in the middle of it. After Charleroi we passed the whole battle-field of Belle Alliance, adorned with many monuments. The marvellous changes of a hundred years presented themselves vividly before my mental eye.

In Brussels, the millionaire town, we found an excited population, and only at the Palais de Justice a concentration of German troops to the amount of 5,000, among them a naval division. One of Field-marshal von der Goltz's staff told me that at the time when it was uncertain whether we should besiege Antwerp or the Belgian troops at Brussels, a notability said to him, ''Mais, monsieur, vous etes les prisonniers." After the fall of Antwerp the tone naturally became rather different. Goltz was a little disturbed, because in Lille and the north great masses of troops had been seen. But, as I've just heard, the danger has been averted. Here it is still up and down, hopes one day, fears the next.


Charleville, October 15th.

They must be very base souls who credit me with wanting to drive the fleet out to sea from egotistical motives (who's at the bottom of that rumour it would be interesting for me to find out). I couldn't do anything more fatuous than goad the fleet on to fighting and action, if I was under the impression that it wouldn't answer. But because I believe in its success, and because I see in its impassiveness a degeneration of its morale, I have urged activity. It's not necessary to offer decisive battle, but to develop an activity which will cause the English uneasiness and give the torpedo boats a chance of attacking in the night. The present conduct of the war tends to the killing of initiative and to general stagnation.

Through it the fleet, even after the war, will be ruined. But enough of this. I would willingly resign, if I did not cherish such grave fears for the fate of Germany. They won't crush us, but Germany's position in the world hangs on a thread. It really is extraordinary how very unpopular we are, and how completely our whole Diplomatic Service has gone to pieces. A too ghastly incompetence in every branch of it is coming to light.

But I'll tell you a little more about Antwerp. I traced out the tactics of our naval brigade, which fought most bravely. The old sea-dog, Schroder, did his part splendidly, with much distinction and gallantry. Row followed row of trenches, forts all along the line terribly riddled. The giant city of Antwerp almost empty; and here and there despairing figures to be seen, a curious sight. The naval brigade was a little sweated by the army, but there was excuse for that, it must be admitted, in the dire necessity of the


position. The marine artillery brigade, hastily recruited from the coastguards, and never even organized, had to man the trenches. The naval division had a very hard task in defending a long line, without any artillery except our gunboats. Schroder came and welcomed me very heartily. It was a real pleasure to meet and chat with him, after having to put up with Pohl for so long.

I found myself envying Schroder, not only his optimism, but his post. He stands with his undertakings clearly outlined before him, and needn't look to right or left. Whether the brigade, as he hopes, will go on to score as important successes at Bruges, Ostend, and perhaps Calais, cannot yet be foreseen, but at any rate it'll get on the nerves of the English.

Churchill was in Antwerp two days before it surrendered, tearing all over the place in his private car, urging stubborn resistance to the last. When he saw the affair was going awry he drove off, and is said to be now in France. Schroder next took me over Antwerp. Nearly all the endless wharves and warehouses showed nothing but German firms. Antwerp has gorged herself full of Germany. Shall we keep the place, I wonder. Afterwards I dined with Schroder and his staff and then drove to the Walchem fort, which had been awfully battered with shells. Spent evening in Brussels. Yesterday at nine in the morning off via Namur, Gwen, Dinant, Revin, etc., back here... scarcely anything but ruins to be seen, but just here and there places that hadn't been touched. Went to the Kaiser last night. Nothing special. Everybody in good spirits and building great hopes on the reserves.


Charleville, October 16th.

Here we are awaiting with tension news of further events in the north of France. One is partly dubious of any striking success. The English have wriggled themselves out towards the coast, and are far on northwards. Depression seems to prevail at French headquarters, and the black troops are said to associate badly with the white. The fall of Antwerp has been rather a blow to the London public. For the rest, the fabrication of lies there goes on and has surpassed all imaginable bounds.

Charleville, October 17th.

No one is at all sure here whether the new drive the army is now making will lead to complete success. It is about the last trump card we have to play here. If it doesn't come off, what Jagow said to me to-day about the end of the war is likely to prove correct. He thought that the war would stagnate, and slowly fall asleep from sheer general exhaustion. That would be bad for us. The conclusion of a peace which wouldn't satisfy the German people is what I fear under present leadership.


I don't believe for a moment that our people will be overthrown. A nation that has shown the brilliant qualities which Germany has during this war cannot be crushed. But whether the inheritance we are to leave to our children will be a rich one, is another question. Anyhow the methods of our Government must, either by its own free-will or by force, be altered, I was reading the other day some extracts from the Socialistischen Monatschrijften, one of the intimate organs of the Social Democrats, that I greatly enjoyed. Social democracy has grasped the fact that its international ideal is a Utopia, in this world, where the elements are so strongly antagonistic. They have also, extraordinary to say, grasped that not Russia but England is the enemy that has to be dealt with in this war, England who won't tolerate at any price an expanding Germany.

All would be well if we had any real political leadership. It is questionable, however, whether the new command in the army is not too cautious after the discouraging beginning; it's not for me to judge, but it may fall short. Inwardly one has that impression. What is really good is that, at least in the east, we have first-rate men holding the Russian colossus at bay. They'll destroy it. If only our allies were not Austrians, but Prussians! Our submarines are doing their work magnificently. But of course we must be prepared for mishaps even here.


Charleville, October 18th,

Of course, in what concerns the fruits of victory we shall not, owing to faulty leadership, make the most of them. Before all, and that is the worst part of it, we haven't any victory that has brought us fruits to make use of. We had the game in our hands and played it wrong. I would rather not express myself thereon in writing, although the truth, or what is more, the facts, have long ago leaked out everywhere. Nothing remains now but to hold out, as long as possible, and let come what may. Only by endurance can we hope to get a tolerable peace.

In any case a mighty disappointment is in store for our people, when one considers the gigantic effort and bloody sacrifices they have made. If we don't take the reins in hand in domestic politics now, we shall be forced afterwards to reforms which will exceed the bounds of prudence. That can, with the present system, only be done by the Chancellor. Our system of government did very well for the old Kaiser and Bismarck, but it doesn't do for average mediocrities. The constitution and leadership consists of two heads alone, which is a mistake in method. But when the two heads are below the average, it is extremely bad. The idea of ruling the Prussian administration won't work. Suppose in the other case that I came forward with reforms, everyone would say, with justice, what did it matter to me? My character would be blackened by all around the Kaiser, my position would be more difficult than ever, and I should achieve nothing. Things must then go on from bad to worse. If the war slowly stagnates and goes to sleep, as Jagow thinks, it will be all up with Germany's place in the world.


We are so encompassed with the hate of our enemy, and of the neutrals, with the exception perhaps of Sweden and German Switzerland. Serbia, the cause of the war, too, of course! We are regarded by the whole world as the instigators. Just read a brochure that's appeared in Holland, which propagates a world-combine against the unpolished, everywhere-disturbing parvenu German, after the Peace! Though it reeks with hate, there is some truth in it. In England the war is being carried on with bull-dog pertinacity and passionate energy. We too are doing the same, but how shall we get our teeth into the bull-dog's flanks with seven other dogs at our throats? Our navy is gallant and daring, but our leadership atrocious. Yesterday morning I had a severe set-to with Pohl because I regarded the sending out of four torpedo boats (see following) as too nonsensical. This morning early, news came that these had been blown up.

  Action off the Texel - 17 October 1915

Undaunted, light cruiser, Arethusa-class, 3rd DF leader, Capt Cecil Fox, and Lance, Lennox, Legion, Loyal, destroyers, I-class, c970t, 1913/14, 3-4in/1-2pdr/4-21in tt, 1st Div, 3rd DF, all Harwich Force, off Dutch coast on patrol for German flotilla movements, on station in the Broad Fourteens at 1400, then 50 miles SW of Texel. Smoke sighted and four German 400t torpedo boats spotted, Undaunted signalled “General Chase” and by 1630 all four - S.115, S.117, S.118, S.119 had been sunk by gunfire (dx - 40 miles SW of Texel), British destroyers slightly damaged; Loyal had an officer and two ratings seriously wounded, one of the ratings dying; Legion had two ratings wounded (Rn/Cn/D/dk/dx)


Charleville, October 19th.

To-day the Chancellor summoned me to a consultation about possible peace conditions. I put restraint on myself to the utmost when I said that we must first have a complete victory before one could give any opinion on the subject. But I hope soon to tell you more by word of mouth. I intend going to Kiel and Wilhelmshaven and via Berlin back here.


According to reports just received, things seem to be going favourably here in the west. The English, it appears, made a very poorly arranged attack on the German troops stationed to the north of Lille, and were repulsed with heavy losses; the grand final decision is expected here in a few days. May God grant us a complete victory. We are in bitter need of it. England remains the dangerous enemy. I recommend you to read the article by Carl Peters, with which I perfectly agree as far as his proposal to treat severely the English at the present time in Germany. As for our conduct of the war at sea, I am from beginning to end out of patience with it. The slaughter of the four torpedo boat crews came about through sheer shortsighted observation. We run risks at places where nothing but luck could save us from disaster, and risk nothing where in all probability success is possible. The lack of initiative on our side in the. navy infects the other initiative. Muller, however, still excuses everything.

Charleville, October 20th.

Yesterday evening with the Kaiser, who is not a bit altered, and who won't let you talk seriously to him, though I tried all I could.

Hamburg, October 25th.

Emden Muller has again snapped up six ships, and the English are raging; the Karlsruhe thirteen as well. Ballin isn't glad, because he says it will make the English still more furious. He may be right; but all the same I am delighted. I can't help it.


Charleville, November 9th.

You will have heard from Treves of my burst of joy over the victorious combat off the coast of Chile. Unfortunately it was followed closely by grief for the fall of Tsingtao. A work of nineteen years is thereby wiped out. I have had very kind telegrams from several quarters, from the President of the Reichstag, also the Duke Johann Albrecht has expressed his warmest sympathy. Yesterday, lecture from His Majesty on contentment. Nothing has happened here. One hopes and hopes in the west. I have an instinctive feeling that this drop by drop progress won't bring much to a head. This morning a long conference with Jagow. He has reasons for opposing changes in embassy at Rome.

Charleville, November 13th.

I have suffered and suffer still more because our whole policy of recent years has been crass futility, and the conduct of the Empire - apart from His Majesty here - has so totally missed fire and does still. I should be glad if I had any personal confidence in the present leadership of the army. Of course I can't sit in judgment, but I wish I could see the end. Here there is nothing to report, except that everything has come to a standstill. In the east twenty-nine German


and Austrian corps are ranged against forty-three Russian. Our brothers-in-arms number, of course, about half. The Turks are crying out already for munitions and we haven't any to spare, quite apart from the fact that Roumania no longer allows us transit. My attempt to get Bulow instead of Flotow to Rome hasn't succeeded with von Jagow, on account of all kinds of objections. After the war I shall join the Socialists and look for lamp-posts, a whole heap. For there is a hydra-headed monster to be scotched before things can be any better. I am nervous now about surprises in the North Sea and can't make any impression on Pohl.

Charleville, November 14th.

Here the abominable weather continues. The poor boys in the dugouts! I believe that now even the influential people have given up hope that we shall break through in the north. We shall not, therefore, get to Calais, which my second naval division has been striving after. It is partie remise, and so it will remain. But don't talk about it. Both sides lie facing each other in the north, absolutely exhausted. We have lost here about 100,000 men. We have no new corps wherewith to replace them. Things are not so bad in the east, but we shall have to send reinforcements there too, because the Austrians are undependable. I was talking to Colonel von Marschall, of the Cabinet, just now. He, like most of us here, is of


opinion that the extent of our other losses hasn't yet come out; and that England can't put up as much counter-thrust as we can. That may be true, but partie remise is bad, if the fleet can't help.

Yesterday came most unfavourable news from the Black Sea - a Turkish muntion ship torpedoed. And the Turks have no munitions. Who will hold out the longest? That is the question.

Charleville, November 15th.

I have just come from a consultation with the Minister of War. He was this time much more amiable and less erratic. The reason for this is to be found in the ensemble of the situation, of which he too sees the fearful gravity. The quality of the English troops has, nevertheless, declined rapidly. This much is evident, that in the west a complete deadlock has set in, and every little advance is only made possible by an enormous loss of blood. Added thereto, the blockade weighs so heavily on the neutrals that we are in need of many necessary articles, such as saltpetre (powder), motor-tires, and so on. He seemed to look for the way out more through France than Russia. But I think that quite unfeasible, as Russia and France are allied in the same boat. Here the weather continues rough and atrocious; this morning it snowed heavily. The Kaiser's mood and that of his entourage very depressed. I am anxious about the fleet; England is waiting for better weather. Moreover it is impossible to talk to Pohl.


Charleville, November 17th.

Thank God we have, in Hindenburg and Ludendorff, really great leaders in the east, and that will guard us against the worst. Here in the west, unfortunately, it is not to the same extent the case. I had a talk yesterday with the very able and sensible S----, who could pronounce as his carefully weighed judgment that which I can only dare claim to have as a faint impression. An aide-de-camp has lately come here of whom S---- thinks a great deal, but these hints are quite confidential, and perhaps later may be of value to me. In August, unheard-of mistakes were made; no organization in office of the General Staff; lost their heads later, which, as is now universally recognized here, was the cause of the unnecessary and mistaken retreat. From this has arisen finally the present situation, out of which really good leaders could rescue us, as the men in the ranks are first-rate. We must wait for the big "Berthas" till more powder is forthcoming. From the beginning of the campaign we have supplied the army with powder by contract, likewise commissariat, ordnance, and other materials.

This evening I was invited with Admiral von Pohl to His Majesty. We shall be getting Iron Crosses, which I for one don't at all want to wear. According to my appraisement of our command in the North Sea, and our part in Councils of War, honours are equally divided between T--- U--- and E---.


Charleville, November i8th.

As I expected, I was "crossed" yesterday, and moreover in the first class! I take no pleasure in what, under other circumstances, I might be proud of. I could not refrain from telling His Majesty that it wasn't at all deserved, whereupon His Majesty remarked that all of us here in Charleville hadn't deserved it. I thought with Caprivi, "Orders come with age like childish diseases." In 1870 how I envied everyone who had really earned the cross, and now I don't care to wear it, for I believe our fleet will do nothing, and if it does, will fail. I look with tension to the east; may a brilliant success take place there. It would assuredly be annihilating, if we weren't so inferior there numerically; all we can hope for is a pretty decisive victory, I don't see things in quite such a gloomy light yet as L---. If only the Head was different! The nation is splendid, and not less so troops and ships. The ships, when they have been allowed to act on their own, have distinguished themselves with eclat, but the command a la August 28th, and court councils of war... Shocking!

The English are now in terror of Zeppelins, perhaps not without reason. I contend here wherever I go for the standpoint of "war to the knife," but I am not in favour of "frightfulness." To-day I have used my influence to get an old English admiral who was interned sent to Italy. Also single bombs from flying machines are wrong; they are odious when they hit and kill an old woman, and one gets used to them. If one could set fire to London in thirty places, then what in a small way is odious would retire before something fine and powerful.


Charleville, November 19th.

There is a point on which we must be clear. Does England mean war to the knife against us? If we arrive at the conviction that she is unscrupulously bent on our extermination, we must also use the knife unsparingly towards her, or we should be guilty of a crime against our nation, and the future.

Charleville, November 21st.

An American journalist paid me a visit, introduced by Erzberger; then followed the Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Tisza. The American was rather dissatisfied with his Government. He thought they would have to pay for the fall of Tsingtao. He pointed out that our diplomats have no conception of the power of the press, and equally little of trans-Atlantic affairs. Count Tisza was quite confident, only regretted that we hadn't sent a few more corps to Poland. I must admit, too, that if we are going to stick here, as it appears, we might easily have spared a few corps and ensured the collapse of the Russian army.


Charleville, November 22nd.

The folks in the Wilhelmstrasse will find it difficult to make me the scapegoat, for too many people know what the policy of the Foreign Office was in July... insane gliding into war. Almost more dangerous are those with Pohl at their head, who try to attribute the inaction of our fleet to the question of type of ships and technique, because the Kaiser would be at the back of them. But we must leave all this to God's ordering. No one can deprive me of the consciousness of having in my fifty years of service, especially during the last eighteen years, done my duty.

I should like to tell U--- once more how urgent I think the necessity of a commercial treaty with Austria. I have been trying to put it into effect since Luxemburg. We must go on working for it, without any hesitation. Count Tisza is an impressive personality, while Count Berchtold, whose acquaintance I made in Berlin, bears the stamp of mediocrity on his forehead.


Charleville, November 23rd.

Count Spee is running short of munitions; he can scarcely hold out in a long struggle; it would be a miracle if he broke through. The whole of America is aiding and abetting England and France, and if we get a little coal there is a great outcry. It's contemptible injustice towards us, but we could settle the matter if it weren't for the Cabinet administration. This evening I again was with His Majesty.

Charleville, November 25th.

"Nothing new from Paris." All eyes fixed with tense interest on the east. The position there can't be reviewed certainly, because Hindenburg has cut off Headquarters. The decision may be delayed for a few days, till the Pomeranians attack. But any check for us is unlikely, while a disaster for the Russians is quite within the bounds of possibility. The Russians, of course, are gathering forces from all directions. May our bold general keep all the luck on his side. I can't possibly be satisfied with the doings of our navy. Naturally, I don't mean the individual ships; they have, as yet, done their duty when they've had the chance... but the best opportunities have been missed, and if the fleet did come into action now, matters would be bungled. I have strongly recommended T--- to Muller, as his Chief of Staff, and another for him. But Pohl I can't get rid of here. We don't talk of the service together - in fact, I am out of it.


Charleville, November 26th.

To-day breakfast with His Majesty. I took the opportunity of saying that we must look the fact in the face of England stopping at nothing, and in consequence take eventually strong measures, i.e. the submarine blockade. His Majesty agreed. Yesterday evening Havenstein (Reichs Bank) and Helfferich (Deutsche Bank) were there at supper with Pohl. The conversation then turned on the same subject, and it seems His Majesty expressed himself as opposed to it, supported by Valentine and Treutler (both weak, half-hearted creatures). To-day, after breakfast, Valentine was not altogether against it. His Majesty, Valentine, and I were in a corner; he maintained, of course, that it was an extreme measure.

Charleville, December 22nd.

Now scribbling can be resumed. At Frankfort we had to change carriages and at Metz get out. From Metz a through train. When the porter called out "Charleville! all change!" I didn't feel particularly glad. The escapade of our fleet to the north-west must be inquired into more closely before a judgment can be pronounced. Probably no firm hand will be taken against Pohl if against lesser people, so that any great alteration is not to be attained.

The difficulty lies chiefly in the Kaiser having agreed to the main principle and holding to it. I am among the old set, quite alone in my opinion. The necessity of keeping Flanders later appears to be making way forcibly.


Charleville, December 23rd.

I had an opportunity of talking to His Majesty about the North Sea. He had already discussed it with the Crown Prince, who was present, and according to whose reports it was a wonder that the big ships hadn't met with disaster, they had come across so many mines and submarines. He was displeased that the torpedo boats hadn't attacked. One can't, however, judge of the whole situation without studying the losses, and these must be forthcoming. One feels that the needful stimulus was not there, but it can't be called a defeat. I had an opportunity of mentioning Flanders and was pleased to find that on the whole he, His Majesty, shared my opinion.

Charleville, December 24th.

This morning I expounded once more to Muller my views on our naval strategy, which he didn't contradict.

With regard to the last enterprise a few more questions were put in commission by the Kaiser, and these must wait. All energetic going forward is again frustrated.

I have just come from the Christmas festivities in the temporary chapel, which was very prettily decorated. The gifts set out on long tables, at which the soldiers sat, a slightly raised platform with carpet for His Majesty and the officers; in front of it the crib, very charmingly arranged. Then came Gons


in grey uniform, and after, monster Christmas trees all lit up. To begin with three verses were sung, "Ich bete an die Macht der Liehe." Then Gons gave an address, short and to the point. Plessen, in the name of the army, thanked the Kaiser, and called for three cheers. H. M. replied in a few stirring words, and then went about among the ranks, was very gay and genial. Every man stood up in his place and returned thanks, which I did too. To wind up with, three more strophes.

"Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht." Altogether a very dignified and impressive little ceremony.

Charleville, December 25th.

Comments that reach me from many sides in Germany depress me even more profoundly. The strategy for which the Chancellor is responsible renders me practically powerless, unless it is in questions which don't exist in war.

The High Command of the army is composed of the General Staff and the Admirals' Staff, and are directly under the Kaiser. The latter wishes the war at sea to be carried on exactly as it is and no otherwise. In reward for the excursion of the fleet to England, Pohl has got the Iron Cross of the first class. That characterizes the situation. It isn't any use to me that I know the principle to be wrong, and the person honoured not a suitable one, for I've no foundation to go on to prove I am right, quite apart


from the fact that the essential materials are withheld from me. Roon, in 1870, found himself in the same position, also recently Falkenhayn. The last saw disaster coming and could not do anything at the end of August. Stein in 1813 was an absolutely free agent, though, moreover, formally in the service of the Czar. Scharnhorst was also powerless in face of the events of 1813, till von Blucher became his Chief of Staff. Blucher, however, stood at the head of the army.

In what concerns the conduct of the war I have no expert knowledge of naval organization, and therefore for me to set the pace in the Cabinet would only procure me an ignominious failure. But mere empty interviews with His Majesty during my sojourn here would make things more intolerable than they now are. Even if I had any idea of recommending myself as Admiral of the Fleet, His Majesty wouldn't take me. I talked the matter over with Plessen from his side of the question. The proposal, that is to say the offer, must come from His Majesty, and not from me. I would not, however, keep my own counsel where his Majesty is concerned, and not say what I think now any more than when I took over the Admiralty in 1897, and that was a contradiction as well as a self-recommendation.


Charleville, December 26th.

Many thanks for your interesting long letter, which I haven't at all properly answered yet. (Excitement on the part of America with regard to the rumoured invitation to Roosevelt to visit Grand Headquarters.) Our leading caste is far too poker-backed for any such skilful move on the chess-board as inviting Roosevelt. There is really no truth in the report of anything so unusual happening in our diplomacy.

L. sent me a letter from an American concerning the reasons why the feeling in America and especially in the press is so unfavourable to us. An essential part of the blame he attributed to the studied tactlessness of our treatment of American journalists. He compared the bearing, so urbane, of English, Russian, and French diplomats, on the same high social level with our stiff aristocratic reserve. The dispatching out there of such a windbag as Dernburg was again a blunder in the opposite direction; intellectual, talented litterateurs of the highest rank and other prominent publicists would have been effective. All must, with us, be ordered from the top downwards; available forces are not liquefied, on the contrary every individual initiative is suppressed; things have gone on thus for years in the Corps Consulaire. The same methods are adopted against myself. I am convinced that my discussion with Wiegand can only be politically useful; in spite of that the whole pack would have been let loose on me if Zimmermann hadn't made light of what I said. All the same, I am not sure yet whether they won't, via Pohl, who is putty in their hands, make it unpleasant for me.


Our successes in Russia can't have been very great as no guns were taken. Serbia is almost entirely evacuated by the Austrians, and our hopes of getting munitions, etc., through to Constantinople have diminished to vanishing point. The Roumanians permit Russia transit for everything and us nothing. That is a bad lookout. Nevertheless I build great hopes on Hindenburg, and the strength of our army isn't in the least shaken. Their holding out can be reckoned on.

Charleville, December 28th.

To-day we have the most abominable Charleville weather, rain, wind, and cold, and into the bargain there is the odious impossibility for me of taking active part in the great affair, not even to the extent of advising the Admiralty Staff. It is immeasurably hard for me to contain myself here. The only chance left me, if it is left, is to have a voice on the peaceterms, but that is so far off, and even then I should be sorely handicapped.

Charleville, December 29th.

If Hindenburg doesn't after all indeed help us out, the prospect is black indeed. Here everything is at a deadlock, and unluckily we are short of munitions; that is bad, and due to extraordinary remissness on the part of the War Ministry, which obviously was ruled by bureaucratic niggardliness. Since the beginning of the war we have given up to the army our immense hospital stores and munition bases, but of course they are not sufficient.


Charleville, December 31st.

The terrible year 1914 goes to roost, and what may the year 1915 bring us in hopes and disappointments? I cannot help cherishing the fear that at the conclusion of peace our people, after their gigantic effort and achievement, will be as disappointed with the results as they were a hundred years ago. I shall be content, for my part, if we retain the ability, better still the possibility, of again working ourselves to the top. So long as I live, we shall be on short commons, I mean not us alone, but the whole nation.

I read to-day in The Daily News, of December 12th, an article headed "Lord Fisher and von Tirpitz," which of course contained many errors, but from which could be gathered, as it will be from history, that I am the initiator of our naval war strategy. I created the fleet, but have had scarcely anything to say in its use, a detestable position for me. It is clear, too, that von Muller's scheme (his method of dispositions) was doomed in advance to bankruptcy, else the fleet would have accomplished great things. One has proof of that in all the isolated actions in which our ships have been engaged.



Charleville, January 1st.

Church to-day. Sermon rather too rhetorical, and suggestive of little to my mind. H. M. greeted me graciously, and afterwards there was a march past on the filthy road to Hiron, of Landwehr and Landsturmer troops, and the staff-guard, I should think about 5,000 men. Then headquarters, and officers' corps formation and the Kaiser chatting a little with different groups. New Year's congratulations from Pohl to Muller: "continue to protect me during the coming year" (naturally he means against me!).

I've more still to say about U.'s letter. But he is mistaken. There's a strong wall round the Kaiser, through which I cannot penetrate, quite apart from the fact that I have no longer the nerve for a great combat. Change in the administration of the Cabinet can only be inaugurated after some great catastrophe, and from that may God deliver Germany. After peace has come, the spirits will of course be let loose.

Charleville, January 2nd.

The bastion round the Kaiser is at the present moment more than ever impenetrable. It is just the Kaiser's peculiarity that he won't come to any resolve, or bear any responsibility. He is reported to have said to Muller several times, "Now the fleet must really do something," but he can't be induced to resolve what it is to do, and he simply evades me when I tackle and harangue him, which I never lose an opportunity of doing. Muller bears a heavy responsibility towards our country, but I fancy that he is little aware of it. He only backs up the Kaiser in clinging to the servile Pohl. No influence that I can exercise is any good against all this, even in the case of a great misfortune.


Charleville, January 3rd.

I share your faith in our people, but the danger lies near that we may have to pass through a phase of Revolution instead of Evolution.

Charleville, January 4th.

Pohl has come round to my fundamental view of our war strategy. So I have hopes that things may now go better. Only what is wanted is to act at the minute what you think at the minute, etc., and here it's not a matter of minutes, but of five months. If the Kaiser wasn't directly influenced by Muller, we should now be bound to go ahead. I believe the pressure of events is too strong - the fleet must advance. May the great God aid it. In favourable circumstances the decision may rest with it, but I won't count on that. I will be content if it contributed something towards the peace for which we fight. Pin-pricks aren't enough.


Charleville, January 5th.

This morning I have effected something in regard to our new enterprise and at last Pohl is at one with me. The thing is now to be worked according to my instructions drawn up at Coblenz, and before that at Berlin. In Berlin, however, I had reckoned on Pohl acting on his own initiative, and in Coblenz urged it. Characteristic of Muller and company's administrations; the proposals take the form of a memorandum. That, if I were Pohl, I simply wouldn't do, i.e. hold discourses, and leave memorandums where the Kaiser is concerned. Otherwise Muller and friends plus Bethmann will take the decision into their hands, but I am counting on the position becoming urgent all round.

Charleville, January 6th.

I have just passed an hour with the Grand Duke of Baden. The Chancellor has asked me in writing to give him my views with regard to the future of Belgium, from my own standpoint as well as from the standpoint of Germany's future, in the form of a pamphlet. I am agreeable to this, because I can now freely give my views without being suspected of plotting against the Chancellor. Capelle has been commissioned to-day to draw up a memorandum and send it here. I shall, myself, go to Brussels and travel through Flanders to study the question on the spot, also sound Krupp.

From Italy bad news; she is out to rob, and wants the Trentino, but l'appetit vieut for Roumania as well.

O blessed Hindenburg, help us soon, we are in sore need of it! Still munitions are lacking. We are losing men every day and can't shoot back.


Charleville, January 9th.

Muller holding preliminary conversations with Bethmann; a quite hair-raising circumstance, I think. Ingenohl might have more scope with advantage, but I have no longer confidence in him. I have had a pretty sharp explanation with Muller, who was very irate over it, while I remained calm. The written acquiescence from Pohl, in acquiescence to my ideas, is really rather a joke! He greets my acquiescence with satisfaction, after he and Muller have combated those ideas for five months. But enough of this. My hopes are small. Ilse's New Year's wish is right. To see my life's work turned to no account, as it is my conviction that it will be, is indeed dreadfully hard to bear. There were chances a while back, but only chances. On December 16th Ingenohl had the fate of Germany in the palm of his hand. I boil with inward emotion whenever I think of it.

A Roumanian naval officer educated amongst us sends greetings in a letter to his old comrades, and writes that he has often spoken up for Germany... all no use. In a few weeks war will be declared on Austria and Italy will follow suit. I believe that already. Ultimatum threats have been hurled forth. Wrath against our allies great among our troops in the East. They can't get them to advance. The plunge, which I and Westerkamp induced Pohl to entertain, has practically come to nothing. Doubtless Muller and Bethmann have shunted the matter, and instructed the Kaiser beforehand.


Instead, concessions are to be made, half-measures arranged which can be of little use... and in addition entail great danger. It is terrible! Of course they can't sweep my "counsel" off the face of the earth, and its effects are likely to last. But not nearly enough has been made of this one order; it could only have been actually effective when we had got to Calais. From Flanders it would be much more difficult to undertake, for besides this minor action the fleet would have to strike, and that at the time could not be guaranteed. I build expectations now on Hopmann in order to operate further. It must be confessed, of course, that at this moment, when Roumania and Italy are standing on the brink, any check for Ingenohl would be perilous, while here one continues to reckon on Hindenburg against Russia, who is only temporarily held up by this swine's weather.

Charleville, January 12th.

I was reading yesterday in the Frankfurter Zeitung an extract from a speech by Lord Rosebery at Dalkeith. "We have two facts of great importance to face: the first is, that the British nation would be for ever defeated if it did not fight to the last shilling and the last man; the second, that the German nation as the greatest military power in the world could never lift up its head again if once beaten." These words seem to me to characterize the situation exactly, and from this situation one sees no way out.


Yesterday evening at the Kaiser's, where an officer of Hindenburg's General Staff had arrived with a letter for His Majesty. Shall we go on scoring mere local succeesses as of old? What frightful casualties there have been without much gain. The officer related that the Russians will go through fire and water for Nicholas Nikolajewisch, and that so far they have only had good guns to contend against; that is to say, in other words, the power of the Russian army is not yet broken.

He asked the Kaiser what the fleet was going to do? The Kaiser was heard to answer, England was letting herself be misled all the time; but that's not the case. The new management is in reality, thanks to the influence of W. and Z., doing better than I could have dared to hope after the omissions of Pohl. Ingenohl has now so much scope that he must go forward. Let us hope that God Almighty doesn't punish those who vacillate! My nagging has at last been some good. Naturally I can't create a leader. Another officer of the General Staff has come here from Serbia, Lieutenant-Colonel Heutsch, and has told the story of the Austrian collapse. He praised the Serbian army, and was of opinion that Roumania and Italy would not keep out much longer, hence Hindenburg's last energetic push. Shall we ever come to firm resolution?

I believe that before this the decision would have been different had we not set so much store by local succeseses. Lieutenant-Colonel Heutsch praised the Austrian navy on the Danube; in Poland, on the other hand (Admiral Hauss),


completely hypnotized by the Italian notion... Lissa and Tegethoff of blessed memory! Communications between Joffre and French firmly established. The possibility that we shall send German troops to Serbia is unluckily not on the tapis. The prestige of Austria in the Balkans seems finally to be on the decline. The forces, German and Hungarian, not Croatians, excellent; they prefer, however, to be led by us, as their own officers are disheartened. The Czech troops are doubtful.

Charleville, January 14th.

Great political developments are in progress; it almost appears as if we should have more or less to drop Austria, or by force to tear pieces off her body as fodder for the vultures who prey around her.

Hopmann has to-day told me a good deal about the fleet that isn't at all reassuring. Unless some radical cure is not found soon, nothing will be done, and we expect to beat England to-day! All their thoughts (the Admirals'), instead of being fixed on that, are centred on technique, which leaves much to be decided in every direction and hinders them from accomplishing anything. But the exploits of submarines and aircraft are made a lot of, otherwise the German people might be out of temper at the inactivity of the fleet. The fleet is there, but a Tegethoff is lacking. It is too lamentable. Added thereto, our general position is extremely serious, despite the small success at Soissons, which brought General von L. the order pour le merite forthwith. This little affair has demonstrated for that matter the fact that in a well-calculated storming attack the French can't put up any resistance to our troops. It was the Brandenburgers' 5th Division, so famous in 1870.


Charleville, January 15th.

People here who know what is going on are becoming grave. Big munitions are failing, and can't be manufactured fast enough. I should be compelled to decide on doing more, although that want would he felt at once, if Ingenohl were a leader. Now he wants to send two squadrons, one after the other, to Kiel for necessary re-equipments. It is too unbelievable, and in doing it he'll be more than ever "bottled up." A fleet is just as bad a defensive weapon as cavalry, if not more so. All the advantage in the North Sea goes to those who hold the initiative. One has only to think in this connection of the Emden and the Karlsruhe. This is a war of frittered-away opportunities at sea, and on land too.

The peace will be a bad one, if we don't get Antwerp and Flanders, therein lies the contrary compensation for all our other losses in the world. I have just had a visit from Monsieur and Madame G., who offered to get me news of Wolf, through a relation of theirs in England. I thanked them warmly, but it wasn't necessary. Both, Madame in particular, were


very affable. We talked politics a little. Richelieu and Colbert were right, Louis XIV had made the greatest political blunders and was guilty of the ultimate downfall of France. Napoleon I was right in his root principle, and even now if one ignored the frontier dispute the interests of France and Germany were solidly united, etc., etc. He didn't excuse himself, and Madame thought that was quite right, but now we had to fight, and in that I agreed with her. It is a pity that the European nations are so little ruled by intellect, England excepted, and she has no soul. Whether she has miscalculated her strength remains to be seen. All the neutrals grovel to her power. There is nothing for us to do but rely on ourselves. A mighty, glorious fabric are we, with a hydra-head.

Charleville, January 16th.

Capelle telegraphed recently that I ought to stay here. Letter followed. The situation seems to be very urgent. It seems somehow that the Home Office has very much miscalculated in its estimate the supply of corn. What if it now comes to flight along the whole line? Ballin now wants, all of a sudden, energetic conduct of the war at sea, after having hitherto cried out with the other faction, "Anything rather than provoke the enemy."

I am glad that Retzmann has come back from a task that was not based on probability, but on moonshine. I had a presentiment that the thing would go awry like the torpedo boats. The tone among the neutrals is increasingly worse. England's bluff is stupendous.


Charleville, January 17th.

Why Capelle should be so urgently set on my staying here is still not quite clear to me (he has telegraphed twice). I can hardly imagine that the corn question is so serious, and I am unable to think of anything else. Anyhow I am here till January 29th, when my Flanders tour comes off. I have almost given up all hope with regard to Ingenohl and the fleet. There is, though, still the submarine war left. We must, before everything, get England on toast, else we shall make a peace that will destroy our position as a world-power, and Germany will be exporting men again, instead of wares. U.'s efforts haven't succeeded, I believe, in lashing up F., so that H. gets supplies for military inclining eastward. Conrad again reconnoitring. If Hindenburg is sufficiently successful to come to terms with Russia, which I have always thought would be the best thing, it may react on the situation here.

Charleville, January 19th.

Yesterday evening with the Kaiser. The conversation turned on the submarines. Treutler and Valentine against action. Italy would have a pretext for attack. I said pretty plainly that if we didn't get our knife into the English we should only fritter away the sympathy of neutrals still more, and accomplish nothing. H. M. won't. He must first get a clearer political vision, etc. The upshot of it all was, in the opinion of K., that peace was to be made, even if it was a rotten peace.


The Kaiser, as usual, related how victory was always a matter of nerves. Langenback (Plessen's brotherin-law) said when he heard that Port Arthur had fallen, that the Russians had surrendered twenty-four hours too soon, or they would have conquered. I remarked to His Majesty that was quite correct; in a wider sense there was a twenty-four hours in which to decide this war. His Majesty was silent. K, v. B. has enthusiastically seconded, in a letter to Bethmann. I have now tried to work him up to see that, as the press must bemute, a dozen or more prominent leaders of industry and finance should meet together and lay at the foot of the throne their collaborated opinion of what alone will prove a lasting peace for Germany. But I couldn't make him see it.

If he were asked, they would all be at one in wanting much more (I, for instance), and it might look as if the Chancellor was to be overthrown, and that wouldn't do. I endeavoured in vain to make it clear to him that it was a historical duty for him and his colleagues to make some announcement of the kind before it was too late; it would merely give stability to the Chancellor, who was oscillating in murky uncertainty. "Yes, he would think it over, etc."


Such a lack of strong personality in the upper ranks, at a time when the nation's achievement is so colossal, is astounding, and demonstrates a great blot on our statecraft, which will avenge itself bitterly, sooner or later. I am more and more astonished that the Kaiser still treats me well; he does indeed work against me behind my back and prevents my getting on my way, but for me to "go" would excite too much remark. The fleet could act if it liked, but T. is devoid of intuition and from here nothing can be done.

Brussels, January 20th.

We started on our journey at 10 o'clock, this time without hindrances, via Charleroi. The population a good deal calmer than they were the first time. I am to meet Bissing and B. here, and to-morrow go on to Bruges. The situation as a whole is gradually becoming clear. Above all now, I stake my hopes on Hindenburg. We must first of all beat Russia and then come to some arrangement with her, if Austria isn't shattered.

Chestnut trees in Southern Tyrol handed over to Italy in order to pacify her. Austria must find breathing space towards the southeast. Bulgaria must be a little diverted so as to fasten her to Austria. In return Austria must resign what is only harmful to her and out of keeping with her historic mission.


Russia coming out of the affair with honour will be able to give us certain little useful rights, such as a bit of Lithuania. That would be nice, but not absolutely necessary. Bare cash is not desirable, and we don't want more of Poland than we've got. Thus everything must be directed now to making it possible for Hindenburg to conclude a peace with Russia. Roumania to have nothing, that is a foregone conclusion to appease Hungary. Then Hindenburg must be endowed with absolute power, and we must all do our bit to promote the end, by attacking England as much as we can. Have conversed with Bissing and arrived at a complete understanding perhaps. I've gained very valuable support.

Bruges, January 22nd.

The more I see of the governments of the Empire under the Kaiser and the Chancellor, the more my hopes dwindle. To-day I've been in Antwerp, had B. to breakfast and afterwards talked to General H. Before I expressed an opinion he said, "Without Belgium, the war is lost." B. thought Ballin was for keeping Antwerp, but that the Chancellor and company wanted to compound with the Congo. A veil for those who won't see. The revision of the Thirty Years War in my opinion will be for ever missed. Muller's tactics speak volumes for the determined attitude. The nation will have a word to say about that. But the rich industrial middle classes have grown slack and indolent. Not only at Charleville, but in Berlin. I have become entirely isolated. The air-raid on Yarmouth was a blunder. Why spare London? All that flies or creeps should be concentrated on the city, is my emphatic vote recorded in writing and by word of mouth.


Charleville, January 26th.

My thoughts are naturally with the fleet. The same mistake as usual was made in the preliminary thrust; the fleet was in port and not on the spot where the covering forces should have been.

The Kaiser's impression of it may well be that the fleet is now safely packed in a capsule. I am going to supper to-night, and must try to urge a more virile policy.

Charleville, February 6th.

To-day, a second consultation with Muller, who, in so far as a new modus vivendi was reached, ran away. The worst of the submarine warfare is that stagnation of it all may come about through our not now having nearly enough. In that fact and in the starting off with a blustering flourish of trumpets and threats to the neutrals, lies the most serious side of the affair. The Kaiser and Muller in this matter are furious with Pohl. But with regard to myself, through the interview with Wiegand I learn that my name is being mentioned in connection with the matter, and it is believed that I was the instigator. I have meanwhile to-day told Muller that my duty to the Fatherland alone keeps me from tendering my resignation


now, but I shall certainly do so after the war. I told him, moreover, that it was at the Foreign Office and the Government circles that the state of things had been engineered. I was completely subject to the Kaiser, and exercised no influence at all. That didn't seem to me right, so long as I was in office. These representations were very painful to him. The real original great rumpus between the Kaiser and me was said to be due to the idea that I thought it necessary to coop up the fleet, and that the Kaiser didn't wish it. Now other reasons are being found, and a scapegoat being sought for.

In Prussia events are quite clear. The Russians wanted to strike a great blow, and if Hindenburg hadn't forestalled them, the Russians would now be at the gates of Konigsberg and Dantzig.

Charleville, February 7th.

Pohl, by his vanity and lack of judgment, has made a mess that I have to clear up. The whole Pohl-ish direction of February 4th was superfluous. We ought to have let the submarines develop their own action, growing ever stronger and stronger according to the vicissitudes of our forces. Changes in the command were not involved necessarily by the acceptance of my suggestion. Instead of which, flourish of trumpets, intimidation, and in consequence excitement among the others, and England warned and given fourteen days to make preparations in.


The English and French understood each other in the game of bluflf; one must admit that they've so far done nothing in the Dardanelles, and so long as panic doesn't set in among the Turks they'll do nothing there in the future. Apart from this, the Turks have got eight of their finest corps stationed there, and the English oppose these with an expeditionary corps.

Charleville, March 2nd.

This evening it has been 'phoned through that the Note to the United States would be made public, in spite of a recent utterance of the Kaiser's, The press and the public won't understand the kernel of the affair. The first, besides, is muzzled and writes to the Chancellor's dictation (see Lokal Anzeiger of March 1st, 1915). In this fashion the curb is put on the Chancellor in relation to the Kaiser. The Kreuz Zeitung has of course had the courage to write against the Note.

Charleville, March 3rd.

Absolutely nothing to report from here. To-day Admiral von Muller was with Bachmann, but naturally only a flying visit. As he had to accompany the Kaiser to General von Einem, he didn't call on me, and was obviously amazed to hear from Geige (Overseer of the Chancellory's messengers) that I was here. I must continue to wait and see what will happen next. Bethmann has stayed on with Jagow in Berlin. He will be there for another ten days pending


the negotiations. Here one is told nothing, and leads an inconsolable existence. Only the gatherings at the Maison Gailly have become exceptionally pleasant. We all get on well together, and I believe are very pleased that we do. In the morning I took a little walk with Hopmann, and in the afternoon with Bachmann, whom I showed a little of the town, and then strolled with him along the Maas with its serpentine windings. This morning early there was snow, it is true, but in spite of that, there is a feeling of spring and a mildness in the air, over which, at all events, one can rejoice.

The latest Frankfurter Zeitung does certainly praise our Note in reply, but only in very moderate terms. X-- told me about his discussion with Bethmann. The impression he gathered from it was little favourable to the Guider of our Destiny. He did nothing but ejaculate, "What am I to do, what am I to do? " Italy and Greece have appeared to him in a dream - Pohl led him to expect something quite different from what happened afterwards. In short, he is wearily submerged in doubts as to whether God will have compassion on him. This sort of thing can't turn out well in the end.

Unluckily Hindenburg's offensive has been held up, and Austria is no longer to be counted on. The Russians were beyond all expectations, well led, and carried out their operations with great skill. They wanted to do the same as Hindenburg. The latter fortunately put a spoke in their wheel, otherwise the fellows would now be sitting down before Konigsberg. It seems that a line of trenches now runs from the Grodno as far as Ploczk - which is bad for us.


Charleville, March 4th.

The decision of the present crisis lies undoubtedly in Rome and in the Dardanelles - that is to say, in the Turks breaking through. Roumania and Co. have got the shudders at the thought of Constantinople being Russian; the Roumanian jackals ought to have it, of course. The Turks want a submarine, but the Austrians have refused, as being too dangerous. We have offered them for it German equipments, so far no answer. But the story is characteristic of the Austrians. Their Admiral Haus is reserving his fleet for Italy. He thinks he may bring off another Lissa, but whether another Tegetthoff comes on the scene is open to question. He conversed with our Naval Attache chiefly on exotic water-plants, which is his hobby. Off now, not to the joyful chase, but to sit at the ghastly table, where I have come to be so out of place.

Charleville, March 5th.

We have probably lost Submarine 8. We, however, must resign ourselves to losses, especially as, out of regard for the neutrals, drastic restrictions have been laid on submarine warfare concerning compulsory rising to the surface in doubtful cases. To-day Muller was here for an hour. I am no forwarder with him.


He entirely misunderstood what passed at the meeting at the Chancellor's. He accused me of having introduced a tone of harshness, which influenced the meeting and rendered it fruitless. Under Secretary for State Zimmermann, on the contrary, said to Bachmann the next day that the meeting had gone off very well, and we were all unanimous. So we were, up to the point of the Chancellor and Jagow standing quite by themselves.

What I had said, in fact, slowly and emphatically, was that the new American Note (No. II) was happily couched in very courteous language. That was the first impression. But when one tested the actual contents, they presented themselves as an unfair demand (here my "harshness" comes in) to relinquish the "U-boat" warfare and the use of mines, and to get practically nothing from England in return for doing it, except at the most a few solitary compromised convoys. In respect to the speech at the Kaiser's, he said that Bethmann's suspicion openly expressed that we are behind the agitation in the press. Was very improper on the Chancellor's part. He had told His Majesty so. I had energetically combated this charge. On the other hand I had alluded to loss of prestige, and that was an unheard-of thing to attribute to the Chancellor.

This whole misconception on the side of Muller is quite incomprehensible to me. The matter in question really was whether the Note made too weak an impression, and if it was accepted (as seems likely


enough) we are to be blamed for it. Because we cried out on February 4th (in the face of my written advice), so we must continue to hold out, to please the Kaiser. Just as if I had said, "The Chancellor wants to lower the prestige." That would be a different thing. Then came the Wiegand affair and my attitude to the submarine controversy; which he does see now in a different light, so far as he can comprehend it. To-morrow the discussion will continue.... The gist of the matter is: he and the Kaiser have between them held back the fleet.

The splendid spirit that prevailed in August of last year has evaporated. The fleet could have struck, in my estimation, with brilliant success, for both ships and personnel were superior to England's. Now a scapegoat is being searched for. First it is found in the technique, next in myself. That view is supported involuntarily by a host of those who vote for remaining inactive. One tries to find excuses. It is only to be expected that Muller and the Kaiser will succeed in finding them. But had I only commanded the fleet in the first months!... Now its capacity and other circumstances are infinitely more unfavourable.

Charleville, March 8th.

The Vatican seems to be throwing its whole weight into the scale against Italy and Austria breaking with each other. The Vatican and the Centre have combined in order to encourage the aged Emperor Franz Joseph, It would be very important for us if the result were in the long run even a passively favourable one for us. But at a moment like this, that is a good deal to hope for.


I have just been reading an article in which it is energetically demanded that some definite pronouncement shall be made about our keeping Belgium. That in my opinion is the only thing to do, even if we don't keep it later. The visit of Sir Edward Grey to France has taken place. In connection therewith peace negotiations are on foot. Every imaginable sign points to our wanting to give in to England.

This morning Prince Henry came to see me. He believed that he was going to be consulted on highly important questions, and yet nothing serious was mentioned.... Politicians had approached him, he was the man to enlighten the Kaiser, if things went on like this there would be a kind of revolution after the war, and so on.... They had also approached the Kaiser. I advised Prince Henry not to take the initiative; he wouldn't be listened to. A group of independent men and the princes together could do it. A single individual couldn't and would make nothing of it. Prince Henry related that there was talk of approaching Hindenburg with the idea of his taking over the whole show, but Hindenburg can't offer himself.... So everything remains as it was.

A walk this afternoon with Bachmann, warm, spring-like weather; in Charleville at any rate the first real spring day.


Charleville, March 9th.

Uhlesfeld's view that if possible we should let the others attack here in the west is shared by me; hence we must reserve what power of attack we have left, for the time being, for the east and southwest. Naturally I am unable to survey the situation thoroughly, but from all accounts there seems no doubt that the danger there is greatest. Great resolution is necessary, but in this war that has nearly always failed us at the critical moment. The generalship of Frederick William IV is repeating itself.

Here people are astonished that King Constantine has had the courage to combat Venizelos's desire to take part in the war. The Dardanelles fiasco has caused great excitement among the whole clique there, but has in no wise decided anything for us. The extraordinary thing about it is that if Constantinople had fallen into Russian hands, the Balkan States would have settled down comfortably among the nettles. The one disquieting fact about the Turkish situation is the dearth of munitions. We thought a little while ago that Roumania was going to give in and let our munition trains through. But yesterday she again became suddenly restive. Owing to this, gold from both sides flows into the hands of the sharks. The monstrous confidence in victory which the English are trumpeting through the universe, and which our hydra-headed ones are doing too, on their side, is bringing the neutral world round to a belief in England.


I told you about the Munchner Zeitung and the article on Belgium, and the necessity of the Imperial Government giving some outline of their intentions of what they were going to do with it. Now the paper has been confiscated, at the instigation of Bethmann. I alluded to this article in conversation to-day with a Bavarian military authority, on his way to the front (he is the second I've met). He had already read it, and entirely agreed with it. This Munich newspaper is quite an insignificant publication, but the article was excellent and written by an expert. It had the ring of being inspired by someone in Bavaria, of course. There exists there a strong opposition to the Chancellor's views. The latter is afraid that a new modern "Burgundy" may arise there. There may be some truth in what the King of Bavaria said to me at Coblenz: "and if Prussia won't have it, we will take it." Perhaps it was only a jest, but a jest with an undertone.

Charleville, March 10th.

The temporary slackening of the submarine campaign has its justification. But I think it's gone far enough. A is right: in present methods of conducting and declaring war, no neutrals could be sunk. That was why I was in favour of a declaration of a blockade, and limitation of space to a zone; such as from Channel to Southampton and East Coast. Then the neutrals would have to keep away, if they didn't want to be fired at. For the present limitation of the submarine activity the decree of February 4th in this year was not only unnecessary, but extremely mistaken. We were able to proceed without any decree, as would now happen if the neutrals weren't stirred up, no trumpets blown, and our base of operations gradually increased according to our powers.


Charleville, March nth.

That Submarine 20 is lost you will have heard ere this. We are feeling very sad about it. The submarine traps which the English are setting everywhere are hazardous and the whole of the English and French torpedo fleet is hunting our U-boats. But it can't be helped, we must go through with it.

You will have heard about the Budget Commission. All parties pronounced most decidedly in favour of the annexation of Belgium. So far, so good; but as I was not there, every imaginable thing was fabricated about me. Jagow is said to have completely held his peace. I have just received your letter of the 10th. How much I should like to come to Berlin, but considering my strained relations with the Chancellor, it is better that I should stay here. Reproaches against the navy, as Erzberger says to Capelle, don't occur, and when our State is in question the Chancellor is here. One can work very well with Bachmann.


Charleville, March 12th.

I am glad that Bachmann is altogether on my side about the bad disposition of our ships, and does all he can on his side to counteract it. If our fleet came into action in fairly favourable circumstances, or not too unfavourable ones, this faulty disposition would vanish like a wraith. Capelle has brought away no good impression to-day from the Budget Commission, either with what concerns the navy or the State. Perhaps after all, then, I shall have to come to Berlin. The Foreign Office has got a pat on the back on account of the American Note.

Everything is at a standstill in the east, and here too. We are not doing enough for us. The question of the Dardanelles excites the Balkans. It is a dangerous situation; the stepping over the precipice on the part of one little State can affect fatally the whole course of the war. Hindenburg might take another hundred thousand Russian prisoners, but it wouldn't help much. The sinking of a few English ships of the line would have a greater effect on the neutral nations.

Charleville, March 13th.

In spite of the fine weather, our mood here is very slack. In east and west all is quiet, and one can hardly tell yet whether we shall make any further progress. Gradually the blockade of Germany must affect the whole temper of the nation, and one can never know whether a section of the proletariat may not break out like a carrion vulture. Nothing more is to be done with the Austrians. The diplomatic preparations


for a world-war were incredible. A great number of intelligence departments useless, and the same to be said of many embassies. Never before the war does there seem to have been any consultations between the Government and the military officials. Blissful confidence in England's remaining neutral till the last; since 1909 no increase of our navy. In the Army High Command no comprehension of the significance of England as a factor in war, on the contrary the most implicit faith in the old victory recipe of the dead dough-makers. In conclusion the Hydra!

When one reviews all this, one can only see into a dusky future. Of course it is even a worse outlook in France and Russia, but we are fighting against the whole world, inclusive of America. The grain steamer for Belgium unloaded a cargo of arms first of all in England, And here I sit and can do nothing. The disposition of our fleet was entirely wrong; but Muller, the Kaiser, and Pohl adhere to it absolutely, and will continue to do so. That is the most depressing thing of all. Our best chance certainly has been missed; the gigantic increase of the English fleet in a single year makes itself acutely apparent.

This morning Muller was here, and we cultivated peaceful intercourse. Bachmann is in Flanders for a few days. This evening we had with us Gravenitz (a Wurtemberg officer), and the new Bavarian Militatvollmachtige. I see very few men outside, and time passes rather monotonously for me. As a matter of course I shall stick out for Belgium, but to talk to Bethmann about


it is absolutely useless. I have talked to him nevertheless for an hour and more. Since the meeting at the Kaiser's we are as the poles asunder. I haven't had a single conversation with him that has led to anything. It is quite hopeless, only the will of the people can help. For me, too, the time is not yet ripe for a renewed attack, as just at this moment war conditions can't be reviewed. Muller related to-day that a few days before the outbreak of war, Stumm, head of the English department at the Foreign Office, still persisted that England wouldn't come in. It was all bluff.

Charleville, March 14th.

General von Einem expressed the opinion that the French in open battle would not be able to stand against us. But now we no longer share that opinion, and moreover the French are very clever in making use of the country. Singularly free from dogmatic tactics, and their shooting is first-rate. This morning the Crown Prince, who was here, told me so. His father was absent. I talked to him more frankly this time. He was graver than usual, and expressed himself strongly about the whole "Hydra."

The Eitel Friedrich (cruiser) has done well, like all our ships when they attack.

Get hold of the letter, if you can, from the commander of the Cormorant. A real romance, but the chase of Japanese, English, French, and Russian squadrons was naturally a bit too much. The Dutch refused him everything out of fear. The Americans didn't even give him coal, but supplied our enemies' milliards with arms and ammunition.


Charleville, March 15th.

I shall not require a whole sheet for this, for I have really nothing to report, and scarcely anything to do. As things now are I would gladly have stayed longer in Berlin. It is very quiet here; I see and speak with hardly anybody, and don't know how to occupy myself in these sad times. That is what especially depresses me. A little pleasure was given us by the success of our submarine. The commander of U29 (formerly of U9) dispatched five ships. Other submarines two or three. London is said to be quite excited over it. I hear their new temporarily built submarines are very well constructed so that they can be turned to good account. I should have liked so much to have stayed in Berlin for the meeting of the Reichstag, but without the war minister it didn't do much, and now it's too late.

Charleville, March i6th.

I have no good news to report from the east. The Austrians are again totally disheartened. It seems almost as if they didn't want to go on. The State and the army are both obviously rotten to the core, and in their interests we have unsheathed "the shining sword."


I am quite out of it with regard to plans, and owing to the general situation can't use those I have left to end it, though the whole apparatus is there ready. Bethmann must be spared, was Muller's advice to me lately. "Let him go... he has no luck," Fredericus Rex would have said. If only he with his walking-stick would come down from heaven!

Charleville, March 17th.

Nothing new from Paris. Muller was at Bachmann's to-day, and for a change was in a somewhat depressed mood, such as prevails round the Kaiser at present. This is caused by the fact that everywhere things have come to a standstill, and in consequence the negotiations with Italy appear to be at a deadlock. At any rate nothing has succeeded there so far, as she goes on winding up her demands to an ever higher pitch.

Get the war log of the Ayescha (sailing vessel used by some of the crew of cruiser Emden to escape capture in the Indian Ocean). It is full of interesting seafaring things for you of a real romantic nature. The Dutch haven't behaved nicely about it, and in every publication brought out during the war one is struck by passages to this effect, which certainly is to be regretted.

In September no one dreamed any longer of a short war. Neither did I in July and August. The Foreign Office would go on believing that it had England in the palm of its hand, and could crow over her. It still thinks so. We ought to, and could, have avoided war with Russia. In former years we could have gone to Turkey


on our own account, and then we should have had the Russians off our hands. Instead of that, we threw in our lot with Austria, and have reaped our reward. Bethmann and his set hatched an oriental policy while our economic enterprise, whether we like it or not, spread over the world necessarily to bring us into competition with England, but not into war, if Russia had not been among our opponents. We must pick up these threads again. But for great resolves we don't pull ourselves together, and we just drift on. (N.B. - Drift is a good old German expression that also occurs in "drifting away.")

Charleville, March 18th.

The position is pronounced to be unfavourable, by Bethmann and the Hydra generally. The great hope now is a collapse on France's part. My view is that we must just set our teeth... that is the only way. Think of Fredericus Rex after Kunersdorf, and we haven't as yet experienced anything quite so bad as that! Bethmann and Jagow and their followers are acting feebly in all directions for internal political reasons, internal reasons that are known everywhere externally and operate dangerously.

Thank you for "Stein." The memory of these men seems to have died out, but what a powerful group he had round him, Blucher, Scharnhorst, Boyen, Gneisenau, "a band of brothers," as Nelson said. But how about 1914-15? Even the worthy Bachmann is horrified at the Hydra; he found the whole company to-day busy gardening, but with hang-dog heads. Recently there was discovered in a manure heap, in the same garden, a case of 156 bottles of the best wine.


U-- underestimates the actual power of the Hydra. According to the traditions I have grown up with, I can't possibly stand in open opposition to it, though therein, properly speaking, lay my chief means. For the rest, I am not allowed to further my principle of action. If I could only turn out submarines more speedily... but it is to be hoped that in two or three weeks our relays will be in operation. The commanders of our submarines are doing their part magnificently... their logs are as exciting as novels.

Charleville, March 19th.

Herr von Mutuns came with the Foreign Office's congratulations. Earlier the Kaiser rang me up and congratulated me. A further birthday treat was the news that two English ships of the line had been sunk in the Dardanelles, and a French liner, the Bouvet (pre-dreadnought). We had already had a telegram from Usedom with news of the sinking of the Bouvet. The Kaiserin sent me a gracious telegram which greatly pleased me. If good wishes can be of any help, I am indeed well supplied.

In the east the Russians are once more bringing huge masses into the battle, and they fight with great bravery and dash. Eichhorn would be in a bad way if the Russians had more guns. The Austrians haven't advanced an inch. It seems that, without doubt, the Russians were going to strike a powerful blow, but their massed troops came too late.


Charleville, March 20th.

Yesterday evening it was again very flat. Conversation dragged. The Kaiser saw big victories everywhere, or pretended to see them in order to allay his own anxiety. The one bright spot was the confirmation of the English losses in the Dardanelles. The Turks or, more strictly speaking, our casualties were slight, but the want of munitions was felt. Bachmann is also horrified at the administration of the Cabinet; socially as well as officially.

Charleville, March 21st.

Your letter of yesterday just received. Yes, I should have done more, if I had been allowed a freer hand. Muller has received urgent petitions from various people, Bachmann, Dick, etc., suggesting that I shall be appointed First Lord of the Admiralty for the duration of the war, and that I shall be left to my own devices as to where and when I go on board. Answer was invariably "... Out of the question - the Kaiser would never consent." The latter wants to conduct the naval war himself, and naturally he couldn't do that with me at his side. I meditate and meditate on how I am to escape from the position in which I find myself. Formally speaking, Pohl has the free hand, so how can I interfere when he does nothing, and says that he has no opportunity?


The command that battle is to be sought a tout prix can't be issued, but must be locked in the breast of the person concerned. Circumstances are different in the sea-struggle from what they are in the war on land. To-day an announcement comes from Berlin that 9 milliards have been subscribed. That is striking evidence of a unanimous purpose.

We hear from Pohl that the English, the day after the sinking of their ships, renewed their attack on the Dardanelles, which shows the right spirit. In a like fashion we should have attacked again at once, on January 25th, even if it had been simply a case of per far contra. But the Cabinet has lowered the spirit of the fleet; the bacillus by this time has penetrated pretty deeply, and without drastic changes in the personnel there is not much prospect of improvement.

We have no fresh news from Constantinople. Our casualties are small, the forts little damaged. Only the lack of munitions is grievous. As things are now, the forcing of the Dardanelles would be a severe blow for us. Yesterday's last attempt on Przemysl has failed, the activity of the Russians is great on the Memel as well.

We have no trumps left. Let us hope that in April the submarine war will make further strides.


Charleville, March 22nd.

To-day, dinner at His Majesty's in honour of the birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm the First. Bachmann called attention to the fact that a great part of the English fleet was now in the Dardanelles, and that the submarine war absorbed no end of light fighting forces. If anything was to be done, this was a good time to do it. Pohl resented any such suggestion. He was not contemplating doing anything, on the contrary he wanted to enclose himself still more inside a radius of mines. Really it is hopeless. There's a fleet of forty armoured ships, half of which are superdreadnoughts, and over 100 torpedo boats lying rusting in port, while Germany is engaged in a struggle for her very existence, and I have to sit here, powerless.

Would that this was the only fault of the Cabinet system. But for the last two or three decades I have lived through this objectless paltering and parade of red-tapeism. I have seen how each official head of the department "works for himself alone and thinks 'himself ' the pivot on which everything turns, and that it is to the interest of everybody to appeal to him...." And now we are in the midst of this awful war, and the same confusion exists, the same objectlessness, from the point of view of unity. In Constantinople, in the navy, in the army, in politics, no co-operation, nearly everyone still squinting towards the Kaiser, who is surrounded with weak people.


There is only one remedy. That is to make Hindenburg Chancellor of the Empire, Chief of the General Staff, and Chief of the Admiral's Staff all in one. Only look at the ovations in the Reichstag, they evince a complete oblivion of the real evil.

Fortunately the fall of Przemsyl comes almost at the same moment as the defeat of the English in the Dardanelles. The one will lessen the effect of the other. But everywhere the Russians are attacking ruthlessly and the Austrians are being beaten, and we too are getting nervous. Hindenburg is coming to the end of his forces. I have been told that Bethmann's impression was that the latter should be recalled from Poland.

Charleville, March 23rd.

His Majesty honoured the new knights pour le merite with a speech in which he compared them to a certain extent with the Palidones who not far from here, at Sedan, helped Kaiser Wilhelm the Great to create the German Empire. I sat between Solnis and Lyncker. The latter deplored the utterance of Moltke in the Star Saal on the receipt of the news that England was coming into the war. "The more Englishmen, the better." He said something the same to me when we travelled together to Coblenz, and I pointed out to him that he shouldn't underrate the direct participation of the English army. Not only politically, but from a military point of view, we have floundered into this war. No reflection on how a world-war


should be conducted, no joint leadership - in short, just as it is now in the war itself. I remember that I wanted to confer with Moltke before his departure from Berlin to Constantinople and Turkey; he declined curtly because it would not have interested him. On the whole the tone was very lacking in enthusiasm. The fall of Przemysl weighed heavily on everybody. As I hear, there are traces of the same feeling at the front.

I next conversed with General von X, and tried to indicate that greater unity in the whole command must come. The Kaiser ought to defer his power, at least for the time being, to someone else, Hindenburg for instance. I soon saw, however, that such an idea didn't at all meet the views of General von X--, the Kaiser's favour is sufficient for him. Yesterday Bethmann very feebly tried to argue that we were only fighting about Belgium, otherwise we might have peace. Abroad, they will of course get wind of this, and Belgium will he estimated as a kind of "pound of flesh" mortgage, even if we wanted to give it up afterwards.

Prince Adalbert is here, and is trying to get out of his father an order for Pohl to do nothing.

Prince Adalbert appears to be acting under Pohl's instructions. The latter has now a free hand to act according to his own judgment. So that the motive of this proceeding lies in Pohl's wish to be excused, by a command, for impassivity and doing nothing. This seemed to me preposterous. Prince Adalbert came to-day to Bachmann with the message that the Kaiser


acquiesced, and that he was deputed to tell me, and him - Admiral Bachmann - of his pleasure. Bachmann declined at once; he would, in such a fashion, accept no "pleasure" of His Majesty. Prince Adalbert has not yet come to me, I will send him about his business if he does. Isn't it enough to make one's hair stand on end. Pohl plays second fiddle to the Kaiser. Indeed, my fears wth regard to Pohl are more than justified.

Charleville, March 24th.

This morning Prince Adalbert called on me and Bachmann was present. Our conversation was only general. Afterwards I learned from Bachmann that Prince Adalbert had not dared to risk communicating to me that the fleet was to stand still by word of command. All the same he had telegraphed it to Pohl as the Kaiser's command. A quite unheard-of proceeding, which cannot be tolerated.

Charleville, March 25th.

The amiable, always accommodating Bachmann has had a tiff with the Chancellor, who wrote him a positively incredible letter. The subject in dispute was a paltry lapsus linguae that was let slip by a Reserve officer of the Berlin Admiral's Staff, at a private function. He merely remarked something to the effect that the Foreign Office appeared to have been slack in the U-boat affair (in February). Great excitement thereat on the part of the Chancellor. The "man who talked of an illusion as an achievement" rubbed in twice by word of mouth at Bachmann's and then three epistles! This sort of touchiness is characteristic of the people who guide our destiny in these serious times.


Charleville, March 26th.

The Turk, Colonel von Franckenberg came, and told us about the ructions between Enver, Leman, and the Ambassador. The colonel had been through the Suez campaign. They were mostly Arab troops, who were always routed by gunfire; they, the Turks themselves, could do little against the firing of the ships. There were dug-outs on the whole Egyptian side, with sand-bags and so on. During the summer only easy operations were possible, in the autumn they would attack again. But, as I said, that would be too late. On the whole the Turkish kingdom doesn't seem to be doing much. We have selected curious allies. If we only had not sent on its behalf a military mission, and had adopted no anti-Russian policy with England in the Balkans! If instead of that we had told the Russians that for all we cared they might go to Constantinople, then the Bear would be now sitting opposite the Whale, and the whole herd of goats from the Balkans would be taking refuge in our arms!

General S-- complained again about the dearth of munitions, especially the lack of powder.

This question of powder will perhaps decide the war. The continuous lack of it with us costs us every day several hundred men, sometimes more. The division of authority between the war ministers and General Staff in time of peace weakens the joint outlook for what is essential.


Charleville, March 26th.

Herr von N-- is perfectly right. It is an unheard-of failure in our supreme command in which the head is implicated. I have seen it coming for a decade. How often have I said to you that I didn't know how the catastrophe would come, but that it was bound to come some day! That is why it is so dreadful to be by and witness it, and to be part of it.

I am going to see X-- to-day, but with no intention of talking matters over with him. That would do no good. General von H-- is also useless to me. He is essentially a soldier, and wants to be nothing else. Hindenburg might be our salvation. I know him personally, but only slightly, and have no power of judging whether he possesses political vision. He is said to be a shrewd and thoughtful man. The proper stimulus for the bold and daring enterprises in the east is said to be Ludendorff. If I knew Hindenburg better, and had some pretext, I would go and see him. But I have been told that the Crown Prince is working in this direction. He will meet with no success, however, or only too late. Bethmann and his clique, Ballin, and even now Reichstag circles are muddling


everything feebly. Peace for us, minus a great deal, yet peace. If one really was in earnest about wanting it, nothing could be worse for the conclusion of peace than this weak incompetence.

I hear that things in France are looking very black; and I believe hopes are being built on Caillaux personally. I don't think this is true. The temporary military dictatorship of Joffre and Poincare still rules, and will be kept on the leash by the English. Last night the English Admiralty announced that it had grounds for believing Submarine 29 (Widdigen) had been sunk in the Irish Sea with the whole crew. It wouldn't make this public without good reason, and U29 was surprisable. A most lamentable incident. Widdigen perhaps was too confident, and then there's that perilous cautiousness towards neutrals!

Charleville, March 27th.

This morning early Muller was here and imparted to Bachmann that he had accomplished nothing with the Kaiser. He had expressed a wish to be spared memorandums, and said that he didn't wish to be troubled with the fleet, hence the order. With infinite difficulty Muller had elicited that at least Bachmann was to have an audience previously; this will take place on Monday. If things go on like this I foresee a gloomy ending. Everything is on the verge of bankruptcy in Turkey, and then the Balkan flood and the carrion vulture will be let loose on Austria. I see


only one way out: the Kaiser must say that he is on the sick list for eight weeks or more, Hindenburg must come and take Bethmann's place, and both the army and the Admiralty shall be directed by him and the Emperor. The Kaiser must next go to Berlin. Kessel looked me up, and he expressed himself as horrified at the condition of the Kaiser's health. "He had no voice in anything, he had as a matter of fact done nothing, and was already beginning to see that in the end he'd have to pay the piper," so said the Kaiser. Kessel thought that the King of Bavaria must be prevailed upon to talk him over into declaring himself on the sick list. I advised against it; any such proceeding should come from his side, and the Kaiserin's influence with him should be used. The Staff Physician Z--- and his own medical adviser would have to demand it urgently from a medical point of view, for he would never go on sick leave without.

Apparently Hindenburg has great difficulties in front of him, and he (Kessel) cannot bear Ludendorff. It seems that only with the help of a great collapse can a change come, and then it will be too late. The assumption that in the southeast lies the key to the final issue of the war appears to be gaining ground with many.


Charleville, March 28th.

To-day, early in the morning, I had to pay Prince Leopold of Bavaria a visit. He had little information to impart, only was sure that we must in all circumstances hold out. Now I am expecting the staff doctor, with whom I went to discuss the sickleave matter. No news, alas! of Submarine 29, so one must give it up as lost.

What you write on the subject of the Foreign Office is very interesting. But the situation there is really so; the former ambassador's work, now under Zimmermann, doesn't suit either of them. For the rest I am not in any doubt about the present position there, and I can't rate Zimmermann so high; whether he has really "vision" and can seize a point on the rebound, is dubious to me. I wasn't able to discover it in the Budget Commission. He took a strong part in the drifting into war in July. He was also responsible in giving Austria a free hand against Serbia. He regarded the whole affair as a diplomatic war and wished to score a personal success. Then in the U-boat debate he rode the high horse. In two days he totally turned round. As a matter of fact I am cold-shouldered by the whole lot of them, so that I can't work with either the Chancellor or the Secretary of State.


Charleville, March 29th.

The atmosphere here is extremely depressed. Falkenhayn says he can do no more. One hasn't any longer the least confidence in the Austrians. Bethmann and his supporters are seriously thinking of grovelling to England. That in my opinion would be the worst possible thing to do. To my mind there is only one way out, and that is to treat with Russia. Hindenburg could only be of service if he conquered everything, and that the Kaiser and the whole Hydra would never permit. But it is on this one man that our actual power exists. I shall try before very long to come to Berlin, but first I should like to have another conversation with the Crown Prince.

The idea of K---'s to make a strategical curve in the east is quite good. It would, I think, however, only come to the fore if the Russian army were smashed, and at present there is no sign of that happening. The fellows go on attacking vigorously, even with the Landsturm, as they did on the Memel. And, moreover, by that method we should never be rid of the Russian danger in the future. The fellows ought to have been diverted towards the warm water, instead of which we in conjunction with England have hindered it, and now have our reward. And you may be sure that after the war Bethmann and his set will do their utmost to represent me as its evil genius.

I scarcely know a single person who has been well disposed towards me, who hasn't after a conversation with Zimmermann had all his good impression of me wiped out. I know that it amounted to quite a system when I was in Berlin. I don't expect anything to come of an explanation with Bethmann. Never yet has it done any good in my case, or in that of others. He is the unluckiest choice for his post that could have been


made. Nevertheless, I'll try when I get the opportunity. The whole constitution that his post represents is only suited to exceptional giants. In the ordinary way it is dangerous, as has now been proved and as we saw years ago. Bachmann goes to the Kaiser to-day in order to decide about the order to Pohl. The Crown Prince has written his father a letter the postscript of which has come to our knowledge. In it he begs of his father to rescind the limitations imposed now on the submarine warfare which have caused us to lose too much. The Crown Prince sees the matter quite clearly, but it is a pity he never learnt to work. The letter is said to contain other things.

I have heard that the Crown Prince is also set on Hindenburg. My staff doctor says that the Kaiser prays formally for a release through the shunting of his responsibility on to others, but then he comes up against the wall with which he has surrounded himself, and against his self-conceit. Old Januschauer writes to me that the Kaiser will be wondering how much of his kingdom of Prussia will be left after the war.

Charleville, March 30th.

Bachmann returned from his audience to-day quite sorrowful. The Kaiser listened to him, then he held a half-hour's counter-audience, and said "No. The fleet should only go out if it didn't strike. If the last was not approved of, then the fleet should stay in."


Charleville, March 31st.

Goltz-Pasha is here. But up till now I haven't seen him. He has come to sue for the capture of the Serbian rag-tag and bob-tail. I conversed the other day with a lieutenant-colonel of the Jagers, who on March 19th left Constantinople, and set forth vividly how the issue of the war now depended on the Dardanelles and Serbia. Both Bachmann and I share this view. It is merely a question of whether one can spare troops from here while enemy troops are massing as they now are on the western front. That could be best decided by someone who was not locally interested here. Geographically expressed, the decision must really take place in Berlin.

Meanwhile very disquieting news has come from the Carpathians. The Austrians are yielding. The Jager lieutenant von R--- recounted how massive officers sat on the back of the Austrian provision wagons, but never in the front. Frequently he heard surprise expressed that we sent so many sons of our best families into the firing line, and now the ragged nationalities and the ignorant General Staff have only just discovered these things for themselves.

The Jager officer would have liked an audience with His Majesty, but Plessen declined. It wouldn't be pleasant for His Majesty just now to hear more about Turkey. I take a very serious view of our future. The Russian army is fighting very well and is better led than was ever anticipated. They recover from


their defeats with amazing rapidity. The French, on the defensive, fight splendidly. The English have been under-rated. The superiority of forces against us is powerful and our commanders have not, sad to say, risen to the occasion. In spite of this, in my opinion we must continue to hold on, so long as Austria doesn't entirely collapse. The Entente powers, however, are not out for the defeat of Austria, but for the crushing of Germany alone.

With regard to U.'s letter, I can only express the wish that he may be right in his conclusion that the middle-class party are unanimous on the point of holding out. Erzberger appears to be already overthrown, and I've had a letter from an Independent Conservative parliamentarian that smacks strongly of downfall.... Haug, Banks, Wilhelmstrasse, and all their branches; and in the army itself there are no outstanding occurrences of an encouraging nature except in the east. The Wilhelmstrasse, if they want to face deficit, should shout plus, as England has done in such a grand manner, then the deficit would at least be smaller.

Charleville, April 1st.

If the work of my life is wrecked, I believe that I shall have much to bear. I have already written to you on the result of Prince Adalbert's mission. The order for Pohl which Bachmann has dispatched is thoroughly to my approval. Pohl in accordance therewith is to act solely on his own authority, but


whether he has the impulse to act is another question. But I must admit that circumstances for him have now become much more difficult. The submarines go on being effective, but the necessity of sparing the neutrals weakens their whole operations and involves us in losses. The latest is that grain is to be convoyed to England by Norwegian ships via Norwegian ports.

Bachmann to-day was summoned to a conclave with Falkenhayn on the subject of whether Austria couldn't do something at sea. Unluckily we heard yesterday that the attempt to send munitions to Turkey, by the Danube, had failed. The Danube steamer concerned in this attempt was fired on and destroyed by Austria. B--- found that the Army High Command was somewhat in perplexity, not knowing exactly what to do next. When one studies Frederick the Great, one is always amazed and delighted at how in the most difficult situations the new idea comes, and is carried out like a lightning flash.

I don't know whether U--- has read Homer Lee; he sets forth that it is necessary for the progress of the world that the Anglo-Saxon race, England plus America, alone should rule the earth; that it would be necessary with this object to keep a big army on the German-Dutch frontier, and in Schleswig, in order to combat Germanism, which would bar the progress of civilization if it were not suppressed. From his own point of view, the man is right. For the moment Falkenhayn is again troubled about Italy. The negotiations are said to have come to a standstill in a dangerous manner.


Charleville, April 2nd.

I went to church to-day to celebrate Good Friday. After church there was a march past, but without music. I told the Kaiser that before long I was going to Flanders, Berlin, and Hamburg on submarine business. Then we conversed on the topic of the U-boat campaign; and I seized the opportunity of saying that the order to spare neutrals had created a great danger for the submarines; they could too easily be rammed on rising to the surface. The Kaiser went at once to Bachmann, to give him an express audience. We made a little round in the walk home. Had hardly got there, before a telephone message came from Muller, that he would like first to get into touch with the Chancellor about it. Afterwards Goltz Pasha called on me. He is here to hold an audience with the Kaiser on the subject of the Serbian State and the Osmans.

He has found indecision here. It is the grave question of the hour: are we going to hesitate again and be too late? Breaking through here seems scarcely possible; in Prussia everything halts; the Austrians are falling back - Activite celerite, said Napoleon I. Act we must, but how is it to be done, with the Hydra? The Kaiser said the other day, that he would have every Frenchman cleared out of Alsace (the corner by Belfort). Besides, the bones of a Pomeranian Grenadier were worth more to him than all the Balkans. Nevertheless whole hecatombs have been sacrificed to the Serbian quarrel; and the fatal hour for the German Empire is standing at the door.


Of his sons, the Kaiser hears oftenest from Prince Eitel Fritz, but he is too simply a soldier. Muller's influence is now the greatest. He almost rules the State, at any rate the navy, and doesn't believe it himself. I have recently told him my belief that Bethmann must go. Yes, but who is to be put in his place? Whereupon, I mentioned Hindenburg. Pohl has written to Bachmann that Prince Adalbert brought him the inferred command not to attempt anything more. Pohl pretends not to have had anything to do with it. In the meantime Bachmann's revised version of the command gives the freest possible hand for action. Not that I think the fleet will now render any notable assistance. This is the war of missed opportunities.

Charleville, April 3rd.

This evening, summoned to His Majesty. To-morrow evening we are to have Prince Solms here and little Prince Waldemar. The Kaiser has really given in now, and has granted absolutely free action to the submarines. Latterly the submarine war has been thoroughly successful. Trade in England is declining steadily with Scandinavia and Holland for example, at the rate of 80 per cent. Insurance premiums have


gone up with giant leaps, and in proportion the cost of living in England, and also wages. That at least is something that it is always satisfactory to hear. Falkenhayn is to-day gone to Berlin. Everyone is very uneasy here about Italy, and concentration of troops towards the east has been established. Had things been settled according to Prince Adalbert's ideas, the affair would be different; in that contingency, Bachmann and I would have been shelved. But now as the matter stands Pohl has an entirely free hand, and the submarine warfare can go on unhindered.

So soon as the Russians are no longer ice-bound, they will undertake something; and we shall be at a disadvantage, as was the case last autumn, so it is feared here, where one is beginning to be nervous. The Russians too have succeeded in laying mines in the Baltic, as far as Rugru. I intend the day after to-morrow to travel to Bruges and stay there a few days.

To-day Muller said to Bachmann the Chancellor must be spared, and allowed to stay in office. Once again he has made such a fine speech, at the Bismarck celebration. Isn't that original? I wonder that Bismarck didn't step down from his pedestal.


Charleville, April 4th.

America is going on supplying arms and munitions, and neither the Irish nor the German Americans will alter it, for it is too good a business. The retreat of the Austrians is stayed, as the Prussians stepped in at the last minute. All the danger is now concentrated in Italy. Hindenburg ought to be put in Bethmann's place, otherwise the upshot of the affair will be bad. Thank you for Wolf's address, about which I was not quite sure. I am so sorry for the poor boy, but would he be much happier now under Pohl, who with Muller has made such a ghastly muddle of the naval campaign?

Bachmann told me to-day how urgently he had entreated Muller to lay the whole matter before me, and how he had always vehemently replied that the Kaiser would on no condition agree. X--- writes too that I ought to insist on it. I could only do it if I said that Pohl was no good for the purpose, and this without any reserve. I should merely place the question before the Cabinet and gain nothing. Bachmann and I now work together in perfect harmony and so I reap more advantage than if I were in the wrong box.

Charleville, April 5th.

Yesterday evening animated conversation went on till pretty late. I quite liked Wild von Hohenboen. We had many things in common. His idea is that in the extreme case we could hold out against Italy too, and moreover would have to. Behind the front here, powerful forces are being massed. The intention is now to get Kitchener's army out of the way. He thought it quite wrong, too, that we didn't speak out our mind about Belgium. The treatment of the question by the Chancellor was, seemingly, sheer weakness, and showed no will to conquer. Little Prince Waldemar was very nice, but shy, and old Solms told hunting stories and stroked his moustache.


Charleville, April 8th.

Prince Henry is to recruit here a little after his arduous task at Kiel! A programme has been drawn up. The Kaiser overwhelmed with news of victories... the opposite may not be brought to him, among others "gigantic rising in India," etc. The connoisseurs are, on the other hand, in dejection. The Kaiser and his brother abuse England; Valentine said, if only we would follow the policy of Metternich. (Till 1912 German Ambassador to England.) Very characteristic that. The Kaiser seeks consolation in the, to my mind, dangerous idea that the First Punic war was a failure, it was not till the Second that.... Well then, we must build a lot more ships. This kind of thing is our misfortune and may be our ruin. And yet they all cry Hallelujah. No conception of the extreme gravity of the situation for the future of Germany. In short, I am under the impression we shall sue to England.


Charleville, April 9th.

To-day Muller was here and I demanded of him an assurance that in any kind of peace negotiations that might arise I should have a voice, as I had been promised at the beginning of the war. Muller assented - perhaps my request is in some degree two-edged, for it is too late for any co-operation, but at least I have eased my conscience. Muller knew nothing of any peace negotiations. Once more I explained to him my whole point of view, and succeeded momentarily in impressing him. He said it was too deplorable that the Kaiser was surrounded by mere la-de-da courtiers. These gentry were, from long habit, too inclined, one and all, to take their cue from the Kaiser's method. That was much to be regretted. He did not consider himself in the matter at all. He admitted jealousy of Hindenburg in the east. In connection with our fleet, the Kaiser wished to be left in peace, and not to be worried about it; he himself really didn't know what the next day might bring forth.

To-day the Crown Prince has been extremely courteous, but very reserved. I have still hopes of him. Certainly he hasn't learnt to work, but he has discretion, lets other men work, is not vain, and will have nothing to do with the Cabinet adminstration. I believe too that he is a good judge of character. But the Kaiser won't give him his head. Muller boasts that he helped us out in the Prince Adalbert business; he hoped, however, that Pohl would do his part.

Unfortunately we haven't got any munitions through to Turkey, and therein for the moment the danger lies. Just now things are rather better with Italy.


Charleville, April 10th.

The news that comes to hand about the political situation is so uncertain that one never knows what to believe. To-day it is reported that the feeling in England is very slack, and that England wants to direct the policy into a different channel. It is to be hoped that we shan't help her in this.

Charleville, April 11th.

W--- came in to see me to-day and related that in Berlin a powerful league has been formed to which many influential persons belong, to arrange peace at any price with England. I hadn't heard of it before. Financiers, bankers, all former ambassadors and attaches; in addition the Wilhelmstrasse renegades, in full force, "lasciate ogni speranza" (Abandon all hope).

One may indeed say, according to news received here, the English are not at all happy or hopeful. The submarine war is having great effect, it increases economic difficulties, and in addition, there is no lasting arrangement with the Japs. Endurance and initiative were for us the one right thing. Our naval attache in Rome has communicated disquieting news. It seems that England is threatening Italy, and apparently the fellows can't stand it. The brigandage against Austria appeals to the man in the street more than the future position on the Mediterranean. To-day I went to church out of respect to Prince Henry. A very indifferent sermon. To believe, means to conquer. Just as if one


hadn't to help God Almighty out a little! I have had, I am sorry to say, to give up Hopmann, It was a real pain to me. I can only make use of Capelle in certain matters; and besides he lives too much in his own future. For me this war must have a sad end.

Had I commanded the fleet at the beginning! I can't help thinking always of that.

Charleville, April 12th.

Yesterday, very pleasant evening at Stenay (headquarters of Crown Prince). The Prince said he was delighted to see me at Stenay, else it would have been rather difficult to meet, as we were both "suspect." This remark gave me great satisfaction. To-day I had another conversation with Wild von Hohenboen. I was again pleased with him, and we agreed that whatever happens we must stand together. Bachmann's dispute with Bethmann is still going on. Muller has again taken Bethmann's part in an unheard-of manner. I entertain a suspicion that Bachmann intentionally broke a lance because he is on my side. When he took over his present post, Muller was perpetually exhorting him to be on the side of Bethmann, no matter what the circumstances. There was really no occasion unless was added "not on the side of the Secretary of State."

Retzmann (for several years naval attache in Washington) wrote the other day to Hopmann: "We shall be fighting to the bitter end against the English-American-Belgian-Franco capitalist combine, which wanted to dispose of the world to its own advantage, because we were the one people who could go their own way alone, and, what is more, succeed. Oil trusts, tobacco trusts, Chinese railways, etc.


"A little echo from Stenay. Prince Henry said to the Crown Prince one must always expect to be abused; it had been the same with his grandfather, and father, and when the Crown Prince's turn came, it would be the same, too, with him. The Crown Prince said one must first see the sort of people whom the Kaiser had about him, before one could judge. Prince Henry suggested that he, the Crown Prince, would choose very similar people, whereupon the latter said 'No, that I never would.'"

It was so wrong to forbid the object of the war to be discussed. One might say, that we would never suffer again such a conspiracy as that formed by England, Belgium, and France, still it was an object, and allowed the necessary freedom. The lukewarm flabbiness of the Chancellor is foolish. If Italy is to be stopped, the affair is not, after all, so bad for us. But I am afraid that here we lack the required energy to stimulate Austria. It has unfortunately been too clearly demonstrated that this limb is rotten, and we are unable to guarantee its duration for any length of time. Muller would bolster it up with a Greater Serbia, or Great Slav State. We have really loaded the dying camel too heavily.


Charleville, April 14th.

It is a pity that I haven't come into any touch at all with Falkenhayn. What J--- says, that the other party must pull itself together, is difficult in that people holding office can't act disloyally. I can officially and to people in office express my opinion freely, but I can't conspire, for instance, with Parliamentarians. What I fear is that there is no one at the top who will take the lead. To mention names, Krupp, Henckel, etc. Krupp, with whom I am personally intimate, I could, as diplomat, tell everything, but I couldn't infuse into him the will to act. If this will really animated high personages and leaders, then would the scheme of a league of landowners, a Haus league, for the free discussion of war aims, not have hung fire as long as it actually has. In short, I still believe, alas! If things aren't altered it will be brought into the argument.

Charleville, April 15th.

I have tried to get something out of Prince Henry about naval affairs. Either he had nothing to say, or wished to keep it back. I still can't grasp why our fleet didn't strike last autumn. Ingenohl had the fate of Europe in the palm of his hand. Our relations, or rather regotiations with Italy are not yet broken off, so a slender hope still remains of her not striking. The French airmen have dropped five bombs here, and unfortunately only Germans were killed. Now


the Charlevillers are rejoicing over these heroes who have played us this dirty trick, and we are actually good-natured enough to repair the damage they have done. The Kaiser is furious, and the latest is that Buckingham Palace is to be "in bounds." He really seems to imagine that by a tacit harmony between the chiefs he can spare himself. Curious logic!

Charleville, April 17th.

Muller has complained about the Zeppelin raids, and I think that he is quite right. I shall try to put a stop to this childish juggling with Zeppelin airships. Bachmann went last night to a big dinner at the War Minister's. There he's seen with his own eyes how Pohl even in these circles makes a goose of himself with his bragging prophecies, etc. "We can destroy London, the army couldn't attempt such a thing - England's doom is in the submarine warfare." And it's such a contemptible little man as this that Muller appoints as Chief of the Admiralty Staff, and now as commander of the fleet. Perhaps if I had been able to judge Ingenohl last autumn as I can at present, I might have succeeded better with the Kaiser.

The idea of a rapprochement with England is, doubtless, according to the Foreign Office's plan, being praised in the press, and this standpoint, of course, is diametrically opposed to the keeping of Belgium in any shape or form. If we should follow the policy recommended by Count Mont (ostensibly with the


knowledge of the Foreign Office), in the Berliner Tagblatt, we shall confess ourselves beaten and simply sink to the position of England's body-slave and tool against Russia. The danger of the Russian inundation can only be met by trying to stem it. But if we don't succeed in that, and we are bound to fight once more against Russia, this time on the side of England, there will be nothing further for us to do but pour out our blood for that purpose. We were forced to support Russia, on the question of Persia, at the time of the Potsdam Convention, and if that doesn't suffice, we must say to them, go to the Bosphorus, we've no objection. Then the whole company would toady us. Although the methods of procedure are different to-day, Bismarck was right in the ground-principle.

Charleville, April 18th.

To-day I was at church. There one always meets every variety of person. To-day Dallwitz was there. We talked about the war and also got on the topic of Tarasp. Dallwitz said that I had then been right, word for word. I took the opportunity of drawing his attention to the "approach" to England, and in this he shared my views. Dallwitz is the candidate for the Chancellorship, backed by Valentine. The War Minister delighted me with the remark "It's begun to roll - roll."


So then our surplus strength is to be turned to account, and not to wait any longer for Italy. If the steam-roller succeeds in its rolling, that will be the best cold douche Italy can have. Whether or no Hindenburg is too great a man for the Kaiser, he is the right man. I am finally disgusted with the eternal bickerings of the Cabinet. Do you think they'll ever cease? Anyhow I could not work with it, apart from the fact that a post in it would not be in accordance with my gifts. I have read Tim Klein's Bismarck with great enjoyment. How often the old giant must have turned in his grave since he died!

I saw the storm gathering years ago, but could do nothing to avert it. For years I have seen how the fleet was being demoralized, and worked for parades and inspections.... I recognized the fact perfectly and have often talked it over with my colleagues without being able to effect any improvement. As X--- wrote to me lately, he was sorry that he had advised me to stay on in the autumn of 1912 (when, by the way, came that outrageous letter from Holtzdorfer, inspired by the Kaiser). X--- is absolutely right; I have regretted ever since the war that I didn't take my conge (leave) then. I shall look out with intense interest to see if Bethmann's attitude behind the Count Mont article has any effect.

Bethmann has now won over the Social Democrats and Liberals on the Left with his anti-Russian policy; Erzberger, at all events, has gone over to his camp, which means a great deal. It is rumoured here that England, up to a certain point, will be gracious. Then, at once, arms will be opened here and England asked


to come and make her bed with us, in spite of all the huzzahs and fanfares of victory. Wait and see! Our little submarines pop into eternity everything that comes in their way. The Chancellor's hair stands on end, and it makes the Kaiser nervous also. Against us all things are permissible, and our modesty and virtue now, when our existence hangs on a thread, causes the others to have doubts about our winning. But if we aren't weak-kneed we shall conquer.

Charleville, April 19th.

Muller came to see me to-day and said that probably before the end of the month the Kaiser will be moving somewhere else, Muller evidently thinks that in such circumstances as these the Kaiser is best out of the way. I think so too. Hindenburg must be put in his place, in order to create terror abroad. It is pathetic that to talk of war aims is forbidden and a pack of hounds let loose to foster weakness and milksopism, just at the moment when everything depends on our stiffening our backs.

Charleville, April 20th.

That the Social Democrats are supporting the Chancellor is certain. The Grand Seigneurs are miserable wretches, their Serene Highnesses fine folk, not quite applicable to Ludwig the Bear. The two or three Conservative members are too weak. Hintze's journey to Peking is regarded as a consummate coup, especially


brought off by the officials of the Foreign Office. I could almost be tempted to become Bethmann's successor, if it were only to hurl out those fellows. But there's such a lot of them that one would never accomplish it.

That England is swearing is highly satisfactory, for it demonstrates that she is beginning to be uncomfortable. Would that we could get the new kind of submarines turned out and ready for action before England lets herself be inveigled into peace negotiations. Here the Kaiser and his "organs" are tearing their hair again, because the little U-boat has rammed the Dutch. He may thank himself for that. Instead of standing up proudly and firmly against neutral Holland, not too well disposed towards us, we cringe and humbly beg pardon of the Dutch. Thank God that Bachmann is here now. The Chancellor honours him with his displeasure and Muller is always raging furiously against us.

Charleville, April 21st.

To-day the Kaiserin summoned me to an interview. I told her my unvarnished opinion of the state of things. The Kaiser was encircled and embedded here in a mass of flabbiness. ("Yes, unfortunately, it is true," said she. )

I told her frankly that we ought, as Frederick the Great said, to arm our hearts with steel, and not in any circumstances knock under to, and cry out for help


from, those who wanted to lay us in the dust. She said that the conduct of Mont was unheard-of, but the Kaiser himself would not give the lead. I said that Mont's case was by no means isolated, and was closely associated with the Wilhelmstrasse. I told her what might possibly be done if Bethmann fell from office, and that was to call in Hindenburg. She thought he would never consent, being too purely a military man. I told her very plainly that he had a sound human understanding and that the very fact of his being "military" appeared to me to be an advantage, as it would infuse unity into the whole. She next remarked that it wouldn't be believed; that she held back on account of her six sons; whereupon I said that on the contrary all who had the honour to know the circumstances intimately, centred their hopes on her. Therefore it was highly desirable that the Kaiser should come to Berlin, where such a limited sphere of influence around him could not exist in the same degree.

To-morrow she leaves, I don't believe either that she can alter the situation.

If His Majesty would leave the war on sea to me, and would let me go where I liked, then I would compass it. But there can be no question of his doing anything of the kind. Bethmann, Muller, and Treutler together do all they can to prevent the navy coming into action, and the Kaiser nearly faints when it strikes the smallest blow. To have to stay here and endure all this is terrible for me. This evening I was invited


to Herr von Stumm's (the typical Foreign Office official), to meet the Turkish Minister of Finance, Djavid Bey, and compliment the Turks. I couldn't very well refuse.

Charleville, April 22nd.

To-day, shortly before lunch, the War Minister came to congratulate me on my fifty years of service, before starting on his tour of Flanders. He did it very heartily. He expressed a firm belief still in the success of our fleet. But I don't believe in it myself any longer. The best opportunities were missed in the autumn of last year. The English too now appear to be actually holding back. Their geographical position permits of their doing that without the objective of their fleet miscarrying. England is influencing the neutrals more and more to shut us out.

If England's prestige at sea was shaken, Italy would not think of ranging herself against us. At one o'clock I went to table and sat next the Kaiserin; from here she goes to Strasburg, then to Karlsruhe, back to Berlin.... She said that the removal of main Headquarters to Berlin was not to be thought of. The Kaiser may be going for eight or ten days to Silesia. I intend therefore to come to Berlin on the 27th. Djavid Bey and the Turkish General were present. The Kaiser talks of Falkenhayn as the coming leader of allied armies, thus Hindenburg nowhere.


The Frankfurter Zeiting publishes to-day a long article, wherein it depicts Russia as the only enemy with whom we are to keep up lasting hostilities, because of its natural strength, and the Slav hordes pressing on us. More cleverly written than the Mont article, perhaps by my "friend" Stein, at all events inspired by the Foreign Office. I am getting already numbers of congratulations on my jubilee which really are appalling.

Kuxhaven, May I2th.

We left Wilhelmshaven at 10.30, with two very fast torpedo boats; through ships, barricades, outposts... here. The sea was calm. At about twelve we touched Heligoland, where the last time I was expected with Trara. M--- would be astonished at all the changes there. The island's present aspect makes an extraordinary impression; no Heligolanders, no bathing visitors, no women and no children, nothing but men armed to the teeth. On the whole Heligoland has not counted so much in the war as we used to think it would. The war in the North Sea has taken such very different developments. There was hardly a breath of wind, the sun was warm, but the air like steel.

At two o'clock dinner in the Casino, which was very prettily and comfortably arranged. The spacious dining-room was full to the last place, only the commanders were officers on active service, for the rest, mostly reserve officers, of all trades and professions. A good tone and spirit of comradeship seemed to prevail. Admiral Jacobsen launched a speech at me


which I naturally was obliged to answer, and which I concluded mentally with the catch phrase, "Heligoland - Ostend." At four o'clock, put off. I think we got here at seven and drove by motor to Nordholz, our air-force base. Two years ago there was nothing but bare wild heath, now aerodromes, roads, etc. Our air-forces are at any rate in good hands.

Kiel, May 13th.

Prince Henry received me at the station, and came back at once to the hotel with me. After half an hour's pause came on to the castle, the Princess Fraulein von Planker (lady-in-waiting), Sackendorff (Court-Marshal), Captain Z. S. Heinrich, Captain Westerkampf. The Princess amazingly well-informed, she is the organizer of a gigantic work in the hospitals. Early yesterday out Germania, Kaiserliche Wirft, S.M.S. Kron Prinz (Dalwigk), torpedo inspection, formation-inspection (Rebour), submarine inspection, submarine commandants of small U-boats flashed out altogether, also the torpedo-boat command made an excellent impression.

This is the war of the captain and the lieutenant. Many admirals have failed, partly because of ill-luck, partly because of Muller. The navy swarms with sailors. Fine fellows, these guardians of the sea, and they aren't allowed to come into action. In the evening I invited Rebour, Henkel, Dalwigk, Siemens (submarine inspection), Trotha, and my colleagues. Conversation fluent and all very agreeable.


X--- infuriated with Pohl (now C-in-C, High seas Fleet), who does all he can to find pretexts for doing nothing, especially is he keen on finding technical deficiencies. The Prince is going to fetch me again- 9 o'clock to 12 a.m.

Wilhelmshaven, July 13th.

The day has been uselessly spent. It is now going on toward eight o'clock. I have invited Admiral Kraft and a few submarine commandants. Yesterday long discussion with Y---. Everywhere general indignation expressed at the mismanagement in the navy. Eighty per cent, of public opinion want me. There's to be a deputation to His Majesty. In spite of that I play the part of Horatius Cockles, for the hour for acting has gone by. Of course I would accept, but only under the condition of being allowed full power. But for this I would extend myself. Pohl has simply gambled chances away, as Captain L--- said. Not only his staff, but everywhere, they are crying out for me.

All the baiting seems to have completely ceased, and to-morrow crucifise. I derive a certain satisfaction from it all. I don't believe H.M. will do it, but God must decide. It will be a life-long lesson for Muller.


Emanuelssegen, July 20th.

I shall certainly be here for a fortnight, then perhaps off to the eastern front. Hindenburg has too much on hand at the moment for me to visit him just yet. And first of all I'll see how things go here. Our guards are now facing the Russian guards who have been brought to the front from Petersburg. It is being presumed therefrom that the Russians are compelled to use their last men there.

Falkenhayn has told Bachmann that the Chancellor wants to annex Courland; the English will take pleasure in that, for then we shall sit tight, for a hundred years, and the Russians the same. England laughs in her sleeve; and we are to withdraw from Belgium. Then England will have gained her object, and we shall be reduced to a mere second-class continental State again. To Falkenhayn the people in Turkey and the Balkans are quite a matter of indifference. The whole set round the Kaiser has slowly gone to sleep, and the Kaiser fills in the map himself.

Emanuelssegen, July 22nd.

Bachmann had a talk yesterday with Muller. The latter is obviously uneasy about the whole situation at sea. The question of the High Command has cropped up again. I doubt, however, if the choice will fall on me. Muller said yesterday that he had at the beginning of the war striven for something of the kind, but couldn't bring it off. Again on January 2nd he had once more called on the Kaiser and named me, but had failed utterly. The Kaiser doesn't really require any High Command, he can himself see to that.


This version doesn't seem to me very credible. For if Muller had really wished it, he would certainly have been obliged to speak to me on the subject first. He not only didn't do this, but he put Pohl in Ingenohl's place without so much as litsening to me. To Bachmann, moreover, he seems to have said on February 2nd, that before me younger officers would come into consideration, who had not been out of it for so long as I had; such, for example, as Holtzendorff.

During the conversation between Bachmann and Muller yesterday, my name was not mentioned. In another, he did casually remark that Pohl and I could not work together, and he believed in the first as an expert. We have all been trembling with anxiety as to whether we are going to yield further to America.

Emanuelssegen bei Kattowitz, July 23rd.

Enver has sent a dispatch to Falkenhayn, which according to my estimation is marked by a threatening tone.

Emanuelssegen, July 24th.

I can't, for my part, form any conception of how we are to force Russia to make peace. The "chasm" is too wide, but we can always press onwards. It must be a joy to England that her two most formidable rivals are tearing each other to pieces. Russia will wait, and we shall not get many troops free to send to the west, even if we halt on the line of


the Berg. Captain Eric von Muller has been here since yesterday; he, too, is a little aghast at the way in which we continue to neglect Turkey. He announces, on the other hand, that the internal condition of England is favourable to us. Hence the enormous exertions in the Dardanelles; if these surrender, the whole of the Balkans will be let loose upon us. Falkenhayn doesn't see that, and the whole of our policy should be directed against England. Without the assistance of Italy, Gallipoli will be difficult to capture.

Two more submarines are now on their way there. But before three weeks they can hardly make their presence felt, and in them alone lies the hope of doing something. Kampf, Westarp, and Bassermann wish to beard the Kaiser personally about Turkey and the submarines. They won't achieve much. To-day we are expecting the Note. The pantaloons of the Wilhelmstrasse must be in a thoughtful frame of mind. In the case of the Note being rude, Bethmann, Jagow, and company will say, "We have the navy to thank for that."

Emanuelssegen, July 2nd.

America is so shamelessly, so barefacedly pro-British, that it is hard to credit that we shall eat humblepie. Yet in this connection, I believe nothing to be impossible.


A remark in the Note indicates that we have already made promises, privately, to limit the submarine activity. But now it is a question of a formal declaration before the whole world, and before the whole German people. The answer can take weeks to get there. I, for my part, will not join in a formal renunciation of the submarine warfare, whereby we should abandon the only weapon we have in our hands against England in the future. The relief of Muktar Pasha, and the refusal on Falkenhayn's side to do anything to help Turkey, weighs equally on my mind. Meanwhile England's pressure on the neutrals becomes stronger every day, and we are playing at Napoleonism in Poland.

Emanuelssegen, July 26th.

To-day at ten o'clock to Teschen, the headquarters of the Archbishop Frederick. The scenery in Galicia is very pretty, we had the Beskidian group of mountains in front of us. We were welcomed with great friendliness in Teschen; absolutely harmless old gentleman with whom Conrad von Holtzendorff can have no difficulty in dealing. Afterwards we were received by the heir to the throne, who is very youthful, but evidently has interests.... Grand staff, to whom we were introduced. I heard nothing but Count So-and-So, Count this, that, and the other.

At breakfast I sat next the Commander-in-Chief, who is very proud of his only son. The latter has just got through his exam, both in German and Hungarian. His father (brother of the Dowager-Queen of Spain) owns much


property in Hungary. He told me, his nephew, the King of Spain, had written that he had been offered hundreds of millions if he would join the quadruple Allies, but said so long as he was King he wouldn't hear of it. Moreover he had his army to support him. Everyone was incensed in Teschen by the effrontery of the American Note, and couldn't conceive that we should be so weak as to draw back. (If only that sentiment were shared by our pantaloons in office!) It is hoped that the line on the Isonzo may be held; but it's not certain.

Unfortunately Conrad was absent, he had been ordered to Vienna. I should have been glad to have made the acquaintance of the most interesting personality connected with these headquarters. I haven't much faith in Kampf's doing anything effectual with the Kaiser. We have heard nothing yet from Berlin about the Note. Muller is in Berlin to consult with Capelle.

Emanuelssegen, July 27th.

A year ago yesterday I arrived in Berlin, and was received with the announcement that all was going well. I had then no confidence in peace, and unfortunately my prognostications proved to be right. Now we have already left 500,000 men lying dead on the battle-fields, and over a million wounded. Besides, there is no end in view to this frightful war. I think too that the aggressively harsh tone of the Note promises nothing good for us. We have heard nothing


definite as yet from Berlin. Herr Kriege (legal adviser at the Foreign Office), it seems, has entirely turned round about the submarines. He doubtless thinks that his time has come, and a new democracy is in the making. The efforts on the part of old Kampf and his companions, with the Kaiser, have been defeated, or rather have defeated themselves. The reason is not known to me; some other plan is now to be set on foot, in which I am to have a part. To-morrow I shall know more about it. No consultation has taken place in Berlin, after all, between Capelle and Admiral von Muller. From that and other news, I conclude that matters with regard to the fleet are still the same as of old.

Emanuelssegen, July 28th.

To-day I had a letter from Capelle. He writes that Admiral von Muller has obviously avoided, on purpose, conferring with him, and that he considers the creation of a Commander-in-Chief for the navy shelved. If the American Note should not be answered, the submarines and their work will perish of inanition. I don't think it at all likely that any acute crisis will arise in which I could come to the fore. Capelle is very troubled about Turkey. How we shall bear this severe political slap in the face, he doesn't know. He is sceptical too about Russia's giving in.


We have had a new circumstantial dispatch from the first officer on the Mainz, of the fight of August 28th. I will send it to you. The Mainz fought brilliantly, but pro nihilo (nothing). An exchanged prisoner, a doctor, had learnt the dispatch by heart, and wrote it down afterwards in Germany.

All efforts which have been made by politicians and others to induce Falkenhayn to take Austria in hand and teach her discipline have been in vain. Here we see and hear little from Pless. I have therefore reconsidered my plan of going to Dantzig. Yesterday I wrote to Hindenburg, and told him that I would pay him a visit directly he had finished his present task. He was at any rate in calm waters again.

Emanuelssegen, July 29th.

This morning I had a letter from Bassermann, who tells me that a proclamation from the All Highest is to be issued on August 1st, which is likely to prove something of a fiasco in spite of a fanfare of trumpets. It was to contain the announcement that we were not carrying on a war of conquest. Further words to the effect that we had no intention of enlarging our frontiers, and were ready to make peace, had been afterwards crossed out. Bassermann thinks that such a proclamation (a confession practically of our defeat) would make the very worst possible impression, both at home and abroad. He entreated me to prevent the making public of its contents. It is true that all such inspired utterances and pamphlets tend in the same direction. I telephoned at once to Berlin, to procure


further authority, then I went to Pless. But the Chancellor had already left for Berlin. In Pless I called on Wild von Hohenboen, who knew nothing about the above subject, but was shocked when I told him. But meanwhile I did not consider the authority I got sufficient with which to approach Bethmann, much less the Kaiser. Bethmann could easily repudiate the interpretation as an insult.

Wild von Hohenboen appeared to be dissatisfied with the news from Russia, where all has not succeeded so well as was hoped, hence no surrendering and the prospect of Russia settling down permanently, and we likewise congealing. At the opening of the campaign, Russia might have given in at the first bid, but not now. Then we had a long talk on the subject of Turkey; he takes the state of things there very seriously. At six o'clock Muller has appointed to see me. I don't know what he wants. In all probability to talk about subordinate personnel, connected with Admiralty business.

With reference to the official report of the fighting on the Mainz on August 28th, one can gather from it how strong our fleet was, and how it would have disinguished itself at the beginning of the war if it had been put to the test.

Muller has been, and the upshot of the visit was much what I anticipated. He knew about the proclamation, but disputed the contents. The Chancellor too is still undecided as to whether they shall be allowed to stand. A dispatch from our military attache in Athens represents the Greeks as resenting


intimidation on the part of England, who wants to force Greece into the war. According to their newspapers, they are displaying more pluck in this respect than Holland.

Emanuelssegen, July 30th.

You will, of course, have read the article in the Kreus Zeitung of yesterday which criticises the proposed tendency of the proclamation. Muller conferred to-day with Treutler, who naturally expressed himself very pleased at the whole tone of the proclamation, and saw nothing in it to find fault with. For the rest, Muller carefully kept off the subject of the American Note.

Emanuelssegen, July 31st.

Letters from J. and U. just to hand. They are, with justice, infuriated about the Note and the conduct of our affairs. A change can only come about if Falkenhayn, Bethmann, Jagow, Muller, and all their crew go. In fact a clean sweep is wanted of the whole bad system. I am not in a position to work it alone. The political parties when they went over to Bethmann, on account of the submarine question, fell, although they knew the saying, "march separately, fight together." Even so the press is about to veer round. Behuke writes, beside himself, over the deterioration of the submarine activity in consequence of the limitations imposed on it. As U. writes, the


fact that the submarines have functioned, so to speak, has doubtless been hidden from America. I have from the first always stuck out for energetic measures towards America, but could, however, never achieve more than per far figure, as the ways and means of acting did not lie in my department. Later I will tell U. of my one to two hours' audience with the Chancellor. I convinced him to a certain degree. But twelve hours afterwards he had turned round.

How little reliance is to be placed on parliamentarians is demonstrated by the National Liberals being in the act of turning their coat on the Belgian question. What is now the public opinion of which U. writes that it is running high? The revolution in the leadership of our grand but too modest people can only be brought about by men who are free to act. Neither the army nor the navy can do it. I don't mean to say by that, all cannot work together. But one can't go and shout on the housetops when one has resigned office.

For me it is particularly hard, when I reflect on the hurrahs of the enemy elicited by the possibility of my retirement and its consequent effects. In this connection I may remark that Wild von Hohenboen at my recent interview expressed himself strongly about my and Bachmann's attempted resignations; he said that for his part he couldn't understand such conduct on our side... obviously he very much disapproved of it. U. is also at one with me in saying that we must, wherever possible, watch for succeess in the east.


Emanuelssegen, August 1st.

We drove to Pless to solemnize in the church the anniversary of the outbreak of war. Little gathering in front of the castle. I told His Majesty that he should console himself by looking into the future; all would certainly go well yet, if we only stood "firm." H.M. said that of course we should stand "firm." I heard from the aide-de-camp that the proclamation had been published. We then went into the tiny church, which was full to the door. The pastor gave out that the collection was for the Red Cross. The service was very reverent and uplifting, and taken by a very old clergyman, simple, to the point, and certainly his own convictions. "Till now the Lord has helped us; understand, dear brothers and sisters. He has helped us. God desires it of us that we too should help ourselves to the utmost, in the purest sense, and then He would help," etc.

H.M. talked on the way back from church to the castle, again about the Second Punic war, with which he evidently comforted himself. I combated the view as much as I possibly could. After that fearful struggle there was a long pause of from fifty to a hundred years; all we had to think about now was how this war was to end. The fine old pastor divided his discourse into two parts. Retrospective and Prospective. With regard to the prospects he said, "Enormous exertions are still in front of us, in order to overthrow our enemies, and then


will come the heavy trial of peace negotiations. Then shall we not say: 'Till now the Lord has helped us'? but we shall also say, 'Be not afraid, the Lord is with Thee.'"

It was much to be regretted that Treutler wasn't there. Pohl has again been trying through his first "aide" to succeed in doing what Prince Adalbert failed recently to achieve at Charleville. He wants to get a command issued for the fleet to stay in. Muller now finds this desire on Pohl's part very reasonable. Bachmann was enraged, but unluckily possesses little power in spite of his nominally influential post. Should Muller and the Kaiser continue to hold fast by this opinion, then Trotha has a very poor prospect of succeeding in his exertions. The Court-Chamberlain von X. took a turn with me in front of the castle, and told me that the Kaiser had again spoken in an appreciative tone of me, and said that in the years before the war and at its outbreak I was the only one who had recognized the danger existing with regard to England. Then X. said we had better not chat together longer or it would rouse suspicion. There were only Treutler, Valentine, Lyncker, and Plessen outside the castle. Isn't that a sign of the glass house that I inhabit?

It is reported that three Prussian officers have been court-martialled and shot by the French for a mere trifling offence. Wild suggests threatening reprisals. Bethmann is against, the Kaiser in favour. Bethmann thought it would be too brutal. Wild was going to confer with Treutler on the matter, and is furious about it. Now you see from this what sort of society it is of which the Kaiser is the centre.


Emanuelssegen, August 2nd.

The Declaration of London is less favourable for us than U. imagines. It all turns on the idea of free exports. According to definitions hitherto existing, there is no equivalent in it for the giving up by us of the submarine warfare. I have had a message from Hindenburg with thanks for my letter and "Letter will follow."

No news from the east. Prince Eitel has written that the footguards again have had heavy casualties. One could put up with that if there was any certainty to look forward to of ultimate success in the east, Surely to obtain this it would be worth while stirring ourselves up to confiding the whole business to Hindenburg. Oh vanitas vanitatum (Oh, vanity of vanities).

Emanuelssegen, August 3rd.

We have picked up flash-light decrees according to which the English send out "armed parties" to the neutral ships, and then attack with them our submarines. If the limitations aren't abolished, our U-boats can't go on for long like this. We are planning new proposals in this connection. Really I cannot see why our officials at the Foreign Office should make us so cheap now, and bow their knees. We have made


concessions far beyond the bounds of justice and have had our ears boxed before the whole world more than once. That's all the easier for the Yankees to do, because they have doubtless heard from Jagow of the limitations of our submarine war, and now the English will know it too and be jubilant. Their trade will improve again.

Concerning Russia, Wild von Hohenboen has told me without any instigation that at the beginning of the "push" in Galicia, if we had tried, we could have treated with Russia and success would have been probable, but now now. People in touch with Falkenhayn, however, think that Petersburg can scarcely hold out the winter, and Turkey, on the other hand, may go to pieces.

Roumania as before is quite inaccessible, and the idea is to use threats towards her. Whether that is right, from a military point of view, I'm not in a position to say. Politically it is right to act vigorously with Austria. One cherishes for her a tremendous, and to my mind quite unjustifiable respect. Hindenburg has sent me a very friendly invitation. I intend to start on Thursday the 5th. As he is said to eschew all politics, I fear my mission will not be very fruitful in results. But I shall try to make the Belgian and English questions clear to him from my standpoint.


Emanuelssegen, August 4th.

Through the excitement caused by the proclamation in Berlin, I take it as a certainty that it has undergone alterations. Thus I am all the more enraged at the whole Bethmann-inspired press interpreting the actual words of the proclamation in a different sense from what they are meant to convey. It is at the same time so crassly stupid to understate the significance of our pugnacious guarantees, even if the Chancellor doesn't intend to hold to them. It is not a question, in all conscience, of exploiting the spirit of our people for the time that is to come after the war, but in every eventuality to influence the market at the conclusion of peace in our favour.

I haven't much faith in the Reichstag's influence since it turned tail about the submarine question. I cannot altogether say that Capelle advised me badly on the U-boat affair. He had politely agreed to my, at that time, proffered resignation (in June, 1915, after the Lusitania Note), and in the answer it is confirmed that Bethmann and Falkenhayn had crippled the submarine warfare, and the existence of the actual proffer of resignation is proved.

I send you the Frankfurter Zeitung. The whole Chancellor press is now tending towards the retention of Courland in order to compensate the German people for the loss of Belgium. In the east we have made good progress to-day. The granting of a loan to Bulgaria by Berlin and Vienna may be regarded at least as a rapprochement, and it seems to me further emphasized by the fact that a Bulgarian military attache


was present - so I have just been told - at the presentation of the terms of agreement to the General Staff. But I shall not believe in those fellows till they have fired a shot. It would be too refreshing after so many disappointments, and might constitute a real turningpoint.

The chief cause of my position in Charleville being further embittered is that Pohl goes about everywhere stirring up animus against me.

Emanuelssegen, August 5th.

Ah, it is indeed well that my old master did not live to see this war, and my position in relation to it. The tone that prevails in the fleet is, I hear, everywhere despairing. But Trotha will not be able to alter anything. There exists a regular constellation of personalia unfavourable to me: the Kaiser, who won't give me up to the fleet, the Cabinet chiefs, the men round Bethmann, and also Falkenhayn. He does not answer Hindenburg's purpose, who, in spite of that, keeps him at the rudder. Warsaw is said to have fallen, but there is no official confirmation of these reports.

Nicholas N. is a fine chap; the whole High Command of the Russian army, admirable though in organization, officers, industry, etc., doesn't come up to ours. The farther we penetrate into Russia, the better pleased are the English. It is quite true that the more we progress eastwards, the more our policy is guided in the same direction. There is no longer any doubt that the Chancellor and the Kaiser too, and the folk autour de lui (around him), are coming to the decision of giving up Belgium at once. An article in the Kreus


Zeitung made me suspicious of this some time ago. I have had a document drawn up by the Admiralty which deals with England's and our economic questions. The inquiry is very satisfactory for us, especially after the installation of the submarines, though in accordance with our orders these have fallen off in the Atlantic. I believe too that England will by degrees accommodate herself better to the situation. Our people have rendered splendid assistance in this past year of war, but whether it can go till a sound peace has been obtained for us is doubtful; the superiority of forces against us is so enormous, and our policy so bad.

The whole of North America must practically be numbered among our enemies. If there existed in Switzerland any lofty consciousness of Europe's future shaping, she would participate actively, but she is no more likely to do it than Sweden, although her entry would, without any doubt, settle everything. Sweden, according to my calculations, could be won over, if we set about it in the right way.

I have an admirable coadjutor in Mann, and can wholly rely on him. The longer I work with him, the greater is my confidence in him, which is saying a great deal. It has never been the same in an equal degree with Capelle. Not that I haven't a high opinion of his shrewdness and parliamentary knowledge, which I have always valued. Just at present he is partly, in spite of himself, influenced by the circumstance that he is undoubtedly destined to be my successor. F. E. belongs to those Germans who invariably boil


over from sentimental or other motives. The saying of the Great Frederick with regard to the art of politics is certainly right. ("The great art in politics is not to swim against the stream, but to turn all events to one's own advantage.") But it is not applicable to the moment when action should have been taken, and I have stood out for these questions during the war and have beaten my head against the wall which surrounds the Kaiser (see Clausewitz on the catastrophe of 1806). What would have happened to me if I too had locked myself inside that wall? I alone should not have had the power to break through it. In 1813 it was broken in from the outside, and then even enough was left of it to deprive Prussia of some of the fruits of her terrific exertions.

Emanuelssegen, August 6th.

Rejoicings over the fall of Warsaw are only half-hearted. As a matter of fact, we have taken only the western half, and that affords proof that the Russian army has, in reality, slipped away and escaped being enveloped. At last, the Highest Command of the army have convinced themselves that something must be done for Turkey, and by way of Serbia too. A train of circumstances has led up to this conclusion. Bachmann addressed an urgent letter to Falkenhayn on the subject of Turkey. Also our ambassador in Roumania has advised against a hostile attitude to her. Austria wants too to go for Serbia. I have


only been able to help a little, in an indirect way. We ought, in my opinion, to cut off Roumania economically, and give her the cold shoulder entirely. The stupid part of it is that we have got wheat lying in Roumania for which we have paid in advance; an incredible piece of blindness. But I hope all will come right if Turkey can be kept going. Our two new submarines are on the way. May the Lord protect them; I don't know whether England has got wind of them.

The coast in Flanders is guarded more strongly than ever. Massing of troops continues to take place in the Dardanelles, on islands taken from Greece. Have you read the National Liberals' Vote of Confidence? It assures downfall. But one can put little faith in their stability. The third publication in the Norddeutschen Allgemeinen of dispatches from the Belgian Ambassador is again stupendous. It is a source of wonder to me that the Foreign Office allow them to be published. Can't we see as clearly as these gentlemen? If any one of us had entertained such views before the war, he would have been the bete-noir of the Wilhelmstrasse.

The dispatches are expressive of the veriest scorn of our constant scrapping. While England's elaborate preparations for war were going on, for our navy since 1909 no sum at all had been voted. What a different debut the navy would have made in the war if the whole amount (tale) of 1912 had been granted instead of 30,000,000 to 40,000,000 yearly being squandered by the Treasury and Chancellor! The Belgian gentlemen foresaw


quite correctly that the fleet as a bogy for the mob would be used solely as a pretext by Grey and company. Our increasing superiority over the English in trade and industries - in short, the greed for monopolies, and sheer envy, were the causes. We wobbled and wavered. Russia we incensed by our recent Balkan policy. That was what U. noticed in the utterances of Prince Gagarin. The blunder is hardly to be repaired, and we are being driven forward into lasting hostilities with Russia.

Emanuelssegen, August 7th.

Yesterday the Chancellor led me a dance once more. Vexation over it gave me a sleepless night. This morning I went to Pless for an audience with Bethmann. Helfferich (secretary to the Treasury), has directed a long epistle - perhaps by order - to Bethmann. Helfferich (Secretary to the Treasury), has abandonment of the submarine warfare, but a communication to Wilson to that effect. The Chancellor is calling in Falkenhayn and Mijller to help him. In principle the Kaiser has also been won over. The affair will be managed so that the Kaiser via Muller gives express instructions to the submarines and these will be conveyed secretly to Wilson. It is the same thing over again, though this time the German public is supposed to have been prepared, owing to me. I have never concealed my attitude. Toward the end of the month you may expect me in Blasien. First of


all a dispatch from Bernstorff is expected, who, as I remarked to Bethmann, is sure to sing in the same key. I believe that the whole affair has been arranged according to plan. Whether anything will come of my journey to the east remains to be seen. I am depressed in soul. All trouble and efforts seem to have been in vain.

Emanuelssegen, August 8th.

Heavy fighting has been going on since yesterday in the Dardanelles. The English know, without doubt, that our submarines there are not available yet for action. In consequence they have brought all their ships there and have opened a frightful bombardment on all the forts and all the positions. The situation is obviously very critical. How earnestly I have urged, alas! in vain, that more of our submarines should be sent thither, and at greater speed. Should the Dardanelles fall, then the world-war has been decided against us.

This morning at 11.30 renewed audience with His Majesty, who told me, to begin with, that he did not want to send a reply Note to America. He would of course leave himself a loophole. Bernstorff's dispatch was now being awaited. Muller has bowed entirely to the opinion of the Chancellor. We have in front of us an affair which has been planned out for weeks beforehand. The bankers too have been involved in it. Afterwards, a long political discussion.


The Kaiser was less gracious to me, whether in consequence of the attitude I have taken up, I don't know. Muller pretends that the Kaiser knows nothing definite about the conversations between me and Bethmann.

Wild von Hoen has been kept informed by Bachmann and is furious about the whole affair. Bethmann has promised me that before taking further steps he will consult me. It appears that through my action time has been gained, and that is of some value. The Crown Prince has been sounded.

Emanuelssegen, August 9th.

Muller was closeted with me for two and a half hours, and I have worked on him strongly. For the time being I have convinced him, but for how long is another question. I start the day after to-morrow for Berlin, stay there a day, and then to Hindenburg.

Emanuelssegen, August loth.

This morning at Pless, His Majesty with many kind words handed me the order pour le merite, in honour of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the annexation of Heligoland, with special congratulations on the efficiency of the ports and defences there. Admiral Muller was asked to fasten it on me. Whether it was the result of the two hours and a half conversation, I don't know, but would rather think not, as my invitation - without Bachmann - had come previously. I told Muller that I was very much touched, but


could take little pleasure in the events attending the present course of the war at sea. Besides, through it the resolve I had communicated to him would be rendered more difficult for me. Muller thought it arose from the latest attitude of the Chancellor. On my asking further, if the Kaiser were likely to stand firm, he said that he thought yes. I had, however, the feeling that Muller might be running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. For the moment the danger seems averted, unless another Lusitania case comes to pass, which, judging from the conduct of Treutler, seems to be in the air.

My attitude, in the event of Helfferich's proposals falling through, was moreover as categorical as anyone could desire. Now the matter of Notes and what is connected with them has so fallen out that we can resume submarine activity to the utmost of our capacity, as soon as the war on land shapes itself more favourably; thus my staying on has been of some use. If Helfferich had pressed his point and gained it, then it would not have been possible.

The relations of Pohl to Muller have certainly been severely strained. The latter says that directly we are secure against new enemies by land, we must resume the submarine warfare ruthlessly. Always up and down! In many respects it would be useful to continue my sojourn here, in spite of that - nota bene, against the advice of Capelle. I shall not let myself be detained, but travel to-morrow to Berlin and in the evening of the next day to Lotzen. Muller urges me strongly to speak without any reserve to


Hindenburg. Muller and many others are not satisfied with Falkenhayn, and neither is Hindenburg. Great losses through frontal attacks, but no pulverizing of Russia. The latter has of course had immense casualties, though without sustaining any perceptible damage. The old Arch-duke and several Austrians present, among them Conrad von Hatzendorff, with whom I could have talked much longer if I hadn't been so closely observed by the Kaiser.

Young Knorr has carried out a brilliant mine-laying operation. An English fast cruiser destroyed in combat, and such-like. He came back towards our coast and there was taken prisoner. Pohl has again omitted to provide a base for the damaged cruiser which Knorr commanded. He had a crew of 120 men, 40 English prisoners, with 4 officers on board. After the sinking of his ship he reached a Swedish schooner (the Eyster Tiet) with 130 men. Further particulars are still unknown.

Bulgaria, according to my opinion, won't make any signs of friendship so long as our guns are silent on the Danube; still Bulgaria has already to some extent shown her hand.

Berlin, August 12th.

A day of intense heat in Berlin. I shall have to leave at ten o'clock for Lotzen. Here little that is satisfactory. Command in the navy all at sixes and sevens; the Kaiser, Muller, Pohl, Prince Henry, and so on. The fleet again let slip an opportunity when Knorr came back.


In the east, hazardous operations with absolutely no prospect of success. Roumania, before defining her attitude, given a sum of 400,000,000 marks for wheat and is making a long nose at us, and Turkey in continual danger, and no relief in prospect for her through Falkenhayn. Peace-talk in the Norddeutschen Allgemeinen, which will generally be interpreted as weakness. The Chancellor has a cue for me in mind, i.e. peace at any price, England not to be irritated; action of submarines only to be postponed till after the Reichstag, because the preparations are not yet sufficient and not yet ripe for ruin. Trotha has written in despair.

This morning I had a long talk with Rosicke, I believe satisfactory. He was profoundly astonished when I explained my views to him and declared the arch-enemy to be Trust magnates in New York, London, and Paris, who had imbibed the idiotic pan-Slavism stunt. He hadn't expected any such opinion from me, as in the Reichstag I had always supported the Left. I told him that as I was merely tolerated at my post, standing alone and opposed from every side (outside Parliament), I had accepted any help I could get.

Tableau I. He stood out for big agricultural acquisitions in the east as a counter-blast against any increase of Belgian industries. Later I met Count Taube (Swedish Ambassador in Berlin). He was very pleased to see me. I stirred up Muller to take Count Taube to the Kaiser, owing to my departure. I can't do anything further, which is to be regretted.


Lotzen, August 13th.

To-day at ten o'clock in the morning arrived here. Long conversation with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, complete convergence of views on the situation as a whole. Hindenburg sees no prospect of altering the state of things, autour du roi. The "mass" was too impenetrable. He had implored the Kaiser not to follow the counsels of von F. Also in the last great operations he had urgently advised against the strategy which always went on attacking from the front, so that the Russians by this method were able to slip away, and which had cost us enormous losses.

According to Hindenburg's and Ludendorff's opinion, the whole Russian army would have been captured three weeks ago if they had been pursued. He had written to the Kaiser to the effect that the whole German people who had rendered such grand assistance looked up to their Kaiser, but mistrusted the strategy and leadership of the High Command... all to no purpose. After that I can't wonder that I have achieved so little, though Hindenburg strikes me as having, in spite of all, a consciousness of having performed something great, the memory of which he will carry with him to the grave. It is touching to see how the people here honour him, young and old; the aged granddames and young mothers hush the


children in awe and all salute as he comes along. He can hardly move for flowers. The loyalty, trustworthiness, and simplicity of his character are positively refreshing after one comes from the cursed crew of intriguers at Pless. I have spoken straight from my heart; and he and Ludendorff likewise. He will give me all the support he can for Turkey and the submarines. We are at one on the question of Belgium and Russia, but the fact remains that Falkenhayn has the power in his hand. Group Hindenburg, group Prince Leopold, group Mackensen, all are subject to Falkenhayn.

This afternoon, beautiful trip and walk round a portion of the lake and through the Boyen forts... explanation of the Russian position. The fellows had been here, devilish close, and ruins marked the places they had temporarly conquered. Very pleasant gathering at mess. I am well entertained and look forward with pleasure to travelling to-morrow in my saloon-carriage to Memel, and from there on by motor to Libau. Nine hours by motor from here would have been a little too much. Besides in my saloon-carriage (special train) I can read and finish my letters for the post, but in the next few days you will get no letters from me as I shall at earliest not be able to post to you before August 17th. It is already rather autumnal here.


Morning early. At about 8 a.m. Hindenburg fetches me for a walk. He said when I remarked on the greetings everywhere of the population in all the villages and hamlets, "Yes, the people are touchingly devoted, but I would gladly do without some of that if my Imperial master would be a little less distant with me."

Supper very delightful. Further talk with Ludendorff.

In Special Train, Lotzen to Memel. August 14th.

It really was refreshing to spend a whole day in the society of that little circle at Lotzen (a society of brothers, as Hindenburg expressed it). This morning from 8 till 9.30 I took a glorious walk with Hindenburg. The lake-landscape - with its beautiful woods, its undulating fertile country, the lakes, which flashed like opals in the evening light, and in the morning like floods of silver - revealed itself in really enchanting beauty; the air crisp, and yet not at all chilly.

Hindenburg entirely shares my outlook and estimate of the state of affairs. He swore to the Kaiser in Posen that he would make things different. But His Majesty had previously been instructed by Falkenhayn in the minutest details, and told Hindenburg he was mistaken, etc. Now we have sustained huge losses and have not achieved the destruction of the enemy, as was once within the bounds of probability, and we are being driven slowly and surely into a war of defence. After the first extensive successes on this front, we ought to have made the best use of the superiority in our railways, and thrown our


armies in massed formations on the Left Wing, as the Right, owing to big distances and defective railway communications, could not be utilized for that purpose. He still holds this would be the right thing to do, even though the whole gigantic success may no longer be possible, and only on the day before yesterday sent a vigorously worded telegram to Falkenhayn to this effect, in order to be quite loyal to Falkenhayn, and not to the Kaiser. He hoped that Falkenhayn may yet grasp the idea. Is not all this too fearful?

Here is the man who can lead soldiers and generals, who would be capable of putting everything straight and bringing to the Kaiser himself the fame of an overwhelming victory, and he is intentionally shunted on one side, I was entertained with the heartiest kindness and courtesy in Lotzen. Hindenburg made a speech which abashed me, but for which I returned thanks on the spot. I closed with the hope that as once the sun had risen in the east for Prussia in its darkest hour, so now in these serious times for Germany and Prussia it would rise again. I made no secret here of the fact that the fleet had been intentionally and craftily held back. I talked over my position with Hindenburg, without the least reserve. He approved of my conduct; I could not go to the Kaiser and say, "Give me the fleet." Nothing would prevent Hindenburg from coming to the station to see me


off at 10.45. Ludendorff declared likewise that it was impossible to effect a change in the situation. For the rest Hindenburg promised to write to Bethmann and urge him vigorously to do something in the interests of Turkey, and the submarines. I send you his motto, which Ludendorff gave me at the station.

By 4 P.M. we were in Memel, then three hours by motor to Libau. The Russians have plundered here in a terrible manner, and have outraged many girls; some run about half mad, others have drowned themselves. Helfferich's scheme is already known in Berlin and considered by Westarp and Bassermann to be extremely dangerous.

Dantzig, August 15th.

To-days news came of an air-raid on London, the sinking of a light cruiser and of a destroyer in the North Sea. Also the torpedoing of a big transport ship in the Aegean Sea, by a little U-boat, isn't bad. That is all the more satisfactory as I cannot see any proper objective for our operations in the Gulf of Riga, where the danger from Russian mines and submarines is very great - keeping in at all events produces not the least possible success. I haven't advised the Upper Command in the Baltic in vain against it.

Libau was very interesting. They have created a second Wilhelmshaven there, but when it was ready they found that Reval was a more suitable base for their object. A real Russian trick. The place contains about 70,000 to 80,000 inhabitants, and is the bathing place for Courland. For us, that is for the navy, Libau isn't of much value. The question of


Courland was debated with zeal, and our army chiefs there were in favour of keeping it; will too be difficult to leave it. There is of course no question of the majority of the population wishing to be Prussian, Perhaps certain Baltic barons form the exception to the rule, because they are afraid that if repatriated they would be hung by the Russians. On the other hand, no great difficulties would arise if Courland was converted into a "colony" for the next twenty years. The capture of Cracow and the advance of our army are in themselves certainly satisfactory occurrences, but in no way decisive. There is absolutely no certainty about the Balkans, and Turkey's case remains the grave danger.

Dantzig, August 19th.

Yesterday evening at the Crown Princess's. Very graciously received by her. The little princes drawn up in a row, and behind them the mother, who looked extraordinarily well and pretty. The house (a present from the shrewd town of Zoppot) is charmingly situated, and within is a real treasure house. The chief room on the ground floor, white with gold, opens on the terrace, whence there is a view of the whole bay beyond the shrubs and trees. We had half an hour's conversation alone. I expressed myself very frankly, and stood up especially for Hindenburg. Captain Mann told me that Prince Joachim had written to the Crown Princess a strong letter, asking her to


do all she could - at any rate as far as her husband was concerned - to support Hindenburg, who was being kept in the background, and then she added in English, "just the same with our old navy man." The Crown Princess told me that Falkenhayn had gained tremendous kudos of late through his victories in the east. I said they weren't the victories of Falkenhayn, but of the wearers of the field-gray uniform. In my opinion Hindenburg was undoubtedly in the right.

Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and Hoffmann form a distinguished group who knew the skill of the Russians in getting out of a hole. Our position is such that we want something more than mere frontal victories with heavy losses. Affairs should be settled in three weeks at most. These three weeks for Greece, Roumania and Company may also be decisive. Let us hope all will yet go well, but the outlook is full of dangers.

Between Kustrin and Berun (in the train), August 19th.

In spite of the bumping of the train I should like to try to write you a few lines before I am seized by the claws of Berlin. I have only read extracts of the Chancellor's speech, as reported by telegram. It has been greeted with loud applause. What he said about the Freedom of the Seas is to my mind mere hot air; he will easily come to an understanding with England on that kind of freedom. The most important part of his speech was that which dealt with the


Polish question. We have been clearly making peace proposals to Russia; the foreign papers are full of it. The menace of a Poland free from Russia is used as a lever. There is confirmation from abroad that after Bethmann's speech Russia answered "No."

In the east we have come to a standstill, at which England will be very pleased. I thought of staying a few days in Berlin to get information, then I go to Pless for an audience, and shall return soon after to Berlin. Capelle being seriously ill, I shall later have to prolong my stay in Berlin or nothing will be done at the office. I have quite understood U. in his application of the Declaration of London. But I was suspicious of a conclusion of peace, proclaiming it as Freedom of the Seas, which means England would get everything and Germany practically nothing.

Berlin, August 22nd.

The success of Bethmann and Helfferich renders my personal position very difficult. I fear that the Arabic affair will prove a further motive for an outburst against the submarines. If more restrictions follow, it will be an unfortunate moment for me to insist on my resignation. I have at most the Conservatives behind me. It will be said that now the first consideration should be help for Turkey, and that the rest can wait. From a military point of view that is not wrong. The difficulty lies in the question of how the unrestricted submarine campaign can be resumed


against England when it has once been interrupted. I pass, despite this, in the eyes of the people as a scapegoat, and, moreover, if the war goes on - and, judging from all accounts from England, it is to continue - they will perhaps in the winter be bound to come back to it.

I have now read the full report of Bethmann's speech, which has made a great impression because of the war aims, and therefore has raised his prestige. Everyone of course reads into it what suits him, but he has, all the same, bound himself still further. Before the speech the situation was different.

I was interrupted by Schulze (Commander E. E. Schultze, Chief of Staff of the Naval Corps) who has eight days' leave. It was a great relief to talk to him, especially on the submarine war in Flanders. He saw at once my unusually difficult position, but, in spite of it, he expressed the opinion that neither I nor the Kaiser could at this moment produce an effect. I am not so sure. The Chancellor has a good opportunity of either wringing my neck or breaking my back. I am not at all satisfied with our Riga expedition; against my express advice, which I telegraphed, it has taken place, and we have made ourselves ridiculous and suffered severe losses.


Berlin, August 24th.

You'll come short of news from me in these days. I am so stifled with calls and etiquette: in addition to this many people have thought fit to write and congratulate me on a "Merite" which I don't acknowledge.

I haven't yet heard how the Arabic affair is turning out. The gallant Barnabe (Spanish Ambassador) has just left me. He came to cross-question me about the torpedoing of two Spanish ships. We don't know anything about it, of course; if it was done by our submarines we must wait for their return before we can know anything for certain. Meanwhile the English press is making the most of it. Everything is permissible that the English do, but we may not do anything.

You are quite right about Bethmann's long speech. If one could see behind the scenes, the policy of sentiment which we have been carrying on would be judged differently. But the German people are still sentimental, and so the speech made an impression. Our diplomats were naturally deplorable. But they have some excuse. They never had any "aim" set before them, and when they had, such as "brotherly love with England," it was a wrong one because unattainable.

By the way, I am afraid that this idea is not dead even now. The creation of an independent Poland, etc., will make us enemies of Russia for the next hundred years, and vassalage under England may very easily arise from it. In Belgium, too, we are sentimental. Instead of playing off the Walloons against the Flemish we are uniting the country and encouraging a Belgian national feeling which did not exist before. In regard to commercial relations with


Japan, especially conciliation with the Japs, I have contributed towards this end in various ways. But it would lead me too far to enter on that question now. Owing to my attitude towards the Wilhelmstrasse, which perpetually rages against me, notwithstanding my restraint hitherto, I can't do much. The slightest hint is regarded there as an attack on their prerogative. The Wilhelmstrasse is headless, as a well-known American reporter says. This evening important conference between Jagow and Gerard. The latter of course knows that by bluff he can get all he wants. We have given way so much already that I suppose we shall certainly go on sliding.

To-day I called on Lobel to get information about things in general. He too was far from delighted with the long speech. According to his construction it was in the main directed against Russia, and the Chancellor practically said to England, "You have certainly been unfaithful to me and have behaved atrociously, yet for all that I am ready to take you again to my bosom." Or, in other words, "Leave Russia to me, and I will leave Belgium to you."

The affair in Riga is an instructive example of the confusion that prevails in the navy. We struck a wild blow in the air, and the Russians are crediting themselves with a great sea victory. I had urgently advised against it from Libau.

You are quite right in the idea that one should not struggle against circumstances, but adapt oneself to them and make the best of them. During this long year I have become an expert in this. But now the thing is different.


Bethmann and his set possess absolute power, and so does Falkenhayn. I am a thorn in the flesh to them all, and they won't let me have a say in anything. I am utterly powerless against them. The real cause of this, apart from the past, lies in the fact that I have never believed for a moment in a real understanding with England, and the policy of truckling to her I consider is now, as it always has been, senseless. Added to this, one is faced with the acute difficulties with neutrals that all naval war entails.

I do not regard the subject simply from the point of view of how I am to get out of it. But there can be no doubt at all that my efforts have been systematically crippled. You are right in what you say about Bethmann's speech - "Thoroughly German," and, on that account, a success! The historian of fifty years hence will judge differently. I leave by the night train for Emanuelssegen. I am very sorry, in view of the present situation, to leave the Admiralty and Berlin. But it can't be helped. For me the illness of Capelle is a great misfortune.

Emanuelssegen, August 26th.

It was, as I had foreseen, a deliberately planned attack by the Chancellor on the submarines. Although I was with him in Berlin he didn't say a word about it. On the contrary, Jagow declared at the Budget Commission that the submarines wouldn't be interfered


with. Last night I received in Berlin the command, "To-morrow at 12 noon, audience." The Chancellor travelled by the same train; at Kattowitz Bachmann was awaiting me with the news that we were to go at once. I came here first, however, to put on my better uniform - Bethmann, Treutler, I, and Bachmann. The first gigantic, but he could do with a quiet sleep instead of perpetually sitting on a barrel of gunpowder. He is going to inform Wilson that the submarines had been ordered not to damage ships manned by Americans. We weren't agreed, as he was quite unapproachable; afterwards audience.

Falkenhayn was cross-examined, Admiral von Muller ditto, the rest of the assembly nodded acquiescence all the time. But the Kaiser was displeased. He reviewed the range of the decision and agreed with us quietly that we must wait to hear further particulars of the last case. Falkenhayn had begun by seconding Bethmann very energetically, but when he saw that the Kaiser was not altogether that way inclined, changed his course towards the policy of waiting, followed by Muller. So no real decision was arrived at.

Bethmann, furious, said after dinner to Bachmann that he would not take the responsibility, and would not leave Pless before the decision he wanted had been agreed to. Vanity and sensitiveness have a great deal to do with this. He is working now on a memorandum, and the Emperor will gave way under the pressure of the combined camarilla, there is no question about that. We are now trying to get Muller to come to-morrow to discuss the


possibility of a compromise. Bethmann wants to disclose the orders already issued. (Meanwhile no further orders are to be given.) But there is a difference between secret orders, which leave the English still in doubt as to what we are doing, and publicity. Then the great Lusitania case is to be submitted to a judicial inquiry and the Freedom of the Seas offered in the form of the famous Declaration.

This passage in Bethmann's speech bears on the face of it the interpretation "England keeps everything, but we nothing." There is no doubt he is making for renunciation of Belgium and dismemberment of Russia by the establishment of autonomy in Poland. Frederick the Great and Bismarck must have turned in their graves. I have no faith in the voice of the army against this decision. It won't be heard until it is too late. What I shall do now I don't know, but I must wait and see how things turn out.

Emanuelssegen, August 27th.

Yesterday the Kaiser decided that the instructions for Bernstorff were to be discussed and arranged between the Chancellor and ourselves. Meanwhile, this morning, without summoning us, Bethmann got round the Kaiser. Muller and Treutler came to us this afternoon. The former backed out with amiable evasions. His colleague informed us that the thing was already settled. I don't think that I can swallow this, and I travel to Berlin to-morrow evening. I don't know


what the instructions are, unfortunately, but shall apply for them to the Chancellor, and then act accordingly. I believe this is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned. I have one more audience, fixed for tomorrow, at Libau. I could hardly refuse the interview without at the same time handing in my resignation. So for this reason I shall go once more to Pless. Muller is trying to effect a compromise.

[With the final departure from Main Headquarters, this war correspondence ends. As of 27 August 1915]

Note: von Tirpitz finally resigned on 15 March 1916, to be replaced by Admiral Eduard von Capelle as Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office.





The professional foundation for the campaign of calumny publicly carried on against the Imperial navy must have been constituted by a few journalists who, having formerly served in it, felt themselves relieved of the necessity of admitting that they had never had anything to do professionally with either a modern battleship or a submarine.

The enlightened opinion of naval officers, capable of judging, remained in the background, because the navy was not in the habit of entering into newspaper controversies.

Besides the public calumnies, rumours in themselves much more dangerous went the round of "initiated" political circles. To the measures adopted systematically, at any rate for the most part by interested parties, to ruin my position in the eyes of the nation, the navy, and the Kaiser, belong the rumours which were spread about the inadequate construction of ships and weapons. It was given out through every possible channel that our ships were badly constructed, particularly that they were under-armed and not adapted for


long-range firing. The battle of Jutland has in part afforded a proof to the contrary, and prompted Admiral Scheer to inform the Kaiser that the excellence of the materiel contributed largely to the success of the battle. The Kaiser felt himself bound, in view of the feeling in the officers' corps, to express in a telegram from Wilhelmshaven, even after my dismissal, his recognition of this service to the navy. As feeling is still being roused by charges of this kind, and as there are interested parties who still seek to shift the historical responsibility for the inadequate use of the sea-power actually at our disposal from themselves on to the mistakes supposed to have been made during my period of office, I propose to deal with some of the charges which have come to my ears.

To begin with, it is an idiosyncrasy of our people to estimate foreign products higher than their own. From this idiosyncrasy our navy also has not been free, especially in regard to the English navy. One was disposed to accept the boasting assertions of English firms at their own valuation, and to consider new technical improvements to have been actually carried out, even in the case of older ships. Also when we were able to bring English materiel into comparison with our own and practically to prove the contrary, it was frequently difficult in this respect to convince the fleet, once a preconceived opinion had been formed, or an external superiority, for instance, in calibre established. For example, we could produce indisputable scientific and technical proof that our rifles, guns, and


armour were superior to the English. This was often passed over with the catch-phrase that these were only "range results," without reflecting that this is the only method by which indisputable comparisons were possible. In a memorandum of Admiral Ingenohl's there occurs the characteristic statement that it was not till after his experience in the war that he could convince himself of the extraordinary effectiveness of our armour-piercing shells and their superiority to the corresponding English shells. To the manufacture of these armour-piercing shells we had devoted particular care and labour.

Apart from the peculiarity of this mode of reasoning which is so widespread among us, we must also remember that to arrive at a correct judgment of the standard of sea-power achieved it is necessary to regard the finished achievements as a whole and not seize on individual flaws. Flaws, of course, were bound to exist in our equipment, for the creation of a sea-power needed the labour of a whole generation, and this amount of time fate did not allow us.

Further, we have to consider that our navy, compared with the great foreign navies, has always found itself in financial straits, which in view of the Chancellor's attitude towards the fleet had a most hampering effect on its development, especially during the last five years before the war. On the voting of the estimates during this time we were every year emphatically informed by the Chancellor, through the medium of the Secretary of the Treasury, that we were only to


count on small amounts; and therefore in order to arrive at sums which could be negotiated with the Treasury, all the demands of the various branches of the navy for the preliminary estimates were cut down as low as possible. The Admiralty then approached the Treasury with the minimum demands. But instead of rewarding our restraint, the Treasury forced us every time to accept further considerable reductions on these estimates which we had put forward as a minimum. In the years immediately before the war the negotiations with the Treasury dealt with sums that were of no real financial importance to the Empire.

Ten per cent, of the military estimates of 1913 would have been sufficient to meet the acute requirements of the navy. I may mention as examples a certain acceleration in the building of ships already laid down, the supply of oil fuel, the improvement of the fire-control, quicker adoption of technical improvements, and so on. In view of the shortage of money with which the Admiralty had to reckon, and the fear, encouraged by the Treasury and Reichstag, of exceeding the estimates, it will be readily understood with what caution the available money was distributed, and how we were constantly forced to weigh in the balance the cost of remedying even the smallest defect, which in consequence remained a defect.

The different departments of the navy which could not ignore the constitutional necessity for the further development of the Navy, always shifted the blame on to the Secretary of State of the Admiralty (von Tirpitz) if their demands were


not granted, under the impression that their special demand was the essential one, and that the Secretary of State ought to have stood out for it. Among the Great Powers our estimates for building took until 1905 the fifth place, in 1906 (after the Russian fleet fell out) fourth; in 1907 (when France fell behind) third; in 1913 (after the new increase in the Russian fleet) again in the fourth. So little have we contributed to the rival "piling up" of armaments! Even though, through thrift and industry, we created the second strongest fleet, there were still many wishes unfulfilled.

I now come in detail to the reproaches with regard to our materiel.

In view of the international rivalry in the building of big ships, I did not think, both on political and financial grounds, that I was in a position to set the pace. In the great changes, for example the transition to the building of dreadnoughts, and in the increase from time to time of calibre, we were generally quite a year behind the English. In spite of that I am convinced that, taking the technical periods as a whole, our new materiel surpassed theirs.

In these important changes other determining factors have to be considered. Thus in 1906 there was only one firm in Germany, and that moreover with an English patent, which could build large turbine engines. We were obliged therefore to limit ourselves at first to supplying these to the first-class cruisers, and keep to the piston engine for the ships of the line laid


down in 1906. The retention of these engines goes side by side with the turret disposition of the heavy guns which has been condemned by so many critics. On the other hand, this arrangement makes firing from both sides possible, and has certain tactical advantages in case the line is outflanked in consequence of numerical superiority on the enemy's side, in striking against the enemy's line and in the melee. In building the various squadrons we were obliged, having regard to our system of defence, to give attention to the homogeneity of the individual ships in order to facilitate the interchange of crews and the supply and exchange of reserves. This brings with it the tactical advantages that such homogeneity ensures.

As far as the heavy guns are concerned, with the exception of the latest ships, ours were behind the English in calibre. But that was counterbalanced by other advantages, for the piercing power of our heavy guns remained fully equal to the piercing power of the guns of English ships of the same class, and this was of the first importance. Our projectiles were designed to take effect afterwards in the interior of the enemy ships. When we heard that the English were increasing the power of their guns and it was assumed that in all probability they would increase the strength of their armour, inferior to ours hitherto, we resolved in 1912-13 to pass over the intermediate stages and at once adopt a calibre that would ensure for the squadron laid down in 1913 in any case a superiority in this respect, and we chose the 38-centimetre gun.


As a matter of fact the English adopted this calibre at the same time as ourselves.

The following table (not included), based on official data, shows the considerable inferiority of the English first-class battleships in artillery-piercing power. And it should be noticed too, in this connection, that the advantages on the German side, such as size of steel plates, quality of armour and shells, are not considered.

Whole volumes might be written to indicate in detail how we have made full use of the vast superiority of our Krupp guns over the heavy English wire-bound type. To laymen who are interested in the question I should like to convey some idea how important was this saving of weight by the adoption of a slightly smaller calibre, for every increase immediately affected the construction of the turrets with their heavy armour and simply ate up weight.

This would have been a mistake if - as was actually the case - it was not necessary and of direct use for the armour-piercing power of our guns, for the weight saved could be used for other purposes. In the chapter on shipbuilding I have already discussed the measures taken to prevent our ships sinking; this was the purpose to which the weight saved was transferred. I will here only touch on a few of the advantages we possessed over the British fleet, and which, among other things, made the reasonable limitation of our heavy calibre possible. We used up about 100 tons for our metal cartridge boxes, as compared with the oil-silk used by the English; the consequence


was that when the magazines took fire the English ships, like the battle-cruisers Queen Mary, Indefatigable, and Invincible were blown to pieces, while on the Seydlitz, when the magazine caught fire, there was no explosion, though of course the magazine was gutted and there was loss of life.

As the result of experiments with targets we disposed of several hundred tons in strengthening the hull below the water-line to get better protection against torpedoes. Our fore-turret alone weighed 400 tons; it had the unusual armour thickness of 400 mm., and was so broad that on both sides one could look straight astern clear of the funnels, which was of great advantage for the control of the ship in action. The turrets surrounding the central fire-control communicated directly with the lower parts of the ship by means of shafts, and particularly with the central control of the ship, which was amidships below the water-line and ended in a gangway which contained the electric connections in an absolutely protected position.

Our arrangements for night-fighting were highly developed. In the night following the battle of Jutland the English precautions were miserable compared with ours, as an officer I know told me. All our ships were armed with guns of middle calibre, armour-protected, sheltered by parapets which the English had not. Our battleships also had six or seven torpedo tubes below the water-line. Had the action been fought to a finish, this in itself might have been the decisive factor. I could give many more examples.


This is a province which can only be dealt with by means of special apparatus and with the assistance of a large staff of specialists.

The examples I have given, however, are sufficient for the purpose. They demonstrate well enough how much understanding of such a province is brought to bear by the mercenary writers on the navy, who at the present time are advancing their own interests by throwing mud, and have their information for the most part from discontented subordinate officers.

Now with regard to the reproach that our light cruisers were too lightly armed, it must be borne in mind that of this class of ship we could only lay down two yearly. Originally the estimates allowed for three cruisers, but the third cruiser was cut off by the Reichstag, while England, on the other hand, in accordance with her trans-Atlantic requirements, had laid down yearly three or four times that number.

This enabled the English continually to oppose light cruisers of the most modern type to our cruisers, among which older types had to be used. Further, our light cruisers had to serve for foreign service as well as in home waters. For this reason we set special value on speed. Those English light cruisers that were armed with 15-centimetre guns were inferior in speed to ours of the same class. The Karlsruhe turned this to excellent account. As her object was not to fight, she evaded her opponents with little trouble. She was in her time the fastest ship in the Atlantic. In the


case of the fight and loss of the Emden it must be remembered that the English ship was four years younger and nearly 2,000 tons bigger than the Emden; thus no comparison can be drawn. In her last fight the Emden was at a still further disadvantage, as a considerable portion of her gun-crews, commanded by her first lieutenant, Lieutenant-Commander von Mucke, and two other officers had been told off to destroy a wireless station on shore, so were not present in the fight.

So long as the range of the torpedo was small, that is to say till about 1910-11, and when in order to get within range the torpedo boats had to come up very close to their target, the 10-centimetre gun not only sufficed for the light cruiser against enemy torpedo boats, but was superior to a gun of 15 centimetres, in that it allowed for a greater number being carried and possessed a greater rapidity of fire than the larger calibre. As regards action against enemy light cruisers it continued to be quite sufficient in all cases up to the time when these began to be armoured.

Larger calibre had indeed seemed desirable before this for the use of the light cruisers on foreign service. The interests of the war at home, which as far as we were concerned was of the first importance, were quite the opposite of those abroad. Therefore, as early as 1910, I had sent in preliminary designs for small cruisers with heavier arms. In 1911, I summoned the Commander-in-Chief's staff to an interview on this question, and allowed them extra munitions in order


that they might study the calibre question by means of practical tests. The result was that both the fleet staff under Admiral von Holtzendorff and the commanding officer of the experimenting ships pronounced in favour of the retention of the 10-centimetre gun as a standard calibre for the light cruisers. The commanding officer of the experimenting ships emphasized at the same time the possible increase in the number of guns while retaining the limited dimensions of the cruisers, which for their work as torpedo-boat destroyers was to their advantage.

As a matter of fact the English went back for similar reasons from their light cruisers, armed only with 15-cm. guns, to ships like the Arethusa class, with a main armament of 10-cm. guns, and a 15-centimetre at bow and stern. All the experts and commanding officers had pronounced against the two-calibre armament which I had asked them to consider. Yet in spite of this, and the financial and other difficulties involved, I resolved at the beginning of 1912 on my own initiative to institute a change in the calibre of our light cruisers; and as we learned just then that the bigger classes of English light cruisers had been armoured at the water-line, we were, according to my opinion, bound to pass on at once to a 15-cm. gun, as a minimum calibre for the light cruisers, as not sufficient armour-piercing power could be obtained with less calibre.


At the special audience at the beginning of May, 1912, at which this subject was to be discussed, the Emperor did not agree with the view of the naval staff as to this change. He said that the ships would be too big, and that a gun like the 13-cm. sufficed for the army. I might, however, study the question further if I liked. But as a change in the calibre had become necessary, and from inquiries I ascertained that the 13-cm. army gun was not sufficient, I gave the contract in May, 1912, for the construction of a light cruiser with a 15-cm. gun. At the end of September, 1912, His Majesty approved the design which had meanwhile been prepared for the light cruiser type with 15-cm. gun of the year 1913. One of these cruisers, the Wiesbaden, came to a glorious end in the battle of Jutland.

It has been complained with regard to our torpedo boats that they had not sufficient fuel capacity. We had in this case to contend with the difficulty that our coal did not give the same heat as that used by the English torpedo boats; and even if we had procured a small supply of English coal for our torpedo boats, it was impossible during a long war to maintain a sufficient supply of English coal. Also in relation to the use of oil fuel we were severely handicapped by the difficulty of getting supplies compared with England, who enjoyed absolute freedom in this respect. As we didn't possess any oil wells near enough, we were compelled to maintain a supply for war. This was, however, next to impossible in the case of the big ships. The expenditure of hundreds of millions would have been required, but even with the torpedo


boats we had to exercise economy. In the year 1912 we were, however, obliged to adopt oil as the sole fuel in the torpedo boats because we could no longer cope with the heavy claims on transport which coal demanded. We did this with the full consciousness that with the abolition of the coal bunker we were giving up a considerable part of the safety of the torpedo boats against sinking and fire. The English had once adopted the exclusive use of oil, but in recent years had come back to coal as a fuel, because oil was too expensive. It is to be gathered from this that the English, who were in a quite different position from ourselves, vacillated on the question till just before the war.

Another method of increasing the range of the torpedo boats was to increase the displacement, but the fleet (fleet and torpedo inspection) urged still in the years 1909 and 1910 a reduction in the size of the boat, because they believed that the bigger boats were too difficult to handle in action, especially if the line were broken. After urgent pressure had been brought to bear, in the year 1910 I yielded to the proposal of the inspector of the torpedo arm to allow a series of torpedo boats with less displacement and proportionately less coal capacity to be built, after the inspectors responsible for the construction and erection of the torpedo boats gave the assurance that there was to be no diminution in the range of these boats, which were to be fed by an increased oil supply. The assent of the inspectors to this not being obtained, we returned


again to the larger type boats in the year 1912. Any essential increase in the range could only be reached for the torpedo boats with a corresponding increase of the displacement. At our naval manoeuvres in the Baltic and North Sea the need for such an increase of range was not apparent. It was not till the hanging back of the English fleet during the war, and the consequent possibility of our making an attack on the English coast, that the necessity for an increased range came strongly into evidence.

After the outbreak of war we had taken over a number of boats built in Germany for the Argentine Republic. These boats were intended for the Atlantic, and were much bigger than the boats of our type. They had a displacement of about 1,500 to 2,000 tons. One can see, quite apart from the financial question, that this places the torpedo-boat arm on a quite different basis. At the cost of a certain diminution in numbers, torpedo ships are obtained, which of course require increased armament. In the battle of Jutland these big boats, formerly destined for Argentina, took part as well as boats of our own type. As I have been informed, in the fighting by day, boats of our type proved the more efficient.

Questions of type and tactical disposition entered on a new phase in 1912. In view of the interpretation of the Naval Law we had hitherto limited ourselves to a single type of cruiser, which had to be used both on foreign service and in home waters. We were obliged on this account, because of the few ships we had of this kind at our disposal, to change about and make


one serve both purposes. When we then, as explained above, adopted a considerable enlargement of the small cruisers, these lost in the process much of their original character as destroyers. For this object they were too big and too costly, and speed could no longer be taken as the fundamental condition of their construction. To build two different types we should have to build more than two ships a year, which involved an alteration of the law. This was not practicable in 1912 and 1914, not only owing to political conditions, but to the limited financial conditions forced upon us. The road, then, which we thought of pursuing was in a certain degree a return to the principle which we acted on in the first fourteen years of the existence of this arm when we built only small torpedo boats, and that was to give every torpedo-boat flotilla a large convoy.

Seeing that torpedo boats and their organization - because they don't rest on a traditional type - are not clearly defined in the naval law, we could have followed the course without more ado, as soon as money for the navy came in more readily. A slight but by no means decisive defect in our power for defence has arisen here, which, however, by the perfecting of naval law could have remedied itself all the more easily as the usefulness of our extended foreign service made itself more widely felt. The question touched on here was before the war not yet ripe as a whole, and required tactical tests near home before we could deal with its solution on a wider scale.



Now I pass on to deal with reproaches from the progressives, to the effect that under my management the Admiralty administration had not sufficiently insisted on the development of the submarine nor recognized its importance, and I shall only deal with these reproaches in so far as they have not already received an official contradiction supported by all parties at a committee of the Reichstag in the spring of 1917.

On the outbreak of war, we were, as far as the submarine weapon goes, at the head of all the navies of the world.

In what concerned the technical development of the submarine type and the number of highly developed submarines the success was achieved because we used our experience in the development of the torpedo weapon and systematically applied it to the submarine and because from the beginning we set its future employment for long-distance work before us as our aim. Submarines that are only capable of serving in the defence of harbours of a limited coast-line have hitherto had for Germany, in view of the situation of her coast-line, no real importance.

Apart from a long series of minor problems of engineering, it was first and foremost the motor on which the development of the submarine depended for long-distance employment. The stronger and better the motor the nearer we approached to our aim. So


we threw ourselves heart and soul into its development on the conclusion of the trial tests of M1. In order to acquire a suitable petrol motor, a competition of the most distinguished and competent motor firms was held early in 1908 to build an 850 horse-power motor. Contracts were entered into for this object with Augsburg Motor Co., Ltd., Nuremburg Motor Co., Ltd., the Germania Works at Kiel and Korting of Hanover, Fiat of Turin.

We had previously achieved considerable results with the Korting motor in Ml, and it was presumed that even stronger machines of this kind would be possible. But to supply submarines at that time in large quantities to any great extent would have been a mistake, for there were a number of other details of this arm not yet perfected and requiring development before they would answer our purpose. Also we did not know what effect any considerable increase in the size of the boat would have on its diving capacity. The most important reason, however, why even the Korting motor did not enable us to build a satisfactory submarine for long-distance work in war was that the visibility of the boat from smoke formation by day and fire reflection by night was too great.

In spite of this we did not stop our efforts to carry on the development of the other details of submarine construction, and in the next few years seventeen submarines altogether were equipped with petroleum motors. The folly of the reproach from the Democratic side that in these years we had neglected to provide


submarines in large numbers and so lost a great chance in the world-war, is best demonstrated, without going into any enumeration of the other impossibilities, by the melancholy fact that in war our petroleum boats were the first to fall victims to the enemy and that the two last boats of this kind that were left we withdrew from action.

Had we followed that path of development, we should never have conducted a submarine war with any prospect of success. Instead of that we did everything we could to develop other motors side by side with the petroleum motor, among which the Diesel motor offered the most prospect of success. We succeeded in building with this an entirely satisfactory submarine engine, with which, since U19 was built in 1911, all our submarines were equipped. But such new developments had to go through a stage of so-called infantile disease which was not finally outgrown until 1913, at a time when we had a great number of boats with Diesel engines, partly completed and partly under construction.

When war broke out we were at once in a position to get a type of boat perfectly adapted for war purposes, and equipped for long-distance service, in the so-called MS boat, which could be ordered by telegram ready for mobilization.

In July, 1914, twenty-eight boats were ready, and seventeen in course of building, altogether forty-five boats. The great submarine base in Wilhelmstrasse, as well as the branch base in Heligoland, the construction of which had taken ten years, was nearly completed, but at the beginning of the war was not quite ready for use.


From the point of view of materiel and engineering, and in view of the stage reached in the development of the submarine for long-distance work, and the time required for construction of quays and harbours, we could not build many more until the summer of 1914. The number of the boats finished would have been considerably greater (we might have had forty-one instead of twenty-eight) if the manufacturers engaged had been in a position to carry out their contracts.

The boats U31 and U41 ordered by me in the year 1912, which were to form the chief reinforcement of the submarine flotilla authorized by the submarine estimates of 1912, ought to have been delivered between October 1st, 1913, and August 1st, 1914. But as the Germania Yard found it could not make the two-stroke motor built by it satisfactory, these eleven boats were retarded by nearly a year and a half. Not only were the boats themselves not forthcoming, but the crews for these boats were not trained; so the experience that might have been gained since October 1st, 1913, was missed, and besides this these boats were blocking the Germania Dockyard, which in consequence could not deal with the new orders issued on mobilization.

At the Dantzig Yard the delay in building U29 and U30 was less as both boats were commissioned in the autumn of 1914.


This failure of the most modern submarine class, U31 to U41, is of the greatest importance. The fault lay in the fact that the two firms concerned were unable to carry out what they had anticipated. Submarine production was still in its infancy. Herein lies another reason why we could not have produced more boats in peace-time than was actually the case.

The question as to how far our submarines were capable of rendering material assistance in the war had not yet been settled in July, 1914. Before 1912 opinions were divided as to whether the men would be able to hold out for longer than three days. The settling of the question was taken in hand with energy, though on the men's account with a certain amount of caution made necessary by the state of peace. A few single boats were first told off for trial voyages of endurance. In the winter of 1912-13 the whole flotilla was sent to the North Sea. They were to go out a distance of 300 miles (Heligoland - England) and then maintain their station ready for action as long as possible. They stayed out eleven days. As a result of these experiments a number of improvements were introduced which made it possible to prolong this time considerably.

The fittings necessary were at once ordered, and the success of these was proved in the war. War experience, too, naturally led to a further improvement of the boats. But all the improvements and adaptations cannot alter the fact that our first-class submarines sent on long distances consisted entirely of the type that was in use before the war. Not till the year 1918 were larger boats of a new type added. When in


August and September, 1919 (?), the possibility of using boats of a lesser radius of action, against England from Flanders, became more likely, small and, later on, intermediate submarines were designed and were ordered in great numbers. Small Barkas motor engines were sufficient for propelling the first of these and they were procurable from several firms. In March, 1916, altogether 147 boats were under construction, and were to be delivered in the same year as they were estimated for.

That was the utmost limit of achievement of which our manufacturers at that time were capable. For more recent times I lack the necessary official report.

The following is a comparison between the development of the submarine in England and the point it had reached on the outbreak of war:

In 1906 England built only small submarines with petrol engine drive, as harbour and coast-line defences, and only one of which - B11 - put in an appearance during the war. This boat was towed without a crew to Tenedos, near the Dardanelles, and worked close to its base. In 1906 experiments were begun with boats of a wider radius of action. The boat of the English C class was designed and a large number of these were built. But they were not then available for long-distance use. Not till the boat of the Budget year 1910 could motors of 800 horsepower be obtained for long-distance use. The motor was constructed after the Diesel pattern. These were the E class. Of this class in July, 1914, the seventh


boat was commissioned, and these English E boats are the only ones that can really be compared with ours. There was no separate accommodation for the men in these, and this was also absent from at least the first fifty built during the war. Their sojourn in German waters was at the end of 1914 limited to four days, later to six days; from which one can judge of their capacity for long-distance service. Some of them went to Russia; they were escorted as far as Kattegat, where they had their tanks refilled. As we heard later in Helsingfors, where they were sunk before the town was taken by our troops in 1918, their motors were very unreliable - "burst as often as the Russians'."

When war broke out there were thus seven English submarines as against ten German boats, perfectly completed for long-distance service. How thoroughly developed and fit for active service our type of boat was is shown by the fact that these boats throughout the war responded to all that was required of them, and until shortly before the end could be employed with the greatest success. This claim cannot be made for any other weapon in the army or navy constructed before the war.

The number of our boats would have been double if the promised deliveries from the building firms had been executed. If one includes the submarines built in England from 1906 to 1909, and sets them against our bigger and more highly developed petrol boats built in the same period, England shows 7 + 10=17 boats against Germany's 10 + 15 = 25 boats. The most important point is that we had tested and perfected an efficient submarine for long-distance service in war and could simply go on building it without any further experiments being necessary.


Even more unfavourably does France come out of a comparison with our position. For this there lies before us ample irrefutable evidence in the report of a committee of the French Chamber of July, 1915, and March, 1916. According to it the Augsburg firm delivered the first serviceable, of course small, Diesel motor-engines to France in 1907. When France wanted to adopt in 1910 a bigger radius of action, so many difficulties were encountered in the construction of the bigger engines necessary that in face of such failures it was decided to go back to steam engines in spite of their disadvantages.

The opinion seemed to prevail that it was better to possess an imperfect submarine driven by steam than none at all. These boats were not ready in 1915, when their building was stopped in order to return again to Diesel motors. According to the Minister of the Marine, apart from the inferior diving capacity of the steam submarines their great visibility and the risk of suffocation for the crew were too great. In the year 1916 the French had still not succeeded in producing an unimpeachable Diesel motor. Creusot, the most important French motor firm, had forty times running failed with one of these bigger motors.

From this it is clear that France at the outbreak of war had no submarine adapted for long-distance service purposes.


After such a comparison it is not to be wondered at that the English, as a result of their own experience and that of the French, believed it to be impossible for our submarines to penetrate into the Irish Sea, and that they supposed we had hidden escort ships and secret bases on their coasts. My administrator in Sardinia was interned because he was under suspicion of maintaining such a base. America, even when she declared war against us, had no submarines at all adaptable for long-distance service.

The above statements prove that at the outbreak of war we not only stood at the head of all the nations of the world in the quality and number of our submarines, but we could do more deadly damage with them than all our opponents put together. Compare with this fact the systematically circulated lie that the submarine weapon had been neglected.

While testing the use of our submarines for war it became increasingly evident that the development of the navy as a whole cannot be directed by one man. The Secretary of State exercised no authority over the executive command. Even the technical experiments had to be submitted for their approval. It is natural that the executive command were opposed to all experiments for the development of submarines. The Commander-in-Chief of the fleet, as a certain number of submarines were already available, wanted them to co-operate with the fleet in manoeuvres; he regarded the submarines chiefly as auxiliaries to the high-seas fleet and employed them as protective cordons, or as scouts.


Exercises useful for long-distance work, on the other hand fell into the background, though in individual cases they were tried and also worked out theoretically.

The war, the fine achievements of Weddegen, Hersing, and others, soon, however, fixed the real importance of this new weapon, and so it came about that by September, 1914, the idea of employing the submarines against hostile merchant shipping was taken seriously into consideration. If this kind of long-distance service for the submarines had not taken an important part in our deliberations before the war, but only the employment of the submarines against enemy fighting forces, it must be borne in mind that up to 1914 we had no means of gauging correctly the possible extent of this long-distance activity; above all the violation by England of the Declaration of London and the Paris Convention of 1856, though certainly not considered out of the question, was not expected to the degree which it actually reached later.

With the object of enlightening the lay mind on this point, which has been intentionally obscured, I will try to summarize the salient points in a few brief sentences.

I. Submarines which can only be employed at short distances from their base, i.e. only in the neighbourhood of the coast, had for Germany neither political nor military value. Therefore we skipped over this phase at once, to concentrate on the development of high-sea boats.


II. The significance of the high-sea submarine was fully recognized by us, and its development as energetically and quickly pursued as was consistent with efficient equipment and the safety of the personnel.

III. So soon as the high-sea submarine was practicable for war purposes we procured in peace-time as many as our manufacturers could deliver, a fact which my successor early in 1917 emphatically impressed upon the Reichstag Committee.

IV. On the outbreak of war we stood with our submarines first of all the nations, both from the point of view of quality as well as quantity of our otherwise limited fleet.

V. Their use in war and the endurance of the crew could only be practically tested when the high-sea submarines were actually available.

VI. As this was only the case shortly before the war, one could, when the war began, hardly foresee what their radius of service would be.

VII. Our enemies were completely surprised at the performances of our submarines. This surprise might have had a decisive effect on the war. It put into our hands a certain but, at the time, limited chance of success.

VIII. The command of the high-sea fleet attached great value, both in peace and at the beginning of the war, to the employment of the submarines to support the fleet in battle, especially as advance lines having a similar effect to minefields.


IX. The Admiralty on the other hand opposed long distance service from the beginning, as it involved employment against hostile battleships and merchantmen.

X. It is of course an understood thing that with regard to the last we entertained the intention attributed to us by Percy Scott, in the form of a romance by Conan Doyle, of trying to annihilate England with our submarines.

XI. Such intentions, however, would have had no object unless the submarines had proved their full capacity both in personnel and materiel on the high seas.

XII. This could, in consideration of the actual state of development of the submarine, only have been reached during the war because the improvement in the endurance of the crews to a great extent had only been effected immediately before the war.

XIII. When during the course of the war we obtained, comparatively speaking soon, a satisfactory verdict on this point, there came into the foreground the weighty question of international and military law relating to the conduct of the war on commerce at sea.

XIV. This question had not been sufficiently matured when, against my vote, but with the Chancellor's approval, the Government issued the decree of February 4th, 1915.

XV. In the navy we had arrived at the conviction that if the submarine commercial war were to have any lasting effect, the U-boats must be allowed to torpedo without warning. This principle by no means excluded concessions to neutrals.


XVI. In the existing maritime law which we hitherto had strictly observed there were no precedents for submarine war on commerce.

XVII. When England unscrupulously outraged all the fundamental principles of the old maritime law by declaring a blockade in defence of its definitions, and by sowing the open North Sea with mines, and when America accepted this proceeding practically as maritime law "adapted to the conditions of modern warfare and commerce," then without doubt we acquired the formal right to adopt a policy of quid pro quo. This the submarines enabled us to do.

XVIII. We did not possess the formal right alone, but also the right of self-preservation of a nation starving and fighting for its very existence gave to us a natural right.

XIX. The legal as well as the natural right, after the Government's declaration had once been issued, had to be maintained with the most emphatic determination by the leaders of our empire in the face of the whole world.

XX. From a military point of view the submarine war on commerce grew in importance so soon as the deciding factor was no longer, and moreover could not be, naval war. For, directly the submarine war became the chief weapon, the fleet, self-defeated, was bound by its presence to make and hold a free passage for the return of the submarines from our waters.


Here I am going to give, with his permission, the views of our leading submarine expert, who at the beginning of its use in war was captain of U1, and trained the submarine captains, personally took over and tested numerous boats, and as commanding officer of the submarines in Flanders, received the Ordre pour le Merite. I quote from a letter of his written in the spring of 1918, to which I have had access. Commander Bartenbach is one of the few naval officers who, through his exertions in time of peace, is in a position thoroughly to review our submarine development, and at the same time has had the greatest experience during the submarine war.

"Commander Bartenbach to Admiral z. D. Dick.

"April 10th, 1918.


"Your kind letter of April 6th I will answer as fully as I can without reference to the documents.

"(1a), Development of the submarine before the war. - At first we aimed at only a high-seas submarine for attack. It would have been easy for a Secretary of State, not obsessed with the necessity for high-sea qualifications in the submarines, to pacify his own conscience and that of the people's representatives by the building of a number of small boats at a cheap rate.

"In view of the high cost of carrying out the naval programme due to the ever-increasing cost of battleships, armoured cruisers, and torpedo boats (oil fuel), the Grand Admiral - who, God knows, had to contend


with parsimony on all sides - was strongly tempted to economize in other directions. This he did not do in the case of the submarines, but broad-mindedly set his country's safety above money considerations, and so laid a sound foundation on which to build.

For instance, U21, which was in operation as one of an accepted class to go to the Dardanelles and save Turkey, and perhaps to exercise a decisive influence on the course of the war, was commissioned in the year 1913, after taking more than two years to build. So even by the end of 19 10 the recognition of the submarine's value in war was taking practical form. Such boats, however, cost three times as much money and far more labour and time than a small surface-boat. One could have built three times as many boats of restricted range, such as the earlier English, French, Russian, Austrian, Italian, and other boats. But we had progressed by leaps and bounds, and in 1914 our type of U-boat took the lead. Everyone must admit that a type so perfect as U21, which fulfilled all demands made upon it and stood tests designed not by a politician nor a civilian, but by the Grand Admiral himself, is a proof that the value of this weapon was justly estimated. When in the beginning of February I interviewed the Secretary of State his first question was:

"' How long could one of our submarines hold out off the Thames?'

"This question could at that time only have been asked by a naval officer who clearly foresaw the way in which the submarine would be used. An explanation of the purpose of the submarine forms the first sentence in the memorandum on the use of submarines which has been worked out at the Admiralty, not by the Naval Staff.


"' The aim to be kept in view in submarine construction is their use off the enemy's coast.'

"This was the aim of the tests carried out in 1912 and 1913 to determine how long a submarine could remain at sea.

"In the spring of 1912 two boats were sent to the Baltic, and in the winter of 1912 the whole flotilla to the North Sea with orders to hold their stations in readiness for action as long as possible after a cruise of 300 miles (Heligoland - England). On that occasion they remained at sea eleven days. These facts also refute the legend which is continually cropping up that before the war a submarine could hardly be relied on to remain at sea twenty-four hours. Even in 1909 submarines sailed with the fleet in manoeuvres for days.

"We had all good reason to keep these tests and experiences secret before the war. The tests were ordered by the Grand Admiral under the heading of 'technical experiments' because the fleet and the Naval Staff did not know how far we had got. In my opinion these facts are convincing proof that the Grand Admiral recognized the value of the submarine in war as few others did.

"(b) The first condition for the manufacture of such submarines as should really correspond to the requirements of war was the construction of a serviceable, fast running (because of the accumulators), not very heavy engine of at least 850 horse-power. The production of such an engine would be a masterpiece of engineering, and competition was aroused by the order for a sample 850 horse-power engine placed with the best firms - the Augsburg engine works, the Germania shipbuilding yard, Fiat of Turin, and the Reutzer gas-engine works. The petrol engines of the Korting


and Daimler firms had not proved sufficiently capable of development. The reproach that preference was given to Korting is explained by the fact that on U2 Daimler engines were fitted but did not prove satisfactory, so that for petrol engines only Korting was left.

"Of these experimental engines, only the Augsburger engine-works could turn out the four-stroke, and the Germania shipbuilding yard the two-stroke engines, within anything like the time allowed. All the other firms, in spite of enormous labour and expense, failed to do so by the beginning of the war. These two types of engine were now adopted, the Augsburg four-stroke for the boats in the Imperial Dantzig dockyard, and for those in the Germania Yard the two-stroke.

"The whole available motor industries of Germany and some abroad, such as the Fiat, Turin, thus strained every nerve in the competition to obtain an efficient engine. The German navy was the first to possess an 850 horse-power oil engine for submarines. Unfortunately the two-stroke motor of the Germania Yard after several trials was not free from objection which, as is shown below, was to be the cause of serious trouble.

"(c) As regards the number of boats put in hand, after the type was fixed, there was the money question to be considered, and besides that the fact that a sudden leap forward in development should be avoided; for the private firms were only willing to adapt themselves to the building of the submarines if there was an assured prospect later of continuous business in this department.

"(d) The naval estimates (submarine estimates of 1912) raised the sums hitherto standing at disposal for this end. Immediately boats were ordered in large


numbers. In 1912 contracts were given for U27-30 (Imperial Yard, Dantzig), U31-41 (Germania Yard), U42 at Fiat, San Giorgio; in all 16 submarines, an unprecedented number at that time. Besides this an estimate was given for the building of another at the Weser Yard (a steam boat), making a seventeenth submarine. I think that this is striking proof that after the submarine estimates had been passed, everything was done to make the best use of the means to hand for the building of submarines. In this year too an endeavour was made to put the submarine construction on a wider basis.

"The following firms were approached: the Weser shipbuilding yard established a department for submarine designing; Schichau declined unconditionally; Vulcan, Hamburg, declined to establish a department for designing, would only undertake to carry out finished designs already prepared so long as further contracts were assured; Fiat, San Giorgio, received a contract, U42.

"I add here for Your Excellency's benefit that the Estimates Committee chose to regard this energetic placing of contracts, and the consequent ear-marking of grant for a period of three years, as an encroachment on the Budget rights of the Reichstag.

"(e) The reasons why at the beginning of the war there were not more submarines with the fleet lies in the failure of the builders, who were not in a position to deliver the boats contracted for by the Grand Admiral within the time specified. When the war began we had in commission (U1 and U2 were retained for training purposes) U3 to U18, U19 to U27 = 25 boats.

"We should have had, if the firms in question had fulfilled their promises, U3 to U41 = 39 boats.


"The struggles with the builders to avoid delays, the sharp attacks of the Secretary of State in person on the Germania Yard, the action taken against the inspector, are fresh in Your Excellency's memory. The loss of over a year of training and experience caused by over a year's delay in the delivery of U23 to U26, U31, etc., and the lack of fully trained commanders and crews naturally weighed almost as heavily in the scale as the lack of material and equipment. We should have occupied quite a different position on August 1st, 1914, if the builders, who talked so big, had fulfilled the promises they had made to the Grand Admiral based on their own calculations.

"The main ground of excuse for the grossest offender - the Germania Yard, which failed in the delivery of the eleven submarines U31 to U41 - lay in the fact that the two-stroke engine, which was accepted on the strength of a test in August, 1911, and which could never again be made satisfactory, so that we were compelled, in order to avoid delay with these boats, to substitute Augsburg engines at the expense of the Germania Yard.

 (The two-stroke motors were at last, after nearly a year and a half's delay, made efficient in December, 1914. The substitutes ordered in Augsburg have been used in other boats. - Editor's note.)

"In these circumstances the Admiral of the Fleet was powerless to alter anything when a further half-dozen submarines were ordered in the year 1912; and these too had to wait for engines. Your Excellency is acquainted with the fact that the responsible shipbuilding official was relieved of his post. In the speech by Struve this gentleman is mentioned as a valuable asset that had not been sufficiently made use of.

"(2a). About the submarines in war-time I can only speak from personal experience of the beginning of the war, as afterwards through my duties here I was, so to speak, not so much in the picture.


"At the mobilization orders were placed as had been arranged for the MS boats, and at once put in hand in the Weser Yard, because the Germania was heavily burdened with the retarded U31 to U41, and from Austrian submarines besides. It speaks for itself, that these arrears standing over from peace-times hindered the building of new boats.

"Above everything it was a question now of pressing on the boats under construction; that this was done with energy by the submarine inspection staff is proved by the peremptory letter addressed by the Admiralty to the General Director of Krupp's in Essen against which Krupp protested.

"At that time the question of labour had already been taken in hand, and workmen procured from the Imperial dockyard and Fleusburg.

"In view of the time they took to build (eighteen months for the first boat) it did not seem possible that the latest submarines would be ready for use in this war as all Germany thought of it in those days. I will bear the brunt of this reproach myself.

"But, as soon as the Flemish coast was occupied, the Grand Admiral resolved to build small submarines which could be ready early in 1915, so as to make the fullest use of the Flemish harbours. The submarine experts even advised against the building of such small boats. The Secretary of State, however, ordered the building of thirty-two small boats, and he proved to be right, for these boats have rendered excellent service, and are still being used with success, though unfortunately for other reasons they could not all be commissioned.


"A proof of the wide outlook of the Grand Admiral is seen in the fact that immediately after the occupation of the Flemish coast, even before the naval division was sent there, he sent a submarine expert as senior officer, to test the harbours and defences from the point of view of submarines. To this investigation is due the present effective exploitation of the Flemish coast.

"On the further course of the submarine building I have no detailed information, but it appears to me that at all events in 1916 a period of sterility occurred in the submarine productivity. One has the feeling that instead of building every possible submarine regardless of consequences we are trying to avoid having too many. Undoubtedly the uncertainty whether or not a submarine war was to be waged had an injurious effect on the submarine production, for it stands to reason that every nerve will not be strained in the production of a weapon that may never be brought into use.

In view of the situation as a whole, when all raw material and all labour was in requisition for other important war purposes, it had to be carefully weighed whether it would be right to divert uncertain material and uncertain labour from other uses. A Government that would not have a submarine war simply because the number of submarines was too small, by giving a definite promise to take up the submarine war when a considerable increase had been made in the number of boats (say double) would have, without doubt, secured a quicker delivery of these boats and have gained for itself public confidence. This is the plainest proof that there were other reasons for the Government's attitude, and that the inadequate number of boats was only a pretext.


"As to the provision of further shipbuilding yards, the demands of Herr Str. justified in essentials were in fact granted. The arguments set forth by Herr von G. are wide of the mark. To keep the construction of U-boats a secret no longer served any purpose, after the English had put several more boats in hand.

"Motor-engines are also built in the shipyards (for example at Blom-a-Voss), their development is the affair of the navy. It is much more a question of multiplying the production of existing types than of improving on them. For, Your Excellency, may I be allowed to add that the building policy of the Admiralty from about the beginning of 1917 was much more severely criticized by the fleet than by Herr Str, That, however, has nothing to do with the Grand Admiral; on the contrary, one misses his great resourcefulness and abounding energy at every step. Owing to urgent pressure brought to bear by the fleet, all the last building contracts were increased to the amount that the Admiralty had originally laid down as possible.

"Taking these things into consideration, I should recommend that the Str. attacks only be dealt with in so far as they concern the person of the Grand Admiral and his building policy before and after the war. In proceeding to deal with the questions framed by Herr von G., I should like to set before Your Excellency the following facts based on my war experience, in relation to the question whether in the spring of 1915 we had sufficient submarines for a submarine campaign.

"In the year 1915 a U-boat reached four times, in 1916 three times, the successes of 1917, despite the restricted orders then in force. The reason for this was that defensive measures against submarines were not immediately available, and were only gradually developed. These measures, which consist in the arming of merchant steamers, could not have been adopted


more quickly than was the case side by side with the colossal task of supplying a big army in the field with artillery. England required for the submarine defence armament about, at a modest estimate, 12,000 light guns.

"We allowed this time when we held the upper hand to slip by without taking full advantage of it, and so were confronted in 1917 with an incomparably more difficult task than in 1915 or 1916. We can accomplish to-day with the number of our boats, and by dint of the utmost strain on the crews and heavy losses, the same monthly record as we were able to maintain in 1915, with one-quarter of the boats, and in 1916 with one-third, and this with comparatively little effort. The blame for having hindered the full exploitation of this weapon cannot be wriggled out of by all those who held forth against the submarine campaign, and just as little can they cleanse their hands of the blood which must still flow in order to win the necessary victory in face of the new defensive measures of the enemy,

"Here follows the really important point that the deficiency in transport which had set in already in 1915 continued to make itself felt during the following years, and both hindered and delayed such a reinforcement of the English army as was the case in 1916.

"The navy of 1915 to 1916 found itself in the same situation as a regiment or infantry which faces an enemy who has not yet fortified his position, and knows that this position must be taken before the enemy can be beaten. They report that the position is easy to take. They see the enemy every day digging himself in more deeply, making barbed-wire defences, posting artillery, and they announce this repeatedly to


those behind, begging for permission to attack. This is always refused. Only when the opponent has fortified his position strongly, and has perfected his plans for defence, does the permission to attack arrive, and then everybody is astonished that this position, which was said to be so easy to take, should cost long, weary struggles and much bloodshed. Perhaps to-day such military parallels are more easily understood than naval illustrations.

"We consider it a like piece of arrogance that parliamentarians, civilians, etc., should presume to pass judgment as to whether or no the forces are sufficient for a military or naval operation which the responsible leaders have decided on. Who ever heard of such a thing as, for example, before the present offensive on the Western front, a representative of the people passing judgment on the quality of the munitions? What would Ludendorff say to such interference?

No one among the German people would understand it. But on the subject of the submarine war everyone may have a voice. How things would stand with us to-day if we had not combined to carry on the submarine war, even though it was belated, I need not describe; in my opinion we should, in spite of our strength on the Western front, be in a desperate position. We cannot too strongly contest the view that in 1915 and 1916 we had not sufficient submarines; it is merely a convenient evasion for all those people who now feel at the bottom of their hearts that their opposition to a submarine war was a fatal blunder. In conclusion, the verdict of those who work with the U-boats must be the criterion, not that of outsiders.


"The above remarks have been somewhat hastily written down owing to pressure of time. I must therefore respectfully beg that the style may not be too harshly condemned. Should Your Excellency desire to make public in the press what I have written here, I am quite agreeable. We have held our tongues too long on these absurd perversions of history.

"I am,
"Your Excellency's humble servant,

(Signed) "Bartenbach."




From Expansion and Organisation of the Imperial German Navy 1897-1918


The conflicting and confusing structure of the Imperial German Navy proved even more ineffective in war than it did in peacetime. The Heads of the three main departments through most of the war, through whom the Kaiser controlled the Navy, and their appointment dates, were as follows:


Reichsmarineamt or Secretary of State, Imperial Naval Office (or Minister of Marine)

Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz  (role in 1914 reduced to advisor to Kaiser, forced to resign because of his support for unrestricted submarine warfare)

March 1916 - Admiral Eduard von Capelle

October 1918 - Vice Admiral Paul Behncke

October 1918 - Vice Admiral Ernest Mann Edler von Tiechler


Imperial Naval Cabinet

Admiral Georg von Muller 


Admiralstab der Marine or Chief of Admiralty Staff

Admiral Hugo von Pohl

February 1915 - Admiral Gustav Bachmann

September 1915 - Admiral Henning von Holtzendorff

August 1918 - Admiral Rheinhard Scheer (appointed Head of the new Seekriegsleitung - see below)


In August 1918, the German Naval Command was reorganised with the creation of a supreme command similar to the Army structure - the Seekriegsleitung or SKL (Naval Warfare Command). Admiral Scheer was appointed Head with Captain von Levetzow as Chief of Staff.


To complete the picture, the Commander-in-Chiefs and Chief of Staffs of the High Seas Fleet, the main counter to the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet were:


Chef der Hochseestreitkräfte or CinC High Seas Fleet

January 1913 - Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl (replaced following Battle of Dogger Bank)
February 1915 - Admiral Hugo von Pohl
January 1916 - Vice Admiral/Admiral Reinhard Scheer
August 1918 - Vice Admiral/Admiral Franz Ritter von Hipper


Flottenstabschef or Chief of Staff

     September 1913 - Captain Ernst Ritter von Mann Edler von Tiechler
     September 1914 - Rear Admiral/Vice Admiral Richard Eckermann
     February 1915 - Captain William Michaelis
     January 1916 - Captain/Rear Admiral Adolf von Trotha

return to World War 1, 1914-1918



revised 10/5/15