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Title: Right Above Race
Author: Kahn, Otto Hermann, 1867-1934
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note:

      Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

      Underlined text is enclosed by pound signs (#underlined#).

      The Preface, the Foreword and the Publishers' Explanatory
      Note for Letter To A German were in italics in the original.

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      example, 4-1/2 indicates four and a half.

      An additional transcriber's note is at the end of the book.




"We will not permit the blood in our veins to drown the
conscience in our breast. We will heed the call of honour
beyond the call of race."

Hodder and Stoughton
London   New York   Toronto


This is one of the best books that has appeared about the war. It
shows conclusively why the United States must put this war through to
a finish, and why every good American and every believer in liberty
and civilization must be heart and soul against Germany. The fact that
Mr. Kahn himself is of German origin emphasizes the contention which
every good American should make, namely, that the Americans who are in
whole or in part of German blood should eagerly take the front places
in this war for Americanism against the attempt of the Prussianized
Germany of the Hohenzollerns to establish a world tyranny.

Not only is the book an admirable plea for Americanism and for putting
the war through, but it is also a no less admirable plea for treating
our internal affairs on the basis of common sense and high idealism. I
should like to see the book circulated throughout the United States as
a tract on Sound Americanism. The last two chapters, on "Frenzied
Liberty" and "The Myth of a 'Rich Man's War,'" should be called to the
especial attention of the persons who, not daring to be openly
treasonable, try to serve Germany by advancing the cause of Bolshevism
in this country, and by downright and shameless perversion of the
truth as to the part played by the men of means in this war. The
chapter on "Frenzied Liberty" is an acute and fearless exposition of
the damage done to liberty by the men here who are trying to play the
part of the Russian Bolshevists, by upsetting order and civilization
in this country. One of the most remarkable, and also one of the most
sinister, of Germany's extraordinary successes has been the way she
has used the forces of disorder in other countries to paralyze the
cause of liberty. She herself is the embodiment of order imposed by an
iron militaristic autocracy from above on the people beneath. She is
the embodiment of that species of order which is the antithesis of
liberty. She personifies it now exactly as the Russian Czars did in
the middle of the last century, only with infinitely greater
efficiency. But her feeling even for order is conditioned by her
unyielding determination that the Germans shall lord over and shall
exploit the rest of the world.

In itself this feeling of intense nationalism is a fine thing, and we
would admire it if it had not been perverted into an assault on all
the rest of mankind, and especially on liberty-loving civilized
mankind. There is in Germany an immense sense of solidarity, which
makes the German Socialist, the German middle-class capitalist, and
the German junker work side by side with enthusiasm for the
subjugation and exploitation of all the Allied countries. The
Socialists have cynically announced that their job is to encourage
pacifism in other countries, and thereby to lessen the resistance of
these countries to German militarism. The Socialists have worked for
the conquest of other countries in the interest of German capitalism,
because they feel they will get some share in the profit, and because
they have been schooled, in common with the rest of their country, to
a brutal cynicism concerning the wrongs and sufferings of other
countries, so long as Germans profit by them. In consequence the
German Government, aided by the German Socialists, has encouraged in
every way the forces of disorder in every hostile country--the
Socialists in France, the "independent" Labour men in England, the
Bolshevists in Russia, the Sinn Feiners in Ireland, the Reds in
Finland, and the most fanatical murderers of Christians in Turkey. It
is for this reason that Germany tries to use the I.W.W. in the United
States, and plays on the foolish American politicians who have
believed that the Russian Bolshevists would be able to infect Germany
with their revolt, or who have believed that they by fine words could
arouse the spirit of German revolt and separate the German people from
the German Government--a thing which can only be done by the breakdown
of Germany's military strength.

Germany has no fears as to her own ability to suppress disorder. The
minute she conquers a Russian province she puts down disorder with an
iron hand. But in the Ukraine, in Great Russia and in Finland she
encourages the party of the Reds, she encourages the Bolshevists; and
the poor, ignorant, gullible peasants follow the lead of the men,
however criminal--sometimes rather more lunatic than criminal--who
would throw them under Germany's feet. The American Bolshevists would
tear America to pieces, exactly as Russia has been torn.

Mr. Kahn's words of warning against them have a special value, because
he is as far as the poles from those foolish Bourbons in our political
and industrial life who, by their persistence in a course of mere
stupid inertia and inaction, would invite the very revolutionary
movements they dread. Mr. Kahn has his face set toward the light. He
realizes the change that must come in industry and in farm life in all
countries. He is anxious to join in every effort, no matter how
radical--provided only it is a sane effort, offering reasonable chance
of success--for securing better conditions for the wage worker and the
farmer in this country. He realizes that failure to strive in a
serious and efficient manner for this end is to play into the hands of
the Bolshevists; and he also realizes that the Bolshevists are, in the
last resort, the very worst enemies of every effort to make social and
industrial conditions better for the wage worker and soil toiler,
because Bolshevism would invite the most violent reaction. As for the
"Myth of a Rich Man's War," Mr. Kahn shows conclusively that in no
other country has the wealthy class been forced to bear as great a
part of the burden in this war as here in the United States.

As a matter of fact, the whole talk of "profiteering" as an element in
bringing on or supporting the war is due either to folly or else to
deliberate pacifist and pro-German propaganda. There was an immense
amount of profiteering in this country during the two and a half years
of our ignoble neutrality between right and wrong. The pacifists and
pro-Germans played the game of the profiteers, and worked hand in hand
with them to keep this country at peace, and therefore to continue the
opportunity for profiteering. Ninety per cent. of the profiteering
stopped just as soon as we went to war. Most of the well-to-do men of
this country, of the men who are free from the menace of immediate
want and who have given their sons a good education, have been the
very men whose sons have freely and eagerly gone to the war. There is
an occasional wealthy man, the owner of a set of newspapers, or an
automobile factory, or something of the kind, who improperly succeeds
in getting his son excused from service, on the plea that he is needed
in the business. But usually it will be found that this man is himself
an upholder of pacifism, or of some of the movements of the very
people who have announced that they are against the war. In this
country the real upholders of the war are the men who themselves have
shown, or whose sons have shown, that they were willing to pay with
their bodies for the principles they advocated.

Mr. Kahn's rebuke to those noxious demagogues who try to aid Germany
and hurt America by prattling about this being "a rich man's war" is
rendered all the stronger because he insists on heavy progressive
taxation of incomes and profits for war purposes. This taxation should
go up to, but under no circumstances go in the slightest degree
beyond, the line at which it interferes with or limits production or
prevents the fullest development of our business resources during the
war. We need to speed up production to the very top limit. While this
war lasts we have a right to demand of every man, whether capitalist,
or labourer, or farmer, that his prime effort and motive be to win the
war, for this is the people's war, America's war--the war of all of
us. The Government should see that every man does his full part.
Therefore it should see that the rich man does his full part.
Therefore, not merely in his interest but in the national interest, it
should also see that no frantic extremist, under the plea of forcing
the rich man to do his full part, renders it impossible for him to
do anything at all. So to act would bring lasting damage to the
community, and, whether intentionally or unintentionally, would create
a condition which would bring the war to a standstill.

This is a capital study of the problems which are of vital interest
at this moment to all Americans who love their country, and who wish
while serving their country also to serve all the free nations of
civilized mankind.

                                         THEODORE ROOSEVELT.

  _Sagamore Hill_,
      _June_ 15, 1918.


This book should be in every man's home; every woman should read it.
It is a pity that it is not in every German's home. But before your
ordinary man can grasp its full significance, it is as well that he
should know something of the man who wrote it, and still more why he
wrote it.

Mr. Otto H. Kahn, one of the leading financiers of America, and widely
renowned for his manifold charities, his strenuous public life, and
his generous patronage of the Arts, is of German blood and was born in
Germany. But, from his great-grandparents, who were French Alsatians,
he inherited a great love of France. His father, after taking part in
the German Revolution of 1848, fled to America, became naturalized as
an American citizen, and finally returned to Germany after ten years
of banishment. From this father, Kahn inherited the love of liberty.

He left Germany when he was twenty-one years old, after having served
his year in the army; and, deciding to find his future elsewhere, gave
up his German nationality thirty years ago. Returning, however, almost
every year, to visit the country of his birth, and having important
relations with governmental, business, social, and other circles, he
had exceptional opportunities for becoming acquainted with and
studying the development of German mentality and morality under the
influence of Prussianism. That development filled him with horror and
dismay. Long before the war he realized the terrible menace to the
entire world which was subtly concealed in the poison growth of
Prussianism. As he himself here puts it in one of his speeches: "From
each successive visit to Germany for twenty-five years I came away
more appalled by the sinister transmutation Prussianism had wrought
amongst the people and by the portentous menace I recognized in it for
the entire world. It had given to Germany unparalleled prosperity,
beneficent and advanced social legislation, and not a few other things
of value, but it had taken in payment the soul of the race. IT HAD

When the war broke out, in 1914, Otto Kahn did not hesitate for a
second on which side to take his stand. For him, neutrality in the
fight between light and darkness, between right and atrocious wrong,
was unthinkable. And as he felt and thought, being a man of honour, of
courage, and of decision, so he acted, totally regardless of the
consequences to himself. He had "searched his conscience in sorrow and
in anguish"; and where it led him there he followed unhesitatingly.
Although his most important business relations were in Germany,
although he knew that he would be attacked in Germany and by all
pro-Germans as a renegade, and would have to face a very difficult
position even in America as long as America was neutral, he at once
became a firm, open, and active adherent of the cause of the Allies,
and threw his entire influence, personal and financial, on their side.
No work for the Allies remained without his support. The calculated
expectations of the German Government on German-American aid,
particularly their reliance on access to the money market of America,
were disappointed and defeated; the chief part of the credit for that
vital result was due to Otto Kahn.

But, perhaps the greatest service to the Allied cause which Mr. Kahn
rendered--which he was the first, as well as the most prominent,
American of German blood to render--was his oratory through the United
States. There are about twelve million Americans of German descent in
the United States, and many more millions spring from races more or
less affiliated with them. Most of these went to America over
twenty-five years ago; they did not know modern Germany; they did not
believe the accounts of German atrocities as reported in the Press;
they were unable to realize the hideous change which had come over
Germany since they or their parents had left it; they did not
understand the origin, the cause, and the meaning of the war. And many
Americans, especially in the West, held the like views.

Mr. Kahn, notwithstanding threats and malignities, went out to speak
to them--individually, through newspaper articles, or at great mass
meetings. He brought to bear the authority of his personality,
fortified by the confidence and prestige which attach to it; and he
made it plain that he spoke, not from hearsay, but from personal
experience, observation, and knowledge. He succeeded in showing up
modern Germany as it is, and in proving its horrible guilt for the
war. He pleaded in flaming words to Americans of German birth that not
only did their oath of allegiance compel them to be whole-heartedly
and undividedly American, without regard to their origin, but that
what could still be preserved of honour to the German name was largely
in their keeping, and that even for the sake of the German blood in
their veins they must prove to the world that those Germans who are
not under the Prussian yoke, hate and loathe the ruling caste who have
poisoned the German blood, who have made Germany a hideous, monstrous,
barbarous thing, and who have robbed them of the old Germany which
they loved and in which they took pride.

If, as is fortunately the case, America is now in the war by our side,
unanimous, enthusiastic, undivided; if the people, East and West,
realize the abominable doctrines and actions of modern Germany and the
necessity at whatever cost in blood and treasure of defeating that
abomination utterly, then no man is more entitled to a high place of
honour among those who have brought about this happy achievement than
Otto Kahn.

In his youth, Kahn had done military service in Germany; and the
German youth studies and understands strategy in a far larger and
broader way than even professional soldiers study it amongst us.
Strategy acts in peace, as well as in war--strategy never ceases. For
what is strategy? It is the leadership of a people so that its moral,
its ideals, and its will shall make it develop its destiny in such
vigour that it shall be safe from the assault of any enemy will that
may assail it. All statesmanship worthy of the name is strategic--all
other statesmanship is but a glittering bubble, floating in an empty
void. If the moral and ideals of a people be not deep-rooted in vigour
capable of defending those ideals, that people is doomed.

I am proud to know that Otto Kahn sees eye to eye with me. The utter
degradation of the fine old Germany by Prussia was a bitter
disillusion of my young manhood. What must it have been to Otto Kahn?
He loved the old Germany to which he was "linked by ties of blood, by
fond memories and cherished sentiments." To cast her out of his
soul--to range himself in the forefront of those fighting the
abomination which had made her an outcast amongst the peoples of the
world--to brave attack, misunderstanding, misinterpretation of his
motives, loss of lifelong friends, not to speak of financial
sacrifices--these touch well-nigh upon the tragic. I am proud to think
that the strategic revelation of Germany, which I published last year,
receives such overwhelming proof in every page of Otto Kahn's
book--this laying bare of the meaning, processes, and purposes of
modern Germany by a great German of that fine school of honour which
once made Germany a noble people. And it is good to know that when at
last America struck for civilization, the vast mass of the Americans
of German blood remembered that they were Americans, and that their
ancient State was wholly departed. No man did more to steady them to
nobility of action in the day of their trial than the man who wrote
this book.

One of the first tributes I received from across the seas was a copy
of one of his addresses from Otto Kahn; and I am proud that it should
have fallen to my good fortune to pay back that tribute between the
covers of this noble volume on its issue to our people. There has been
no more valuable testimony written upon the war than this small book.

Otto Kahn tells us that the hideous thing "Prussianism" must be struck
down--or peace will have left the earth. There is no other way to
victory; no other way from bondage for the whole wide world.

                                            HALDANE MACFALL.


    AMERICANS OF GERMAN ORIGIN AND THE WAR                       1
    PRUSSIANIZED GERMANY                                        11
    THE POISON GROWTH OF PRUSSIANISM                            23
    FRENZIED LIBERTY                                            57
    THE MYTH OF "A RICH MAN'S WAR"                              75
    LETTER TO A GERMAN                                         101


    Extracts from an address before The Merchants Association of
          New York at its Liberty Loan Meeting June 1, 1917


We have met to-day in pursuance of a high purpose, a purpose which at
this fateful moment is one and the same wherever, throughout the
world, the language of free men is spoken and understood.

It is the purpose of a common determination to fight and to bear and
to dare everything and never to cease nor rest until the accursed
thing which has brought upon the world the unutterable calamity, the
devil's visitation of this appalling war, is destroyed beyond all
possibility of resurrection.

That accursed thing is not a nation, but an evil spirit, a spirit
which has made the government possessed by it and executing its
abhorrent and bloody bidding an abomination in the sight of God and

What we are now contending for by the side of the splendidly brave and
sorely tried Allied Nations, after infinite forbearance, after delay
which many of us found it hard to bear, are the things which are
amongst the highest and most cherished that the civilized world has
attained through the toil, sacrifices and suffering of its best in the
course of many centuries.

They are the things without which darkness would fall upon hope, and
life would become intolerable.

They are the things of humanity, liberty, justice and mercy, for which
the best men amongst all the nations--including the German
nation--have fought and bled these many generations past, which were
the ideals of Luther, Goethe, Schiller, Kant, and a host of others who
had made the name of Germany great and beloved until Prussianism came
to make its deeds a byword and a hissing.

This appalling conflict which has been drenching the world with blood
is not a mere fight of one or more peoples against one or more other

It goes far deeper. It challenges the soul and conscience of the
world. It transcends vastly the bounds of racial allegiance. It is
ethically fundamental.

In determining one's attitude towards it, the time has gone by--if it
ever was--when race and blood and inherited affiliations were
permitted to count.

A century and a half ago Americans of English birth rose to free this
country from the oppression of the rulers of England. To-day Americans
of German birth are called upon to rise, together with their
fellow-citizens of all races, to free not only this country but the
whole world from the oppression of the rulers of Germany, an
oppression far less capable of being endured and of far graver

Speaking as one born of German parents, I do not hesitate to state it
as my deep conviction that the greatest service which men of German
birth or antecedents can render to the country of their origin is
this: To proclaim, and to stand up for those great ideals and national
qualities and traditions which they inherited from their ancestors,
and to set their faces like flint against the monstrous doctrines and
acts of a rulership that has robbed them of the Germany they loved and
in which they took just pride, the Germany which had the good-will,
respect and admiration of the entire world.

I do not hesitate to state it as my solemn conviction that the more
unmistakably and whole-heartedly Americans of German origin throw
themselves into the struggle which this country has entered in order
to rescue Germany, no less than America and the rest of the world,
from those sinister forces that are, in President Wilson's language,
the enemy of all mankind, the better they protect and serve the repute
of the old German name and the true advantage of the German people.

Gentlemen, I measure my words. They are borne out all too emphatically
by the hideous eloquence of deeds which have appalled the conscience
of the civilized world. They are borne out by numberless expressions,
written and spoken, of German professors employed by the State to
teach its youth.

The burden of that teaching is that might makes right, and that the
German nation has been chosen to exercise morally, mentally and
actually, the over-lordship of the world and must and will accomplish
that task and that destiny whatever the cost in bloodshed, misery and

The spirit of that teaching, in its intolerance, its mixture of
sanctimoniousness and covetousness, and its self-righteous assumption
of a world-improving mission, is closely akin to the spirit from which
were bred the religious wars of the past through the long and dark
years when Protestants and Catholics killed one another and devastated

I speak in sorrow, for I am speaking of the country of my origin and
I have not forgotten what I owe to it.

I speak in bitter disappointment, for I am thinking of the Germany of
former days, the Germany which has contributed its full share to the
store of the world's imperishable assets and which, in not a few
fields of endeavour and achievement, held the leading place among the
nations of the earth.

And I speak in the firm faith that, after its people shall have shaken
off and made atonement for the dreadful spell which an evil fate has
cast upon them, that former Germany will arise again and, in due
course of time, will again deserve and attain the good-will and
respect of the world and the affectionate loyalty of all those of
German blood in foreign lands.

_But I know that neither Germany nor this country nor the rest of the
world can return to happiness and peace and fruitful labour until it
shall have been made manifest, bitterly and unmistakably manifest, to
the rulers who bear the blood-guilt for this wanton war and to their
misinformed and misguided peoples that the spirit which unchained it
cannot prevail, that the hateful doctrines and methods in pursuance of
which and in compliance with which it is conducted are rejected with
abhorrence by the civilized world, and that the overweening ambitions
which it was meant to serve can never be achieved._

_The fight for civilization which we all fondly believed had been won
many years ago must be fought over again. In this sacred struggle it
is now our privilege to take no mean part, and our glory to bring

Our one and supreme task, the one purpose to which all others must
give way, is to bring this war to a successful conclusion. One of the
means toward that end is to make the Liberty Loan a veritable triumph,
an overwhelming expression of our gigantic economic strength.

To accomplish that, let each one of us feel himself personally
responsible, let each one of us work as if our life depended on the
result. And, in a very real sense, does not our national life, aye,
our individual life depend on the outcome of this war?

Would life be tolerable if the power of Prussianism, run mad and
murderous, held the world by the throat, if the primacy of the earth
belonged to a government steeped in the doctrines of a barbarous past
and supported by a ruling caste which preaches the deification of
sheer might, which despises liberty, hates democracy and would destroy
both if it could?

To that spirit and to those doctrines, we, citizens of America and
servants, as such, of humanity, will oppose our solemn and unshakable
resolution "to make the world safe for democracy," and we will say,
with a clear conscience, in the noble words which more than five
hundred years ago were uttered by the Parliament of Scotland:

    "_It is not for glory, or for riches, or for honour that we
    fight, but for liberty alone which no good man loses but with
    his life._"


     From an address before the Harrisburg, Pa.,
       Chamber of Commerce September 26, 1917


I speak as one who has seen the spirit of the Prussian governing class
at work from close by, having at its disposal and using to the full
practically every agency for moulding the public mind.

I have watched it proceed with relentless persistency and profound
cunning to instil into the nation the demoniacal obsession of
power-worship and world-dominion, to modify and pervert the
mentality--indeed the very fibre and moral substance--of the German
people, a people which until misled, corrupted and systematically
poisoned by the Prussian ruling caste, was and deserved to be an
honoured, valued and welcome member of the family of nations.

I have hated that spirit ever since it came within my ken many years
ago; hated it all the more as I saw it ruthlessly pulling down a
thing which was dear to me--the old Germany to which I was linked by
ties of blood, by fond memories and cherished sentiments.

The difference in the degree of guilt as between the German people and
their Prussian or Prussianized rulers and leaders for the monstrous
crime of this war and the atrocious barbarism of its conduct is the
difference between the man who, acting under the influence of a
poisonous drug, runs amuck in mad frenzy and the unspeakable
malefactor who administered that drug, well knowing and fully
intending the ghastly consequences which were bound to follow.

The world fervently longs for peace. But there can be no peace
answering to the true meaning of the word--no peace permitting the
nations of the earth, great and small, to walk unarmed and
unafraid--until the teaching and the leadership of the apostles of an
outlaw creed shall have become discredited and hateful in the sight
of the German people; until that people shall have awakened to a
consciousness of the unfathomable guilt of those whom they have
followed into calamity and shame; until a mood of penitence and of a
decent respect for the opinions of mankind shall have supplanted the
sway of what President Wilson has so trenchantly termed "truculence
and treachery."

God strengthen the conscience and the understanding, the will and the
power of the German people so that they may find the only way which
will give to the world an early peace, the only road which, in time,
will lead Germany back into the family of nations from which it is now
an outcast.

From each successive visit to Germany for twenty-five years I came
away more appalled by the sinister transmutation Prussianism had
wrought amongst the people and by the portentous menace I recognized
in it for the entire world.

It had given to Germany unparalleled prosperity, beneficent and
advanced social legislation, and not a few other things of value, but
it had taken in payment the soul of the race. _It had made a "devil's

And when this war broke out in Europe I knew that the issue had been
joined between the powers of brutal might and insensate ambition on
the one side and the forces of humanity and liberty on the other;
between darkness and light.

Many there were at that time--and amongst them men for whose character
I had high respect and whose motives were beyond any possible
suspicion--who saw their own and America's duty in strict neutrality,
mentally and actually, but personally I believed from the beginning of
the war, whether we liked all the elements of the Allies' combination
or not--and I certainly did not like the Russia of the Czars--that the
cause of the Allies was America's cause.

I believed that this was no ordinary war between peoples for a
question of national interest, or even national honour, but a
conflict between fundamental principles, aims and ideas. And so
believing I was bound to feel that the natural lines of race, blood
and kinship could not be the determining lines for one's attitude and
alignment, but that each man, regardless of his origin, had to decide
according to his judgment and conscience on which side was the right
and on which was the wrong and take his stand accordingly, whatever
the wrench and anguish of the decision. And thus I took my stand three
years ago.

But whatever one's views and feelings, whatever the country of one's
birth or kin, only one course was left for all those claiming the
privilege of American citizenship when after infinite forbearance the
President decided that our duty, honour and safety demanded that we
take up arms against the Imperial German Government, and by action of
Congress the cause and the fight against that Government were declared
our cause and our fight.

The duty of loyal allegiance and faithful service to his country,
even unto death, rests, of course, upon every American. But, if it be
possible to speak of a comparative degree concerning what is the
highest as it is the most elementary attribute of citizenship, that
duty may almost be said to rest with an even more solemn and
compelling obligation upon Americans of foreign origin than upon
native Americans.

For we Americans of foreign antecedents are here not by the accidental
right of birth, but by our own free choice for better or for worse.

We are your fellow-citizens because we made solemn oath of allegiance
to America. Accepting that oath as given in good faith you have opened
to us in generous trust the portals of American opportunity and
freedom, and have admitted us to membership in the family of
Americans, giving us equal rights in the great inheritance which has
been created by the blood and the toil of your ancestors, asking
nothing from us in return but decent citizenship and adherence to
those ideals and principles which are symbolized by the glorious flag
of America.

Woe to the foreign-born American who betrays the trust which you have
reposed in him!

Woe to him who considers his American citizenship merely as a
convenient garment to be worn in fair weather but to be exchanged for
another one in time of storm and stress!

Woe to the German-American, so called, who, in this sacred war for a
cause as high as any for which ever people took up arms, does not feel
a solemn urge, does not show an eager determination to be in the very
forefront of the struggle; does not prove a patriotic jealousy, in
thought, in action and in speech to rival and to outdo his native-born
fellow-citizen in devotion and in willing sacrifice for the country of
his choice and adoption and sworn allegiance, and of their common
affection and pride.

As Washington led Americans of British blood to fight against Great
Britain, as Lincoln called upon Americans of the North to fight their
very brothers of the South, so Americans of German descent are now
summoned to join in our country's righteous struggle against a people
of their own blood, which, under the evil spell of a dreadful
obsession, and, Heaven knows! through no fault of ours, has made
itself the enemy of this peace-loving Nation, as it is the enemy of
peace and right and freedom throughout the world.

To gain America's independence, to defeat oppression and tyranny, was
indeed to gain a great cause.

To preserve the Union, to eradicate slavery, was perhaps a greater

To defend the very foundations of liberty and humanity, the very
groundwork of fair dealing between nations, the very basis of
peaceable living together among the peoples of the earth against the
fierce and brutal onslaught of ruthless, lawless, faithless might; to
spend the lives and the fortunes of this generation so that our
descendants may be freed from the dreadful calamity of war and the
fear of war, so that the energies and billions of treasure now devoted
to plans and instruments of destruction may be given henceforth to
fruitful works of peace and progress and to the betterment of the
conditions of the people--that is the highest cause for which any
people ever unsheathed its sword.

He who shirks the full measure of his duty and allegiance in that
noblest of causes, be he German-American, Irish-American, or any other
hyphenated American, be he I.W.W. or Socialist or whatever the
appellation, does not deserve to stand amongst Americans or, indeed,
amongst free men anywhere.

He who tries, secretly or overtly, to thwart the declared will and aim
of the Nation in this holy war is a traitor, and a traitor's fate
should be his.


   Address at a Mass Meeting in Auditorium, Milwaukee,
               Wisconsin, January 13, 1918



The speech I am about to make is attuned to the spirit and the fact of

A few days ago, as you all know, President Wilson once more spoke to
this nation and to the world in a great and noble message of splendid
vision--holding up a veritable beacon light of right and justice for
all peoples.

We all pray with eager and earnest hope that the German people will
recognize the spirit and meaning of that lofty utterance and that,
casting aside the odious leadership of the militarists, they will
grasp the hand stretched out to them in such generous and unselfish

Even as I speak the leaven of that great message may be working in
Germany with potent effect. I have no information other than what you
all have, but I hope I am not over-sanguine in giving heed to a
feeling that some parts of what I am going to say are perhaps in
process of being superseded by events that may be forming.

Let us all trust that it be so, and that we may soon be enabled to
substitute for the harsh accents of arraignment and enmity the
feelings and the language of peaceful intercourse and of that new
relationship which the President's leadership is seeking to bring
about amongst all the nations.

But until that "consummation devoutly to be wished" is attained, let
us take care lest we permit the hope of it to diminish our effort or
to weaken our determination. Neither hope nor any other motive or
influence must be suffered for one moment to divert us from the stern
and resolute pursuit, to the utmost of our capacity, of our high and
solemn purpose as it has been proclaimed in the great messages of
America's spokesman and leader.

       *       *       *       *       *

In attempting to deal with the questions that I shall discuss, I must
apologize for using the personal pronoun a good deal more than would
seem consonant with due modesty. My excuse is that whatever weight my
observations may have with you, lies mainly in the fact that I am of
German birth, that until the outbreak of the war I kept in close touch
with German men and affairs, that I loved the old Germany and that the
conclusions which I am about to state I have reached in grief and
bitter disappointment.

For these reasons, also, what I shall say from personal knowledge and
observation and in a personal way may have some effect upon those
among my fellow-citizens of my own blood whose eyes may not have been
opened fully to the difference between the Germany they knew and the
Germany of 1914, and who, owing to insufficient and incorrect
information, may not yet have discerned with entire clearness the path
of right and duty nor perceived the true inwardness of the
unprecedented tragedy which has befallen the world.


The world has been hurt within these past three years as it was never
hurt before. In the gloomy and accusing procession of infinite sorrow
and pain which was started on that thrice accursed day of July, 1914,
the hurt inflicted on Americans of German descent takes its tragically
rightful place.

The iron has entered our souls. We have been wantonly robbed of
invaluable possessions which have come down to us through the
centuries; we have been rendered ashamed of that in which we took
pride; we have been made the enemies of those of our own blood; our
very names carry the sound of a challenge to the world.

Surely we have all too valid a title to rank amongst those most
bitterly aggrieved by Prussianism, and to align ourselves in the very
forefront of those who in word and deed are fighting to rid the world
for ever of that malignant growth.

Heaven knows, I do not want, by anything I may be saying or doing, to
add one ounce to the burden of the world's execration which rests
already with crushing weight upon the rulers of Germany and their
misguided people. Nor do I seek forgiveness for my German birth by
demonstrative zeal in action or speech.

I was and am proud of the great inheritance which came to me as a
birthright and of the illustrious contributions which the German
people have made to the imperishable assets of the world. Until the
outbreak of the war in 1914, I maintained close and active personal
and business relations in Germany. I was well acquainted with a number
of the leading personages of the country. I served in the German army
thirty years ago. I took an active interest in furthering German art
in America.

I do not apologize for, nor am I ashamed of, my German birth. But I am
ashamed--bitterly and grievously ashamed--of the Germany which stands
convicted before the high tribunal of the world's public opinion of
having planned and willed war; of the revolting deeds committed in
Belgium and northern France, of the infamy of the _Lusitania_ murders,
of innumerable violations of The Hague convention and the law of
nations, of abominable and perfidious plotting in friendly countries
and shameless abuse of their hospitality, of crime heaped upon crime
in hideous defiance of the laws of God and men.

I cherish the memories of my youth, but these very memories make me
cry out in pain and wrath against those who have befouled the
spiritual soil of the old Germany, in which they were rooted.

I revere the high ideals and fine traditions of that old Germany and
the time-honoured conceptions of right conduct which my parents and
the teachers of my early youth bade me treasure throughout life, but
all the more burning is my resentment, all the more deeply grounded my
hostility, against the Prussian caste who trampled those ideals,
traditions and conceptions in the dust.

Long before the war, I had come to look upon Prussianism as amongst
the deadliest poison growths that ever sprang from the soil of the
spirit of man.

When the war broke out in Europe, when Belgium was invaded, I searched
my conscience and my judgment in sorrow and anguish, the powerful
voice of blood arguing against the still, small voice of right.

And it became clear to me to the point of solemn and unshakable
conviction that Prussianism, in mad infatuation, had committed the
crowning sin of outraging and defying the conscience of the world and
of challenging right to mortal combat against might, and that the
cause which the Allies were defending was our cause, because it was
the cause of peace, humanity, justice, and liberty (aye, liberty, even
though Russia, then under autocratic rule, happened to be arrayed on
that side, and even though diplomats and rulers made that sacred cause
the basis and excuse for territorial barter and trade and spoils

In accordance with this conviction--a conviction that is unshakable--I
have acted and spoken ever since, but I did not feel that it would be
either right or fitting for me publicly to state and agitate my views
so long as our country was neutral.

Now, America, the never-defeated, has thrown her sword into the scale,
because to do so was indispensable for the vindication of the basic
and elementary principles of right and peace among the nations, no
less than for our own honour and our own safety, the preservation of
our institutions and our very destiny.

To co-operate towards the successful conclusion of the war is the one
and supreme duty of every American, regardless of birth, of sympathies
and of political views. The American of German descent who, in this
time of test and trial, does not serve the land of his adoption with
the utmost measure of single-minded devotion and with every ounce of
his power, perjured himself when he took his oath of allegiance and
proves himself guilty of treacherous duplicity.

Thank Heaven! the number of those lukewarm in their patriotism, or
failing in loyalty, is very small indeed, far too small to affect the
record of Americans of German birth for good citizenship and service
to the country in peace and war.

There is abundant evidence that the overwhelming majority, indeed all
but an insignificant minority, meant what they said when they swore
full and sole allegiance to America, that they will prove themselves
wholly worthy of the high privilege of citizenship and of the
generous trust of their native fellow-citizens, and that they will
not fail or falter under any test whatsoever.

_We will not permit the blood in our veins to drown the conscience in
our breast. We will heed the call of honour beyond the call of race._

We will wear as a badge of honour the abuse and spite of those who
place another cause, whatever it be, above the Nation's cause and who
see hypocrisy or hidden motives behind the plain profession of
unconditional loyalty on the part of the American of foreign birth,
because unconditional American loyalty is not in them.

Yet, it is not enough for us Americans of German descent to do our
duty by our country and fellow-citizens, however fully and
unreservedly, if we do it in resigned and oppressed silence. I believe
we should speak out. We must give voice to our unflinching loyalty and
to our deep conviction of the justice of America's cause.

It is hard indeed for us to arraign publicly the country from which
we sprang and to turn against our own kith and kin, however deep our
detestation of their wrongdoing under the spiritual and actual sway of
the Prussian caste and however sincere our allegiance to America. It
will be easily understood by all fair-minded men that right-thinking
persons will shrink from so speaking and acting as to lay themselves
open to the accusation of being time-servers or popularity seekers,
and to expose their motives to misconstruction.

These scruples are honourable, and they are felt by many whose
patriotic loyalty and devotion are beyond all question. But, to my
thinking, they are stamped out by the iron tread of the times.

I believe that we should speak out, we Americans of German birth,
because we have been misrepresented to our fellow-citizens and to the
world by a small minority of professional spokesmen and pernicious
agitators, by no means all of German birth.

We must protect the German name, as far as it is in our keeping, in
America, if, alas, we cannot protect it elsewhere.

It has always, and rightly, been an honoured name here, and those who
bore it have ever done their full share for the common weal, in the
works of peace no less than in every crisis of the Nation's history.
Let us do what in us lies to preserve the names we bear in honour and
good standing amongst our fellow-citizens.

I believe that we should speak out, because our voices may reach the
ear and the conscience of the German people when no other voices can,
and because they _will_ reach the ear of its rulers. These, I know,
counted upon the moral, if not the actual, support of the German-born
in America to the extent, at least, of preventing our joining the war,
and now, when we have joined, they count upon that support to agitate
for an inconclusive and unrighteous peace.

I believe that we should speak out to convince our native-born
fellow-citizens that our fundamental conceptions of right and wrong
are like theirs, that _the taint is not in the German blood, but in
the system of rulership_, that we are with them and of them
wholeheartedly, single-mindedly and unreservedly; because if we failed
in conveying to them that conviction in the hour of our common
country's stress and trial, there would ensue the calamity of a
spiritual, if not an actual, breach between them and us which it would
take a generation to heal.


There are some of you, probably, who will still find it hard to
believe that the Germany you knew can be guilty of the crimes which
have made it an outlaw amongst the nations. But do you know modern
Germany? Unless you have been there within the last twenty-five years,
not once or twice, but at regular intervals; unless you have looked
below the glittering surface of the marvellous material progress and
achievement and seen how the soul of Germany was being eaten away by
the virulent poison of Prussianism; unless you have watched and
followed the appalling transformation of German mentality and morality
under the nefarious and puissant influence of the priesthood of
power-worship, you do not know the Germany of this day and generation.

It is not the Germany of old, the land of our affectionate
remembrance. It is not the Germany which men now of middle age or over
knew in their youth. It is not the Germany of the first Emperor
William, a modest and God-fearing gentleman. It is not the Germany,
even, of Bismarck, man of blood and iron though he was, who had
builded a structure which, whilst not founded on liberty, yet was
capable and gave promise of going down into history as one of the
greatest examples of enlightened and even beneficent autocracy; who,
in the contemplative and mellowed wisdom of his old age, often warned
the nation against the very spirit which, alas, came to have sway over
it, and against the very war which that spirit unchained.

The Germany which brought upon the world the immeasurable disaster of
this war, and at whose monstrous deeds and doctrines the civilized
nations of the earth stand aghast, started into definite being less
than thirty years ago. I can almost lay my finger upon the date and
circumstances of its ill-omened advent.

Less than thirty years ago, a "new course" was flamboyantly proclaimed
by those in authority, and the term "new course" became the order of
the day. With it and from it there came a truly marvellous quickening
of the energies and creative abilities of the nation, a period of
material achievement and of social progress, in short, a national
forward movement almost unequalled in history. The world looked on in
admiration, perhaps not entirely free from a tinge of envy. Germany
was conquering the earth by peaceful penetration; _and no one stood in
its way_. It had free access to all the seas and all the lands.

But with that "new course" and from it there also came a new god, a
false and evil god. He exacted as sacrifices for his altars the
time-honoured ideals of the fathers, and other high and noble things.
And his commands were obeyed.

There came upon the German people a whole train of new and baneful
influences and impulses, formidably stimulating as a powerful drug.
There came, amongst other evils, materialism and covetousness and
irreligion; overweening arrogance, an impatient contempt for the
rights of the weak, a mania for world dominion, and a veritable lunacy
of power worship. There came also a fixed and irrational distrust of
the intentions of other nations, for the evil which had crept into
their own souls made them see evil in others, and that distrust was
nurtured carefully and deliberately by those in authority.

And, finally, there came "the day" in which the "new course," fatally
and inevitably, was bound to culminate. There came the old temptation,
as old as humanity itself. The Tempter took the Prussian and
Prussianized rulers up a high mountain and showed them all the riches
and power of the world. Showed them the great countries and capitals
of the earth teeming with peaceful labour--Brussels, Paris, London,
aye, and New York, and told them: "Look at these. Use your power
ruthlessly and they are yours." And those rulers did not say: "Get
thee behind me, Satan;" but they said: "Lead on, Satan, and we shall
follow thee." And follow him they did, and brought upon the green
earth the red ruin of hell.

And with rejoicing they greeted "the day." It was to bring them, as
one German in an important position here expressed it to me, in
August, 1914, "a merry war and victory before the year is out."


Truly, history affords no parallel to the spiritual poisoning and the
resulting horrible transmutation of a whole people, such as
Prussianism wrought in the incredibly short period of one generation.
Nor would I believe that such a dreadful phenomenon could possibly
take place were it not for the evidence of my own eyes and my own

My observations led me to think, however, that Prussianism had reached
the crest of its influence some years before the war and that liberal
tendencies were beginning to make headway against it.

There were many men in Germany before the war who were opposed to and
saw the dangers arising from militarist ambition and jingo teaching
and raised their voices against them in warning. There was the
ever-increasing Socialist vote which--although Socialism in the German
Empire does not mean what it means in Russia and amongst the
extremists in our country--did mean opposition to Junker methods and
reactionary tendencies.

I am by no means sure that the very growth and spread of that liberal
spirit did not have some influence in causing the militarist clique to
precipitate the war, as throughout history autocracy has resorted
frequently to the unity-compelling force of war in order to arrest,
divert and thwart liberalism and independence.

To deceive the German people, and steel them to patriotic
determination and sacrifice, the Prussian rulers and their spokesmen
affirmed at the beginning of the war, and have kept reaffirming ever
since with nauseating reiteration and disgusting hypocrisy, that
theirs was a _defensive war_, forced upon them by wicked and envious
neighbours. A defensive war, indeed!

Let me review very rapidly the circumstances which surrounded the
beginning of the war. Austria, after the friction of long standing
between the two countries, which had reached its culminating point in
the murder of the Austrian heir-apparent, sent an ultimatum to Serbia.
The conditions of that ultimatum, although unexampled in their
severity and sweeping demands, were accepted by Serbia almost in their

Austria insisted on acceptance to the very letter, unconditional and
absolute, within twenty-four hours or war, whereupon Russia declared
that, if war was thus forced upon little Serbia, she would stand by
her. After much backing and filling, at the last minute, Austria
shrank from the calamity of a world conflagration and declared herself
ready to enter into friendly negotiations with Russia. The frightful
danger which threatened the world seemed to be on the way of being

But the Prussian militarist party, seeing in their grasp the
opportunity for which they had planned and plotted these thirty years,
were not willing to let it go by, and they did not shrink from the
catastrophe which was involved.

Heretofore Austria had held the centre of the stage and Germany had
professed herself unable to interfere. But when Austria was on the
point of receding, Germany did interfere, and, on the plea of the
menace of the Russian mobilization (a mobilization which there is
reason to suspect was deliberately provoked through machinations from
Berlin), started the war by an ultimatum to Russia, which was
tantamount to declaring war, on the very day on which Austria yielded.
Let it be remembered that whatever menace the Russian mobilization may
have contained was infinitely greater against Austria than against
Germany, and yet Austria, on the last day in July, 1914, declared
herself ready to negotiate.

I know something from actual and personal experience of the plotting
of the Prussian war party, and how for a full generation they had
endeavoured again and again to bring about a situation which would
force war upon the world. I know of my personal knowledge that the
stage was set for it six or seven years ago in connection with the
Agadir episode.

I know that the Pan-Germans meant to have a footing in South America,
and, once there, would have threatened and had prepared to threaten,
this very country of ours.

I know that Austria, in 1913, meant to conquer Serbia, and so informed
her then ally, Italy, believing that she could do so with impunity.

And I know that Austria did not believe that her ultimatum to Serbia
in July, 1914, would bring on a serious war.

I know it, because the week following the outbreak of the war I saw a
letter just arrived from a gentleman in high position in Austria,
connected with the Austrian Foreign Office, in which, writing to New
York under date of about July 20, 1914, he said:

    "We are now passing through a nerve-wearing time because of
    our difficulty with Serbia, but by the time this letter
    reaches you everything will be all right again. The Serbians
    have been intriguing against us these many years, and this
    time they must be settled with for good and all. We shall go
    in and take Belgrade, but inasmuch as we have given assurance
    to Russia that we shall not permanently interfere with the
    integrity and independence of Serbia, and inasmuch as neither
    Russia nor her allies are ready to fight, the whole thing
    will be a military promenade and will have no serious

A defensive war! Was it a defensive war which Prussianism was thinking
of when it declined England's repeated offer for a reduction by both
countries of the building of warships; when it refused at the last
Hague conference to discuss the limitation of standing armies and
armaments; when Germany--alone amongst the great nations--rejected our
offer of a treaty of arbitration?

Years before the war, Nietzsche, than whom no man had greater
influence in shaping the trend of German thought in the past thirty
years, wrote:

    "You shall love peace as a means to prepare for new wars. You
    say that a good cause may hallow even war, but I say to you
    that it is a good war which hallows every cause."

On July 29, 1914, the well-informed German newspaper, _Vorwaerts_,

    "The camarilla of war-lords is working with absolutely
    unscrupulous means to carry out their fearful designs to
    precipitate a world war."

In October, 1914, three months after the outbreak of the war,
Maximilian Harden, one of the ablest and most influential of
German publicists, wrote:

    "Let us renounce those miserable efforts to excuse the
    actions of Germany in declaring war. It is not against
    our will that we have thrown ourselves into this gigantic
    adventure. The war has not been imposed upon us by others
    and by surprise. We have willed the war. It was our duty to
    will it. We decline to appear before the tribunal of united
    Europe. We reject its jurisdiction. One principle alone
    counts and no other--one principle which contains and sums
    up all the others--_might_."

I could go on for hours quoting similar views and sentiments from the
utterances of leading German writers and educators before and since
the war. It is worth mentioning, though, that Maximilian Harden has
seen a new light, and for some time has been courageously speaking and
writing in a very different strain. There are a number of influential
men in Germany who, like him, have undergone a change of mind and
heart. Strong and outspoken assertions of liberal sentiment and
independent aspirations have found utterance in that country in the
course of the last six months, such as have not been heard within its
frontiers these many years.

A defensive war! There are certain telegrams (generally unknown in
Germany, even to this day) from Sir Edward Grey, the British Minister
for Foreign Affairs, to the British Ambassador in Germany, sent during
the week preceding the outbreak of the war in Europe, which by
themselves are conclusive testimony to the contrary. In these
messages, the British Foreign Minister went almost on his knees to beg
Germany to consent to a conference in order to avoid war.

He went to the utmost limits in promising benevolent consideration for
Germany's view-point and wishes, then and in the future, and he stated
that if Germany would put forward any reasonable proposition honestly
calculated to maintain peace, England would support it with all of its
influence, and if France and Russia would not fall in line England
would promptly separate itself from these two countries.

These overtures and pleas met with no response from the Masters of
Germany. They declared war.

It is probably true that the Russian Pan-Slavists had planned war
sooner or later, just as the Pan-Germans did. War might _perhaps_ have
come then or at some other time, even if the Prussian rulers had not
precipitated it. But the fact remains that it was the Imperial German
Government which _did_ declare war. For having anticipated that
"perhaps," and resolved it according to their own plans and wishes,
for that, their initial crime, and for those which followed, the
rulers of the German people will have to answer before the judgment
seat of God and history. Upon them rests the blood-guilt for this
dreadful catastrophe which has befallen the world.


A few days ago I read a poem addressed to Germany, of which these
lines have remained in my memory:

  "Oh, land of now, oh, land of then,
  Dear God, the dreams, the dreams of men!
  Enslaved, immersed in greed and hate,
  Where are the things which made you great?"

The things which made Germany great are not dead, and the world cannot
afford to allow them to die. They belong to the immortal possessions
of the human race.

They have passed, for the time being, alas, out of the keeping of the
mass of the German people, whose glorious inheritance they were.

They are now in the keeping of that minority, not, perhaps, very great
as yet, but growing steadily, of men in Germany itself from whose eyes
the scales have begun to fall. They are in the keeping of all the
nations who appreciate and cherish and are determined to maintain
those great and high things which the civilized world has attained
through the toil, sacrifice and suffering of its best in the course of
many centuries. And, above all, they are in the keeping of the ten or
fifteen millions of Americans of German descent.

As that great American of German birth, Carl Schurz, and many other
brave and high-minded Germans--my own father, I am proud to say, among
them--in 1848 stood in arms against Prussian oppression, for liberal
ideas and right and truth and freedom, so do we stand now. In fighting
for the cause of America as loyal Americans, we are fighting at the
same time for the deliverance of the country of our birth from those
unrighteous powers which hold it enthralled and feed upon its soul.

If ever a nation entered a war after having maintained infinite
forbearance in the face of grave menace and dangers and the most
intolerable affronts, and from motives as pure and high as the great
blue dome of heaven, America is that nation.

We seek no reward whatsoever of a material nature. We seek no "place
in the sun"--to use the German Chancellor's term--except the sun of
liberty, and that we do not seek selfishly, but to share with all the

America is not waging a war of vengeance, notwithstanding all the
injuries and measureless provocations that we have received. We have
lighted a fire to purify, not to burn at the stake.

America is incapable of hating an entire people, but we do hate, we
are fighting and we shall fight with every ounce of our might, the
spirit which has power over the people of Germany, and which, if it
were to prevail--as, under God, it never will--would destroy liberty,
justice and plighted faith. It was not the people of Great Britain
which America fought in the War of the Revolution, but the spirit and
the ruling caste which then held sway over them. America fought then
for an ideal and for liberty and independence, and sacrificed blood
and treasure and suffered and endured and won. And so it will be now.

The spirit of Prussianism and the spirit of Americanism cannot live in
the same world. One or the other must conquer.

In the mad pride of its contempt for democracy, Prussianism has thrown
down the gauntlet to us. We have taken up the challenge and now stand
arrayed by the side of the other freedom-loving nations of the world,
giving our fresh strength and our boundless resources to them, who,
heroically striving, have borne the heat and burden of a dreadfully
long and exhausting struggle, yet stand unwearied, erect and resolute.

The enemy is of formidable strength. But even if he were far stronger
than he is, even if we did not have the men and the means which are
ours, even if our comrades-in-arms had not demonstrated their superb
and indomitable prowess, still must our cause prevail--for there is
fighting with us a force which has ever proved itself stronger than
any other power on earth, and again and again has triumphed over
overwhelming odds. That force, God-inspired, death-defying and
unconquerable, is the soul of man.

And when--Heaven grant it may be soon!--the soul of the German people
will have freed itself from the sinister powers that now keep it in
ban and bondage, when it will have found again the high impulses and
aims of its former self, when it will once more understand and speak
the universal language of humanity and right, then, in God's own time
there will be peace.



   Extracts from Address given at the University
           of Wisconsin, January 14, 1918



We are engaged in a war, an "irrepressible conflict," a most just and
righteous war for a cause as high and noble as ever inspired a people
to put forth its utmost of sacrifice and valour. To attain the end for
which this peace-loving nation unsheathed its sword, to lay low and
make powerless the accursed spirit which brought all this unspeakable
misery, sorrow and ruin upon the world, is our one and supreme and
unshakable purpose.

That is the purpose of the people of Wisconsin as it is the purpose of
the people of New York and of every other State in the Union. I give
no credence to and have no patience with those who would measure as
with a thermometer the loyalty temperature of our communities.

Some dreamers there may be, here as everywhere, so immersed in their
dreams that the trumpet call of the day has not yet awakened them.

Some politicians there may be, here and elsewhere, so obsessed by the
issues which heretofore were good election assets and so unable to
shake off the inveterate habits and the formulas and calculations of a
lifetime, that they are unable to recognize and to share in the sudden
flaming manifestations springing from the deep of the people's
soul--and after a while, looking around for their usual followers,
find themselves in chilly loneliness.

Some there are, a small minority always and getting smaller every day,
among Americans of German birth or descent who lack the vision to see
their duty or the strength to follow it, and who stand irresolute,
hesitant and dazed.

The vast and overwhelming majority have acted like true men and loyal
Americans. They are entitled to claim your sympathetic understanding
for the heartache which is theirs and they are entitled to claim your
trust. It will not be misplaced.

I am taking very little account of that insignificant number of men of
German origin who, misguided or corrupt, dare by insidious and
underground processes to attempt to weaken or oppose the resolute will
of the Nation. There are too few of them to count and their manoeuvres
are too clumsy to be effective. But let them be warned. There is
sweeping through the country a mighty wave of stern and grim
determination, which bodes ill for anyone standing in its way.


One element only there is in our population which does deliberately
challenge our national unity. I mean the militant Bolsheviki in our
midst, the preachers and devotees of liberty run amuck, who would
place a visionary class interest above patriotism and who in ignorant
fanaticism would substitute for the tyranny of autocracy the still
more intolerable tyranny of mob-rule, as for the time being they have
done in Russia.

If it were not for the disablement of Russia, the battle against
autocracy would have been won by now. As so often before, liberty has
been wounded in the house of its friends. Liberty in the wild and
freakish hands of fanatics has once more, as frequently in the past,
proved the effective helpmate of autocracy and the twin brother of

Out-czaring the czar, its votaries are filling the prisons with their
political opponents, are practising ruthless spoliation and savage
oppression, and are maintaining their self-constituted rule by the
force of bayonets. Riot, robbery, famine, fratricidal strife are
stalking through the land.

The deadliest foe of democracy is not autocracy but liberty frenzied.

Liberty is not fool-proof. For its beneficent working it demands
self-restraint, a sane and clear recognition of the practical and
attainable and of the fact that there are laws of nature which are
beyond our power to change.

Liberty can, does and must limit the rights of the strong, it must
increasingly guard and promote the well-being of those endowed with
lesser gifts for the struggle for existence and success, it must
strive in every way consistent with sane recognition of the realities
to make life more worth living to those whose existence is cast in the
mould of the vast average of mankind; it must give political equality,
equality before the law; it must throw wide open to talent and worth
the door of opportunity.

But it must not attempt in fatuous recklessness to make over humanity
on the pattern of absolute equality. If and when it does so attempt,
it will fail as that attempt has always failed throughout history. For
an inscrutable Providence has made inequality of endowment a
fundamental law of nature, animate as well as inanimate, and from
inequality of physical strength, of brain power and of character,
springs inevitably the fact of inequality of results.

Envy, demagogism, utopianism, well-meaning uplift agitation may throw
themselves against that basic law of all being, but the clash will
create merely temporary confusion, destruction and anarchy, as in
Russia; and after a little while and much suffering, the supremacy of
sanely restrained individualism over frenzied collectivism will
reassert itself.


Under the system of wisely ordered liberty, combined with incentive to
individual effort whereof the foundation was laid by the far-sighted
and enlightened men who created this nation and endowed it with the
most sagacious instrument of government that the wit of man has
devised, America has grown and prospered beyond all other nations.

It has stood as a republic for nearly a century and a half, which is
far longer than any other genuine republic has endured amongst the
great nations of the world since the beginning of the Christian era.
Its past has been glorious, the vista of its future is one of
boundless opportunity, of splendid fruitfulness for its own people and
the world, if it remains but true to its principles and traditions,
adjusting their expression and application to the changing needs of
the times in a spirit of progress, sympathetic understanding and
enlightened justice, but rejecting the teachings and temptations of
false, though plausible prophets.

More and more, of late, do we see the very foundations of that
majestic and beneficent structure clamorously assailed by some of
those to whom the great republic generously gave asylum and to whom
she opened wide the portals of her freedom and her opportunities.

These people with many hundreds of thousands of their countrymen came
to our free shores after centuries of oppression and persecution.
America gave them everything she had to give--the great gift of the
rights and liberties of citizenship, free education in our schools and
universities, free treatment in our clinics and hospitals, our
boundless opportunities for social and material advancement.

Most of them have proved themselves useful and valuable elements in
our many-rooted population. Some of them have accomplished eminent
achievements in science, industry and the arts. Certain of the
qualities and talents which they contribute to the common stock are of
great worth and promise.

But some of them there are who have shown themselves unworthy of the
trust of their fellow-citizens; ingrates, disturbers, ignorant of or
disloyal to the spirit of America, abusers of her hospitality.

_Some there are who have been blinded by the glare of liberty as a
man is blinded who, after long confinement in darkness, comes suddenly
into the strong sunlight. Blinded, they dare to aspire to force their
guidance upon Americans who for generations have walked in the light
of liberty._

_They have become drunk with the strong wine of freedom, these men who
until they landed on America's coasts had tasted nothing but the
bitter waters of tyranny. Drunk, they presume to impose their reeling
gait upon Americans to whom freedom has been a pure and refreshing
fountain for a century and a half._

_Brooding in the gloom of age-long oppression, they have evolved a
fantastic and distorted image of free government. In fatuous
effrontery they seek to graft the growth of their stunted vision upon
the splendid and ancient tree of American institutions._


We will not have it so, we who are Americans by birth or adoption. We
reject these impudent pretensions. Changes the American people will
make as their need becomes apparent, improvements they welcome, the
greatest attainable well-being for all those under our national
roof-tree is their aim; but they will do all that in the American way
of sane and orderly progress--and in none other.

Against foes within no less than against enemies without they will
know how to preserve and protect the splendid structure of light and
order which is the great and treasured inheritance of all those who
rightly bear the name Americans, of which the stewardship is entrusted
to them and which, God willing, they will hand on to their children
sound and wholesome, unshaken and undefiled.

The time is ripe and over-ripe to call a halt upon these spreaders of
outlandish and pernicious doctrines. The American is indulgent to a
fault and slow to wrath. But he is now passing through a time of
tension and strain. His teeth are set and his nerves on edge. He sees
more closely approaching every day the dark valley through which his
sons and brothers must pass and from which too many, alas, will not
return. It is an evil time to cross him. He is not in the temper to be
trifled with. He is apt very suddenly to bring down the indignant fist
of his might upon those who would presume on his habitual mood of
easy-going good nature.

When I speak of the militant Bolsheviki in our midst as foes of
national unity I mean to include those of American stock who are their
allies, comrades or followers--those who put a narrow class interest
and a sloppy internationalism above patriotism, with whom class hatred
and envy have become a consuming passion, whom visionary obsessions
and a false conception of equality have inflamed to the point of
irresponsibility. But I am far from meaning to reflect upon those who,
while determined Socialists, are patriotic Americans.

I believe the Socialistic state to be an impracticable conception, a
utopian dream, human nature being what it is, and the immutable laws
of nature being what they are. But there is not a little in
Socialistic doctrine and aspirations that is high and noble; there are
things, too, that are achievable and desirable.

And to the extent that Socialism is an antidote to and a check upon
excessive individualism and holds up to a busy and self-centred and
far from perfect world, grievances to be remedied, wrongs to be
righted, ideals to be striven for, it is a force distinctly for good.

Still less do I mean to reflect upon the labour union movement, which
I regard as an absolutely necessary element in the scheme of our
economic life. Its leaders have acted with admirable patriotism in
this crisis of the Nation, and on the whole have been a factor against
extreme tendencies and irrational aspirations.

Trades unions have not only come to stay, but they are bound, I think,
to become an increasingly potent factor in our industrial life. I
believe that the most effective preventive against extreme State
Socialism is frank, free and far-reaching co-operation between
business and trades unions sobered and broadened increasingly by
enhanced opportunities, rights and responsibilities.

And I believe that a further and highly important element which can be
counted upon in this country to stand against extreme and destructive
tendencies is the bulk of the men and women who are engaged in the
nation's greatest and most vital interest, agriculture, provided that
the persistent agitation of the demagogue among the farming population
is adequately met and that due and timely heed and satisfaction are
given to their just requirements and aspirations.


Business must not deal grudgingly with labour. We business men must
not look upon labour unrest and aspirations as temporary "troubles,"
as a passing phase, but we must give to labour willing and liberal
recognition as partner with capital. We must under all circumstances
pay as a minimum a decent living wage to everyone who works for a
living. We must devise means to cope with the problem of unemployment
and to meet the dread advent of sickness, incapacity and old age in
the case of those whose means do not permit them to provide for a
rainy day.

We must bridge the gulf which now separates the employer and the
employee, the business man and the farmer, if the existing order of
civilization is to persist. We must welcome progress and seek to
further social justice. We must translate into effective action our
sympathy for and our recognition of the rights of those whose life, in
too many cases, is now a hard and weary struggle to make both ends
meet, and who too often are oppressed by the gnawing care of how to
find the wherewithal to provide for themselves and their families. We
must, by deeds, demonstrate convincingly the genuineness of our desire
to see their burden lightened.

We must all join in a sincere and sustained effort towards procuring
for the masses of the people more of ease and comfort, more of the
rewards and joys of life than they now possess. I believe this is not
only our duty but our interest, because if we wish to preserve the
fundamental lines of our present social system we must leave nothing
practicable undone to make it more satisfactory and more inviting than
it is now to the vast majority of those who toil. And I do not mean
those only who toil with their hands, but also the professional men,
the men and women in modest salaried positions, in short, the workers
in every occupation.

Even before the war, a great stirring and ferment was going on in the
land. The people were groping, seeking for a new and better condition
of things. The war has intensified that movement. It has torn great
fissures in the ancient structure of our civilization. To restore it
will require the co-operation of all patriotic men of sane and
temperate views, whatever may be their occupation or calling or
political affiliations.

It cannot be restored just as it was before. The building must be
rendered more habitable and attractive to those whose claim for
adequate house-room cannot be left unheeded, either justly or safely.
Some changes, essential changes, must be made.

I have no fear of the outcome and of the readjustment which must come.
I have no fear of the forces of freedom unless they be ignored,
repressed, or falsely and selfishly led.

But this is not the time for settling complex social questions. When
your house is being invaded by burglars you do not discuss family
questions. Let us win the war first. Nothing else must now be
permitted to occupy our thoughts and divert our aims.

When we shall have attained victory and peace, then will be the time
for us to sit down and reason together and make such changes in
political and social conditions as, after full and fair discussion,
free from heat and passion, the enlightened public opinion of the
country deems requisite.



Since Pacifism and semi-seditious agitation have become both unpopular
and risky, the propagandists of disunion have been at pains in
endeavouring to insidiously affect public sentiment by spreading the
fiction that America's entrance into the war was fomented by "big
business" from selfish reasons and for the purpose of gain. In the
same line of thought and purpose they proclaim that this is "a rich
man's war and a poor man's fight," and that wealth is being taxed here
with undue leniency as compared to the burden laid upon it in other

These assertions are in flat contradiction to the facts.

Nothing is plainer than that business and business men had everything
to gain by preserving the conditions which existed during the two and
a half years prior to April, 1917, under which many of them made very
large profits by furnishing supplies, provisions and financial aid to
the Allied nations, taxes were light and this country was rapidly
becoming the great economic reservoir of the world.

Nothing is plainer than that any sane business man in this country
must have foreseen that if America entered the war these profits would
be immensely reduced, and some of them cut off entirely, because our
Government would step in and take charge; that it would cut prices
right and left, as in fact it has done; that enormous burdens of
taxation would have to be imposed, the bulk of which would naturally
be borne by the well-to-do; in short, that the unprecedented golden
flow into the coffers of business was bound to stop with our joining
the war; or, at any rate, to be much diminished.

The best indication of the state of feeling of the financial community
is usually the New York Stock Exchange. Well, every time a ship with
Americans on board was sunk by a German submarine in the period
preceding our entrance into the war, the stock market shivered and
prices declined.

When, a little over a year ago, Secretary Lansing declared that we
were "on the verge of war," a tremendous smash in prices took place on
the Stock Exchange. That does not look, does it, as if rich men were
particularly eager to bring on war or cheered by the prospect of
having war?

But, it is said, the big financiers of New York were afraid that the
money loaned by them to the Allied nations might be lost if these
nations were defeated, and therefore they manoeuvred to get America
into the war in order to save their investments. A moment's reflection
will show the utter absurdity of that charge.

American bankers have loaned to the Allied nations--almost entirely to
the two strongest and wealthiest among them, France and
England--about two billions of dollars since the war started in 1914.

These two billions of dollars of Allied bonds are not held, however,
in the coffers of Eastern bankers, but have been distributed
throughout the country and are being owned by thousands of banks and
other corporations and individuals.

Moreover, they form an insignificant portion of the total debts of the
Allied nations; they are offset a hundredfold by their total assets.
Even if those nations were to have lost the war it is utterly
inconceivable that they would ever have defaulted upon that particular
portion of their debt, because, being their _foreign_ debt, it has a
special standing and intrinsic security.

It is upon the punctual payment of its foreign obligations that a
nation's credit in the markets of the world largely depends, and
the maintenance of their world credit was and is absolutely vital
to England and France. Furthermore, the greater portion of these
obligations is secured by the deposit of collateral in the shape
of American railroad and other bonds, etc., which are more than
sufficient in value to cover the debt.

But let us assume for argument's sake that the Allies had been
defeated and had defaulted, for the time being, upon these foreign
debts; let us assume that the entire amount of Allied bonds placed in
America had been held by rich men in New York and the East instead of
being distributed, as it is, throughout the country. Why, is it not
perfectly manifest that a single year's American war taxation and
reduction of profits would take out of the pockets of such assumed
holders a vastly greater sum than any possible loss they could have
suffered by a default on their Allied bonds, not to mention the heavy
taxation which is bound to follow the war for years to come and the
shrinkage of fortunes through the decline of all American securities
in consequence of our entrance into the war?

Is it not perfectly manifest to the meanest understanding that any
business man fomenting our entrance into the war for the purpose of
gain must have been entirely bereft of his senses and would have been
a fit subject for the appointment of a guardian to take care of
himself and his affairs?


Now as to the allegations concerning taxation.

1. The largest incomes are taxed far more heavily here than anywhere
else in the world.

The maximum rate of income taxation here is 67 per cent. In England
it is 42-1/2 per cent. Ours is therefore 50 per cent. higher than
England's and the rate in England is the highest prevailing
anywhere in Europe. Neither republican France nor democratic
England--containing in their cabinets Socialists and representatives
of labour--nor autocratic Germany have an income tax rate anywhere
near as high as our maximum rate. And in addition to the federal tax
we must bear in mind our state and municipal taxes.

2. Moderate and small incomes, on the other hand, are subject to a far
smaller rate of taxation here than in England.

In America, incomes of married men up to $2,000 are not subject to any
federal income tax at all.

    In England the tax on incomes of $1,000 is 4-1/2%
     "    "     "   "   "    "    "   1,500 is 6-3/4%
     "    "     "   "   "    "    "   2,000 is 7-7/8%

(These are the rates if the income is derived from salaries or wages;
they are still higher if the income is derived from rents or

The English scale of taxation on incomes of, say, $3,000, $5,000,
$10,000 and $15,000, respectively averages as follows, as compared
to the American rates for married men:

                                   In                 In
                                 England            America.

    Income tax rate on $3,000      14%             2/3 of 1%
      "     "   "    "  5,000      16%               1-1/2%
      "     "   "    " 10,000      20%               3-1/2%
      "     "   "    " 15,000      25%                 5%

(If we add the so-called "occupational" tax, our total taxation on
incomes of $10,000 is 6-3/4 per cent., and on incomes of $15,000,
9-3/4 per cent.)

In other words, our income taxation is more democratic than that of
any other country, in that the largest incomes are taxed much more
heavily, and the small and moderate incomes much more lightly than
anywhere else, and incomes up to $2,000 for married men not taxed at

3. It is true, on the other hand, that on very large incomes as
distinguished from the largest incomes, our income tax is somewhat
lower than the English tax, but the difference by which our tax is
lower than the English tax is incomparably more pronounced in the case
of small and moderate incomes than of large incomes. Moreover, if we
add to our income tax our so-called excess profit tax, which is merely
an additional income tax on earnings derived from business, we shall
find that the total tax to which rich men are subject is in the great
majority of cases heavier here than in England or anywhere else.

4. It is likewise true that the English war excess profit tax is 80
per cent. (less various offsets and allowances) whilst our so-called
excess profit tax ranges from 20 per cent. to 60 per cent.

But it is entirely misleading to base a conclusion as to the relative
heaviness of the American and British tax merely on a comparison of
the rates, because the English tax is assessed on a wholly different
basis from the American tax. As a matter of fact, Congress has
estimated that the 20 per cent. to 60 per cent. tax on the American
basis will produce approximately the same amount in dollars and cents
as the 80 per cent. tax is calculated to produce in England. (I know
I shall be answered that we have twice the population of England and
twice the wealth. But it must be borne in mind that a far larger
proportion of our wealth is represented by farms and other
non-industrial property, and that a far larger proportion of our
people than of the British people are engaged in agricultural pursuits
which are not affected by the excess profit tax. I believe it will be
found that the total wealth employed in business in America is not so
greatly superior to the total wealth similarly employed by Great

_The American excess profit law so called taxes all profits derived
from business_ over and above a certain moderate percentage,
regardless of whether or not such profits are the result of war
conditions. The American tax is a general tax on income derived from
business, in addition to the regular income tax. _The English tax
applies only to excess war profits_; that is, only to the sum by which
profits in the war years exceed the average profits on the three
years preceding the war, which in England were years of great

In other words, the English tax is nominally higher than ours, but it
applies only to war profits. The normal profits of business, _i. e._
the profits which business used to make in peace time, are exempted in
England. _There, only the excess over peace profits is taxed. Our tax,
on the contrary, applies to all profits_ over and above a very
moderate rate on the money invested in business.

In short, our law-makers have decreed that normal business profits are
taxed here much more heavily than in England, while direct war profits
are taxed less heavily. You will agree with me in questioning both the
logic and the justice of that method. It would seem that it would be
both fairer and wiser and more in accord with public sentiment if the
tax on business in general were decreased and, on the other hand, an
increased tax were imposed on specific war profits.

5. Our federal inheritance tax is far higher than in England or
anywhere else. The maximum rate here on direct descendants is 27-1/2
per cent. as against 20 per cent. in England. In addition we have
State inheritance taxes which do not exist in England.


Much is being said about the plausible sounding contention that
because a portion of the young manhood of the Nation has been
conscripted, therefore money also must be conscripted. Why, that is
the very thing the Government has been doing. It has conscripted a
portion, a relatively small portion, of the men of the Nation. It has
conscripted a portion, a large portion, of the incomes of the Nation.
If it went too far in conscripting men, the country would be crippled.
If it went too far in conscripting incomes and earnings, the country
would likewise be crippled.

Those who would go further and conscript not only incomes but capital,
I would ask to answer the riddle not only in what equitable and
practicable manner they would do it,[1] but what the Nation would gain
by it?

    [1] It is true that a few years ago a capital levy was made
    in Germany, but the percentage of that levy was so small as
    to actually amount to no more than an additional income tax,
    and that at a time when the regular income tax in Germany was
    very moderate as measured by the present standards of income

Only a trifling fraction of a man's property is held in cash. If they
conscript a certain percentage of his possessions in stocks and bonds,
what would the Government do with them?

Keep them? That would not answer its purpose, because the Government
wants cash, not securities.

Sell them? Who is to buy them when everyone's funds are depleted?

If they conscript a certain percentage of a man's real estate or mine
or farm or factory, how is that to be expressed and converted into

Are conscripted assets to be used as a basis for the issue of Federal
Reserve Bank Notes? That would mean gross inflation with all its
attendant evils, dangers and deceptions.

Would they repudiate a percentage of the National Debt? Repudiation is
no less dishonourable in a people than in an individual, and the
penalty for failure to respect the sanctity of obligations is no
different for a nation than for an individual.

The fact is that the Government would gain nothing in the process of
capital conscription and the country would be thrown into chaos for
the time being. The man who has saved would be penalized; he who has
wasted would be favoured. Thrift and constructive effort, resulting in
the needful and fructifying accumulation of capital, would be arrested
and lastingly discouraged.

I can understand the crude notion of the man who would divide all
possessions equally. There would be mighty little coming to anyone by
such distribution and it is, of course, an utterly impossible thing
to do, but it is an understandable notion. But by the confiscation of
capital for Government use neither the Government nor any individual
would be benefited.

A vigorously progressive income tax is both economically and socially
sound. A capital tax is wholly unsound and economically destructive.
It may nevertheless become necessary in the case of some of the
belligerent countries to resort to this expedient, but I can conceive
of no situation likely to arise which would make it necessary or
advisable in this country. More than ever would such a tax be harmful
in times of war and post-bellum reconstruction, when beyond almost all
other things it is essential to stimulate production and promote
thrift, and when everything which tends to have the opposite effect
should be rigorously rejected as detrimental to the Nation's strength
and well-being.

There is an astonishing lot of hazy thinking on the subject of the
uses of capital in the hands of its owners. The rich man can only
spend a relatively small sum of money unproductively or selfishly. The
money that it is in his power to actually waste is exceedingly
limited. The bulk of what he has must be spent and used for productive
purposes, just as would be the case if it were spent by the
Government, with this difference, however, that, generally speaking,
the individual is more painstaking and discriminating in the use of
his funds and at the same time bolder, more imaginative, enterprising
and constructive than the Government with its necessarily bureaucratic
and routine regime possibly could be. Money in the hands of the
individual is continuously and feverishly on the search for
opportunities, _i. e._ for creative and productive use. In the hands
of the Government it is apt to lose a good deal of its fructifying
energy and ceaseless striving and to sink instead into placid and
somnolent repose.

Taxation presupposes earnings. Our credit structure is based upon
values, and values are largely determined by earnings. Shrinkage of
values necessarily affects our capacity to provide the Government with
the sinews of war.

There need not be and there should not be any conflict between profits
and patriotism. I am utterly opposed to those who would utilize their
country's war as a means to enrich themselves. Extortionate profits
must not be tolerated, but, on the other hand, there should be a
reasonably liberal disposition towards business and a willingness to
see it make substantial earnings. To deny this is to deny human

Men will give their lives to their country as a matter of plain and
natural duty; men, without a moment's hesitation, will quit their
business and devote their entire time and energy and effort to the
affairs of the Nation, as a great many have done and every one of us
stands ready to do, without any thought of compensation. But,
generally speaking, men will not take business risks, will not
venture, will not be enterprising and constructive, will not take upon
themselves the responsibilities, the chance of loss, the strain, the
wear and tear and worry and care of intense business activity if they
do not have the prospect of adequate monetary reward, even though a
large part of that reward is taken away again in the shape of


Reverting now to the subject of the conscription of men, I know I
speak the sentiment of all those beyond the years of young manhood
when I say that there is not one of us worthy of the name of a man who
would not willingly go to fight if the country needed or wanted us to
fight. But the country does not want or call its entire manhood to
fight. It does not even call anywhere near its entire young manhood.
It has called, or intends to call in the immediate future, perhaps 25
per cent. of its men between 20 and 30 years of age, which means
probably about 4 per cent. of its total male population of all ages.
In other words, it calls only for such number of men as appears
indicated by the needs of the country, and as corresponds to a prudent
estimate of the task before it.

I am far from meaning to compare the loss of income or profits with
the risk of life or health to which men in the firing line are
exposed, or to compare financial sacrifices to those willingly and
proudly borne by the youth of our land and shared by those near and
dear to them. But I do believe it to be a just contention--not in the
interest of the individual, but of the welfare of the community--that
the same principle which is applied in the case of the conscription
of men should hold good for the conscription of income or profits;
_i. e._ so much thereof should be taken by the State as is required
by a prudent estimate of the task before it and as best promotes the
accomplishment of that task, bearing in mind that the preservation
of the country's economic power is next in importance for winning the
war to its military power. Vindictiveness, extremist theories and
demagogism ought to have no place in arriving at that estimate.

I have no patience with or tolerance for the "war profiteer," as the
term is understood. The "war hog" is a nuisance and an ignominy. He
should be dealt with just as drastically as is possible without doing
damage to national interests in the process. But neither have I
patience with or tolerance for the man who would use his country's war
as a means to promote his pet theories or his political fortunes at
the expense of national unity at a time when we should all be united
in mutual goodwill and co-operative effort.

And if we do talk about the formula, "conscription of
men--conscription of wealth," let it be understood that we have called
less than 5 per cent. of the Nation's entire male population, but
have called from incomes, business profits and other imposts falling
principally on the well-to-do, approximately 90 per cent. of our war
taxation, not to mention the contribution to the Red Cross, the
Y.M.C.A. and other war relief activities.

Let me add in passing that _the children of the well-to-do have been
taken for the war in proportionately greater numbers than the children
of the poor_, because those young men who are needed at home to
support dependents or to maintain essential war industries are
exempted from the draft.

Moreover, to an overwhelming degree the sons of the well-to-do have
not waited to be conscripted. They have volunteered in masses--a far
greater percentage of them than those in less advantageous
circumstances. That is merely as it should be. Having greater
advantages, they have corresponding duties. Not having dependents to
take care of, they can better afford to volunteer than those less
fortunately situated.

But the patriotic zeal of the sons of the well-to-do in coming
forward to offer their lives to the country does give a doubly false
and sickening sound to the ranting of the agitator who would arouse
class hatred--who calls this "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight"
when an overwhelming percentage of the sons of the men of means have
eagerly and freely offered themselves for military service, when _the
draft exemption regulations, discriminate not, as in former wars, in
favour of the rich man's son but in favour of the poor woman's son_,
and when capital and business pay more than four-fifths of our war
taxation directly and a large share of the remaining one-fifth

I do not say all this to plead for a reduction of the taxation on
wealth, or in order to urge that no additional taxes be imposed on
wealth if need be. There is no limit to the burden which, in time of
stress and strain, those must be willing to bear who can afford it,
except only that limit which is imposed by the consideration that
taxation must not reach a point where the business activity of the
country becomes crippled, and its economic equilibrium is thrown out
of gear, because that would harm every element of the commonwealth and
diminish the war-making capacity of the Nation.


The question of the individual is not the one that counts. The
question is not what sacrifices capital should and would be willing to
bear if called upon, but what taxes it is _to the public advantage_ to

Taxation must be sound and wise and scientific, and cannot be laid in
a haphazard way or on impulse or according to considerations of
politics. Otherwise, the whole country will suffer. History has shown
over and over again that the laws of economics cannot be defied with
impunity and that the resulting penalty falls upon all sections and

I realize but too well that the burden of the abnormally high cost of
living, caused largely by the war, weighs heavily indeed upon wage
earners and still more upon men and women with moderate salaries. I
yield to no one in my desire to see everything done that is
practicable to have that burden lightened. But excessive taxation on
capital will not accomplish that; on the contrary, it will rather tend
to intensify the trouble.

We men of business are ready and willing to be taxed in this emergency
to the very limit of our ability, and to make contributions to war
relief work and other good causes, without stint. The fact is that,
generally speaking, capital engaged in business is now being taxed in
America more heavily than anywhere else in the world. We are not
complaining about this; we do not say that it may not become necessary
to impose still further taxes; we are not whimpering and squealing and
agitating, but--we do want the people to know what are the present
facts, and we ask them not to give heed to the demagogue who would
make them believe that we are escaping our share of the common

May I hope that I have measurably succeeded in demonstrating that the
allegations with which the propagandists of disunion have been
assailing the public mind are without foundation in fact. And may I
add, in conclusion, that the charge of "big business" having fomented
our entrance into the war is one which, apart from its intrinsic
absurdity, is a hateful calumny. Business men, great or small, are no
different from other Americans, and we reject the thought that any
American, rich or poor, would be capable of the hideous and dastardly
plot to bring upon his country the sorrows and sufferings of war in
order to enrich himself.

Business men are bound to be exceedingly heavy financial losers
through America's entrance into the war. Every element of
self-interest should have caused them to use their utmost efforts to
preserve America's neutrality from which they drew so much profit
during the two and a half years before April, 1917. Every
consideration of personal advantage commanded men of affairs to stand
with and support the agitation of the "peace-at-any-price" party. They
spurned such ignoble reasoning; they rejected that affiliation; they
stood for war when it was no longer possible, with safety and honour,
to maintain peace, because they are patriotic citizens first and
business men afterwards.

The insinuation that "big business" had any share in influencing our
Government's decision to enter the war is an insult to the President
and Congress, a libel on American citizenship, and a malicious
perversion or ignorant misconception of the facts. Those who continue
to circulate that insinuation lay themselves open to just suspicion of
their motives and should receive neither credence nor tolerance.



Some months ago a leading American lawyer, while visiting Paris, was
discussing with a group of prominent Frenchmen the attitude and
sympathies of various Americans towards the nations engaged in the
European War.

The discussion turned toward the disposition of Mr. Y. of New York.
Some one said that he assumed that his sympathies and views were
pro-German, because of his German ancestry and his business
connections in Germany.

"Oh, no," spoke up one of the distinguished Frenchmen present. "I
happen to know the contrary to be the fact, because some time ago I
saw a long and comprehensive letter from Mr. Y. to a relative in
Germany, in which he showed not only pronounced sympathy for the
Allies, but a thorough understanding of their cause, and scathingly
arraigned the German Government and policy."

It appears that this letter had been singled out in the operation of
the censorship of letters between the United States and Germany and
had been brought to the attention of official representatives of the
Allied Governments. It should be noted that at the time the letter was
written, namely in the early part of 1915, the censorship of letters
between the United States and Germany had not yet been officially
established, and it was believed that only correspondence from and to
suspected persons and firms was being opened, and the writer had no
reason to expect that this particular letter would come under the
scrutiny of the censor.

The American lawyer, upon returning to New York, related to Mr. Y. the
incident of the conversation and asked to be allowed to read a copy of
the letter in question. Having perused it, he urged Mr. Y. to have it
printed. In accordance with the suggestion, the letter, together with
the correspondence which preceded it, is reprinted in the following

This letter was written in June, 1915, to a prominent business man in
Germany. A few of the passages contained in the letter as here given
are taken from an earlier letter (March, 1915) written to the same

The original letters were in German. The following translation was
made by the author.

It is needless to inform the reader as to the identity of Mr. Y.

  August, 1918.


_New York_, _June_ 28, 1915.


Many thanks for your very interesting letter of April 27th. The spirit
which animates Germany is indeed a great and mighty one. It is a
spirit of unity and brotherhood among her people, of willing sacrifice
and heroic striving, coupled with the passionate conviction and faith
that her cause is just and righteous, that it must and will win, and
that not only is victory a necessity for national existence, but that
in its train it will bring blessings to the whole of the universe.

Wherever and whenever in the world's history such a spirit--born of
the stirring of the profoundest depths of national or religious
feeling--has manifested itself, it has invariably been attended by a
more or less marked fanaticism among the people concerned; by a
condition of mind easily comprehensible as a psychological phenomenon,
yet acutely prejudicial to the ability to preserve an objective point
of view, and to arrive at an impartial judgment.

It is but natural that in the atmosphere which surrounds you and under
existing circumstances, a man even of such sober, clear and
independent mentality as yourself should think and feel in the way
manifested by your letter. Even if it were in my power, I would not
try _at this time_ to shake your faith and patriotic determination.
Since, however, you ask me to continue this exchange of opinions, I
will endeavour further to make plain to you my ideas as to this most
deplorable and accursed war.

The views I am expressing are, I believe, the views as well of the
great majority of thinking people in America. And I would remind you
that America as a whole, by reason of the racial composition of her
population, is essentially free from national prejudice or racial
bias. With her many millions of inhabitants of German origin, her
disposition could not be anti-German in the ordinary course of
affairs--and indeed never was so before the war.

With her millions of Jews and her liberal tendencies she cannot be
pro-Russian. With her historical development in the course of which
her only serious wars have been fought against Great Britain (which
country, moreover, during certain critical periods in the Civil War
between North and South, evidenced inclination to favour the South and
thus aroused long continuing resentment in the Northern States), and
for many other reasons, her disposition cannot be that of an English
partisan--and was not so before the war.

The predominant sentiment of the American people in the Boer War was
anti-English; in the Balkan War their sympathies were pro-Turkish; in
the Italian-Turkish War, anti-Italian; in the Russo-Japanese War,
pro-Japanese, although it was fully realized that from the point of
view of America's material and national interests, the strengthening
of Japan was hardly desirable.

It may sound to you very improbable, yet it is none the less true that
America, of all the great nations, is probably the one least swayed by
eagerness to attain material advantage for herself through her
international policies. I do not claim that this arises necessarily
from any particular virtue in her people. It may be rather the result
of her geographical and economic situation.

America returned to China the indemnity growing out of the Boxer
Rebellion. To Spain, conquered and helpless, she paid, entirely of her
own free-will, $20,000,000 for the Philippines. She refused to annex
Cuba. In spite of strong provocation she abstained from taking

Although not a land as yet of the highest degree of culture, America
is a land of high and genuine humanitarianism and of a certain naïve

I hear your ironic rejoinder, "and out of pure humanitarianism, you
supply arms to our enemies, and _thus prolong the war_."

The answer lies in the accentuation of the last four words, which can
only mean that, but for the American supply of arms, the Allies, from
lack of ammunition, would speedily be defeated, _i. e._ America is to
co-operate in preserving for that country which has most extensively
and actively prepared for war, the full and lasting advantage of that

That would put a premium on war preparations--on an armed and
therefore necessarily precarious peace--since it is but human nature
that, given a difference which he considers serious enough for ground
for a quarrel, a man armed to the teeth would be less inclined to
settle the matter peaceably than one who is not so well prepared for a

Apart from this, the German complaint about the prolongation of the
war through the American supply of arms is proof in itself that the
refusal of such supplies would constitute a positive act of partiality
in favour of Germany.

And the great majority of Americans are convinced that the ruling
powers of Germany and Austria, though not perhaps the people
themselves, are responsible for the outbreak of the war; that they
have sinned against humanity and justice; that at least France and
England did not want war; that therefore its advent found them in a
comparatively unprepared state, and that it would constitute a
decided, serious and unjustifiable action of far-reaching effect
_against the Allies_ if America were to put an embargo on war
munitions--especially so in view of the fact that as a direct
consequence of the treaty-defying invasion of Belgium you are in
possession of the Belgian arms factories and iron mines and of about
75 per cent. of all the ore-producing capacity of France.

For neutrals to supply war materials to belligerents is an ancient,
unquestioned right, recognized by international law and frequently
practised by yourselves. To alter, during the course of a war, a
practice sanctioned by the law of nations and hitherto always
followed, would constitute a flagrant breach of neutrality, in that it
would necessarily help one side and harm the other.

The fact that at one time we forbade the export of arms to Mexico
affords no argument in favour of the German contention, for there it
was not a case of war between nations, but of civil war. There was
also the danger that such arms might eventually be used against
America herself, given the possibility that intervention by us in
Mexico might later on become necessary.

Commissions from Germany for the supply of arms would have been as
acceptable to our factories as were those from the Allies. It is not
America's fault if the German fleet does not break through the
British cordon and open the way for sea communication with Germany.
The superiority of the British fleet and the resulting consequences
must have been known to Germany before she permitted the outbreak of
this horrible war. She has no more right to make a grievance of these
consequences than the Allies have a right to complain of Germany's
superior preparedness and the greater perfection of her instruments of

To believe American public opinion influenced by the profits which
come to this country from the supply of arms, is to misunderstand
completely the American mode of thought and feeling. Moreover these
profits go to very few pockets, and public opinion here being anything
but unduly complacent towards large corporations and capitalists is by
no means inclined to view with favour the gathering in of these huge
profits by a very limited number of individuals and concerns.

You quote with approval General von Schlieffen's remark that "in war,
after all, the only thing that matters is those silly old victories."

You would surely not say that in the individual's daily struggle for
existence or in competitive industrial strife, "the only thing that
matters" is success. Rather you would be the first to grant, as you
have always demonstrated in your acts, that there are certain ethical
limitations laid down by the conscience and the moral conceptions of
humanity, which must be respected in the struggle for success, however
keen, even though the very existence of the individual and the
maintenance of wife and child be at stake.

Schlieffen's utterance, in the meaning which your quotation gives it,
throws overboard everything that civilization and the humanitarian
progress of centuries has accomplished towards lessening the cruelty,
the hatred and the suffering engendered by war, and towards protecting
non-combatants, as far as possible, from its terrors. It is tantamount
to the doctrine of the fanatical Jesuit: "The end justifies the

And it is something akin to this very doctrine which Germany has made
her own and applied in her conduct of this war as she has done in none
of her previous wars. _The conviction that everything, literally
everything, which tends to ensure victory is permitted to her, and
indeed called for, has now evidently assumed the power of a national
obsession._ Thus, the violation of innocent Belgium in defiance of
solemn treaty; the unspeakable treatment inflicted on her people; the
bombardment, without warning, of open places (which Germany was the
first to practise); the destruction of great monuments of art which
belonged to all humankind, as in Rheims, and Louvain; the _Lusitania_
horror, the strewing of mines broadcast, the use of poisonous gases
causing death by torture or incurable disease; the taking of hostages;
the arbitrary imposition of monetary indemnities and penalties, and so
forth. It is these facts that the non-combatant nations charge
against Germany, and quite apart from the responsibility for the war,
it is in them that may be found the main reason why public opinion in
neutral countries has more and more turned against Germany as the war
has continued.

I say "innocent Belgium," for it is entirely evident that the
Belgian-English pourparlers, of which Germany discovered documentary
evidence, _related merely to the eventuality of Germany's violating
Belgian neutrality_, and therefore in no way constituted a
relinquishment of neutrality on Belgium's part. _In so far as these
pourparlers did not keep strictly within these limits_ (manifestly as
a result of excessive zeal on the part of the English military attaché
in question) _they were formally and categorically rejected and
disavowed, by both the Belgian and English Governments_. This is shown
by official papers which have been published. It cannot be doubted
that these proceedings of disavowal were entirely _bona fide_, for
they took place at a time and under circumstances such that no one
could possibly have imagined that the correspondence evidencing them
would ever see the light of day. Inasmuch as you mention these
Anglo-Belgian pourparlers as among the reasons justifying Germany's
invasion of Belgium, it is worth pointing out that this treaty defying
invasion was perpetrated _before_ Germany had discovered the existence
of the documents which evidenced that such pourparlers had taken

Germany's reasoning that she was compelled to take the initiative in
violating the treaty of neutrality in order to avoid the imminent
danger that England and France would do so first and thereupon advance
troops against her through Belgium, is, even if such reasoning were
morally admissible, no valid argument; for, only a few days before,
England and France had solemnly pledged themselves in the face of the
whole world to respect Belgium's neutrality.

If, as you believe, England had been planning for years to attack
Germany via Belgium, would she not then have had in readiness an
invading force somewhere near adequate for such an undertaking?
Instead she had the mere bagatelle of 75,000 or 100,000 men, which in
the first months of the war actually constituted her whole available
continental fighting force.

To any one of unprejudiced judgment there remains, therefore, no
choice but the conclusion that Germany's violation of Belgium did not
even have the excuse of being a measure of self-defence, but, as the
Chancellor in effect admitted in his first speech on the subject in
the Reichstag, was undertaken simply because "in war the only thing
that matters is those silly old victories."

Not, as you say, in obedience to England's command (what power had
England either to command or enforce her commands?), but from a
compelling impulse of national honour did Belgium oppose the German
breach of neutrality with force of arms, though it would evidently
have been to her material interest to comply with Germany's summons or
at any rate to offer merely nominal resistance.

Holland and Switzerland would have done the same thing under similar
circumstances, as would any other self-respecting nation. Moreover,
what weight could Belgium attach to Germany's promise of immunity in
case she yielded, when at the very moment Germany, by her own act, was
demonstrating but too clearly how little she considered herself bound
by her promise or indeed by a solemn international treaty?

What the Germans have accomplished on the battlefields, as well as
within their own country, is proof of such great national qualities,
that it compels the tribute of admiration, even from your enemies.
These qualities would indeed have gone far to justify her claim to
hegemony, had they not been linked unfortunately--at least among your
ruling classes and intellectual leaders--with ways of thought and
action which are anti-humanitarian, oppressive and generally
intolerable to the rest of the world.

The theory of "frightfulness" in the conduct of warfare which Germany
now preaches and practises is no new discovery. On the contrary it is
a very ancient one--so old, in fact, that long ago it had come to be
discarded and superseded in European warfare and passed into the limbo
of forgotten things. There, until resurrected by your countrymen, it
lay for generations, along with much else which the human race had
overcome and left behind in the progress of culture and humanity--a
progress achieved by strenuous toil, sacrifices and suffering in the
course of many centuries.

Such words and ideas are met with contempt and derision by your
spokesmen and termed mere phrases and sentimentality. _If these are
mere phrases then the whole upward struggle of the world for endless
years past has been based upon and aiming at phrases and

I read recently an article in a German paper written by one of your
professors of international law, in which he maintained, evidently
quite unconscious of the incredible monstrosity of his logic, that,
because the Russians in their invasion of East Prussia had acted like
barbarians, you therefore had the unquestioned right, as a measure of
reprisal, to bombard and destroy Oxford and Cambridge!

And what have you gained from your "frightfulness"? Your victories
have been due to quite other qualities. By your "frightfulness" you
have steeled your enemies to the utmost limit of sacrifice; you have
embittered neutral opinion; you have disappointed and grieved your
friends and "sown dragons' teeth," the offspring of which will arise
against you many years even after the conclusion of peace.

How differently would you be judged now if you had tempered your
mighty power with mercy and self-restraint; if with the consciousness
and use of superior strength and ability you had coupled chivalry and

You say that Germany is the only great Power which has kept the peace
for forty-four years, and made no conquest of territory of any kind by
force of arms. It is pertinent to recall in reference to this
statement, that in the course of these forty-four years Germany
virtually by force has taken a strategically important piece of China,
waged war against the Hereros and annexed colonies in Africa and in
the Pacific (receiving in exchange for one of them the strategically
most valuable island of Heligoland). Yet, speaking generally, the
world is bound to recognize with gratitude and admiration that from
1871 to 1914 Germany has refrained from using her enormous military
power in attempts at conquest.

Has she had cause to complain of the results of this wise and
far-seeing policy?

During that comparatively short period of time she had grown more
powerful than any other country. In the well-being of her people, in
her wealth and prestige she had advanced and flourished as no other
nation. Her industries, her merchant marine had brought her conquest
and triumph unequalled in the world's economic history, which find a
parallel only in the wonderful military achievements of the Napoleonic

Without firing a gun she had turned Holland and Belgium practically
into German dependencies. She had achieved predominance in Turkey and
established a firm footing in Asia Minor. Her influence in South
America and Asia was increasing by leaps and bounds. Even in the
British colonies the victorious efficiency of the German commercial
conquerors was making itself felt more and more.

And as to this newly discovered naval militarism of England which, you
say, "is seeking to force England's will upon the whole world by the
force of her mighty fleet," what has it ever done to bar the way to
your commerce? Absolutely nothing. A few days ago I read a letter of
an American traveller, from which I quote the following extracts:

    "Not many years ago I sat on the club veranda at Singapore
    and counted twenty-five funnels of a single German steamer
    line. From Singapore I went to North Borneo; there was but
    one line, a German, and that line carried the British mail.
    Later I went to Siam from Singapore. It was on a steamer of
    this same German line, carrying British mail. There was no
    other. Thence I went to Hongkong by the same excellent German
    line. Later I went to Australia--it was by one of this same
    line. To Java and the Eastern Archipelago, to Penang--it was
    always this vast German company, doing not only all the
    German, but the British mail service as well. The German
    traders, with whom I mixed freely, marvelled at the infantile
    generosity with which Great Britain opened all her ports to
    German enterprise, although long-headed people shook their
    heads at the thought of German skippers having a better
    acquaintance with British waters than their own people.

    "Nowhere in the British colonial world have I found the
    slightest evidence of commercial monopoly and certainly no
    favouring of Englishmen at the expense of Germans. Even in
    India the German commercial traveller has roamed at will and
    driven Englishmen out of business under the very noses of the
    Calcutta Council.

    "In the Imperial German colonies, on the other hand,
    competing English traders have been treated to a systematic
    course of petty official restrictions so vexatious that
    finally they have given up the attempt to do business under
    German conditions. When I was in German New Guinea this
    official persecution went so far that a British trading
    steamer was even forbidden to get water in order to force it
    to abandon trade with the natives of that neighbourhood.

    "Some British colonies, it is true, do now discriminate in
    favour of the mother country, but the colonies who do that
    are self-governing and therefore beyond the mother country's
    control in economic matters, like Canada. But in so-called
    Crown colonies like Hongkong, the German trader has the same
    advantage as any other."

_England has not abused her power at sea_, at least since the
eighteenth century, any more than you, previous to this present war,
have abused your power on land. Not only has she not stood in the way
of your development, but on the contrary _she has given you fair and
free access to her markets, with unparalleled liberality_.

That England should now make every endeavour to carry on a strict sea
blockade against Germany and should do so in a manner which takes
account of the existing circumstances and novel instruments of naval
warfare, is, in the opinion of our leading lawyers, her perfect
right, as far at least as it is a matter only between her and Germany.
In the same way the North, during the four years of the American Civil
War, did all in her power compatible with the law of nations to
prevent, both directly and indirectly, export and import traffic
through Southern harbours.

It is true that dissatisfaction has been caused in this country by the
interference of England with American commerce. In fact such
dissatisfaction is on the increase and is likely to lead in the early
future to a vigorous protest on the part of our Government. But the
objections to England's practice in no wise depend on any idea of
questioning the right under international law of a complete and
effective blockade.

To call this perfectly natural and legitimate and frequently practised
measure of warfare "a war of starvation" against women and children is
a good deal of an exaggeration. Though inconvenienced, you are very
far from the danger of starvation. Indeed, all your spokesmen not
only admit this fact but defiantly proclaim it.

That against that blockade as well as for the destruction of English
commerce you are making use of your amazingly perfected submarines
appears to me entirely justified, _so long as in that use you keep
within the limits of legitimate warfare_. Nor do I deny that England,
in certain respects, has arbitrarily and it seems rather fatuously
interfered with the rights of neutrals; that she has employed against
you some irritating measures of petty and apparently purposeless
chicanery and given you cause for resentment by certain vindictive and
perhaps unfair provisions and procedures enacted at the very start of
the war against German firms and German interests within English

It must also, I believe, be admitted that you were justified in
looking upon some of the boastful edicts of Winston Churchill, with
reference to the conduct of English merchant vessels, as provocations
which gave you legitimate ground for retaliation within recognized

But that Germany should have used these provocations and this phrase
of "starvation warfare" as a basis for _reprisals which actually do
constitute warfare against women and children, is a blow in the face
to the world's conscience_.

Against England's infringements of the strict limits of neutral rights
and against the subjecting of neutrals to certain unjust, irritating
and rather senseless annoyances, America has not failed to protest.
She has in several cases received satisfaction and acceptable
assurances. She should, and, I have no doubt, she will insist firmly
on her rights in the cases still under discussion. But--and that makes
the vast difference between the English and German infractions of the
rights of neutrals--_in no single case have such acts on the part of
England involved the sacrifice of a human life_.

You say that Germany is not responsible for the war. It is
nevertheless a fact that it was Germany who first _declared_ war.
Perhaps it would have come even if not declared by Germany, but in
that "perhaps" lies a fearful burden of responsibility.

You speak of the vast "Austro-German inferiority" in fighting men, as
compared to France and Russia, which you had to counteract by rapidity
and initiative of proceeding.

First, this inferiority of your 120 millions to the Franco-Russian 200
millions (the English, _at that time_, could not have entered into
your reckoning) is not such a "vast" one, even on paper, when one
considers how many millions of the Russians could not for many months
be included in the reckoning, in consequence of the huge distances
separating them from the scene of action.

Secondly, you had the enormous advantage of strategic railroads, which
the Russians lacked.

Thirdly, you and the Austrians occupying contiguous territory and
holding the inner lines were able to move your troops from East to
West, and _vice versa_, as occasion demanded, while the Russians and
French were separated and had to fight on the outer lines; and--

Fourthly, every one knows that in modern warfare far less depends on
the number of men than on preparation, leadership and ammunition. And
that in these respects the Russians certainly, and at the outset also
the French, laboured under a "vast inferiority" is not open to

_It cannot be admitted therefore that the fact of the Russian
mobilization made it a necessity for you to precipitate war_,
especially on the very day when Austria, who was in a far more exposed
position than you, declared herself ready at last, notwithstanding the
Russian mobilization, to enter into direct diplomatic discussion with

If Germany had waited but three days after that declaration by her
ally, before delivering her ultimatum to Russia, either the war would
have been avoided altogether, or Russia would have had to face the
world as the aggressor, with all the forces of what Bismarck termed
"imponderabilia" against her. And it would be an insult to Germany's
efficiency to question that she could have found measures short of
rushing into war, to meet and offset for another few days the menace
of Russian mobilization--apart from the fact that there is some reason
to suspect that this Russian mobilization on the German frontier was
deliberately provoked by certain Machiavellian manoeuvres in Berlin.

On the 30th and 31st of July, respectively, Sir Edward Grey
telegraphed as follows to the English ambassador in Berlin for
transmission to the Imperial Chancellor:

    "... You should speak to the Chancellor in the above sense,
    and add most earnestly that one way of maintaining good
    relations with England and Germany is that they should
    continue to work together to preserve the peace of Europe. If
    we succeed in this object, the mutual relations of Germany
    and England will, I believe, be _ipso facto_ improved and
    strengthened. For that object his Majesty's Government will
    work in that way with all sincerity and good will....

    "And I will say this: If the peace of Europe can be
    preserved, and the present crisis safely passed, my _own
    endeavour will be to promote some arrangement to which
    Germany could be a party, by which she could be assured that
    no aggressive or hostile policy would be pursued against her
    or her allies by France, Russia and ourselves, jointly or
    separately_. I have desired this and worked for it, as far as
    I could, through the last Balkan crisis and, Germany having a
    corresponding object, our relations sensibly improved. The
    idea has hitherto been too Utopian to form the subject of
    definite proposals, _but if this present crisis_, so much
    more acute than any that Europe has gone through for
    generations, _be safely passed, I am hopeful that the relief
    and reaction which will follow may make possible some more
    definite rapprochement between the Powers than has been
    possible hitherto_....

    "_I said to the German Ambassador this morning that #if
    Germany could get any reasonable proposal put forward which
    made it clear that Germany and Austria were striving to
    preserve European peace, and that Russia and France would be
    unreasonable if they rejected it, I would support it at St.
    Petersburg and Paris, and go to the length of saying that if
    Russia and France would not accept it, his Majesty's
    Government would have nothing more to do with the
    consequences#_; otherwise, I told the German Ambassador that
    if France became involved we should be drawn in."

Is this the language of one seeking a quarrel? Why did not Germany act
upon the suggestions put forth so urgently, ringing so manifestly true
and bearing so evidently the stamp of good faith? Why was the calamity
of war thrust upon the world in such hot haste, that you did not even
previously inform, far less consult, your then allies, the Italians,
in spite of the provisions of the Triple Alliance?

Is it not proved by declarations of Giolitti--certainly no enemy to
Germany--before the Italian Parliament some six months back, that
_Austria wanted to make war upon Servia as much as two years ago, that
is to say, long before the assassination of the Austrian heir-apparent
afforded the pretext for an ultimatum which spelled war_? I know
sufficient of the sentiment prevailing in England and France before
the war, as well as of the tendencies of the political leaders and
other leading men in those countries, to be absolutely positive that,
apart from a few individuals given to noise-making, but not possessing
weight or real influence, the people and the Governments of France and
England were very far indeed from wanting war.

On the other hand, I agree with you in believing that the Pan-Slavist
party in Russia did plan to bring on war. However, they did not want
it _yet_ and it is altogether doubtful whether they would have
succeeded in their design had they been met by a firm, wise and
conciliatory policy on the part of Germany and Austria.

These opponents (the Russians), _by themselves_, as results thus far
have shown, and as seemed evident in advance to sober observers, you
need never to have considered as your peers in a military sense.

Rather than take the awful responsibility of initiating war, and thus
uniting England, France and Russia whole-heartedly against you, you
could well have afforded, in calm confidence in your superior
efficiency and preparation, to take the lesser risk of letting the
Russians come on whenever, in fatuous arrogance, they might have
believed themselves strong enough to tackle you and Austria.

In an offensive war, undertaken by Russia, France would have joined,
if at all, only half-heartedly, and with her public opinion strongly
divided. No English Government, however jingo-militarist, could have
obtained the sanction of Parliament to take part in such a war. Your
ally, Italy, would in that case not have forsaken you. Public opinion
and the moral support of the neutral nations would have been strongly
with you. You would assuredly, under such circumstances, have given
the Russians a bad beating, and the world in general would have
rejoiced exceedingly at the aggressor's discomfiture.

That the large majority of the people of Germany did not want war, I
do not doubt, although (_as was not the case in England and France_)
there has been in existence in your country for years a rather
alarmingly active and influential party whose open aim was war, and
particularly a reckoning with England.

Many of your intellectuals, and particularly many of the teachers of
your youth, had come to preach the deification of sheer might. They
proclaimed with fanatical arrogance the doctrine that the German
nation being the chosen people, superior to all others, was therefore
not only permitted, but, indeed, called upon, to impose the blessings
of its civilization and "Kultur" upon other countries, by force if
necessary, and to help itself to such of their possessions as it
deemed necessary for the fulfilment of its destiny.

I believe it is not too much to say that that doctrine and the spirit
which bred it are very much akin, in their intolerance, self-righteous
assumption of a world-improving mission, lack of understanding of and
contemptuous disallowance for the differing view-points, qualities and
methods of others, to the doctrines and the spirit that lay at the
bottom of the religious wars throughout the long and evil years when
Catholics and Protestants killed one another and wrought appalling
bloodshed, destruction and ruin, for the purpose of conferring upon
their respective countries the blessings of "the true religion."

Liberal press organs and calm-thinking men in Germany frequently
before the war expressed their disapproval of, and misgivings at such
preachings and the tendencies and agitation of the jingo party, though
naturally you now all stand together and have put aside for the time
being the party differences and conflicting opinions and points of
view which prevailed prior to the war.

I agree with you in believing, notwithstanding the machinations of the
war party, that the Kaiser and the Chancellor, up to a certain fatal
moment, when they yielded their judgments to others, meant, _bona
fide_, to preserve peace. I am quite persuaded as well that the mass
of the German people did not want war and are entirely honest in
their practically unanimous belief that Germany is not responsible for
the war, although, unfortunately, the _facts_ prove the contrary.

It is conceivable that you might have been justified in coming forward
boldly and straightforwardly and saying to the Triple Entente:

"We are 70 millions strong. We have demonstrated to the world our
capabilities in every department of human endeavour and human
achievement. We require (or, at least, our people believe, rightly or
wrongly, that we require) wider territorial scope for our growth than
we possess in our own country and in our colonies. We require, too, an
assurance of greater security as to the conditions of our national
existence and our economic development.

"You have pre-empted the best part of the world. It is far more than
you require. Either see that an appropriate provision is made for us,
or, failing that, give us a free hand to conclude mutually agreeable
arrangements with Belgium, Portugal or Holland with respect to their
over-sea possessions.

"You will then find us ready to conclude an understanding with you, in
order to ensure peace and to make an end, at least, to these
continually recurring alarms of war, which are wearing out the nerves
and the purse of the whole world. To this end let us call a
conference. Meanwhile, no one is to increase the armaments they at
present possess, let alone mobilize. But if you are not willing to
give us a fair show peaceably, then we warn you to look out for

In my opinion, such a warning would not have had to be translated into
action, for in due course things were bound to come your way by the
very force of cause and effect. With a little skill and tact and
insight (which traits, as you will probably admit, have hardly been
outstanding features of German diplomacy since Bismarck), together
with a little patience, everything you could reasonably ask would
have been yours in the course of the next ten or fifteen years.

But if the Triple Entente had met a request in the nature of the
foregoing with a _non possumus_, or had made no reasonably acceptable
offer, and you, after final warning, had resorted to the arbitrament
of war, your case would have worn a very different aspect from the
present one. Many unprejudiced men amongst neutral people would have
looked upon your view-points and conduct as not devoid of
justification, instead of turning away with disgust from the
sophistries of your writers, who seek to demonstrate that you poor
innocent lambs were fallen upon in order to be dragged to the

As a matter of fact, however, it is my belief that such a declaration
delivered by you to the Triple Entente, firm and determined in spirit
and meaning, but friendly and persuasive in language, would have led
not to war, but to a lasting understanding.


To sum up:

1. Until ten years ago, England's relations with you were good--indeed
more than good, as is shown, for instance, by the cession of
Heligoland. If, as you assert, hate and envy and ill-will, because of
Germany's phenomenal development, and of her increasing strength and
push as a competitor in the markets of the world, had been the moving
force in shaping England's attitude towards you, the motive for
hostile conduct would have existed at that time just as at present.

As a matter of fact, England's sentiment towards Germany changed only
with your aggressive programme of naval construction, and as a
consequence of the manifestation in word, in writing and in deed, of
certain alarming and menacing tendencies, to which, it is true, more
significance and importance probably were attached abroad than in
Germany itself--more, perhaps, than they deserved.

_That programme England came to consider, naturally, as directed
mainly against herself and as a serious menace_ to her most vital
interests and to the conditions of her very existence.

Would not Germany have become uneasy had Russia suddenly announced a
policy of concentrating an enormous fleet in the Baltic? (The
parallel, though, is far from perfect, in that for you, sea power is
not nearly as vital an element as it is and must be for England.)

Your naval policy, together with the arguments which the German
Government's spokesmen adduced for it, and the above-mentioned
manifestations and agitations, caused very serious and lasting
apprehensions in England. They gradually drove her to the Entente with
France, and through it, unfortunately perhaps, but necessarily, also
with Russia--not as an offensive, but as a defensive measure.

Let me say, in parenthesis, that in the interest of England and France
and of the peace of the world, I have always felt inclined to doubt
the wisdom of this grouping, however comprehensible and natural it was
under the circumstances. Likewise, I have always doubted the wisdom of
the creation of your enormous fleet--a view which was shared by some
of your best political thinkers and which appears to have been
justified by results.

2. The genesis of the war lay in the fixed idea by which Austria was
possessed, since her foreign Minister Aehrenthal succeeded in reaping
easy and questionable but profitable laurels some years ago, that she
could and ought to adopt a "dashing" policy. There is nothing more
dangerous than the foolish and reckless daring of feebleness, when, as
happens at times, it is suddenly seized with a mania for heroics.

In fact, as I gleaned from a letter received here within a few days of
the outbreak of the war and originating from a particularly
authoritative source in Vienna, Austria entirely failed to realize the
portentous significance and the inevitable consequences of her
unheard-of ultimatum to Serbia.

She believed that she would be left undisturbed to play the conqueror
at the expense of that poor little country. Unfortunately, Germany did
not see fit to put a stop to that extremely dangerous playing with
fire. On the contrary, the German Ambassador in Vienna seems to have
encouraged it, actively and deliberately.

3. When finally the crisis had come, with all its terrible meaning,
Austria's nerves, at the very last moment, began to give way. She
wavered in the face of a world catastrophe.

But your Junkers and other jingoes neither wavered nor hesitated. They
saw in their grasp the opportunity for which they had been plotting
these many years and they were not minded to let it escape them. They
considered the moment peculiarly propitious because of the internal
preoccupations of England and France.

And they succeeded in sweeping the German Government off its feet as
well as the sober and sensible thinking majority of the German people.
They succeeded in rushing your Government and people into the belief
that the Russian mobilization signified a menace dangerous to
Germany's very existence, and that every day of delay in meeting that
danger might mean disastrous consequences.

This was not the first time that an attempt had been made by that
party to bring the Kaiser and his people suddenly face to face with a
situation which they meant should spell war--a war which they felt
certain would end in a quick and decisive German victory. Of at least
one flagrant example of such manoeuvring I have personal knowledge.

That the jingo party, against what I believe to have been the
tendencies of the Kaiser's and the Chancellor's policies, thus
succeeded at last in their fateful and atrocious design--although the
manifest interests and, doubtless, the inclination of the masses of
your people were for the maintenance of peace--is explainable only by
the Germans' amazing lack of understanding for the deeper qualities,
sentiments, ideals, modes of thought and characteristics of other
nations as distinguished from their outward peculiarities, methods and

This lack of understanding, doubly amazing in a people so intelligent
and instructed and so successful in its commercial dealings with the
rest of the world, is strikingly exemplified in your complete
misjudgment as to the cohesive power of the British Empire and as to
the loyalty of its component parts and subject races; by your gross
underestimate of France _and by your general miscalculation as to how
the peoples challenged by you would react to the supreme test of war_.

That Austria and Russia, through their mobilizations and other
measures originating from a mixture of bluff and fear, managed to get
each other into an utterly unreasoning state of nerves, is entirely
comprehensible. They did not trust each other, and above all, they did
not trust themselves, their own strength and preparedness.

But Germany, in the knowledge of her powerful moral and military
superiority, and of her incomparable war machine, perfect and ready in
every detail, could have, and should have dominated the confusion and
danger of the situation with the sang-froid and self-confidence born
of strength, instead of allowing herself to be swept along by the
sinister currents leading to an ocean of blood.

And if Germany, with trembling Europe hanging on her words, had
proclaimed boldly "There shall be peace," and thus by her veto had
saved the world from the curse of this war, she would not only have
done a splendidly meritorious deed, unequalled in the world's history,
which would have brought her immortal fame and would have been greeted
by the joyous acclaim of all peoples, but she would have gained by
that very act the uncontested leadership amongst the nations. From
their gratitude for being freed from the nightmare of war's menace,
she would readily have obtained (as intimated by Sir Edward Grey in
his telegram) compliance with any reasonable demand she might have put
forward for the extension of the scope of her development and

4. Once the Entente existed it seems to me so obvious that England _in
an aggressive war waged by Germany and Austria_ against France and
Russia _was bound to throw in her lot with the latter country_, that I
was quite unable, at the time, to understand Germany's outburst of
surprise and fury against England. Alliance or Entente, call it what
you will--had England backed out in that crisis it would have been a
miserable breach of faith on her part, by which she would have
forfeited her place in the world's respect and which would have been
bitterly resented by her former friends and left her completely
isolated henceforth.

Moreover, apart from all moral obligations and the compelling force
of political considerations, she could have felt all the less tempted
to enter into a separate agreement with Germany at that critical
juncture and remain neutral, as the latter at that very moment had
demonstrated that she did not consider herself bound by any treaty,
when military interests seemed to her to make the breach of such
treaty advisable. In the face of Germany's violation of Belgian
neutrality, how could England have felt assured that, if an
arrangement between the two countries had been effected, it would be
respected by Germany, in case at any given moment it might appear to
the German Government to be requisite from the point of view of
military necessity, or even mere advantage, to ignore such agreement?

You call it a hideous crime and eternal shame that the English "called
to their aid" against you the Japanese and the Indians.

As far as Japanese military aid is concerned, it has been practically
limited to action in China, and thus has not to any material degree
influenced the European war.

And with regard to the relatively inconsiderable number of Indians
that England brought over, the simple fact is that these few brigades
or divisions form part of the small standing army that she
possessed--the very smallness of which is further proof of how little
she had contemplated war. In her critical situation, and with her
great lack of trained troops, she called in these detachments, which
were commanded by English officers.

I feel certain that an unprejudiced judgment can see neither crime nor
shame in that act. If there were, you would be no less subject to
reproach for accepting the military aid of Turks and Arabs.

5. When a country in so short a time has made such unexampled progress
as Germany, and through her own capacity and the favour of fate has
achieved so much of wealth, power and well-being for her people, she
can well afford to indulge in the luxury of modesty and a
conciliatory disposition.

A nation thus blessed ought to thank God that all is going so well
with her, and should recognize that such brilliant success is bound to
produce a certain amount of irritation and jealousy, just as it does
in the case of an eminently successful individual.

While rejoicing in her achievement, she ought carefully to refrain
from boasting or flaunting her superiority in the face of the world.

While unceasingly continuing to strive and build up, she ought to do
so tactfully and with all possible consideration for her less
successful neighbours.

She should know how to restrain herself and wisely to keep her
ambitions within bounds; to live and let live; to regard, without
jealousy or envy, possessions which are the heritage of others less
efficient than herself; and to leave it to time, slowly but surely, to
do its work in rewarding merit and punishing inefficiency and sloth.

Have you thought and acted thus?

Have you not, on the contrary, in the justified consciousness of your
greater efficiency and more strenuous effort, allowed the fact of the
great inherited advantages possessed by others to become a thorn in
the flesh, and an ever-rankling bitter grievance, which dimmed your
contentment and soured the joy at your achievements?

Have you not estranged and affronted and antagonized other
nations--not by success in open competition with them, which I grant
was far from pleasing them, but to which in the end they had come to
accommodate themselves as to an unavoidable evil--but by the manner
and matter of your writing, speaking and acting? Have you not made
such nations your enemies by thrusting before them aims and visions of
the future, calculated to arouse in them most serious alarm and
apprehension, and thus eventually caused them to unite against
you--not, as you think, through envy or hate, but through the much
more powerful motives of self-preservation, and of fear of your aims
and intentions?

In this letter, which, I am sorry to say, has assumed formidable
proportions, I have tried, next to expressing my own convictions, to
represent to you, as I see them, what are at this time the predominant
and controlling views and sentiments among the American people. I have
met with much the same ideas among the great majority of neutrals with
whom I have discussed the subject--neutrals from many countries whom I
have met here in the last six months.

If I have expressed myself freely, in some respects even bluntly, I
hope you will make allowance for the honest and deep anger and grief
that move me when I see how, through a needless war wantonly started,
Germany and England-France, the three countries of Europe whom the
world most needs, the three races from whom humanity has most to
expect, are engaged in tearing one another to pieces in senseless

I have welcomed with hope certain signs in the last few weeks which
seem to indicate that more moderate, fairer and calmer sentiments, a
more correct understanding, and more far-sighted views are beginning
to get a foothold in certain circles in Germany.

You have so incontestably vindicated the prowess of your arms, and so
impressively demonstrated the power, courage, self-sacrificing
patriotism and high ability of your nation, that no possible suspicion
can attach to you of yielding under compulsion, should you rise to the
moral heroism of taking the first step towards dispelling the dreadful
misery which weighs upon Europe through this appalling war.

What is done, is done. The guilt will be adjudged by history. Eleven
months ago it was you who spoke the fateful word that meant war. Will
it now be you to first speak the redeeming word that shall bring hope
of peace?

Whether such a word from you--a word, not of victorious peace, but of
righteous peace, a word of human feeling and of political moderation,
of conciliation, aye, and of atonement where due--would now be
listened to by your opponents, in view of their bitterness at your
actions and their mistrust of your intentions, and would actually
bring peace, I do not know.

But of this I am sure: that such a step would be welcomed with
gratitude, gladness and sympathy by all at least of the non-combatant
nations, and that it would be set down as a moral asset for you in the
ledger both of history and of contemporary opinion. Nor can I doubt
that, even regarded merely from the point of view of politics, it
would be wise, well-judged and timely.

                                              Yours sincerely,
                                            (Sgd.) OTTO H. KAHN.

       *       *       *       *       *

    NOTE.--To this letter a short note merely of acknowledgment
    was received, containing the intimation that, in view of the
    wide divergence of views between the writer and the
    recipient, no useful purpose could be served by continuing
    the correspondence.

Printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

1. The words manoeuvres, manoeuvred & manoeuvring use an "oe" ligature
in the original.

2. The following misprints have been corrected:
     "publc" corrected to "public" (page 13)
     "neans" corrected to "means" (page 35)

3. Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies
in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been

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