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The Evening Star TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 1915., Issue 15692, 5 January 1915
The Evening Star TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 1915.
Tira old Latin injunction to hear the other side is wise. We are A German all tempted to see only one Apologia. side, and that our own. From this arise all difficulties and disasters, both as individuals and as a nation. A French proverb says that " to know all is to forgive all/' but that is too absolute. There is no doubt, however, that if we could see things from the standpoint of others as well as our own many oi our tribulations would never occur, or might be solved without the rasp or ruiu that ignorance so often dictates. One cannot help feeling that in this dreadful war there is some horrible, misunderstanding. It seems difficult to believe that there should bo such wonderful unanimity among the German people as to its necessity. It is nt>t merely the Prussian Junkers, and the professional military party who are fierce, for war, but the university professors and the leaders and members of the churches, who to a man applaud it. So far as we know, there is not a dissentient voice, except it may bo among the extremists of the Socialistic party of the Fatherland. But from our own standpoint Germany is wholly and entirely in the wrong, whiie from Germany's viewpoint it is we who are that, and there is no question but they now hate us with a bitter hatred. What is the explanation of this extraordinary difference of conviction between two of the sari cot and, for many years, two of the friendliest nations in the world? We have before us a letter written to an English friend by Professor Jastrow, head of that fine educational institution the Handelschule of Berlin, a member of the professorial staff of the Berlin University, and one of the leading educationists of Germany. Up till the breaking out of this war Dr Jastrow was a solid and sincere friend of England, and desired to be on terms of amity with our Empire. But now it is the opposite; and he states in this letter his reasons for his change of feeling towards us. Wc shall give an outline of them, offering at present no criticism on their truth or falsity. He points out for about 250 years Germany has never been at enmity with England. When the Prussian and English armies met in the past it has always been as allies against a. common enemy. What has led to this change of policy? It began with Russia, declares Herr Professor. Ever since Russia came into existence she has been in constant dispute with her neighbors concerning her boundaries. Moreover, eho has assumed the role of protectorate over the Slavic peoples in the Balkans and elsewhere, and she has sought to round off her already huge dominions by the acquisition of Constantinople. This protectorate has always met. with the opposition of England and France, culminating in the Crimean War. It also became an irritant between Russia and Germany and Austria, since these latter two countries contained 6Uch a largo Slavic population. This resulted in 1879 in an alliance pledging the two States to assist each other in any attack from the Russians. The interruption of tho traditional friendship between Germany and England was caused by the political revolution that issued in tho adoption of Freetrade by England. The younger nations, especially Germany, were Protectionist. That fiscal policy made Germany rich. So English trade found itself "in "the position of a. well-to-do, comfortable "old gentleman, who gets peevish because "his young rival has faster leg 3 than he." England then set herself in all parts of the world to cripple industrially her amazingly successful trad© rival. She formed alliances accordingly. For a while she was content to give her patronage to the antiGerman alliance of France and Russia, but at last she had to join it as a, partner, in order to oust Germany from the latter* growing commercial supremacy. " I do not believe," writes the learned doctor, "that "England expected to have to face the "consequences of her policy* and herself "take part in a bloody war." Bub the force of circumstances were too stromr, and, having sown tho wind, she has now to reap the whirlwind. Of. course, tho crisis, as wo all know, was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his consort in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina in July last. Then came the ultimatum by Austria-Hungary to Servia, The Servian Government attempted an evasion, and took that course because of her trust in Bussia. But Russia was then unprepared for war; she did not, in fact, want war i her financial resources were inadequate and her navy was a negligible quantity. The decision lay with 'England, which could either abandon her desire- to crush Germany or, through participating in the war, could supply Russia with the missing fleet. The Asqnith Government chose the latter alternative. The Russian War party thus got their will. While the Kidser -was-com-miti tha-T«atiiivShJ»afe3»Wts,
[ of peace Russia, was mobilising, not merely on the Austrian but on thb German frontier at the same moment. French aeroplanes had also appeared above Nuremberg. These- allegations of fact, relied on by Germany, are supported by the Belgian Charge d'Affaires at St. Petersburg, who bears emphatic testimony that the Russian War party only carried their point when English aid was promised. " England " would undoubtedly have preferred to see "Russia and«. France undertake the, but"chery of us alone, but a* there was no " way out of it she was finally compelled " to place tho fleet of Trafalgar at 'their "disposal." This, in brief, is- (according to Professor Jastrow) the history of tho origin of the present war. As to the events that hayc taken place since, Dr Jastrow complains of tho curious reports that have been spread abroad regarding German doings. "We do not know all £hese," ho asserts, "and we arc not "ablp to contradict them, because Eng"land has cut our cables and intercepted "our mail boats." It is exceedingly interesting to have the progress of the war as recorded by the. German chroniclers. Thus, for example. " tho English auxiliary 1 " corps has been defeated three times and "almost annihilated." Dr Jastrow's letter is dated from Berlin, September 18. He will probably know much better by now. Then ho recites the well-known charge as to tho u;e of dum-dum bullets by the British forces, ai:d avers that any foreign journalist may seo in Berlin euch bullets that were found on British troops taken in action! The. doctor's apology for the sack of Louvain is that, the German troops " were overwhelmed by shots* fired from machine guns concealed in houses." In spite of this, these humane (sic) German f..oldiers sought to save tho city, and "the "City Hall and Cathedral stajid there u 11- " demolished monuments to the self-control "of our soldiers, even in a contest against "treachery!" It is further alleged in this precious document that England, forsaking all her traditions, " called on the despised "yellow races, and marched shoulder to "shoulder with Russian despotism, and "yet she has now the impudence, to assert " that that coalition was a defence of j " civilisation against barbarism!" The worthy doctor refers to the double meaning which attaches to the word "militarism." In Germany it connotes, not a certain spirit or temper, but complaints regarding certain specific evils in connection with the German army. It has nothing to J do with the strength or number of that I army. In regard to this there is only one ■opinion. Every man is a soldier. Ger-1 many is the only country in Europe that has had universal conscription for moro than ji century, while in England the people haw clung to tho belief that they cannot trust a King with the control of an army for more than a year lest lie should degenerate into a despot! "sFearlessiy \v» place the largest army in tho world," he writes, "'at the disposal of our Sovereign, "oven m times of pence, for our army is " identical with our people. . . . XJni- " versa! conscription is our Magna Charta, "and compulsory education, universal suf- " frage, universal conscription foim & bul- ' "waik of strength for our people and a " guarantee for their co-operation in public "'life. It is entirely a democratic institution." With regard to the present war, Dr Jastrow asserts that it is a struggle for national life. If Russia, were to conquer Austro-Hungary, Germany would bo an easy prey for the Bear. The certainty ol this fate overtaking Germany unites all classes in the Fatherland—from the Social Democratic party to the Poles. All minor political difficulties are fused into one common conviction that it is a iife-and-dcath. contest on which Germany is now engaged. The Empire is a unity to battle against " Tsarism," as its most, malignant foe. Such, then, is the "Case for Germany," as presented by Dr Jastrow. The "dossier," as the French would term it, is moderately worded; but it must be acknowledged, we think, that it is a very pasteboard kiud of apologia. It could be- riddled with perfect ease. The fact* of the last three month:* are quite iurhcient to do that.
The Evening Star TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 1915., Issue 15692, 5 January 1915
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