June 21, 1914

Le Figaro, p. 1: An Ambassador’s Opinion

An ambassador of the Triple Entente – who is not named, but is not the ambassador of France – lays out, in the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger, under the title “Does Germany Passionately Want War?” all the reasons for fear that he has and that can be shared.

As follows:

1st. Political and Economic Motives: Instability in Eastern Europe; the future of Austria-Hungary more and more in extreme distress, as well as all the political problems found there; the increasing disproportion between the always growing economic needs of the German people and restricted access to global markets.

2nd. Motives of Public Opinion: The explosion of chauvinism unleashed in Germany among the privileged classes, in the nobility in the clergy, the Army, the Navy, among university and secondary school professors and students. Chauvinism is sustained more and more by the activities of veterans’ associations and numerous political societies.

“I affirm”, writes the ambassador, “that there exists a latent chauvinism in Germany much more dangerous than similar currents elsewhere in Europe. Everywhere among the cultivated German classes it is held as a dogma that the German Empire is not playing the role that belongs to it in global politics. Everywhere the most important publications propound the dangerous and at the same time inflammatory doctrine that German prestige is in a state of decline. Patriots demand action.”

3rd. Internal Political Motives: While in France and England political evolution seems to already have been accomplished, and while in Russia it is scarcely underway, in Germany modern civilization is storming aging institutions and decrepit ideas. The privileged classes are shoring up the walls against such an assault. These battles and the anger that results from them are far from softening the efforts of nationalists who are pushing towards external diversions.

The diplomat concludes this sensational interview by expressing the hope that the German government will have the strength to resist the too-bellicose tendencies of its population.

The above declarations have created, naturally, an enormous controversy in Berlin. The pan-German Die Post takes advantage of them by delivering the most exaggerated threats against Germany’s neighbors and cries out :

“If the Triple Entente continues to put up barriers against the irresistible strength that is manifested by our people in regard to a necessary expansion, they will place the strength of the sword in our hands and from thence allow us to deliver anguish to the defeated!’

As for the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger, while denying that Germany might covet the goods of its neighbors, agrees that a decision needs to be made to no longer support any barriers to expansion, and adds:

“We have not forgotten the history of the Moroccan Crisis in Germany, and its lessons, and we are resolved to ensure that they will not be repeated in the future.”

Your correspondent, who has lived for more than twenty years in Germany, finds himself at an equal distance between these bellicose exaggerations and the Utopias of the radical Germans. I have struggled against each by turns, and precisely because I am not in the camp of either I believe that I am in a middle ground of truth.

The German people, I mean the peasants and workers, are, like any people, fundamentally peaceful.

The German bourgeoisie is divided into two camps, but that means nothing, or almost nothing, when it comes to foreign policy, and its ideas and feelings change with the rapidity of a kaleidoscope. The ferocious hatred that prevailed six years ago against England has given way to an almost amicable scorn.

What is left, then, is a noisy minority, very bellicose, that finds recruits at the same time from the nobility, students and university professors. This minority is capable, I recognize, of bringing the German people along with it at the critical hour, and of putting pressure on the government, precisely because the time is unstable and uncertain, and all the more easily for them since certain of their spokesmen move in immediate proximity to the government and even to the royal family.

There is, then a danger; but it must not be exaggerated. If the pacifists are completely powerless the pan-Germanists are not all-powerful in Germany.

Ch. Bonnefon.

Le Figaro, p. 1

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