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|DR. GRAVES SECRET SERVICE CARD|
|"Udo von Wedell" is the secret service signature of Count Botho von Wedell, privy Counsellor to the Kaiser|
|The seal is visible from the front when held to the light|
DR. ARMGAARD KARL GRAVES
with the collaboration of
EDWARD LYELL FOX
In view of the general war into which Europe has been precipitated just at the moment of going to press, it is of particular interest to note that the completed manuscript of this book has been in the hands of the publishers since June 1st. Further comment on Dr. Graves' qualifications to speak authoritatively is unnecessary; the chapters that follow are a striking commentary on his sources of information.
August 7, 1914.
|I||HOW I BECAME A SECRET AGENT|
|II||THE MAKING OF A SECRET AGENT|
|III||INTO THE EAST|
|IV||AT THE SUBLIME PORTE|
|V||THE GRAND DUKE'S LETTER|
|VI||THE INTRIGUE AT MONTE CARLO|
|VII||THE KAISER PREVENTS A WAR|
|VIII||THE ISOLATION OF FRANCE|
|IX||IN THE BALKAN COUNTRY|
|X||MY MISSION AND BETRAYAL IN ENGLAND|
|XI||TO NEW YORK FOR ENGLAND|
|XII||"THE GERMAN WAR MACHINE"|
|XIII||ARMING FOR PEACE OR WAR|
|Dr. Graves Secret Service Card|
|Kaiser Wilhelm II|
|Reproduction of a fateful piece of Count von Wedel's handwriting|
|General von Heeringen|
|General von Moltke|
HOW I BECAME A SECRET AGENT
"O Jerum, jerum, jerum, quâ motatio rerum."
Half past three was heard booming from some clock tower on the twelfth day of June, 1913, when Mr. King, the Liberal representative from Somerset, was given the floor in the House of Commons. Mr. King proceeded to make a sensation.
He demanded that McKinnon Wood, the House Secretary for Scotland, reveal to the House the secrets of the strange case of Armgaard Karl Graves, German spy.
A brief word of explanation may be necessary. Supposed to be serving a political sentence in a Scotch prison, I had amazed the English press and people by publicly announcing my presence in New York City.
Mr. King asked if I was still undergoing imprisonment for espionage; if not, when and why I was released and whether I had been or would be deported at the end of my term of imprisonment as an undesirable alien.
Permit me to quote verbatim from the Edinburgh Scotsman of June 12, 1913:
The SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND replied--Graves was released in December last. It would not be in accordance with precedent to state reasons for the exercise of the prerogative. I have no official knowledge of his nationality. The sentence did not include any recommendation in favor of deportation.
MR. KING--Was he released because of the state of his health?
The SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND--I believe he was in bad health, but I cannot give any other answer.
MR. KING--Were any conditions imposed at the time of his release?
THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND--I think I have dealt with that in my answer. (Cries of "No.")
MR. KING--Can the right hon. gentleman be a little more explicit? (Laughter.) We are anxious to have the truth. Unless the right hon. gentleman can give me an explicit answer as to whether any conditions were imposed I will put down the question again. (Laughter.)
The SPEAKER intervened at this stage, and the subject dropped.
Heckling began at this point; word was quickly sent to the Speaker, and he intervened, ruling the subject closed.
Now consider the Secretary for Scotland's statement. "It would not be in accordance with precedent to state reasons for the exercise of prerogative." In other words, high officials in England had found it advisable secretly to release me from Barlinney Prison by using the royal prerogative. Why? Later you will know.
Also, consider the Secretary for Scotland's statement that he had no official knowledge as to my nationality--significant that, as you will realize.
There are three things which do not concern the reader: My origin, nationality and morals. There are three persons alive who know who I am. One of the three is the greatest ruler in the world. None of the three, for reasons of his own, is likely to reveal my identity.
I detest sensationalism and wish it clearly understood that this is no studied attempt to create mystery. There is a certain dead line which no one can cross with impunity and none but a fool would attempt to. Powerful governments have found it advisable to keep silence regarding my antecedents. A case in point occurred when McKinnon Wood, Secretary for Scotland, refused in the House of Commons to give any information whatsoever about me, this after pressure had been brought to bear on him by three members of Parliament. Either the Home Secretary knew nothing about my antecedents, or his trained discretion counseled silence.
I was brought up in the traditions of a house actively engaged in the affairs of its country, for hundreds of years. As an only son, I was promptly and efficiently spoiled for anything else but the station in life which should have been mine--but never has been and, now, never can be. I used to have high aspirations, but promises never kept shattered most of my ideals. The hard knocks of life have made me a fatalist, so now I shrug my shoulders. "Che sara sara." I have had to lead my own life and, all considered, I have enjoyed it. I have crowded into thirty-nine years more sensations than fall to the lot of the average half a dozen men.
Following the custom of our house, I was trained as a military cadet. This military apprenticeship was followed by three years at a famous gymnasium, which fitted me for one of the old classic universities of Europe. And after spending six semesters there, I took my degrees in philosophy and medicine. Not a bad achievement, I take it, for a young chap before reaching his twenty-second birthday. I have always been fond of study and had a special aptitude for sciences and the languages. On one occasion I acquired a fair knowledge of Singalese and Tamul in three months.
From the university I returned home. I had always been obstinate and willful, not to say pigheaded, and being steeped in tales of wrongs done to my house and country, and with the crass assurance of a young sprig fresh from untrammeled university life, I began to give vent to utterances that were not at all to the liking of the powers that were. Soon making myself objectionable, paying no heed to their protests, and one thing leading to another, my family found it advisable to send me into utter and complete oblivion. To them I am dead, and all said and done, I would rather have it so.
After the complete rupture of my home ties, I began some desultory globe trotting. I knocked about in out-of-the-way corners, where I observed and absorbed all sorts of things which became very useful in my subsequent career. A native, and by that I mean an inhabitant, of non-European countries always fascinated me, and I soon learned the way of disarming their suspicion and winning their confidence--a proceeding very difficult to a European. After a time I found myself in Australia and New Zealand, where I traveled extensively, and came to like both countries thoroughly. I have never been in the western part of the United States, but from what I have heard and read I imagine that the life there more closely resembles the clean, healthy, outdoor life of the Australians than any other locality.
I was just on the point of beginning extensive travels in the South Sea Islands, when the situation in South Africa became ominous. War seemed imminent, and following my usual bent of sticking my nose in where I was not wanted I made tracks for this potential seat of trouble. I caught the first steamer for Cape Town landing there a month before the outbreak of war. On horseback I made my way in easy stages up to the Rand. Here happened one of those incidents, which, although small in itself, alters the course of one's life. What took place when I rode into a small town on the Rand known as Doorn Kloof one chilly misty morning, was written in the bowl of fate.
Doorn Kloof is well named; it means "the hoof of the Devil." A straggling collection of corrugated iron shanties set in the middle of a grayish sandy plain as barren of vegetation as the shores of the Dead Sea, sweltering hot an hour after sunrise, chilly cold an hour after sunset, populated by about four hundred Boers of the old narrow-minded ultra Dutch type with as much imagination as a grasshopper--that is Doorn Kloof.
When I rode into the village I was in a decidedly bad temper. Hungry, wet to the skin, the dismal aspect of the place, the absence of anything resembling a hotel, the incivility of the inhabitants, all contributed to shorten my, by no means long, temper. I was ripe for a row. As I rode down the solitary street I found a big burly Dopper flogging brutally a half-grown native boy. This humanitarian had the usual Boer view that the sambrock is more effective than the Bible as a civilizing medium. After convincing him of the technical error of his method, I attended to the black boy, whose back was as raw as a beefsteak. Kim completely adopted me and he is with me still. I christened him Kim, after Kipling's hero, for his Basuto name is unpronounceable. He has repaid me often for what he considers the saving or his life. Not many months later Kim was the unconscious cause of a radical change in my destiny. I have ceased to wonder at such things.
By the time Kim had learned some of the duties of a body servant we had reached Port Natal. War had broken out and I volunteered with a Natal field force in a medical capacity. Field hospital work took me where the fighting was thickest. During the battle of the Modder River among the first of the wounded brought in was one of the many foreign officers fighting on the Boer side. It was Kim who found him. This officer's wound was fairly serious and necessitated close attention. Through chance remarks dropped here and there, the officer placed my identity correctly. It developed that he was Major Freiherr von Reitzenstein, one of the few who knew the real reasons of my exile.
In one of our innumerable chats that grew out of our growing intimacy, he suggested my entering the service of Germany in a political capacity. He urged that with my training and social connections I had exceptional equipment for such work. Moreover, he suggested that my service on political missions would give me the knowledge and influence necessary to checkmate the intriguers who were keeping me from my own. This was the compelling reason that made me ultimately accept his proposal to become a Secret Agent of Germany. No doubt, if the Count had lived, I would have gained my ends through his guidance and influence, but he was killed in a riding race, three years after our meeting in the Veldt, and I lost my best friend. By that time I was too deep in the Secret Service to pull out, although it was my intention more than once to do so. And certain promises regarding my restoration in our house were never kept.
Coming to a partial understanding with Count Reitzenstein, I began to work in his interests. The Boer War taught Germany many things about the English army and a few of these I contributed. As a physician I was allowed to go most anywhere and no questions asked. I began to collect little inside scraps of information regarding the discipline, spirit and equipment of the British troops. I observed that many Colonial officers were outspoken in their criticisms. All these points I reported in full to Count Reitzenstein when I dressed his wound. One day he said:
"Don't forget now. After the war, I want to see you in Berlin."
In my subsequent eagerness to pump more details from the Colonial officers, I too criticised, and one day I was told Lord Kitchener wanted to see me.
"Doctor," he said curtly, when I was ushered into his tent, "you have twenty-four hours in which to leave camp--"
Whether that mandate was a result of my joining in with the Colonial officers' criticism, or because my secret activity for Count Reitzenstein had been suspected, I cannot say. But knowing the ways of the "man of Khartoum," I made haste to be out of camp within the time prescribed.
Later I learned that the Count, being convalescent and paroled, was sent down to Cape Town. After the occupation of Pretoria, I got tired of roughing it and made my way back to Europe, finally locating in Berlin for a prolonged stay. I knew Berlin, and had a fondness for it, having spent part of my youth there in the course of my education. It has always been a habit of mine not to seem anxious about anything, so I spent several weeks idling around Berlin before looking up Count Reitzenstein. One day I called at his residence, Thiergartenstrasse 23. I found the Count on the point of leaving for the races at Hoppegarten. He was one of the crack sportsmen of Prussia and never missed a meeting. He suggested that I go to the track with him, and while we waited for the servant to bring around his turn-out, he renewed his proposals about my entering Prussian service.
"I expected you long ago," he said. "I have smoothed your way to a great extent. We are likely to meet one or two of the Service Chiefs out at the track, this afternoon. If you like, I'll introduce you to them."
"Is there any likelihood of my being recognized?" I asked. "You know, Count, it will be impossible for me to go under my true flag."
He assured me there was not the slightest chance.
"Your identity," he explained, "need be known to but one person."
Later I was to know who this important personage was.
"Very well," I agreed; "we'll try it."
The Count always drove his own turn-out, and invited me to climb up on the box. When his attention was not occupied with his reins and returning the salutes of passers-by, for he was one of the most popular men in Berlin, we discussed my private affairs. The Count showed a keen interest and sympathy in them and his proposal began to take favorable shape in my mind. As he predicted, we met some of the Service Chiefs at the track. Indeed, almost the first persons who saluted him in the saddle paddock were Captain Zur See von Tappken and a gentleman who was introduced to me as Herr von Riechter. The Count introduced me as Dr. von Graver, which I subsequently altered whenever the occasion arose to the English Graves. After chatting a bit, Captain von Tappken made an appointment with me at his bureau in the Koenigergratzerstrasse 70, the headquarters of the Intelligence Department of the Imperial Navy in Berlin, but made no further reference to the subject that afternoon. I noticed though that Herr von Riechter put some pointed and leading questions to me, regarding my travels, linguistic attainments, and general knowledge. He must have been satisfied, for I saw some significant glances pass between him and the Captain. The repeated exclamations of "Grossartig!" and "Colossal!" seemed to express his entire satisfaction.
Following my usual bent, I did not call at Koenigergratzerstrasse 70 as the Captain suggested. About three days passed and then I received a very courteously worded letter requesting me to call at my earliest convenience at his quarters as he had something of importance to tell me. I called.
Koenigergratzerstrasse 70 is a typical Prussian building of administration. Solid but unpretentious, it is the very embodiment of Prussian efficiency, and like all official buildings in Germany is well guarded. The doorkeeper and commissaire, a taciturn non-commissioned officer, takes your name and whom you wish to see. He enters these later in a book, then telephones to the person required and you are either ushered up or denied admittance. When sent up, you are invariably accompanied by an orderly--it does not matter how well you are known--who does not leave you until the door has closed behind you. When you leave, there is the same procedure and the very duration of your visit is entered and checked in the doorkeeper's book.
I was admitted immediately. After passing through three anterooms containing private secretaries not in uniform, I was shown into Captain von Tappken's private office. He wore the undress ranking uniform of the Imperial Navy. This is significant, for it is characteristic of all the branches of the Prussian Service to find officers in charge. The secretaries and men of all work, however, are civilians; this for a reason. The heads of all departments are German officers, recruited from the old feudal aristocracy, loyal to a degree to the throne. They find it incompatible, notwithstanding their loyalty, to soil their hands with some of the work connected with all government duties, especially those of the Secret Service. Though planning the work, they never execute it. To be sure, there are ex-officers connected with the Secret Service, men like von Zenden, formerly an officer of the Zweiter Garde Dragoner, but with some few exceptions they are usually men who have gone to smash. No active or commissioned officer does Secret Service work.
Von Tappken greeted me very tactfully. This is another typical asset of a Prussian Service officer, especially a naval man, and is quite contrary to the usual characteristics of English officials, whose brusqueness is too well and unpleasantly known.
After offering me a chair and cigars, Captain von Tappken began chatting.
"Well, Doctor," he said, "have you made up your mind to enter our Service? For a man fond of traveling and adventure, I promise you will find it tremendously interesting. I have carefully considered your equipment and experience and find that they will be of mutual benefit."
I asked him to explain what would be required of me, but he replied:
"Before my entering upon that, are you adverse to telling me if you have made up your mind to enter the Service?"
It was a fair question, and I replied:
"Yes, provided nothing will be directly required of me that is against all ethics."
I noticed a peculiar smile crossing his features. Then, looking me straight between the eyes and using the sharp, incisive language of a German official, he declared:
"We make use of the same weapons that are used against us. We cannot afford to be squeamish. The interests at stake are too vast to let personal ethical questions stand in the way. What would be required of you in the first instance, is to gain for us information such as we seek. The means by which you gain this information will be left entirely to your own discretion. We expect results. We place our previous knowledge on the subject required, at your disposal. You will have our organization to assist you, but you must understand that we cannot and will not be able to extricate you from any trouble in which you may become involved. Be pleased to understand this clearly. This service is dangerous, and no official assistance or help could be given under any circumstances."
To my cost, I later found this to be the truth. So far, so good. Captain von Tappken had neglected to mention financial inducements and I put the question to him.
He replied promptly:
"That depends entirely on the service performed. In the first instance you will receive a retaining fee of 4000 marks ($1000) a year. You will be allowed 10 marks ($2.50) a day for living expenses, whether in active service or not. For each individual piece of work undertaken you will receive a bonus, the amount of which will vary with the importance of the mission. Living expenses accruing while out on work must not exceed 40 marks ($10) a day. The amount of the bonus you are to receive for a mission will in each case be determined in advance. There is one other thing. One-third of all moneys accruing to you will be kept in trust for you at the rate of 5 per cent. interest."
I laughed and said:
"Well, Captain, I can take care of my own money."
He permitted the shadow of a smile to play around his mouth.
"You may be able to," he said, "but most of our agents cannot. We have this policy for two reasons: In the first place, it gives us a definite hold upon our men. Secondly, we have found that unless we save some money for our agents, they never save any for themselves. In the event of anything happening to an agent who leaves a family or other relatives, the money is handed over to them."
I later cursed that rule, for when I was captured in England there were 30,000 marks ($7,500) due me at the Wilhelmstrasse and I can whistle for it now.
Captain von Tappken looked at me inquiringly, but I hesitated. It was not on account of monetary causes, but for peculiarly private reasons--the dilemma of one of our house becoming a spy. The Captain, unaware of the personal equation that was obsessing me before giving my word, evidently thought that his financial inducements were not alluring enough.
"Of course," he continued, "this scale of pay is only the beginning. As your use to us and the importance of your missions increases, so will your remuneration. That depends entirely on you."
He raised his eyebrows inquiringly.
"Very well," I said. "I accept."
He held out his hand. "You made up your mind quickly."
"It is my way, Captain. I take a thing or leave it."
"That's what I like, Doctor; a quick, decisive mind."
That seemed to please him.
"Very well. To be of use to us, you will need a lot of technical coaching. Are you ready to start tomorrow?"
"Very good," he said, "but to-morrow will do. Be here at ten A. M. Then give us daily as much of your time as we require."
He called in one of his secretaries, gave him command briefly and in a few minutes the man was back with an order for three hundred marks.
"This, Doctor, is your first month's living expenses. Retaining fees are paid quarterly."
As I pocketed the check I remarked:
"Captain, personally we are total strangers. How is it that you seem so satisfied with me?"
Again his peculiar smile was noticeable.
"That is outside our usual business procedure," he said. "I have my instructions from above and I simply act on them."
I was young then, and curious so I asked:
"Who are those above and what are their instructions?"
No sooner had I put that question than I learned my first lesson in the Secret Service. All traces of genial friendliness vanished from von Tappken's face. It was stern and serious.
"My boy," he said slowly, "learn this from the start and learn it well. Do not ask questions. Do not talk. Think! You will soon learn that there are many unwritten laws attached to this Service."
I never forgot that. It was my first lesson in Secret Service.
THE MAKING OF A SECRET AGENT
The average man or woman has only a hazy idea what European Secret Service and Espionage really means and accomplishes. Short stories and novels, written in a background of diplomacy and secret agents, have given the public vague impressions about the world of spies. But this is the first real unvarnished account of the system; the class of men and women employed; the means used to obtain the desired results and the risks run by those connected with this service. Since the days of Moses who employed spies in Canaan, to Napoleon Bonaparte, who inaugurated the first thorough system of political espionage, potentates, powerful ministers and heads of departments have found it necessary to obtain early and correct information other than through the usual official channels. To gain this knowledge they have to employ persons unknown and unrecognized in official circles. A recognized official such as an ambassador or a secretary of legation, envoys plenipotentiary and consuls, would not be able to gain the information sought, as naturally everybody is on their guard against them. Moreover, official etiquette prevents an ambassador or consul from acting in such a capacity.
In this age of rapid developments the need of quick and accurate information is even more pressing. Europe to-day is a sort of armed camp, composed of a number of nations of fairly equal strength, in which the units are more or less afraid of each other. Mutual distrust and conflicting interests compel Germany, England, France and Russia to spend billions of money each year on armaments. Germany builds one battleship; England lays down two; France adds ten battalions to her army; Germany adds twenty. So the relative strength keeps on a fair level. But with rapid constructions, new inventions of weapons, armor, aërial craft, this apparent equality is constantly disturbed. Here also enters the personal policy and ambitions and pet schemes of the individual heads of nations and their cabinets. Because there is a constant fear of being outdistanced, every government in Europe is trying its utmost to get ahead of the other. They, hence, keep a stringent watch on each other's movements. This is possible only by an efficient system of espionage, by trained men and women, willing to run the risks attached to this sort of work.
|KAISER WILHELM II|
|The visible head of Germany's mighty war machine is called Der Grosse General Stab, but the real directing genius is the Emperor himself|
For risks there are. I have been imprisoned twice, once in the Balkans at Belgrade, once in England. I have been attacked five times and bear the marks of the wounds to this day. Escapes I have had by the dozen. All my missions were not successes, more often, failures, and the failures are often fatal. For instance:
Early in the morning of June 11, 1903, the plot which had been brewing in Servia ended with the assassination of the king, queen, ministers and members of the royal household of Servia. I shall not go into the undercurrent political significance of these atrocities as I had no active part in them, but I was sent down by my government later to ascertain as far as possible the prime movers in the intrigue which pointed to Colonel Mashin and a gang of officers of the Sixth Regiment. All these regicides received Russian pay, for King Alexander had become dangerous to Russia, because of his flirting with Austria. Besides, his own idiotic behavior and the flagrant indiscretions of Queen Draga had by no means endeared him to his people.
I stuck my nose into a regular hornets' nest and soon found myself in a most dangerous position. I was arrested by the provisional government on the order of Lieutenant Colonel Niglitsch on a most flimsy charge of traveling with false passports. In those times arrests and executions were the order of the day. The old Servian proverb of "Od Roba Ikad Iz Groba Nikad" (Out of prison, yes; out of the grave, never) was fully acted upon. There were really no incriminating papers of any description upon me, but my being seen and associating with persons opposed to the provisional government was quite enough to place me before a drumhead court-martial.
I was sitting in the Café Petit Parisien with Lieutenant Nikolevitch and Mons Krastov, a merchant of Belgrade, when a file of soldiers in charge of an officer pulled us out of our chairs and without any further ado marched us to the Citadel. The next morning we were taken separately into a small room where three men in the uniform of colonels were seated at a small iron table. No questions were asked.
"You are found guilty of associating with revolutionary persons. You were found possessing a passport not your own. You are sentenced to be shot at sundown."
The whole thing appeared to me first as a joke, then as a bluff, but looking closely into those high-cheekboned, narrow-eyed faces with the characteristically close-cropped brutal heads, the humorous aspect dwindled rapidly and I thought it about time to make a counter move. Without betraying any of my inward qualms--and believe me, I began to have some--I said quietly:
"I think you will find it advisable to inform M. Zolarevitch" (then minister of War) "that Count Weringrode sends his regards."
I saw them looking rather curiously at each other and then the center inquisitor fired a lot of questions at me, in answer to which I only shrugged my shoulders.
"That's all I have to say, monsieur."
I was shoved back in my cell. About four that afternoon one of the officers came to see me.
"Your message has not been sent. My comrades were against sending it, but I am related to Zolarevitch. So if you can show me some reason, I shall take your message."
I gave him some reason. So much so that he did not lose any time getting under way. In fact, it was a very pale, perturbed officer who rushed out of my cell. I didn't worry much, but when at about 7.30 the cell door opened and two sentries with fixed bayonets and cartridge pouches entered, placed me in the center and marched me into the courtyard, where ten more likewise equipped soldiers in charge of an officer awaited me, I felt somewhat green. I know a firing squad when I see one. I knew if my message ever reached responsible quarters, nothing could happen to me; but these were motley times and all sorts of delays may have happened to the officer.
"Right about wheel" and myself in the center, we marched out of the courtyard to a little hill to the west of the Citadel.
An old stone building--probably a decayed monastery, for I noticed several crumbled tombstones--was evidently selected for the place of execution. On a little rough, four-foot, stone wall we halted, and the officer, pulling out a document, began reading to me a rather lengthy preamble in Servian.
Up to then not a word had been spoken. I let him finish and then politely requested him, as I was not a Serb and consequently did not understand his lingo, to translate it into a civilized language, preferably German or French. He seemed somewhat startled and gave me to understand that he was led to believe I was a Serb. I used some very forcible German and French, both of which he was able to understand, pointing out to him that someone, somewhere, made a thundering big blunder which somehow would have to be paid for. He was clearly ill at ease, but said, "I have to obey my instructions." I had told him of my message to the minister, and although it was quite obvious I was sparring for time he seemed in no way inclined to rush the execution. Five minutes went; ten minutes went and looking at his watch, which showed five minutes to eight (although it was fast getting dusk, I could see that watch-dial distinctly), shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I can delay no longer," he called a sergeant, who placed me with my shoulders to the wall and offered me a handkerchief. I didn't want a handkerchief. A few sharp orders and twelve Mauser tubes pointed their ugly black snouts directly at me.
I hate to tell my sensation just then. Frankly, I felt nothing clearly. The only thing I remember distinctly was the third man in the second file held his gun in rather a slipshod manner, aiming it first at my midriff, next pointing it at my nose--which strangely enough caused me intense annoyance. How long we stood thus I don't know. The next thing I remember was a rattle of grounding arms and the sight of two other officers, excitedly gesticulating with the one in charge of the firing squad. All three presently came towards me and one pulling out a flask of cognac with a polite bow offered me a drink. I needed it; but didn't take it. All this time I had been standing motionless with my arms folded across my breast. I heard one say to the other, "Nitchka Curacha" (no coward). If he had only known.
Indeed, had I anticipated such an experience, had I known the things I know now I doubt if I would have been so pleased with the results of my first visit to Koenigergratzerstrasse 70, where the Intelligence Department of the German Admiralty is quartered. Will the reader step back with me in the narrative to the day of my officially joining the Service? Returning to my hotel after my interview with Captain von Tappken in his office, I began to reflect.
I had not entered the Service out of pure adventure or for monetary reasons alone. Money has never appealed to me as the all-powerful thing in life. I have always had enough for creature comforts and as for adventure I had had my fill during the Boer War and my world wanderings. No, I had joined the German Secret Service for quite a different reason. I was thinking of the influences that had pressed me out of my destined groove, by every human right my own. I remember how sanguine Count Reitzenstein was that through the Service I ought to gain the power I had lost. But as I sat in the hotel room had occult powers been given me, I never would have taken up Secret Service work. But one is not quite as wise at twenty-four as at thirty-nine.
Well satisfied with my prospects, I arose early the next morning and walked briskly to Captain Tappken's office. Punctually at ten o'clock I announced myself at the Admiralty and after the usual procedure with the door man, I was received by Herr von Stammer, private secretary of Captain Tappken. A very astute and calculating gentleman is Herr von Stammer. Suave, genial, talkative, he has the plausible and unstudied art of extracting information without committing himself in turn. A marvelous encyclopædia of devious Secret Service facts, an ideal tutor.
When we were alone in his office, von Stammer began by saying abruptly:
"From now on, you must be entirely and absolutely at our Service. You will report daily at twelve noon by telephoning a certain number. At all times you must be accessible. You will pay close attention to the following rules:
"Absolute silence in regard to your missions. No conversation with minor officials but only with the respective heads of departments or to whomever you are sent. You will make no memoranda nor carry written documents. You will never discuss your affairs with any employee in the Service whom you may meet. You are not likely to meet many. It is strictly against the rules to become friendly or intimate with any agent. You must abstain from intoxicating liquors. You are not permitted to have any women associates. You will be known to us by a number. You will sign all your reports by that number. Always avoid telephoning, telegraphing and cabling as much as possible. In urgent cases do so, but use the cipher that will be supplied to you."
He went on to give numerous other minor details and instructions, elaborating the system, but which might prove wearisome here. I was in his office all the forenoon, and when he ushered me out I half expected to be called into von Tappken's presence to be sent on my first mission. Instead of that, I had to wait five months before I was given my first work and an exceedingly unimportant thing it was. During those five months I was kept at a steady grind of schooling in certain things. Day after day, week after week, I was grounded in subjects that were essential to efficient Secret Service work.
Broadly, they could be divided into four classes--topography, trigonometry, naval construction and drawing. The reasons for these you will see from my missions. My tutors were all experts in the Imperial Service. A Secret Service agent sent out to investigate and report on the condition, situation, and armament of a fort like Verdun in France must be able to make correct estimates of distances, height, angles, conditions of the ground, etc. This can only be done by a man of the correct scientific training. He must have the science of topography at his finger tips; he must be able to make quick and accurate calculations using trigonometry, as well as possessing skill as a draftsman. In my mission to Port Arthur, where I had to report on the defenses, I found this training invaluable.
The same applies to the subject of naval construction. Before entering the German Secret Service, I certainly knew the difference between a torpedo and a torpedo boat destroyer, but naturally could not give an accurate description of the various types of destroyers and torpedoes. My instructor in this subject was Lieutenant Captain Kurt Steffens, torpedo expert of the Intelligence Department of the Imperial Navy. After a month of tutelage under him, I was able to tell the various types of torpedoes, submarines, and mines, etc., in use by the principal Powers. I could even tell by the peculiar whistle it made whether the torpedo that was being discharged was a Whitehead or a Brennan.
I was also drilled in the construction of every known kind of naval gun. Dozens of model war-crafts were shown to me and explained. I saw the model of every warship in the world. For days at a time I was made to sit before charts that hung from the walls of certain rooms in the Intelligence Department and study the silhouettes of every known varying type of war-craft. I was schooled in this until I could tell at a glance what type of a battleship, cruiser, or destroyer it was, whether it was peculiar to the English, French, Russian or United States Navy. As I shall show in relating one of my missions to England, I was brushed up on the silhouette study of British warships, for I had to be able to discern and classify them at long range. The different ranking officers of the navies of the world, their uniforms, the personnel of battleships, the systems of flag signals, and codes, were explained to me in detail. I was given large books in which were colored plates of the uniforms and signal flags of every navy in the world. I had to study these until at a glance I could tell the rank and station of the officers and men of the principal navies. The same with the signal flags. I pored over those books night after night into the early hours of the morning. My regular hours for tuition were from ten to twelve in the forenoon and from two until six in the afternoon. But it was impossible to compress all the work into that time. I was anxious to get my first mission, and I presume I did a great deal of cramming.
My study was not all in Berlin. I spent most of my time there at Koenigergratzerstrasse 70 and at the Zeughaus, the great museum of the German General Staff. But there were side trips to the big government works at Kiel and Wilhelmshafen. There I was taught every detail of the mechanics of naval construction and I was not pronounced equipped until I could talk intelligently about every unassembled part of a gun, torpedo tube, or mine.
In the course of my five months' instruction under the various experts of the Prussian Service I had many opportunities to observe the exhaustive thoroughness and the minuteness of detail which the German General Staff possesses. I did not lose the chance of this opportunity. I really did observe and see more than was intended for me to see. Of the amazing amount of labor, time and money that has been spent to gather the information contained in the secret archives of the German General Staff, the marvelous system of war that has been perfected in the German Empire, I shall tell when I consider the secrets of the War Machine.
Naturally, I soon came to know still other things than what they taught me. I began to consider the whole proposition of Secret Service, and before relating my first important mission for Germany I shall tell you some of the general secrets of the System.
There are four systems of Secret Service in Europe, the four leading powers each possessing one. First in systematic efficiency is the German, next comes the Russian, then the French, and English. England has a very efficient service in India and her Asiatic possessions, but has only lately entered the European field. Last but not least comes the International Secret Service Bureau with headquarters in Belgium, a semi-private concern which procures reliable information for anyone who will pay for it. This service is generally entrusted with the procuring of technical details, such as the plans of a new kind of gun or data on a new and minor fortification. Mr. Vance Thompson has also cited special missions like this one that follows.
Not often does the chance come to leave the regular channels of espionage and go forth upon a mission out of the ordinary. That chance came a few years ago to the Russian agents in Brussels. In St. Petersburg the chiefs were desirous of knowing the identity and names of a group of revolutionists who had formed a sort of colony in Montreux, Switzerland. A French woman, known sometimes as Theresa Prevost (the last I heard of her she was in prison) was detailed to the mission. Young and clever was Theresa; likewise the man who was ordered to accompany her, posing as a "brother," Charles Prevost.
The chief of these Russian fugitives, who were down around the lake of Geneva, brewing their dark plans, was known. He was Goluckoffsky, and he had a son twenty-two years of age--an impressionable Russian son. Hence the young and pretty Theresa.
It was decided by her Brussels chiefs that she assume the rôle of an heiress from Canada. Five thousand francs for preliminary expenses were handed over to her and with Charles, the brother, she descended upon Montreux. If you were there at the time you will recall the social triumph made by the young Canadian heiress. You may even remember that she seemed to be infatuated with the young impressionable son of old Goluckoffsky. The day long they were together. They were going to be married, and Charles Prevost the "brother," stood in the background, chatted amiably with old Goluckoffsky and his friends and smiled.
Then as an heiress should, Theresa and her "brother" invited Goluckoffsky, his family and friends, to a pre-nuptial luncheon. No expense was spared, for the wires had moaned with requests sent to Brussels for money. Young Goluckoffsky was delighted with his fiancé. She was insistent that all his friends should be there, all the revolutionaries--although of course his dear Theresa did not know that. How the spelling of their names puzzled her. With gay heart young Goluckoffsky wrote out all their names on a slip of paper so she could send their invitations properly--the names St. Petersburg wanted to know.
Came the day of the luncheon, a gala affair in the banquet room of the hotel. Theresa looked charming; even the grimmest of the old revolutionists were taken with her. Old Goluckoffsky beamed upon this sparkling febrile woman, rich too, who was to marry his son.
Ices had been served when Theresa, her pretty face in smiles, declared that she had a surprise for her guests. To her it was the day of days. What better than a group photograph of her dear and new friends? How she would treasure it! Strangely enough this did not please the guests. Photographs were dangerous. Suppose, in some way, the Okrana got hold of them. They breathed easier, though, when Theresa, calling in the photographer--the best in Lausanne, she assured them--instructed him to deliver all copies to Mr. Goluckoffsky, her dear father-in-law to be. So the revolutionists grouped themselves on the hotel lawn; the photographer pressed the bulb; and everybody laughed.
As quickly as the photographer could print his proofs they were delivered to Theresa; that night she and her "brother" left Montreux. In two days the names of all the revolutionists in young Goluckoffsky's handwriting and their pictures were delivered to the chief in Brussels. A substantial fee was paid Theresa, besides, and she must have smiled; some of those young Russians are delightful.
So much for an example of the clever work done by Brussels. The German Service, in which I served on and off for twelve years, has three distinct branches--the Army, Navy and Personal, each branch having its own chief and its own corps of men and women agents. The Army and Navy division is controlled by the General Staff of Berlin (Grosser General Stabe), the most marvelous organization in the world. The Political and Personal branch is controlled from the Wilhelmstrasse, the German Foreign Office, the Emperor in person, or his immediate Privy Councilor. The Army and Navy divisions confine themselves to the procuring of hidden and secret information as regards armaments, plans, discoveries, etc. The political branch concerns itself with the supervision of meetings between potentates, cabinet ministers and so forth. The Personal branch, under the direct control of the Privy Councilor, is used by the Emperor for his own special purposes and service in this branch is the sine qua non of the service.
The Personal consists of all classes of men and women. Princes and counts, lawyers and doctors, actors and actresses, mondaines of the great world, demi-mondaines of the half world, waiters and porters, all are made use of as occasion arises. It may well happen that your interesting acquaintance in the salon of an express steamer or your charming companion in the tearoom of the Ritz is the paid agent of some government. Great singers, dancers and artists, especially of Russian and Austrian origin, are often spies. Notably Anna Pavlowa, famous for light feet and nimble wit, said wit being retained by the Russian government at 50,000 rubles per annum. When Mlle. Pavlowa travels in Germany, she has the honor of a very unostentatious bodyguard, the government being anxious that nothing should happen to them. Perhaps Mademoiselle may remember a little incident at the Palais de Dance in Berlin--Anna vs. He of Lichtenstein.
Or perhaps Mademoiselle will recall a little episode in the Eis Arena in Berlin during a certain New Year's Eve carnival when the restoration--not the loss--of her magnificent gold chatelaine bag caused her much embarrassment. The chatelaine in question being dexterously commandeered by an expert in such matters of the Secret Service squad.
It happened that the Personal Branch of the German Secret Service was exceedingly interested in that gold bag. Mademoiselle had been carrying on an affair with a young ordnance officer of the Potsdam garrison. Now the Service does not like to see officers, especially those of the ordnance, becoming involved with ladies like the Pavlowa. On this particular night he had presented her with the new bag and she had been injudicious enough to have kept in the golden receptacle a dangerously compromising letter that he had enclosed. Injudicious, dear lady! Corsage or stockings, Mademoiselle; but vanity bags--never!
I have reason to believe that the following incident cost the Pavlowa a rather remunerative engagement in Berlin.
Celebrating the coming of the New Year, Mademoiselle and her party were feasting in the Ice Arena. I happened to be at near-by table, and saw everything; as well as later hearing the inside of it.
The gold chatelaine lay on the table at her elbow. Upon observing its position, the waiter--a secret agent on the case--deliberately tipped over a champagne glass that stood within a few inches of the bag. Of course, Mademoiselle was worried lest the wine run over on her gown and while thus preoccupied, the waiter, stammering apologies, mopped up the table cloth with his serviette--mopped up the wine and cleverly covering the bag folded it in the napkin and hurried away. In two minutes he had opened it, abstracted the letter from the young ordnance officer; and was back, apologizing to the Pavlowa.
"Your pardon, Mademoiselle," he said, handing her the gold chatelaine. "In my haste I picked up this bag by mistake. I suppose it is yours."
With a slight start she said "yes," took the bag and hurriedly opening it felt for the letter. To her dismay it was gone. I saw her eyes narrow a little and then I marveled at time cleverness of the woman.
"No," she suddenly said, "that is not my bag. I never saw it before. I advise you to find the owner."
Clever Anna! You sacrificed the costly gift, but you went over the frontier just the same.
The necessary qualifications of an agent vary of course with the class of work to be done. We can dismiss the waiter and porter class, as they never receive independent commands and work only under direct supervision on minor details without knowing why. The trusted agent handling important matters and documents must needs be a person of intelligence, tact and address. He must be a linguist and, above all, a man of resource and a close student of his fellow men. In the woman agent charm and tact, beauty and manners, à la grande dame, knowledge of the world and men are essential. The pay varies, but is always good. Expenses are never questioned, the money being no object. For instance, I spent on a mission through the Riviera 20,000 marks in fourteen days. My fixed salary towards the end was 10,000 marks a year, besides twenty marks a day living expenses when not at work, which was automatically tripled irrespective of expenses when out on work. Besides, there is a bonus set out for each piece of work, the amount of which varies with the importance of the case in hand. I received as much as 30,000 marks ($7,500) for a single mission performed successfully.
The risks are great, so are the rewards--if successful. If not, then one pays the usual price of failures, in this case only more so. For in the event of disaster no official help or protection could or would be granted and quarter is neither asked nor given. The work is interesting and fascinating to those of an adventurous turn of mind and not overly nervous about their health or squeamish in regards to established ethics. I would not suggest the Secret Service as a means of livelihood for a nervous person. At times it is arduous and strenuous work and mostly undertaken by men and women who fear neither man nor devil. It is not compatible to longevity. As a rule, the constant strain of being on the qui vive, playing a lone hand against the most powerful influences often unknown, having one's plans upset at the last moment and continually pitting one's own brain against some of the acutest and shrewdest minds of the world, the knowledge that the slightest blunder means loss of liberty, often of life, is wearing, to say the least.
I have known men and women, courageous to a degree, who have broken down under the strain; sooner or later one is bound to succumb. I have known of a dozen men and women who have mysteriously disappeared, "dropped out of sight," caught or killed--not always by their opponents.
To cite but two cases, one of a woman, the other of a man.
Olga Bruder was a spy. She worked for Germany and for the Service Bureau in Brussels. A few years ago it was announced in the European newspapers that a woman known as Olga Bruder had committed suicide in a hotel at Memel on the Russian border. Fräulein Bruder had been sent after the plans of a Russian fort. In Berlin they learned that she had obtained them, but becoming involved in a love affair with a Russian officer was holding them out, planning to restore them to him. Also, contrary to the service regulations, she knew four foreign agents well. Later reports from Danzig revealed the fact that she had become enamored with a sectional chief of the Russian Service and that she was about to give up everything to him. So Olga Bruder committed suicide. She was poisoned.
As for Lieutenant von Zastrov, an ex-army officer in the German Secret Service, he was killed in a duel. Zastrov was suspected of flirting with Russian agents--only suspected. He knew too much to be imprisoned. He was a civilian and under the German law entitled to a public hearing. Had he still been a military man, a secret tribunal would have been possible, but being the scion of an old aristocratic house and knowing official secrets, it was not wise to put him in against the regular machinery of elimination. So Zastrov was challenged to a duel. He killed the first man the Service chiefs sent against him, yet no sooner was that duel over than he was challenged again. In half an hour Zastrov was dead.
Yes, your own employers often think it advisable at times to eliminate a too clever or knowing member of their service, unless that same member has procured for himself a solid good "life insurance" in the nature of documentary evidence of such character that to meddle with him brings danger of disclosure. Of late there have been no attempts on my life.
INTO THE EAST
Reclining in my deck chair on the N. D. L. liner Bayern, bound for Singapore, I was smoking a pipe and idly speculating. I had cultivated the acquaintance of my table neighbor, a Japanese, Baron Huraki, and was at the moment, expecting him to come up the companionway and take his place in his deck chair beside me. Instead came two officers of the Second Siberian Rifles, strolling along the deck. It was obvious that, although it still lacked three hours of noon, these gentlemen had been quite frequently to the shrine of Bacchus. I had no fault to find with that, as long as they did not interfere with my own personal comfort. When they began tacking along, talking at the top of their voices on that part of the deck known by experienced travelers to be reserved for repose and reading, however, they began to irritate me. When one of them threw himself into the Baron's chair and displayed that beastly annoying habit of continually wriggling and creaking the chair, meanwhile shouting to his companion at the top of his lungs, I lost all patience. It only needed Baron Huraki's appearance and quiet request for the evacuation of his deck chair, and the insolent stare and non-compliance of the Russian, to make me chip in with:
"Damn it, sir! You don't own the whole world yet."
I went on in terse military German which eighty per cent. of all Russian officers know and the trend of which is never misunderstood. I pointed out that any further encroaching would be resented in a most drastic and sudden manner. The usual farcical exchange of cards, permitting all sorts of bluffs, does not impress a Russian, but the imminent chance of blows from fists does. A pair of astonished bulging eyes, a muttered apology and quietness reigned.
With a mild smile Baron Huraki dropped into his chair, but I did not like the expression in his eyes. Knowing the prowess of the Baron as an exponent of his national system of self-defense (I had seen him harmlessly toss about the biggest sailor on the Bayern, the chief butcher, who was as strong as an ox), I said:
"It's a wonder to me, Baron, that you didn't throw that boor half way across the deck."
I shall never forget his answer.
"We of the Samurai never fight when there is nothing behind it. It is not the time."
I did not like the expression in his eyes.
All this transpired because I was on the road to Singapore, away from Berlin, on my first important mission in the German Secret Service. The Intelligence Department had instructed me to ascertain the extent of the new docks and fortifications in course of completion in the Straits Settlements--an assignment calling for exact topographical data, photographs and plans.
Leaving port, I had found the Bayern comfortably crowded. In the East war clouds were gathering and among the passengers were a number of Japanese called home, as I afterwards learned, for the impending struggle. At Port Said we had taken on a Russian contingent, quite a few of whom were officers bound for Port Arthur, Dalny and Vladivostock, and in view of the gathering conflict I found the relative conduct and bearing of representatives of these races that were soon to clash, vastly interesting.
And after my experience with the Russians, I was to know more. From that time on, I began to notice a subtle change in Baron Huraki's attitude toward me. Quite of his own accord he discussed with me the customs, ideals and aspirations of his caste and country. Wrapped in a Shuai kimono, his gift to me, we spent many hot and otherwise tedious nights, sprawled in our deck chairs, discussing unreservedly the questions of the East. What I learned then and the insight I got into the aims and character of Nippon, were invaluable to me. Baron Huraki, now high in the services of the Mikado, is my friend still. Once a year he sends me Shuraino-Ariki, a wonderful spray of cherry blossoms, the Japanese symbol of rejuvenating friendship.
A Secret Service agent, although making no friends or acquaintances, always makes it his business to converse with and study his fellow travelers. Following my usual habit, I went out of my way to cultivate the acquaintance of the Japanese, particularly Huraki. A scholar of no mean attainments was the Baron.
Quietly, without being didactic, he upheld his end in most discussions on applied sciences or philosophic arguments, putting forth his deep knowledge in an unobtrusive way. I found this trait to be an invariable rule with most of the Japanese with whom I came in contact. Once or twice during our lengthy and pleasant chats I tried to veer the subject round to the all-engrossing Eastern question, only to be met with the maddening bland smile of the East. I was rather inexperienced in the fathomless, undefinable ways of the Orient, but on the Bayern I learned rapidly the truths that Western methods and strategy are absolutely useless against the impenetrable stoicism of an Asiatic and that only personal regard and obligation on their part will produce results. In striking contrast to the Japanese, small and sinewy, any two of them weighing no more than one Russian, quiet, taciturn, genial and abstemious, were the children of the "Little White Father." The Russians were an aggressive, big, well set up, heavy type of men, by no means teetotalers, talkative, with overbearing swagger, always posing, talking contemptuously about the possible struggle in the East, invariably referring to the Japanese as "little monkey men." Fortunate for me was it that the Bayern was carrying both Russians and Japanese; the knowledge I acquired from Baron Huraki of the Asiatics was invaluable in Singapore; what I learned of Russians, I needed at Port Arthur. But I am anticipating my narrative.
Arriving in Singapore, I put up at the Hotel de la Paix on the Marine Parade. I posed as an ordinary tourist with a leaning toward hunting and a fad of doing research work in tropical botany. I gradually became acquainted with a number of English officers and was introduced at their clubs. The information obtained through these channels about the new naval base was merely theoretical and I soon found that to obtain practical results I would have to get in touch with the native clerks. In the English Eastern possessions, you see, most clerical and minor mechanical positions are held by natives. It soon was brought home to me, though, that this cultivating natives was by no means easy and a rather dangerous thing to do. To be in any way successful, I had to find a native of a higher caste, one with sufficient influence to command the clerks. If I could get hold of one of the numerable discontented petty rajahs, for instance, there might be a chance of obtaining what I sought.
In one of the clubs, I found a clue. A young Rajah, one of the numerous coterie of petty princes--fair play compels me to withhold his name--had got himself into some trouble and the paternal government had promptly suspended his income. Here was my chance. I soon ascertained young Rajah's haunts and made it my business to frequent them. One day I found him on the veranda of the Marine Hotel and asked him for a match, making a return compliment of a cigarette. This was a procedure against established British social usage in the East, where it is considered infra dig to meet a native on a social footing. Herein lies a grave danger to English colonial policy. Your semi-European educated native, having partly absorbed European manners, resents this subordination and ostracism. So, with this high-spirited, rather clever young rajah. I accepted his invitation to whiskey "pegs" and subsequent dinner at his bungalow. One visit led to another and we were soon rather intimate. The young Rajah, having the usual native taste for luxury well developed and his income stopped, I became of some monetary assistance to him. Also, judiciously fostering his discontent against the government, I soon had him in a desired frame of mind. Through his influence on the native clerks, I was able to gain all the plans, data and photographs of England's new naval base in the Straits Settlement.
By this time my close association with this notorious young Rajah was marked and I found it advisable to pull up stakes, which I did in short order, arranging passage on the N. D. L. liner Sachsen, homeward bound. Having a week to spare and finding that by leaving the Sachsen at Colombo, I could catch the Prinz Regent Leopold of the same line, coming up from Australia en route for Europe, I had my ticket transferred. This would give me a ten-day vacation in Ceylon, where I had a number of acquaintances, having hunted there during my early travels. Accordingly, at Colombo I put up at the Galle Face Hotel, and the first man I met was Allan MacGregor, one of Lipton's tea estate managers, in Kandy and Newara Elya. MacGregor and I were old pals, having done much hunting and bridge playing in days gone by. I planned to spend a week with him and go after some leopards. By the by, I'd like to see the MacGregor's face when he learns that his quondam friend and boon companion was an international spy!
"Dinna get sair, Mac. You're no the only chiel what'll tak a wee surprise."
I was just arranging a hunting trip with MacGregor when Bill Peters, manager of the hotel, another old acquaintance, handed me a cable knocking all my plans to bits. It was a cipher message from Captain von Tappken, and shortly I was again on the high sea, bound not for home, but for Port Arthur. My orders were to ascertain how far the Port Arthur fortifications were completed and to report on the general conditions as I found them. I wondered not a little at this mission, as I could not then see what close interest Germany could have in a possible war between Russia and Japan. Also, I by no means relished the assignment, for it was a perilous business and I judged the Russians to be extremely suspicious--which I afterwards learned they were not.
I decided to travel under the cloak of a doctor of natural history and botany, my medical training giving me the necessary knowledge to impersonate the character. The reader will understand that if Doctor Franz von Cannitz is subsequently mentioned, it refers to me. Almost everybody, especially my government, knew that war between Russia and Japan was inevitable. I say, all, except Russia.
To make this situation clear, let me hark back a little. Japan, beating China in the war of 1895, took and occupied Port Arthur. Japan later, compelled by hostile demonstrations on the part of Russia backed up by France and Germany, restored Port Arthur to China. Note the holding aloof of England here. The actual text of the ultimatum delivered was that the possession of ceded territory by Japan would be detrimental to the lasting peace of the Orient. Japan was bitterly humiliated and an Asiatic never forgets or forgives. Japan bided her time. Russia's duplicity in the Boxer Campaign, and her seizure of Port Arthur, gave Japan the needed casus belli. Result, the Russian-Japanese War.
Arriving in Port Arthur, I established myself at the Hotel l'Europe and with prospecting spade, botanical trowel and butterfly net, I sallied forth around the hills of Port Arthur. The first thing which struck me was the enormous number of Chinese and Chunshuses (bad Coolies) employed everywhere. I came to know that they were not all Chinese Coolies and that almost every tenth man was a disguised Japanese. To an observer, trained in the facial characteristics of the Oriental, it was not difficult to pick out the Japanese from the mass of Coolies. They fairly swarmed in Port Arthur right under the very noses of the Russians. As Baron Huraki had told me during our passage on the Bayern, his countrymen were actually employed in the building of the Port Arthur defenses! These Japanese were later able to give invaluable information in directing the Japanese batteries. Numerous other alleged Coolies were acting as servants to Russian officers. I also found that on the Lioa Teah Shan Railway and at Pidgeon Bay the very porters were Japanese. In fact, the entire Russian stronghold was infested with them.
This carelessness, lack of knowledge or suspicion, with a total lack of belief on the part of the Russian officers, that the "little monkey men" would ever dare attack, is in my opinion the chief cause of the comparatively quick fall of Port Arthur. For even with the incompleted defenses the place was tremendously strong. Everywhere I could see the most elaborate plans incomplete. For instance, as I wandered through the hills seeking my botanical specimens, I found that the chain of forts on the hills of the Quang Tong peninsula south and west of Dalny, were totally unfinished and that the Kuan Ling section of the Port Arthur and Dalny railway was not even adequately protected from capture by a hostile force.
The lack of adequate supervision and the general slovenliness prevailing made it easy for me to go about unchallenged. I mixed freely with officers and men. The expenditure of a few rubles on vodka, in the case of the men, and the never-rejected invitation on the part of most officers to join in a jamboree, made me a very popular figure indeed. Through them I learned that the provisions of Port Arthur were in a most deplorable state. To use but one instance: Out of 1,420,000 pounds of flour, nearly one-half was bad with sour cords, which caused part of the enormous amount of sickness even then prevailing in the Port Arthur garrison. During the war forty-five per cent. of the troops were incapacitated because of unsanitary food. I found 600,000 pounds of maize were wormy and over 700,000 pounds of corned beef were putrid. Women and wine, however, abounded.
Never in any place--and I know all the gayest and fastest places on earth--have I seen, comparatively speaking, such an enormous amount of wine in stock, or such a number of demi-mondaines assembled. Most of the officers had private harems. I often sat in the Casino and watched the officers of the First Tomsk Regiment, the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Siberian Rides practicing with their newly supplied Mauser-pistols on tables loaded with bottles containing the most costly vintage wines and cognacs. At such times the place literally ran ankle deep in wine. There were over sixty gambling houses and dancing halls supporting more than a thousand filles de joie. In fact, the general intemperance was such that on the night of Admiral Togo's attack more than half the complement of the Russian fleet was ashore, dead drunk, in honor of one of the tutelary Russian saints.
The harbor defenses comprising submarine mines and searchlight stations, etc., I found to be in the worst condition. In pottering around, I visited many of the switchboard stations controlling the submarine mine fields. Everywhere the eye met evidences of defective work--rusty contacts, open insulations and exposed connections. There were carelessly exposed buoys betraying to the naked eye supposedly invisible submarine mines. The whole mine field was so badly laid that the Japanese were subsequently able to drag and explode three out of every five mines. This explains the astounding fact that during Admiral Togo's five dashes, some of them lasting thirty-six hours, all that he lost from torpedoes and mines was one ship, the Hatsuse, which struck a floating mine.
I did a great deal of investigating the composition and geological formation of the ground surrounding Port Arthur. I found most of the ground consisting of loose layers of lava scoræ. The comparative easy capture of the otherwise immensely strong 203 Metre Hill did not surprise me. The texture of the ground, besides having a deadening effect on shell fire, made the approach to the forts by means of parallels surprisingly easy. The Japanese, by the way, also knew this peculiarity of the ground and used it to great advantage in their advances. I also found the forts on 174 and 131 Metre Hills as well as the north fort of East Rekwan in an incompleted state. The commander of the forts, General Smyrnoff, was using strenuous efforts to complete the work, but the personal animosity of General Krondrachinko, the commander of the general defenses, vetoed most of his suggestions. The vast sums of money which the Russian central government appropriated for the fortification of Port Arthur, honestly used, would have made the place completely impregnable. It is not too much to say--and this will be borne out by any trained observer and student of the conditions then existing in and around Port Arthur--that sixty per cent. of the money for defense purposes disappeared mysteriously.
All the Russian officers, however, were not grafters and drunken libertines. Among them I did find men of alert and earnest character who were quite aware of the frightful conditions existing, but who were so used to them right through Russia that they viewed things with true Slavonic composure. I even found the searchlight stations back on the hills to be in a deplorable state. Indeed, on the night of Togo's second attack on Port Arthur the power plant was out of order and the searchlights which should have flooded the harbor with light were dark. The plant was subsequently repaired under enormous difficulties and cost, but of no avail. Coolie spies had procured the exact location of the power house and searchlight stations and thus aided, the Japanese gunners riddled them with shell. A great deal has been said about the wonderful marksmanship of the Japanese, but for the most part it was due to data on exact distances and locations, furnished by their spies.
Although the officers were a careless, thoughtless lot, I found that the personnel of the garrison contained, on the whole, a good type of Russian soldier. They were not brilliant but faithful and obedient. A Russian regiment is never routed. They stand and are killed, being too stolid to run. I found most of the officers of Port Arthur to be brilliant dashing men of the world, personally of high animal courage, but self-indulgence, neglect, disbelief in hostilities and underestimation of their foe, undermined them.
Among the high officials at Port Arthur, Colonel Reiss, Commander of the Ordnance Service, stood out alone. He was the only officer, not excepting General Stoessel himself, who seemed to realize the gravity of the whole situation. In long chats which I had with him, he more than hinted at the lamentable state of his ammunition. Once I asked him why these conditions were not changed and he said:
"The Little Father (the Czar) is far away,"--he shrugged expressively.
Officers told me that tons and tons of ammunition bags did not contain full weight. Whole ammunition trucks had only a double layer of powder bags on top, the rest containing sand bags to be used only for bastions and escarpions, the money flowing into the pockets of the army contractors. I met General Stoessel at the Casino twice, and neither time did he impress me as a military genius. A soldier of the Buller type, he was bluff, hearty, courageous and stupid. His florid bearded face, thick-set figure and his deep guttural growls reminded me of a Boer Dopper.
Among all the Russians I met at Port Arthur, the most interesting figure was to me the great battle painter Verestshagin. I am proud to be able to say that he called me "friend." I happened to be of some assistance to him in alleviating an attack of malaria. This, with a similar taste in the arts and literature, soon put us on a friendly and intimate footing. I have met many men of letters, artists and statesmen, but never one who impressed me so much with the profundity of his learning and thought as did Verestshagin, and I am not easily impressed.
One night we were sitting on the Casino veranda overlooking the wonderful Harbor of Port Arthur. It was one of those quiet, balmy, semi-tropical nights for which this part of the world is famous, one of those crystal, clear, soundless nights, and the silhouettes of Russia's grim silent battle monsters riding at anchor were sharply outlined on the moonlit waters of the bay. We were smoking our pipes, having just finished a long chat about the history of these regions--the old Manchu and Tartar dynasties, how far they had influenced and still influence the history of the world, the Volker-Wanderung--of the Huns, the Goths, and Vandals--a subject on which Verestshagin disclosed a deep store of knowledge.
As the night was far advanced, I suggested that I had probably trespassed long enough on his kindness and hospitality. He turned around in his chair and placing his hand on my shoulder said in his soft deep voice:
"No, Doctor Cannitz, you are doing me a service instead. I am restless to-night. I have a curious presentiment that before long these lovely hills will hear the roar of guns in earnest." Dreamily speaking as if to himself he continued, "And Russia will lose... but I shall not see it." Abruptly he looked up, sat erect in his chair and shook himself as if throwing off something that oppressed him.
"Do you believe in premonition. Doctor? I know I shall find my death here soon."
An indescribable shuddery sensation seemed to pass over me. I am by no means sentimental or easily moved, nor am I overly superstitious; but I have encountered one or two things in the course of my life which cannot be explained by rule and line. Throwing off my sudden strange mood, I told Verestshagin that his morbid fancies were due to his still feverish condition, and the depressing effect of over-doses of sulphate of quinine. He rose and smiled, and said:
"Of course you are right, Doctor."
Before parting, he gave me a little sketch of Port Arthur which I have still. I keep it as a treasured memento of one of the few really good men I have met, and one of the few from whom I had been able to part without harming.
Verestshagin's premonition was fulfilled. He died--a hero's death, going down with Admiral Marakoff on the flagship of the Russian squadron six weeks later.
I remained at Port Arthur for another five weeks, and exactly seven days before Togo's first night attack I received a cable from my government. It was in cipher, of course, and I was ordered to leave Port Arthur immediately and make my way home as there was danger of my being bottled up at any minute. It is significant that in the Intelligence Department at Berlin they knew an attack was imminent, although they did not know it at Port Arthur. Furthermore, Russian securities dropped eighteen points on the New York Stock Exchange, hours before the official knowledge of the attack came through. This information leaked out through the German Embassy in Washington. Seven days after I left, Togo made the torpedo attack in which he sank the Czarevitch, Retvitsan and Palada.
Before I took the steamer back to Europe, I went to Kiou-Chau, the German colony in China, and filed a long report by cipher cable. Six months later I had the satisfaction of having a talk with numerous officers of the German General Staff and of receiving compliments on the correctness of my observations, reports and predictions.
Later I learned the reasons why I had been sent to Port Arthur. Germany desired to ascertain the exact relative strength of the Port Arthur defenses and Russian positions in the Far East for the following reasons:
Since the time of Frederick the Great, the only power on the Continent which Germany has feared and has always been loath openly to quarrel with, is Russia. Through the setback she received in the Far East in 1905, her influence steadily decreased in the Balkans and the recent fiasco of Russian machinations during the Balkan war, has made her become a secondary factor for decades to come. Germany, through her keen Intelligence Department, foresaw the result of the Russo-Japanese conflict and immediately set about to undermine and destroy Russian influence south of the Austrian border.
By Russia's defeat in the East, the balance of the power was completely shifted. It gave Germany and Austria the desired opportunities and a free hand in the Balkans and Turkey. Had Germany through her Intelligence Department found Russia invulnerable in the East, the map of the Balkans would have to be painted in different colors--as you will see.
AT THE SUBLIME PORTE
I was back in Berlin from my mission to the Far East on March 10, 1905. The next four months were rather commonplace--odd little commissions of no particular interest or importance.
On July the 5th, however, there came a hurried summons from Captain von Tappken for me to report at Koenigergratzerstrasse 70. I lost no time in getting around, nor did I have to wait to be ushered up. I was shown direct to the Captain's office and as he received me, I noticed that he was in a rather excited frame of mind.
"Verdammt! Doctor! I am going to lose you. I am requested by the Wilhelmstrasse to hand you over to them. Very annoying. I do not like to lose you from our branch here. But we must obey."
I expressed my regrets.
"Doctor, you are bettering yourself. It is seldom that they over there take any notice of us over here, or request the services of any of my men. But your work has attracted some attention. I shall request that your services are not entirely lost to this department. Herr Stammer will take you over. Good-by and good luck!"
He gave me a hearty handshake and my connection with the Intelligence Department of the Imperial Navy came to an end. Stammer and I hailed a taxi and drove to the Wilhelmstrasse, where the doorkeeper put me through an official ceremony similar to the procedure of Koenigergratzerstrasse 70. Stammer gave the commissaire his card and we were shown into a chamber and bidden to wait. I was frankly curious about what was in store for me, but I knew better by now than to ask questions. Presently there entered a tall, thin, iron-gray gentleman, the very type of a Prussian bureaucrat. Walking with quick nervous steps to his desk he acknowledged our bows with a curt nod and turning to Stammer he said:
"This is Dr. Graver, your Excellency."
"Ah, yes. Sehr schön. Convey my thanks to Captain Tappken, Stammer."
Stammer then bowing himself out, I was asked to step into an anteroom. There a secretary took me in hand and informed me that the tall, thin, iron-gray gentleman was Graf Botho von Wedel, Wirklicher Geheimrat and Vortragender Rab Botho Kaiser--(Privy Councilor to the German Emperor).
So--Count Wedel. H'm! Although this was the first time I had seen the Count, I had heard a great deal about him. The Emperor's Privy Councilor and right hand was the head of the political sections of the Secret Service. This promised to be interesting. I wondered what the likely upshot would be, but I was interrupted in my soliloquy by a summons to reenter the Count's chamber.
I was shown to a seat. Graf Wedel looked me over carefully and minutely for a considerable length of time with a frank stare of appraisal.
"How old are you, Doctor?"
I must confess my extreme youth always made this question one of secret annoyance.
"Twenty-five, your Excellency."
"Very young, very young." He stared at me again and after a pause said:
"Yet the reports about your work are satisfactory and show discretion and intelligence above your years."
I bowed in acknowledgment.
"You will from now on," he said, "become attached to this section of the Service. You will be trusted with some very grave and important matters. You will receive your orders and instructions only from me. You will report only to me direct. On no account will you see any subordinate or any person, no matter what his official status, without my expressed permission. Verstehen sie?"
"For funds," he continued, "you will apply to my secretary. Of your expenses you will furnish a monthly account. How soon can you be ready to go on a mission?"
I told him in two hours.
"Good!" he exclaimed; "the sooner the better. This is what I want you to do. You will go at once to Constantinople and find out which of the court officials are in French and Russian pay. You will find out the favorites of the high officials and officers, especially the nationality of these women. I will not give you any points of introductions. They might lead you to be suspected. They are a crafty lot down there. Be careful and take your time. You know nothing can be done in a hurry down in that country,"--he paused as if waiting for questions from me. We discussed a few minor points then he said:
"Your official number with us from now on will be 1734. You will always use 17 to sign personal cipher messages sent to me. You will use 34 in signing official reports and communications."
The necessary arrangements for my preliminary expenses were discussed with one of his secretaries and I then went back to my quarters to think over a plan of campaign and prepare myself for the mission. The transfer from Captain Tappken's department pleased me for I knew that at the Wilhelmstrasse I would be in closer touch with the bigger affairs of diplomacy. Tappken had hinted at my finding favor with the Wilhelmstrasse and I guessed that coming on top of my Port Arthur success a delicate private mission was responsible for it. To cite the case:
Germany keeps a watch on all her officers. When one of them is spending more money than his income, he is promptly investigated. I recalled how they had sent me to the Spandau Garrison to inquire into the affairs of an officer who was too lavish with his money to suit the Intelligence Department. He was an ordnance officer in a small arms factory at Spandau and it was the natural conclusion that he was obtaining this extra money by selling state secrets.
I encountered, however, an entirely different situation. I learned that he was absolutely innocent on that score but that he was receiving money from a certain princess who had become infatuated with him. She was of a very high house and I realized that her name could not be mentioned in a report to Captain Tappken. This situation required delicate treatment. I solved the dilemma by reporting to Tappken that the ordnance officer was guiltless of any act of treason against his country. I then made a private report, covering the intimate facts, which went direct to officials of higher responsibility. The princess' name did not appear as far as subordinates were concerned and the whole affair was hushed up. My fortunate discretion in this matter undoubtedly strengthened my standing with the Wilhelmstrasse.
By this time I had installed myself in quiet quarters on the Mittelstrasse, and Kim, who had been transformed from a Basuto boy into an efficient man servant, looked after my comforts. To secure myself from the questions of prying neighbors, I had caused it to be known that I was a retired South African planter inclined to poor health. This was the most likely explanation for my curious mode of living and my sudden periodical disappearances, for I was away from the Mittelstrasse for months at a time. Presumably I was traveling about to the different watering places on the Continent for my health.
My mission to Constantinople called for some considerable thought in selecting the most advisable character to impersonate. A tourist came first to mind. A tourist was out of the question, because tourists do not stay long in one place and I expected to be three or four months in Turkey. There was nothing to study in Constantinople. I thought of a student of botany, the rôle I had used at Port Arthur. But that would not do. The idea of a merchant came to me, but I dismissed the idea of a prosperous merchant, for it would necessitate making business connections, a careful and slow process, the fulfillment of which would consume entirely too much time. I finally decided to travel as a physician, or to use the Turkish word a Hakim. A Hakim is always accorded respect, even reverence, by Turks and Arabs. This character determined upon, I went to the telephone and requested the Service Intelligence Department to give me letters of introduction to the German hospital and the Pera Hospital in Constantinople. They were sent to me signed by the authorities of the Charitee in Berlin and described that I was going to study tropical and Asiatic diseases and requested that the hospitals give me every facility for research work. I had Kim pack a case of medical instruments and told him to have everything in readiness to leave Berlin that night, on the Orient Express. He was necessary to my plans and was to accompany me. A messenger from Wedel brought a few final verbal instructions, my funds and sealed instructions. I was bidden to keep away from all official German intercourse in Constantinople. Wedel might have saved himself the trouble of that word of caution for I knew enough of the subtle Oriental mind to keep away from anything that would raise the slightest suspicion in regard to my identity. If I pride myself on anything, it is a knowledge of Eastern character. With the instructions were a thousand marks cash and a draft for 5000 marks on the Ottoman Bank of Constantinople that had been deposited in my name.
It may strike the reader as curious that I took Kim with me, but I knew he could be of tremendous use to me in Constantinople. In addition to speaking his Kaffir dialects, he knew Arabic. Any negro boy who could speak Arabic could learn almost anything in Constantinople, which abounds in black men of all tribes and nationalities. Among the servants of every household, Kim would find many compatriots from whom he could get information, impossible for any European to obtain.
After an uneventful trip to Constantinople, I took preliminary quarters in the Brasserie Kor, a quiet, second-rate hostelry on the Rue Osmanly. I went to an unpretentious place to avoid attracting any particular attention. Had I put up at an expensive hotel there would immediate]y bave been queries about me. Who is this stranger? He seems to have money. If it isn't his money, whose money is he spending? It is not well to invite a Turk's suspicion. As I was totally unacquainted with Constantinople, I used the first week for getting familiar with the geography of the city. It was necessary that I learn the location of the various legations and the residences of high court officials. The next week I found lodgings in the very center of the district of court residences and began to seek out the haunts and places of rendezvous of demi-mondaines, favorites and hangers-on of the Turkish officials. On the second day of my arrival, I had presented my credentials and letters at the German Pera Hospital, and had my name entered as a visiting honorary surgeon. Every day thereafter, rain or shine, I made it a point to spend some time at these hospitals, and it was well that I did. Once a day and often twice I would sign the book at the hospital and I believe that the signature Dr. Franz von Graver appears on the record books of the Pera and German Hospitals in Constantinople, at least one hundred times. Was I not fulfilling my duties as a physician doing research work?
I finally located myself in the residential district of Pera where I rented a small residence, typical of the well-to-do Turk of the middle class and quite in keeping with my assumed character. An elaborate residence would have aroused immediate suspicion, for there is no country on earth where curiosity and suspicion is so easily roused as in Turkey. Kipling, who knows the East so well, portrayed Port Said as the dwelling place of concentrated wickedness. He is right, but I do not think he has ever visited Stamboul. In Stamboul there is with no exception the most conglomerate mixture of nondescript nationalities on the face of the earth. Not only are all nationalities represented but breeds of men that defy all pathological research, hideous in their conglomerate intermixtures. If an Albanian bandit, himself a mixture of Greek and Nubian mulatto, has issue by an Arab woman with French blood--find the genealogy. Can you imagine a more difficult field of operations for an Occidental and a stranger?
In the course of my preliminary observations, I found Constantinople to be a city of sharp contrasts. The quarters inhabited by your true Ottoman are characteristically clean and comfortable. The remainder of the city except foreign quarters is intolerably dirty. With true Oriental tolerance, the Turk lets things gang their ain gait. The casual observer and traveler always confounds the Turk with the rest of the nondescript mass of humanity that swarms in Constantinople. That is a crass mistake. Your true descendant of Ossman is a clean, dignified, easy-going gentleman with a deep philosophical strain in his make-up, contaminated by hundreds of years of contact--not association, for your true Turk does not associate--with the outcast Mischling of southern Europe and Asia Minor.
My mission was indeed a difficult one and only by tedious, painstaking work, observing the life of the city and its character, I succeeded in isolating the individual who gave me the key to the circumventuous political life and the government of Constantinople. It took me a full month of night work to become familiar with the innumerable demi-mondaines. They were of French, Russian and Circassian birth and extraction, and were identified with the various Turkish court officials from the Grand Vizier down to an officer in the Ganitsharies. This preliminary work is always exhausting, but it is so necessary on a mission of this kind. One blunder, one step in the dark, and you are gone. One spends months without any tangible results, often going on the wrong track. One has to be excruciatingly circumspect in one's inquiries. To use a hunter's expression, there is no quarry so wary, sharp-sighted and keen at smelling the wind as a political demi-mondaine.
In this work Kim was of inestimable value to me. In fact, without him I would not have succeeded at all. All the households kept by the Turkish officials and their favorites swarm with negroes of the various types. A white man has not the slightest chance of finding the way into their confidences. The universal golden key does not unloose tongues in such cases in the Orient. But Kim as a member of the once mighty Zulu nation (he was really a descendant of a prince of the house of Dingnan) was able, through a mysterious free masonry still existing among colored races the world over, to obtain most valuable information.
My method of campaign was to ascertain the name of one of the favorites of the Turkish officials, to locate her residence and then put Kim to work. Finally locating one of these women, I would manage to learn her name and where she lived. Then it was time for Kim.
"Kim," I said, "I want you to find out who comes to see her, whether it is always the same official and if so, how frequently. I want you to learn everything you can about any letters she may receive. I want to know just where she gets her money from, if she has any outside sources of revenue, other than in Constantinople. I want every scrap of any kind of information about her."
And Kim would go his way, seek out the servants in that household and he would generally come back with all this information.
Now I noticed that a certain Mlle. Balniaux was very much in the company of Abdulla, who was at that time the influential adviser of the Grand Vizier. It was known in Berlin that the Grand Vizier had lately become very deaf and antagonistic to German influence. The Wilhelmstrasse knew that France and Russia were at work, but were in the dark as to the channels. Therefore I sent Kim to ascertain if Mlle. Balniaux was visited by Abdulla at her private residence. I told him to learn the exact hour of arrival in each instance and the length of the visits. The bare fact that Abdulla might be seen in her company in public bore no particular significance. These women are always accompanied by a whole retinue of officers and young Turkish noblemen. It is part of their work. Their method of procedure is to bewitch young officers and officials, attach them to their person, make them spend huge sums of money and then play their card. I noticed that the money Turkish officers squandered on these women compared to their pay and income was tremendous. They think nothing of going ahead blindly and buying the most expensive jewels; I have seen them even buy motorcars. The result is not difficult to forecast. The young officer soon finds himself head over heels in debt. Two courses are open to him. Either he must pay the debt or be transferred to some dreary interior post, and a Turk who has been in the gay life of Constantinople would rather commit suicide than go to any inland garrison. Those women then pay the debts, exacting state secrets as the price of their timely assistance.
Abdulla, therefore, might only be one of these hangers-on. Kim established connections with Mlle. Balniaux's household and soon I had the required information. He brought me letters and scraps of paper that Mlle. Balniaux's dark skinned servants had stolen for him. He supplemented this by conversations that the servants had overheard and told to Kim. All this showed me that more by good luck I had stumbled upon the hotbed of the prime mover of the whole intrigue, Mlle. Balniaux. There was not the slightest hope of intimidating or buying over this particular lady's allegiance. I had to learn exactly who was subsidizing her machinations and there was no possibility of obtaining the clew from her.
I must find the accessible person among her intimate friends. From time to time I had seen her with a pretty little dark-haired girl who danced in the Folies Arabic. I learned her name was Cecelia Coursan. I began to frequent the Folies, a kind of cabaret crowded every night with Turkish officers. Admiration was no longer a delight to her and she accepted it with a wooden smile.
The Folies is quite dissimilar from its European or American prototypes, by reason of its Oriental atmosphere. Most of the year round it is conducted in the open. Picture a large court, the center of which is covered with a priceless Smyrna carpet. Seated around on little divans and silk cushions are the principal native performers, Neulah girls wearing the teasing Yamashk, covering half their faces although the rest of their figures are visible through gauzy Damascene shawls. The European performers, dressed in the latest and most startling Paris creations, flirt and flitter among the audience--seated round on dainty marble-topped bamboo tables, inhaling, in the case of Madame, a dainty "Regie," or if Bey or Effendi, a Tshibuk or Narghile, gravely drawing on the amber mouthpiece and slowly exhaling the perfumed smoke. The gorgeous officers' uniforms, mostly a vivid red, blue and gold; the picturesque flowing robes and burnouses, with here and there a six-foot stalwart silk trousered Albanian with gold and silver inlaid daggers and pistols thrust in his sash, make a picture reminding one of the Sheherezade.
Observing that everybody was bent on spoiling this popular little houri by emphatic admiration, I made myself conspicuous by a peculiarly British stony indifference. Nor was I wrong in my tactics. The piqued little dancer was not to be ignored.
One night she approached my table and challenged me in French, at which I gave a noncommittal smile. I pretended that I did not know French. Then she tried indifferent German and I looked at her with puzzled blankness. Finally she spoke to me in a piquant English and I answered. She spoke English extremely well and it developed that she had been a choriphyée at the London Empire. I let the acquaintance grow leisurely. One night I found her in a fit of despondency, over a quarrel with her friend, Mlle. Balniaux. My subterfuge getting effective, I was just beginning to ply her with questions when a Turkish officer full of cognac wandered by and dropped a remark to her in French. It went against the grain for those swine to cast innuendoes to a white woman and forgetting my play acting, I told him his comments were uncalled for and advised him to draw in his horns a bit. After a little bluster to which I angrily replied in French, he disappeared, and, as I sat down at the table, Cecelia was looking at me with a queer smile.
"I thought you did not understand French," she said. "I observe you have a pretty good Parisian accent." Then the full significance of my blunder came to me and I felt like the classic capricornus, meaning goat. She said she was tired of the Folies that night and suggested a drive. I called a careta and as we were driving down the boulevard I said to her:
"Is this existence always pleasant? Is it not as it was with that officer, often unendurable?"
She replied in a bantering tone, only half hiding a hurt undernote.
"I'm getting used to it," she said. "A Turkish pig is no worse than an English cad or a German boor."
The typical, philandering Broadway or Bond Street masher makes the physiological mistake of undervaluing the innate sense of decency inherent in every woman. Gentle courtesy and manners impress a courtesan by reason of the novelty. The inverse is often useful in dealing with a pampered society woman.
Much to the annoyance of the Turkish officers, I often thereafter took the pretty Cecelia away from the Folies, after her performance, for a drive, and I began to compare her small confidences with certain bits of information that Kim had given me. I knew, or I could pretty well guess, that she was not staying in Constantinople, enduring the insults of those Turkish officers, simply for the money she could earn as a dancer. Then I made my second dramatic play for confidence. I suddenly stopped going to the Folies. I suppose it was rather lonesome in Constantinople and a man who was not a Turk was a novelty.
One afternoon she sent for me and I was confronted with a human situation which I must in this narrative of Secret Service operations treat as impersonal though it is full of pathetic implications. I found her with her luggage packed.
"Why haven't you come to the Folies lately?" she demanded with a pretty air of bossing the situation.
I told her my work at the hospital had made heavy inroads upon my time.
"Oh!" she began, tapping a little boot impatiently on the floor; after a pause, "I have to leave for Paris.... Well?"
"That is most unfortunate."
"Is that all?"
"To say anything more would only be painful, Machere Cecelia."
"But there is no need of our being blue. Why not make the occasion a happy one? Why not come along to Paris?"
She looked up at me with an impudent little smile.
"My dear little girl," I said, "I am no man of means and I cannot go gadding about Europe. Besides, I have my work here. I will be busy at the hospital for another month."
That seemed to displease her. She looked at me carefully, unconsciously her manner changed. She became somewhat appraising. It seemed as though a different woman was speaking,
"Franz," she said, "a man like you is wasting his time pottering around a hospital with your evident knowledge of the world and people. With your education and travels you ought to be very valuable to certain men back in Paris."
I felt what was coming, but I asked her to explain. She did so and from her I received a tentative offer to enter the French Secret Service. I had difficulty in mastering the muscles of my face to keep from betraying the laughter that was almost ready to break out. Very gravely I asked her to tell me more about Secret Service. Proudly, Cecelia showed me letters that she had received from Paris. From the addresses and the signatures I thus learned the individuals in direct control of the system that was undermining German influence by using demi-mondaines such as Mlle. Balniaux. I gathered that Cecelia Coursan was only a go-between for Mlle. Balniaux in making her reports to the French government. I asked her some more questions, exclaiming that her proposal interested me tremendously.
I pretended to be particularly anxious as to what pay I would receive were I to come to an understanding with "her friend in Paris." She assured me it was liberal and urged me to hasten to Paris. I told her that as soon as I finished my work at the hospitals I would do so. She then asked me to take charge of her mail and to forward any letters that might come for her. I did--to the Wilhelmstrasse.
That incident is one of those in my Secret Service work of which I am not entirely proud. Of course from my viewpoint Cecelia Coursan was not a woman, she was simply the paid agent of another government and it was a case of her wits against mine; at least with this sophistry I quieted my doubts.
Three years later I found the same little woman in an obscure café in Antwerp. She was no longer in the French Service. I concluded that her blunder in Constantinople had "broken" her, for she seemed to have gone down the ladder. She did not recognize me, but as she seemed to be in straitened circumstances, I found a way to assist her to at least three months' board and lodging by sending her anonymously 500 francs. It was conscience money.
When I had thus located and coupled up the chiefs of the French Secret Service with the situation in Constantinople, I began quietly to cultivate the acquaintance of the average Turkish officer. I had to learn the tendency of their thoughts. I met officers and merchants, administrators and students. From them all I learned that they were sick of the intrigues and wire-pulling of the harems. I learned of the discontent of the Young Turk party. I gathered that the time was ripe for an overturning of the government. In my report I made a correct forecast of the trend of affairs. I drew attention to Enver Bey, who was even then considered clever, even dangerous, by the Grand Vizier. As a most aggressive Young Turk, they had sent him to an obscure post in Thessalonia, but upon sounding out the younger officers I found that he was still regarded highly. Without doubt my reports in addition to the reports made by von der Golz, the accredited German instructor of the Turkish Army, helped to shape the policy of the German Foreign Office. I learned beyond all doubt that the Sultan Abdul Hamid was nothing but a figurehead, that the Grand Vizier, bought by Russian and French gold, was running the government in a way that was antagonistic to German influences and that the swarms of demi-mondaines in French and Russian pay were corrupting the higher Turkish officials to their cause. All these things I included in my report and after four months I was back in Berlin.
To better understand the diplomatic significance of this mission, I shall recast the political situation. The modern German policy in the European Orient, inaugurated by Bismarck as a defense and check against Russia, has always been keen on the friendship and good will of the Turk for reasons which will be obvious enough later. During the Caprivi Chancellorship, the relation between the two empires became rather lax. Wilhelm II with his keen farsightedness set about to remedy this. In his usual spectacular, but in most cases efficient, manner, he went with his royal consort in state to Palestine, calling first on the Sultan. The tremendously enthusiastic reception that the Moslem countries accorded him is a matter of contemporary history. This was really a master stroke of diplomacy although sharply criticised at the time.
Until the Kaiser's visit, France, with more or less right, considered herself protector general of all Mohammedans. From now on this began to change. The immediate result of the Emperor's visit was a close understanding between the Wilhelmstrasse and the Sublime Porte. The buying of vast quantities of guns, ammunition, and the influx of Prussian officers and drilling instructions, besides huge orders of all sorts of German goods was significant.
The always uneasy jealousy of France and Russia was at once aroused, England, in this instance, not taking any decided stand in affairs. England had spent many lives and much money, notably in the Crimean War, to keep Russia out of Turkey and was averse to encouraging Russo-French influences at the Sublime Porte. How far England would like either Germany or France to acquire control of the Dardanelles remains to be seen. With Russia, it has been bloody wars and grim struggles since the days of Catherine, misnamed the Great, to gain control of the Dardanelles. Unceasing intrigues have been and are still going on in Stamboul. Russia's influence has been steadily undermined by Germany, in Turkey and Asia Minor. Since the disastrous campaign against Japan, Russia has made strenuous efforts to recoup her sphere of influence through her coalition of the principal Balkan States. Of this you will learn later.
Germany, always including Austria (the external policy of both countries on all these questions is synonymous), found French-Russian influences at work. Through their marvelous, efficient Intelligence System, Germany soon learned who were the prime movers and puppets; in this instance the Grand Vizier and the Seraglio officers; the then sultan, Abdul Hammid, "The Damned," being completely cowed and under the thumb of his Grand Vizier, could not be relied on for a moment. After my mission they knew in Germany that the time was ripe for a radical change, and they engineered it. Result: A revolution and the Young Turks in power, with Enver Bey, Tuofick Pasha, Ibrahim Mander Bey and similar men, with German training and learning, directing affairs. Germany regained complete sway and is to-day easily the most powerful influence in Turkey. What significance this has on the general bearing of European politics, I shall discuss in a later chapter.
THE GRAND DUKE'S LETTER
After a number of more or less strenuous missions, I felt thoroughly run down. During the Boer War I had been shot through the left lung and now I began to experience trouble. A series of hemorrhages brought about by unchecked cold and exposure, led me to consult Professor Bayer, the noted specialist in Berlin. He advised me to get away from everything for a month at least, recommending the pine ozone.
There is no lack of pine forests in Germany or Norway; and I had plenty of acquaintances in both countries. To any one of them I would have been welcome, but this would have entailed social obligations and I wanted to be absolutely alone. There were but two of my friends at whose places I could do exactly as I wished, where man and beast knew me. One, whose place was in the Pushta, Hungary, was probably away on a hunting trip and Hungary was too remote. The other, a schoolmate of mine, lived near Furstenwalde, about fifty-eight kilometers from Berlin. Furstenwalde, I decided, was an ideal spot, near Berlin, yet isolated enough and in the heart of one of the largest of the well-cared-for Prussian domain forests. So Ehrenkrug, the seat of the Koenigliche Ober Forsterei and the family seat of the Freiherren von Ehrenkrug, was the place I selected.
I had enjoyed three weeks of rest and quietness, doing some desultory fishing and shooting but spending most of my time in a hammock slung under some of the giant Fichten, when my sylvan idyl was disturbed by the red-faced, stub-nosed post boy of the Forsterei.
He brought me a letter from Graf Wedel, an astonishing missive.
I hope your health has improved sufficiently for you to attend to this matter. Be pleased to understand that this is by no means an official command. However, I need not point out to you the advantages, accruing to you through your assistance in the case. The matter briefly is this. I have been approached by the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerein to assist him in the solving of a rather delicate private affair. It is outside the usual routine but we find it advisable to comply. The mission is delicate and leads into England, for which reasons I have decided to let you undertake the affair if willing. In case of acceptance, all necessary leave of absence will be arranged. This is not a command but let me again point out the advisability of your showing compliance.
Three weeks in the pine forests had been better than all the physicians in Berlin. Besides, I was tired of the monotonous country life and was hungry for the fleshpots of Egypt. Between the lines of Wedel's letter I could read the opportunities for earning a handsome fee. I wrote Wedel that I had no objections, providing the mission was something I could accomplish, for I was still in the dark as to its nature. I knew that intruding into the private affairs of ducal and princely houses is often a most unthankful business. I have ever found it more satisfactory and less nerve racking to undertake a mission into some foreign country than to become involved with some petty local affair of royalty. For some such affair I judged to be the dilemma of the house of Mecklenburg-Schwerein.
Within two days there came another communication from Wedel asking me to be at Mecklenburg-Schwerein on a certain immediate day. Taking leave of my friends, and thanking them for their hospitality, I left for Schwerein. Upon my arrival at the seat of the dukedom I was met by a quiet landau of the Grand Ducal stables. Two flunkies in the Grand Duke's livery took my luggage, escorted me to the carriage and I was driven up to the old castle. The landau took me to a side entrance and I was promptly shown into an austere and unpretentious chamber. Scarcely had I entered when a quiet, elderly, benevolent-looking gentleman dressed in a shooting jacket appeared in another doorway, evidently much perturbed. I at once recognized him as the old Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerein. He appraised me for fully a minute; then as if to himself he said:
"You're only a boy, but I suppose they know," shaking his great gray head. "Strange times. Strange times." Then suddenly realizing his inhospitality, he urged me to be seated. "Take a seat, take a seat."
Unlike the gentlemen of the Wilhelmstrasse, he did not plunge immediately into the subject at hand. He began a chat with me about purely personal affairs. Finally the conversation drifting around to the cause of my visit, he said:
"Can you fulfill this mission?"
I told him I could not say until I had learned what it was. I requested that he give me the privilege of refusal should I find myself unable to negotiate it successfully. He agreed that it was fair and when he looked at me again he seemed to suggest that he did not believe me so young after all.
"There's rather an unhappy and most inconvenient entanglement in my household," he began. "My nephew, the young Grand Duke, is tangled up and ensnarled with a certain lady in England whom he wishes to marry. It is unfortunate that she is of too high a social status to be entirely ignored or roughly bought off. Still, she is not eligible for admission into our house. For more than political reasons, it is impossible that she enter into an alliance with us." His eyes flashed. "This lady has lately threatened to make trouble through my persistent refusal to countenance her desired relationship." He frowned. "She has in her possession compromising letters and documents which my nephew was foolish enough to give her. These must be returned to my hands. Monetary questions need not be considered for a moment. Pressure and influence have been tried on both my nephew and the lady. But of no avail. The means I leave to you. But force and publicity must at all cost be avoided. I can give you very little help as to procedure and information. What do you think of the chances?"
It has ever been my way to he conservative in making promises and I said:
"I hope your Highness will pardon me, but I find it often undesirable to voice my thoughts until I have reached a certain stage of my investigations."
This appeared to impress him and he rose saying:
"I am entirely in your hands. Communicate direct with my chamberlain, or if necessary to use cable, I shall arrange with your chief in Berlin for forwarding facilities. Be good enough to wait and I shall send you my secretary." Slapping me on the shoulder, "You'll not regret it, helping us out of this quandary."
Neither did I. The Grand Duke stalked out. A flunky appeared and conducted me to a private little dining-room where cold game and wine were served and at the end of which the secretary came in and handed me an envelope with the Grand Duke's compliments and a request to start at once on my mission. Assuring him I would be on the road that same night, I returned to Berlin. I got Stammer of the Wilhelmstrasse on the telephone and requested a preliminary two months' leave of absence. I then caught the Hook of Holland Express en route for London.
Upon opening the Grand Duke's letter I had found it contained three bank notes of 1000 marks each and a draft for 500 pounds on the English, Scottish and Colonial Bank, with a note saying that any future request would be honored at three days' notice to the same bank. Thus I would have all the money I wanted in London.
On the way over, I followed my usual custom and considered the situation in detail. The lady in question was in society and the first thing to do was to try to get in touch with the little circle or clique in which she moved. This might have been difficult in any other city but London. But a man of appearance, culture and money, setting his stage right, can with tact and persistence force an entry into any clique of London society.
The only thing I had to worry about was a setting of my stage. I was undecided about it. One often has to leave things to circumstances, being guided by any momentary points that may arise. My first task was to create an impression, something that would get people talking about me. I did not want to show any sensational parvenuism; London is not impressed by that.
Rather, I must become known for some eccentricity that would arouse legitimate curiosity. Your Britisher, the women included, are always interested in a man of travel, a hunter, a desultory globe-trotter; and nothing attracts the English mind so quickly as a well-bred eccentricity in manner or habit. The broad lines of my plan determined upon, I left the precise setting of the stage until the last minute.
I quartered myself at first at the Russel Square Hotel, in a few days transferring to the patrician Langham. I began by making tentative inquiries. I purchased all society papers which I read from cover to cover, and then carefully feeling my way put further questions that would locate the set in which my lady was a central figure. From acquaintances I made around the hotel, from the society reporters of newspapers, I began to get little scraps of information. Fortunately it was the season in London and everybody was coming into town. I soon knew who the Lady's intimates were and their favorite rendezvous. The next step was to become familiar with the personality of the lady and to gain some idea as to her habits, her likes and dislikes. I heard that the lady was in the habit of going horseback riding in Hyde Park. Every day I made it my business to take a two-hour canter along the bridle path. My patience was rewarded on the fifth morning, for I saw her galloping by with a party of friends.
The next morning I was on the bridle path at the same hour. Finally she came galloping along with the same group, and after they had almost gone from sight, I galloped after them. I found out where they kept their horses and after they had dismounted I sauntered up to the stable and made inquiries. I learned that they always went out at the same time of day. Thereafter I made it my business to pass the lady on the bridle path day after day. I pride myself on few things, but my horsemanship is one of them. Many a hard tussle and bleeding nose I got riding Brumbies across the wild tracks of Australia. I also learned a trick or two among my Tuareg friends which I exhibited for the lady's benefit on various occasions. I did not hope to gain an introduction, but only to attract attention and familiarize her party with my appearance, applying one of the test points of human psychology. I employed the theory of the subconscious attraction of an often-seen, though unknown face.
I soon ascertained that my lady and her friends followed all the whims of London society. One in particular interested me. They were in the habit of frequenting Carlton Terrace between three and four every afternoon and eating strawberries. I also went to eat strawberries.
Carlton Terrace during the strawberry season is an exquisitely colored fashion plate of life's butterflies and drones. This throng of fashion and beauty, marked with its air of distinction carelessly abandoned to pleasure, ever murmuring pleasant nothings and tossing light persiflage from table to table, is truly an interesting study of the lighter sides of life. One sits on a magnificent markee-covered, glass-enclosed terrace, overlooking the Thames with its ever-changing scenes of fussy tugs and squat barges.
At Carlton Terrace one pays well for the subtleties of eating. By courteous consideration of the waitresses I managed to secure a much-coveted outside corner table, near to the one reserved for the lady and her party. I always made it a point to withhold my entrance until the lady was in the terrace; then I would stroll in alone, take a seat alone, and show a desire to be alone. They have a very clever way of serving strawberries at the Carlton. A vine, growing from ten to twelve large luscious berries is brought on in a silver pot. It is the acme of luxury. You pick the fresh berries from the vine on your table, the Terrace supplies quantities of cream, and you pay half a sovereign--$2.50--for a dish of strawberries. One dish is enough for the average customer. Every afternoon I ordered five!
Day after day I consumed in strawberries two sovereigns and a half--$12.50--of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerein's money. Always tipping the girl a half sovereign which made my daily strawberry bill come up to three sovereigns ($15). For about ten days I did this, always at the same time, always being careful to make my entrance after the lady's party was seated, always ordering the same number of portions, always giving the girl the same tip. It wasn't long before I began to be observed. I soon saw that not only the attendants but the patrons of the Terrace were becoming interested in my foible. One day as I passed I heard someone say:
"Here comes the strawberry fiend."
I was satisfied. I knew it would be easy now to effect an entrance to the lady's set. I had been marked as something out of the usual in the restaurant which from three to four in the afternoon at that time of the year is the most fashionable in London. Now, a woman like my lady does not flirt. If you glance at her under favorable conditions, such as my strawberry "stunt" had created for me, she will return the glance. You both half smile and do not look at each other again that afternoon. That is not flirting. Splitting hairs, we shall call it psychic interest.
I continued my strawberry festival and one day a manager of Carlton Terrace told me that people were making inquiries about me. Several men had wanted to know who I was. Under questioning, he told me that one of the men was a member of the lady's set. It was easy to put together two and two. Obviously the inquiry had been inspired by her.
Meanwhile I had sent several communications to the Grand Duke, insisting that pressure be brought to bear upon his nephew and to keep him away from London; not even permitting him under penalty of stopping his allowance, to write the lady in the case until the Grand Duke gave his permission. By now, London had gradually filled and the season was at its height. I went the rounds of the theaters from Drury Lane to the Empire, and I visited the clubs. I found here men whom I had met previously and presently I rounded up two or three fellows with whom I had been fairly intimate at one time or another on hunting expeditions and at continental watering-places. I made them introduce me to different sets. Dexterous maneuvering obtained me invitations to afternoon teas and at-homes in the same circle frequented by my lady.
I was introduced to her at an afternoon reception. She was a typical outdoor Englishwoman. Not particularly handsome, hut possessing to the full the clearness of skin and eyes and strong virile health, that is the hereditary lien of Albion's daughters. Tall, willowy and strong, of free and independent manners and habits, she was the direct antithesis of the usual German woman. I reasoned that this was probably the reason of the young Duke's infatuation.
"How do you do, you wild Colonial boy. Still as fond of strawberries as ever?"
We both burst out laughing.
"So your ladyship observed and classified my little maneuvers."
"Of course," with a toss of her head.
Unforced and pleasant chatting followed. I could more and more understand the Grand Duke's infatuation; in fact, considered him quite a "deuced, lucky beggar."
From that day on I made it a point to be present whenever she attended public places, such as the theater, concerts or restaurants. Gradually and imperceptibly, by little services here and there, I won her confidence. There was an after-theater supper, in the Indian room of the Windsor, and I was invited. By this time people had come to know something about me. I was a globe-trotter, a man of leisure, interested as a hobby in research work in medicine. I discovered that her affair with the young Grand Duke was a fairly open secret in her set; also, that she was expecting him in London almost daily. Gradually I hinted that I knew the young Grand Duke. As I gained her confidence further, I invented amorous affairs for him and hinted to her about them. In this way I finally managed to induce her to talk. Subtly I instilled a vague resentment against him, which was accentuated by his non-appearance in London society up to now. His Highness having been kept away by his Serene Uncle, the serene one having been cautioned to do so by me.
Two months passed before I was invited to the lady's home in Mayfair and by that time, partly because I pretended to know the young Grand Duke, I was on a more intimate footing. I had learned that she had met him at a hunting party at the Earl of Crewes' shooting box in Shropshire. Later, she intimated that this was but their official meeting and that their acquaintance actually dated from a mountain trip she had taken to Switzerland, the universal playground of royalty traveling incog. I learned too that her heavy bridge gambling had cost her a lot of money.
The information that the lady was in debt did not come easily. To obtain it, I had to work on her maid. Whenever the occasion arose, I made it my business to tip the maid liberally. I contrived to do a number of little things for her. Knowing the lady to be out, I called at the house one day and while pretending to be waiting for my hostess, I put some leading questions to the maid. I learned that her mistress was pressed for money. That was an opening worth working on.
Thereafter I contrived to be present whenever there was a bridge party at the lady's. They are pretty high gamblers, those English society women, and I came to see that the lady was generally a heavy loser. It was my good fortune for her to lose to me one night. Now, it is the custom at these gatherings not to hand over cash; instead, the unlucky one pays with what corresponds to an "on demand note." I took her note that night and with others--the whereabouts of which I learned from the maid and which I indirectly purchased from the holders--I took all these to a notorious money-lender and made a deal with him. He was to take the notes and press the lady for payment, of course keeping my name out of it. It is obvious that, trying as I was to win her confidence, I could not go myself and hold these obligations over her head. That same day the money-lender paid the lady a call. He paid her a good many other calls, harassing her, threatening legal action and driving her until she was almost to a state of nervous collapse. Well-placed sympathies soon made her talk and she burst out pettishly that she was in debt and that most of her acquaintances were in debt--nothing unusual in that set.
This was an opportune chance to be of material benefit to the lady. Seriously we talked over her affairs. I found them pretty well entangled. We discussed the young Grand Duke. I gradually persuaded her that there was no hope of a legitimate marriage with the house of Mecklenburg-Schwerein, but because of her association with the young Grand Duke and the fact that she had been betrothed to him, it was only right that the Duchy provide her with some means of assistance. The ice was perilously thin, for the lady is a high-spirited woman of ideals and I had to be careful to word my language so that it would not appear as though she were blackmailing. In justice to her, I believe that if she had taken that view of it she would have dropped the entire matter, and retired from society for the season rather than go through with my plan. Finally I said:
"Have you any means by which you could compel the ducal house to make adequate acknowledgments and redresses to you?"
After a long hesitation, she jumped up, swept from the room and returned presently with a handful of letters. I saw on some of them the Grand Duke's coat of arms. The young fool had been careless enough for that! She shook the letters in a temper and cried:
"I wonder what Franz's uncle would say to these? Why, I could compel him to marry me."
Here was the chance. The iron--in this case my lady's temper--was hot. I suggested that we sit down and talk it over. As an introductory attack, to create the impression that I knew what I was talking about, I hinted that I was connected with a leading family in Germany and that I was in London incog. I approached the situation from the viewpoint that I was her friend, not a friend of the house of Mecklenburg-Schwerein, but that, by knowing them and their ways, I could be of great assistance to her.
"It is regrettable," I consoled; "but you have no chance for a legitimate, even a morganatic alliance with the young Grand Duke. I consider their entire attitude toward you utterly unfair. In view of your understanding with him, you are most certainly entitled to adequate recompense from his house. If you went into court you could obtain this on grounds of breach of promise, but I can understand your feelings. Such a step would only cast odium upon an old and noble family such as yours."
That seemed to her liking.
"But what can I do?" she said.
"In view of my friendship for you," I told her, "I would consider it an honor if you would permit me to act on your behalf. I think I can negotiate with the young Grand Duke's uncle and I promise that he will regard the matter in a fair light. I appreciate the extreme delicacy of the situation and you must observe the necessity of a man handling this affair."
She shook her head and tapped the letters nervously.
"No. It is intolerable," she said. "Not to be thought of."
I saw that I had to make it stronger. I thereupon invented the most ingenious lies it has ever been given me to tell. In about five minutes I had painted the young Grand Duke in such colors that the adventures of Don Juan were saintly compared to the escapades of his ducal highness.
"Why, consider it yourself," I said. "He was to be over here with you during the season. He has not come. You told me yourself that he has not even answered your letters. Well, that's all there is to it. Your ladyship, he and his house deserve any punishment that you can visit upon them."
The idea of punishment appealed where the other had failed. The outraged pride of woman, especially an Englishwoman, is a terrible thing. Soon after that I made haste to take my leave. At my quarters I wrote two letters to myself and signed the Grand Duke's name to them. In these I offered to pay her ladyship's debts. They were addressed to me and after allowing a reasonable time to elapse, I again went out to Mayfair and read them to her. She was now cold and hard and gave me full permission to go ahead and make any arrangements I deemed advisable. I thereupon went to the Grand Duke's bank in London and notified them that I must have 15,000 pounds ($75,000). In four days I had the money. The rest of the transaction was commonplace. She handed over all the letters and documents and I gave her the 15,000 pounds. I know to-day that her ladyship travels extensively in a very comfortable manner on the yearly appanage allowed her by the old Grand Duke. I do not know whether she still goes to Carlton Terrace to eat strawberries, but I flatter myself that her present good fortune is partially due to the fact that she once went there.
At the time of closing our little transaction, she took the precaution to protect adequately and seal all letters and documents from my perusal. Of course that was a disappointment. I put the packet away carefully, closed up my affairs in London and went back to Germany, going direct to Mecklenburg-Schwerein where I delivered the package to the old Grand Duke in person. He seized it eagerly and opened it in my presence. I noticed as he ran through the letters that he did not stop even to glance at them. He did, however, stop and pick out from the pile an official looking document, at the sight of which a tremendous sigh of relief seemed to escape him. The document had a decidedly close resemblance to a marriage license as issued in Switzerland. Of course I only got a fleeting, cursory glance at it, but the eagerness of the Grand Duke in pouncing upon that one document and ignoring the letters, and hints previously dropped by her ladyship, embellished by rumors I later heard in Switzerland, all leave very little doubt in my mind that a clandestine marriage did actually take place between this lady of the English nobility and the young Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerein.
His Royal Highness must have been satisfied, for besides a fee of 5000 marks, I received a few days later through Wedel a diamond pin and a magnificent gold watch and chain inscribed with the Grand Ducal arms of Mecklenburg-Schwerein inscribed:
"For services performed faithfully to my house."
THE INTRIGUE AT MONTE CARLO
Back in Berlin from a mission to Vienna, my dispatches delivered, once more comfortably ensconced in my quarters, on the Mittelstrasse, I was looking forward to an evening at the Pavilion Mascotte. I was just getting into my dinner coat when my man bowed an orderly through the door and at once all my plans took swift flight out the window. The orderly brought a command for my immediate attendance at the Wilhelmstrasse. Now the gentlemen of the Wilhelmstrasse are never kept waiting and do not accept excuses. Within twenty minutes I was shown into the chambers of Count von Wedel; in thirty minutes I was out again, having complete orders. They know what they want at the Wilhelmstrasse and they generally get it.
As I hurried back to my rooms I went over what von Wedel had said:
"You are to be ready to take the midnight express to Monte Carlo. You will there keep watch on and report any possible meeting between the Russian, French and English ministers, at present traveling about the Riviera. You will have the assistance, if necessary, of the Countess Chechany. If you need her, send her this card" (he had given me the card with his signature across it, a reproduction of which is presented on this page)." If meetings or conferences take place, you must obtain the tenor thereof. Here is an order for your primary expenses." He had flicked an order for 3000 marks, about $750, across his desk. "Anything you wish elucidated?"
|For secret purposes Count Wedell signs himself Udo, and Wedell, in case an agent is captured with a card on him.|
|The back of Wedell's card.|
Not having met the Countess, I had requested her description. Pushing a button, Count von Wedel had given the answering secretary an order; within three minutes I was shown the photograph of the lady and her signature, of which I took a copy. Having no further requests I had bowed myself out.
My first act was to cash the order; second to decide and prepare the character I wished to assume in Monte Carlo. I decided on a South African mine owner. I know considerable about mining, and being well acquainted with South Africa, the Rand and Transvaal, I had the advantage of knowing my locality first. A Secret Service agent is always careful to choose a character with which he is fully familiar. One is certain to meet, sooner or later, men in the same walk of life; and unless one be well primed, one is bound to be "bowled out." I knew there would be South African mining men at Monte Carlo.
Procuring necessary papers, such as mining journals, quotations, a couple of South African newspapers and photographs, I went home and had my man carefully select and pack my wardrobe. I caught the midnight Lloyd Express. Selecting a pleasant middle compartment, and getting my seat registered, I made myself comfortable and began to map out a campaign. This was rather a tough problem. To be in the slightest degree successful, I had to get near, and if possible in touch with the ministers that Count von Wedel had designated. How is this to be done? I knew it was far from easy, almost impossible, to make their casual acquaintance.
I began to cast the personality of the three men over in my mind. There was Prince Kassimir Galitzin, at that time high in the favor of the Czar. There were Delcasse of France and Sir Edward Grey of England. All three were gyrating about the Riviera and the Savoy--ostensibly it was for their health, possibly for other reasons. In any case the health of these gentlemen seemed a matter of some concern to the German emperor. Health trips of more than one statesman in or about the same locality are looked upon with much suspicion and promptly investigated; more so when there is any extra political tension. At that time--it was in 1910--the air was tense, Germany was in the dark, unable to distinguish friend or foe.
Sir Edward Grey's habits were unknown to me. With Delcasse's I was somewhat familiar. Prince Galitzin--ah, yes! I knew him pretty well, bon vivaint, extremely fond of a pretty face. Um! I began to see light. Here is where the Countess might come in. By her photograph, an extremely beautiful woman; but photographs often flatter and do not give an indication as to personality. Festina lente. I could see.
Five forty-five the next afternoon and I was installed at the Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo. After a refreshing bath, I had supper served in my room, and sent for the hotel courier--this an old globe-trotter trick. Hotel couriers or dragomen are walking encylopædias. They are good linguists, observant and shrewd. They are masters of the art of finding out things they should not know, and past grand masters in keeping their mouths shut unless you know how to open them. Not with palm oil. Oh, no, nothing so crude! You would never get any truths or anything worth while, with bribery.
I had to find out local intrigues and gossips, who was in Monte Carlo and what was doing, who were the leading demi-mondaines and gamblers? Were there any possible Secret Service men? Hence the courier, a Swiss from Ober Arau, a district of Switzerland, I luckily knew well. When he knocked at the door, I cheerily bade him come in. I made my manner as good natured as possible. I offered him a real Medijeh cigarette. As befitting his station, he was slipping the cigarette in his pocket.
"Oh, no!" I said. "Light it, won't you? Have a little smoke with me here. I'm a bit lonesome. I want to get my bearings. Won't you join me in a glass of wine?"
That was my first oar in. After some commonplace conversation, as to how the season was, I asked:
"Anybody of interest here?"
I winked knowingly. Possibly it pleased the courier to have someone to chuckle over a secret. All my oars were in.
"At the Grand Hotel de Londres," he said slyly, "there is a gentleman who does not fool me."
I offered him another cigarette, helped him to another glass of wine.
"He is registered there as Count Techlow, but he can't fool me. He is the Prince Galitzin."
"What's he doing; gambling a lot?" (I knew he wasn't.)
"No," replied the courier, "he's keeping pretty quiet."
"Is there a Countess Techlow?"
The courier shook his head. Buenno! The coast seemed clear. I knew it was extremely awkward and often dangerous to tempt the quarry away from a demi-mondaine, especially at Monte Carlo. After chatting some more I bid the courier good night. I would see the Countess the first thing in the morning.
Along toward noon I called at the Nouvel Hotel Louvre where von Wedel had told me I would find Countess Chechany. I sent in my own card bearing the name of H. Van Huit, Doorn Kloof, Transvaal (the reader will recall my experience at Doorn Kloof); also von Wedel's card with his signature.
I had to wait for some time, but finally the Countess received me in her boudoir. She was in bewitching negligée. From the photograph I was prepared to find a very handsome woman, but shades of Helen! This was Venus, Juno and Minerva--the whole Greek and any other goddesses rolled into one! Tall and willowy, superb of figure, great dark-blue eyes, masses of blue-black wavy hair, full red lips forming a perfect Cupid's bow. But why go on--I might get too enthusiastic, and mislead the reader. After my adventure I never saw the Countess again.
I knew that by birth the Countess Chechany was a high Hungarian noblewoman. By marriage she was related to the Counts of Tolna Festetics, a leading house in Hungary. Also, she was one of those marvelously beautiful women peculiar to that country. Waving a small jeweled hand, she begged me to take a chair beside her. A cigarette was daintily poised in her fingers.
"Be seated, Mr. Van Huit of Transvaal," gazing at me with a roguish grin.
We both burst out laughing. Of course she knew what I was. Von Wedel's card showed her that. But, as her next words plainly showed, she knew a great deal more.
"I've got a badly sprained ankle, Doctor. Can you do anything for me?"
I must have shown a pretty stupid face, for she laughed amusedly again. I certainly was surprised, for up to now I had never met her, and my being a doctor was known only to one or two persons in the Service. Besides, it is strictly a rule of the Imperial Secret Service never to discuss or divulge personal matters. Her attitude by no means pleased me. I cordially hate anyone, especially women, knowing more than I do. One never knows where one is standing in a case like this. I decided not to show my curiosity, but I was determined to learn how she knew about me. Coolly I said:
"Well, Countess, you have somewhat of an advantage. But if I can be of any assistance to you, pray command me."
As answer, she sprang up, and pirouetting around the room, exclaimed:
"Now, why be peevish. If you're good and nice, I shall tell you sometime all about it."
She never did, for with all her ingenuous mannerisms, my lady was about the deepest and least fathomable bit of femininity I have ever met--besides being the possessor of a devil of a temper. After some more banter, which I instigated to become somewhat acquainted with my prospective partner, I came to business.
"Do you know, Countess, the object of my mission?"
"Nothing beyond the intimation of your coming and the command to coöperate with you if necessary. So you had better enlighten me, mon chère."
I did so with some reservation, it being my habit not to let anyone into a thing too much, least of all a woman. I suggested that our first object was to make Prince Galitzin's acquaintance. As his Serene Highness resided at the Hotel de Londres, we agreed to dine there. After accepting a dainty cup of chocolate I departed, purposely returning home by way of the Londres. Here, with a little diplomacy, I managed to reserve for dinner the table I wanted, one next to the Prince. Well pleased, I later dressed, armed myself with a bouquet of La France roses, and called on my partner.
I had the roses sent up and waited. The Countess sent word that she would be down shortly. I smoked three cigarettes. Still no Countess. I have yet to meet a woman who could or would be punctual. Finally I heard the soft swish and frou-frou of silk garments and looking up saw her ladyship coming down the grand stairway. She was brilliantly robed, jewels flashed at her neck and wrists. She was of that type of beauty difficult to classify, although assured of approval in any quarter of the world.
"Tired of waiting, mon ami?" tapping me playfully on the arm. "See, in return for your patience I am wearing your roses."
She had them pinned on her corsage. We entered our carriage and drove to the Hotel de Londres, discussing the parts we were going to play. Would the Russian Bear be caught? I wondered. When we arrived, I saw that the hotel was pretty well filled. Everybody who was anybody seemed to be there. I noticed a number of prominent American society ladies. Experience has taught me that there are three places where you meet sooner or later every known person in the world,--Piccadilly Circus, the terrace of Shephard's Hotel, Cairo, and Monte Carlo.
Remembering our diplomatic conversation of the afternoon, the maître d'hôtel came rushing forward and with profound bows directed us to our table, which was tastefully decorated with La France roses, the Countess' favorites (charged to expenses). As we walked slowly down the passage to our table, many eyes were turned toward us. The Countess appeared unconscious of it all. Lazily, half insolently observant, yet wholly unconcerned, she was without doubt the most strikingly beautiful woman in the assembly; this, though the society of the world seemed to fill the Londres that night. Poor Galitzin!
As we seated ourselves, a hush fell about the immediate table to our right and left. It was followed by a low buzzing of curious or interested, wise or ignorant, human bees. On our right I saw the Prince Galitzin. From the moment of our entrance he had kept looking at the Countess. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, and abruptly he changed seats with one of the gentlemen at his table. Obviously his view of the Countess' face was not at the angle he wished. Screwing his monocle in his eye, he began to stare pretty consistently.
Of course this delighted me. The avidity with which his Serene Highness was swallowing the bait promised much. I thought it advisable, however, to create a little diversion, something that would drive away a possible suspicion that this was a "plant." It was perfectly obvious to all that the Prince was becoming fascinated. Also, he was losing his head, for he was showing his fascination in a rather rude manner. His staring began to attract some attention.
That was the opportunity I was looking for. Calling the maître d'hôtel, I requested him, pitching my voice so that it would be easily audible at the surrounding tables:
"Persuade the gentleman on our right to discontinue his annoying stare."
I saw that the Prince had heard my request. Flushing deeply red, he abruptly rose and with a bow to the Countess went out of the room. It was as I wished.
We finished our exquisite and excellently well-served dinner, and went out to the Terrace Gardens to have our café Turc and cigarettes. This, to my mind, is the most enjoyable hour of the day, especially in a place like Monte Carlo, well groomed, well fed, surrounded by an ever-varying throng of interesting people, beautiful scenery, exquisite music, the ideal dolce far niente.
Slowly inhaling the smoke of my excellent Medijeh, I fell into a sort of contemplative reverie while waiting for the Prince. I knew he would come. Back and forth in front of me wandered humanity, all grades and shades. Here a prince, scion of a noble house, there a parvenu, fresh from his latest stock-jobbing victory. Here a mondaine, a demi-mondaine with a reputation in half a dozen countries. Here a group of famous lights of the stage, there a couple of eminent statesmen. Truly, a cosmopolitan crowd. What if the antecedents of some of the pleasure seekers here were known? I recognized many and it being my business to know such things, their stories came back to me magically. Skeletons at the feast? Oh, yes, grewsome ones, too. Just as well, an all-wise Providence has ordained our inability to see behind the veil. I knew that the woman opposite me could no more afford to lift her veil than I could mine.
Then one of the gentlemen from the Prince's table came up and addressed me. First, however, he handed me a card, which I saw bore the name of Prince Kassimir Vladimir Galitzin.
"Monsieur," said the Prince's companion, "I'm deputed by the Prince to convey his regrets, should he have caused Madame or you any annoyance. The Prince begs permission to make his apology to Madame in person."
I replied in words to the effect that Madame being a free agent and only an acquaintance of mine, must decide this for herself.
"Personally," I added, "I have no objection."
The Countess simply nodded. The Prince's envoy bowed and went away.
He returned in a few minutes with the Prince. Mutual introductions, general chatting, the Prince confining himself exclusively to the Countess. About half an hour's talk, refreshments, and there came an arrangement for luncheon the next day at which the Countess and myself were invited to be the guests of the Prince.
The luncheon was duly gives at the Hotel Londres and the Prince was a princely host. Having been invited, I had to attend. There was a theater party that evening however, to which I was not invited, and supper after, to which I was not invited. Indeed, when I met the Prince Galitzin on the grand promenade the next day, he gave me a very princely stare and kept on walking. All of which suited me perfectly well. He was in the hands of the Countess.
From afar I watched him become daily more infatuated. They were constantly driving and attending theaters together. The Prince was showering valuable presents right and left. In the midst of this, I received information that Delcasse had arrived at Nizza. The Countess had her eyes on the Prince, so this left me free to take care of Delcasse. My work was now to learn if the French minister held any meetings with Sir Edward Grey or Winston Churchill, ministers from England, who were shortly expected also to arrive at Nizza. Subsequently I guessed there would be a final meeting with the Prince. I continually and unobtrusively followed Delcasse everywhere, but nothing eventuated owing to unforeseen circumstances in the House of Commons, and the Cabinet of England, Sir Edward and Churchill were unable to take their "vacation trips" in person. So they sent an emissary with important documents to Delcasse, one of which came to light in his subsequent meeting with Prince Galitzin.
On the night of the ninth of November I received a wire from the Countess. It was delivered at the Hotel Anglais, Nizza. Opening it, I read:
"Return. De Camp here. Meeting our friend."
Of course by De Camp she meant Delcasse. Clearly he had slipped away from me. "Our friend" referred to the Prince. This was news indeed! Hiring an automobile I made record time for Monte Carlo. I arrived at my hotel about three o'clock in the morning of the tenth and found awaiting me in my room, the Countess' maid. She delivered part of an important conversation which had taken place between Delcasse and the Prince, and of which I shall presently give the substance and its explanation. Instructing the maid to inform her mistress that I wished to see her at ten A. M. at the Casino, in the Salle des Estranger, I dismissed her. I chose the Salle des Estranger because it was the most frequented and for that reason the least suspicious meeting place.
We met as appointed and the Countess confirmed the maid's report. For about three hours on the evening of the ninth, Delcasse, of France, and Prince Galitzin of Russia were in conference in the Prince's chamber at the Hotel de Londres. Having changed her hotel and being in a chamber adjoining the Prince's, the Countess had managed to overhear most of this conversation. In her report there were naturally some blanks. She had not been able to hear every word uttered. But the purport and trend showed me it was of tremendous importance.
It was evidently an arrangement between France and Russia, with the understanding of England, to force Germany into an abject isolation. Going further, they were trying through a closer alliance of these three great powers to curtail the activities of German expansion and completely coup her up diplomatically. The Countess told me that Prince Galitzin and Delcasse were going to meet again that same afternoon about five o'clock. As it was absolutely imperative to obtain knowledge of the rest of the conversation I enjoined the Countess to exert all her skill to secure the details at this most important interview, and to meet me once more in a corner of the Salle des Estrangers, this time at seven o'clock.
I returned to my hotel, settled my bill and had my grip taken over to the railway station; I got a ticket for Milan. It is always advisable to lay your plans carefully for a possibly very hurried exit, the nearest friendly border in this instance being Italy. In the event of trouble arising, hurrying through France would have been out of the question. Switzerland is an independent country which would have held me up officially on being requested to do so, although they do not extradite for political offenses, but being held up is bad enough. But once across the Italian border, I was safe enough. A semi-official hint from the Wilhelmstrasse to the Quirinal would always procure an open sesame for me--no danger of being held up there. Hence the ticket for Milan.
The intervening hours I spent on the outskirts of Monte Carlo, dropping into many a quaint little wine cellar. At dusk I entered the Salle des Estrangers of the Casino and settling myself comfortably in the appointed corner, awaited developments. It was a trying wait. I sat there from seven to ten-thirty, smoking incessantly. I was just finishing my last cigarette and I had about come to the end of my resources in entertaining myself. One has ample time to conjecture all sorts of possible mishaps, and mishaps are deucedly uncomfortable in this sort of work.
Not to create curiosity or suspicion, by my long occupation of this particular corner, I had started a tremendous flirtation with a rather plain, rather rotund lady of the English Cook's Tour type. Her return glances and smiles attracted the amused attention of most of the passers-by, especially the attendant of that part of the Salle. This was rather good, for if one does not gamble or flirt in the Casino he is regarded by the commissaires as a Chevalier d'Industrie, in other words "confidence man."
Just then I saw the Countess' maid making a signal to me from the entrance door and without as much as by your leave I hurried after her. In about ten strides, I overtook the girl.
"Have you got anything for me?"
"No, sir," she replied. "But her Ladyship wishes to meet you. You are pleased to make a rendezvous."
This was clever and suited me; knowing that she must have procured something of importance, I selected a little café, the Boulanger, close to the station, and after giving the girl a louis, I jumped into a carriage and drove there. In a short time I was joined by the Countess who had thrown a hooded mantle over a brilliant evening gown. Quietly slipping into a chair next to me she took some folded papers out of her glove, and while fastening a little rosebud into my lapel slipped them into my pockets with the words:
"All I could obtain, but you'll find it sufficient. I'm leaving for Rome to-morrow night. Bon voyage!"
I looked at my watch and saw I had time to catch the train for Milan. No sooner was I locked in my coupé and the train in motion, when I had a good look at the papers. They were two half sheets of note paper, embossed with the princely coat of arms and containing abbreviated sentences of dates, and names and a route, all in the handwriting of Delcasse and the Prince. The whole gist with her repeated, overheard snatches of conversation showed clearly an intended secret visit of the President of France to the Czar of Russia, the names of the officials to be present and the meeting place, the Czar's yacht, the Staandart, off Kronstadt. This meeting, however, did not take place, the Kaiser forestalling it by his quick action on the Moroccan situation.
From Milan I went to Berlin and within forty-eight hours the documents were delivered into the hands of Count von Wedel, and then into the hands of the Emperor. Their significance was this:
The Moroccan trouble was very ominous. Germany was in a position where, sooner or later, she would be forced to act. Before this mission the Kaiser was in the dark. France, Russia and England did not have their cards on the table. He did not know which countries would remain neutral in case of war with France. He had suspected that there was some sort of an understanding brewing against him. The results of my mission--learning of Sir Edward Grey's message to Delcasse, Delcasse's meeting with Prince Galitzin of Russia--confirmed this beyond all doubt.
But how strong was this alliance? How close would England stick to France? This he did not know. He only knew that there was a sort of an agreement, and to find out just how strong was the bond between England and France, he used a master stroke of diplomacy. He brought the Moroccan question to a crisis, long before it was anticipated; he sent the warship Panther into Agadir Harbor and forced England and France to show their hands. How close war was averted, only four persons knew at that time--the Captain of the Panther, von Wedel, the Kaiser and myself. And how Europe just missed being plunged into a tremendous war I shall tell of in my secret mission that nipped war in the bud.
I came near forgetting. For his discretion at Monte Carlo, the Czar rewarded Prince Galitzin by transferring him to a province in Siberia.
THE KAISER PREVENTS A WAR
It was Kaiser weather in Germany. Back from a five months' trip to the Far East, Berlin seemed to me like Heaven. I had finished a secret diplomatic mission for the Kaiser and as a result my pocketbook was full. Days and days in the Orient make a man try to crowd into the first twenty-four hours home, all the enjoyments that his city offers. Accordingly, with money running through my fingers like sand, I planned a long ride in the Grunewald; I saw myself ordering the few special dishes one gets at Kempinsky's; I would buy a good seat at the Metropole and to wind up I would look in at the Admiral's Palace when the performers were mingling in the audience. It being my first day back in Berlin, that programme appealed to me a lot more than did the European diplomatic tangle. I had been idling the early afternoon hours at the Café Bauer, Unter den Linden, but my programme for the rest of the day finally chosen, I got up, paid my bill and strolled home.
My boy Kim must have been on the lookout for me; before I could use my key the door flew open.
"Master!" he exclaimed in his heavy, jerky voice. "You are wanted on the telephone."
I had an uneasy suspicion of what that meant, which was confirmed when my boy added, "Number A 11 wants you."
Bismillah! That settled it! That ended my Grunewald, Kempinsky's, the Metropole, the Admiral's Palace. It meant the highway away. It always means that when a man of my position is in Berlin and somebody says to call up that number, A 11. Whenever A 11 summons it is wise to be prompt. It is the number of the Wilhelmstrasse, the foreign office of Germany.
I lost no time in getting a connection and I was told to report at the Wilhelmstrasse at 10.30 that night. I was to hold myself ready for instant service. I must come prepared possibly for a long journey.
I gave orders for my boy to have me dressed by ten o'clock. I decided to take a nap, for I knew that midnight interviews with the gentleman at the Wilhelmstrasse often led to some mighty unexpected and protracted traveling. Before going to sleep, however, I went over the European situation. What had loomed big? I hoped it was something big, for while a Secret Service agent doesn't get blasé, he likes to work when thrones or the boundaries of empires are involved.
I reflected that June--it was in 1911--had been a decidedly strenuous month for more than one cabinet in Europe. Germany and France were snapping and snarling. France was going around with its chest stuck out; its attitude decidedly belligerent. Of course, this cockiness was due to the fat fingers of honest John Bull; indeed, England had more than ten fingers in this pie that was baking. I knew that the air was full of Morocco and war talk. I knew that there was a certain faction in Germany that was trying to push the Kaiser into a war. This clique, composed of army and navy men and the junker, the "Jingo" party, the big gun interests, backed by public opinion, were trying their utmost to urge war with France. What was the latest at the Wilhelmstrasse?
On the stroke of 10.30 I was there. I handed my number to the commissaire. This number is important. All German secret agents are known by number, all carry little cards and a photograph of mine is published between these covers.
Presently the commissaire returned and showed me into the chambers of Graf von Wedel, Privy Councilor to the German Emperor. With another man in evening dress, I was told to wait in an antechamber. We bowed, and although we took pretty good stock of each other, neither spoke. It is an unwritten law not to hold unnecessary conversation in the Imperial Secret Service. After about half an hour's wait, we were shown into the Count's private room. This rather astonished me, for the usual rule at the Wilhelmstrasse is to interview only one man at a time. Clearly something out of the ordinary was in the air. After the Count greeted us, he inquired if we were known to each other. Receiving a negative, he introduced us. My companion was a Herr von Senden, ex-officer of the Zweite Gaarde Dragona.
"You will both be taken at half-past eleven to a certain room," said the Count. "You will advance to the middle, wheel to your right, face the portière and stand at attention. You will answer all questions, but make no comments or queries yourself. I need not enjoin you to total silence. You understand?"
We bowed. Just then a gong boomed somewhere below us. A last word from the Count, "Be ready!" He left us. Reappearing almost immediately, he beckoned us to follow him. We noticed that he seemed even more grave than usual. Down a flight of stairs along a great corridor we made our way, no one speaking a word. At the end of the corridor we saw two sentries; then, a big solid oak door, guarded by an attendant in the livery of the Royal Household. At a sign from the Count we halted; he knocked. The door was opened by an officer of the Erste Gaarde du Corps and, remembering our instructions, we entered and came to attention in the middle of a large room, facing an adjoining chamber, the portières to which were divided. The room in which we stood was brilliantly lighted, but the other was dark, save for a green glow that came from a shaded reading lamp on a big writing desk. Senden looked at the desk and gave a sort of gasp.
Then I quite understood his emotion. For seated behind that heavy, old-fashioned desk, was Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany.
We stood at a rigid attention, absolutely silent, for full five minutes. The dimly lit, solitary figure at the desk made no sign but went on writing. I am not a timid or a nervous man, the sort of work I was doing seasons one pretty thoroughly. But this began to get on my nerves. Drawn up in front of the Emperor and waiting, waiting. Contact with the great ones of the earth, especially through Secret Service, can take some almighty queer turns and a short circuit is confoundedly unhealthy for the negative wire. The more I looked at that silent, lonely figure, War Lord of Europe, the more I began to feel a great big longing for the African Veldt, a thousand miles north of Port Natal, preferably.
Suddenly the Emperor made a move, and there came a sharp, rather high pitched voice, saying, "Wedel, I will see the doctor."
At once Herr Senden was shown from the room; obviously the mission, whatever it was, was not for him. I never saw him again.
I was bidden to step to within three paces of the Emperor; the officer who escorted Herr von Senden from the room attempted to return, but was waved out. There were just the three of us: Count Wedel, standing at the corner of the desk on the right, the Kaiser and myself. I had seen the Emperor on many occasions, but never so close before. He appeared to be lost in some document. He looked well but older than any of his portraits. Tanned, almost dark, his rather lean face bore a striking likeness to Frederick the Great; more so than ever, for he is getting gray. I realized that none of his portraits do his eyes justice. Of a bluish-steel gray, they have an icy, impersonal, weighing look in them. It is hard to define. It struck me in that moment that Lord Kitchener, Teufick Pasha, Cecil Rhodes, and Li Hung Chang had exactly those same eyes--the eyes of men who feel it in them to master the world.
Presently His Majesty looked up, and in that same, rather shrill voice, asked:
"How long are you in the Service?"
"Three years, sir."
"You know Morocco?"
Morocco! So that was it. France and Germany quarreling over the bone, at the point of war! I replied:
"How long were you in Morocco?" continued the Emperor.
"About twelve months, sir."
On this he seemed to hesitate. Frankly, I was nervous, so instead of thinking about Morocco, I noticed that the Kaiser wore the undress uniform of a Colonel of the Grenadier Guard with the star of the Order Pour le Merite, dangling from his coat button. As if making up his mind, he turned again on me those gray eyes.
"You know Kaid MacLean?"
"How did you get to know him?"
"I happened to be of assistance to Sir Harry Kaid MacLean who was at that time Commander-in-Chief and Man-of-Affairs to the Sultan of Morocco."
My answer seemed to please the Emperor, for his eyes gleamed.
"Any likelihood of his remembering your services?"
I hesitated, then said:
"I cannot vouch for another man's memory, sire. Besides, I do not care to put the Kaid to the test."
The Emperor looked at me queerly, but, evidently satisfied with my answer, he turned to Count Wedel, saying:
"He will do. Have the dispatches ready."
At once the Count hurried noiselessly into an adjoining room. The Kaiser, making one of his characteristic sudden movements, flung himself back into the chair, looked steadily at me, and added:
"Besides the official dispatches you will memorize these commands, for the Captain of the warship Panther." He handed me a note, which I did not immediately look at, for he continued: "Outside of Count Wedel, no one is to know anything of your mission. No one is to know that you are carrying a verbal message from me to the Captain of the warship Panther. Understand?"
The Emperor as abruptly drew himself forward, and propping his head with his hands, fell into a deep study, gazing fixedly at nothing. He seemed in that moment to be considerably older. His face, even for the tan, had that grayish look of a man who is carrying some tremendous responsibility. It came to me swiftly, the popular clamor for war, Panther!--the Panther was lying off Spain ready to steam across the Mediterranean to Morocco. And I was to bear secret orders from the Emperor to the Panther's captain.
Then I opened the note that the Emperor had given me, and began to memorize its contents. Amazement must have shown on my face. A blow with a feather would have knocked me down. So wonder Wilhelm II was staring blankly, no wonder this message had to be delivered verbally. Hurriedly I began to memorize it. Presently, I saw Count Wedel come in and he and the Kaiser began to talk in whispers. Then Wilhelm looked up and said:
"Have you memorized it?"
"Yes, sir!" Taking the note from me, he at once struck a match and held it under the paper until it was reduced to ashes. Then making a curt gesture of dismissal, Wedel gave me a signal to retire and we backed toward the door. I was in possession of a secret known only to the Emperor himself and which at that moment the cabinets of France and England and the financiers of the world would have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to possess. Out into the hall we backed, always being careful never to commit the discourtesy of turning our faces away from the Emperor, and the last I saw of him, was that lonely figure seated at his desk, the greenish light playing over him, around and beyond him darkness and his face illuminated against that background, grayish, old. There he was, at his desk at midnight, in an underground chamber of the Foreign Office, the Emperor of Germany, working in solitude, while most of his subjects slept, tirelessly mapping out a policy the trend of which he dared discuss with no man save Wedel and possibly his oldest son.
Bowing, we were out in the hall; the big oaken door closed. Wedel led the way to his private chamber. He produced a package of sealed papers and handing it to me, said:
"Doctor, this is a most important affair. There is a most serious trouble brewing somewhere--trouble about war. We have our suspicions as to what power is behind all this and we are going to find out. You are well enough acquainted with the situation to require no further illustration. You know how here at home they are also trying to force the Emperor into a war--You will leave this package at the Embassy in Paris. It must be there at the Rue de Lille to-morrow noon. To do so you will have to catch the Orient Express at half-past three this morning. At the Paris legation you will receive another package which you will take on to Madrid. After delivering this, you have carte blanche to make your way to the Panther, which you will find off Barcelona. Also, you will visit Gibraltar and inform yourself of the strength and state of preparation of the British Naval Squadron there." He paused. "This time you will not apply at the cashier's desk. Your expenses are borne this time out of the Emperor's private chatulle. In a few hours time I will have French and Spanish money ready for you and send it to your lodgings. You thoroughly understand your instructions? Of course, you have not forgotten the message that you memorized before the Emperor?"
I assured him I had not and after a cordial handshake I bowed myself out and hurried back to my quarters. Here I found that my boy had my traveling bag ready with his usual completeness. One does not take much baggage on these trips. Pajamas, slippers, smoking cap, tooth brush, have seen me three-quarters around the globe, and I never carried a six-shooter in my life. In all my experience I have seen few secret agents who do carry it. The only protective article I ever carried was a little silk bag containing a mixture of cayenne pepper, snuff and certain chemicals. It is very effective to throw into the faces of those who attack you.
Soon there came a messenger from Wedel with the promised funds, a thousand francs and two thousand pesos. It lacked a half hour to three-thirty, so I made my way to the Friedrichstrasse depot on foot. Experience has taught me that the Orient Express is generally overcrowded and that unless one reaches the depot early and uses a good deal of palm oil, it is impossible to secure a decent seat. A judicious oiling of palms enabled me to get a very pleasant window seat in the middle compartment. After making myself at home I took a tour through the train. It is my invariable custom to take stock of my fellow travelers and in this case it was most imperative.
Nothing happened until we pulled in at Frankfort-on-the-Main, the second last stop for the express in Germany. Glancing out of the window I saw a party of three entering the carriage. They selected the compartment next to mine. Obviously they were traveling together, equally obvious was it that there was plenty of room in their own compartment. The train was hardly in motion, however, when the woman of the party entered my compartment. She started to complain about being annoyed by the man next door and to ask my protection. As a matter of course, I got up and offered my assistance to remove her belongings into my compartment. I had, up to now, not the slightest doubt as to there being anything fishy in her request. I had, in fact, no reason to be apprehensive of any interference, because only two people besides myself--Wedel and the Emperor--knew my mission. Of course, there were others who would have given anything to know of it, who would have done anything to prevent my reaching my destination.
I had hardly entered the compartment and tried to remove the traveling bag indicated by the lady as hers, when one of the men exclaimed:
"How dare you remove my wife's property?"
The lady in question stood in the corridor of the carriage. I had my back to her but I could see her by means of the looking-glass with which the sides of the compartment were framed. I noticed her make a sign to the man. Of course, this put a different light on the affair. It was preconceived. For the life of me, though, I could not see how they could use the situation to advantage.
Presently I was enlightened. When the conductor came along, the "husband" coolly requested my detention on grounds of interference with his wife's luggage. He was stanchly supported by the other man and by the lady who had come to me for assistance. I attempted to explain, but it didn't go down with the conductor. Pending our arrival at Cologne, he locked me up in my compartment and leaving me, said that he intended to hand me over to the station master here.
I had time to ponder over my situation. I was thoroughly angry, chiefly with myself. Here I was, an old, and presumably experienced, secret agent and I was caught by a simple device. But the simplicity got me! When one is prepared for elaborate schemes, the simplest trick lands one high and dry. Still I could see no daylight. They could not hope to keep me on this preposterous charge. A single wire to Berlin would settle the matter, but then there would be a delay. I would not reach Paris until six o'clock at night. Wedel had insisted that I be there at noon. Hum!
Delays at this time were of tremendous importance. A difference of six hours might mean war. Powerful influences in Germany were all for war. It filled the air. It needed only a false or overstep on the part of any government official to bring about an explosion. France seemed fairly itching for a fight. My verbal message to the captain of the Panther must be delivered on schedule or the explosion might occur. I began to see what they hoped to gain by the trick of detaining me, but how they got word of my mission I have never been able to learn. I must have been shadowed from my lodging to the Wilhelmstrasse and subsequently lain in wait for on general principles.
According to the time-table, the Orient Express stops at Cologne nine minutes. This time it stopped eleven. The station master held it up. After the party in the next compartment made their charge, we all hurried to his office. I called the station master aside and showed him my Secret Service card.
I showed him a package addressed and sealed to the German Embassy at Paris. It was an official linen envelope tied with a black and white silk cord and with the Foreign Office seal on the back. He was impressed.
"This is a ridiculous charge," I declared. "Telephone the Wilhelmstrasse at my expense. Detain me and you do so at your own peril. That is all. I have given you the facts. I put no obstacle in the path of your duty. I judge, though, that you are a man of discretion."
The station master was a man of discretion. I could imagine what was going through his mind:
"This fellow who says he is the Emperor's messenger," he doubtless thought, "has three more hours on that train before he crosses the German border. If he isn't what he claims to be, we can catch him at the Frontier. If he is what he claims to be and I hold him here, I will get in trouble."
Finally, he told the others that their charge was too thin and they hurriedly left his office. I never saw them again. The station master escorted me to my compartment and I noticed that from Cologne to the French Frontier I had no other traveling companions. My arrival and what I accomplished in Paris is commonplace. Arriving in the Gare du Norde, I took a taxi to the German Embassy on the Rue de Lille, where an under-secretary signed for my dispatches and handed me two letters addressed to the Embassy in Madrid. I immediately posted his receipt to the Wilhelmstrasse, something German secret agents always must do--mail the Foreign Office signatures for documents as soon as they are delivered. Without further adventure I reached Madrid. As the train was four hours late I did not present myself at the Embassy. I was met by a commissaire at the station, delivered him the paper, received his signature, posted it to the Wilhelmstrasse, and made connections for Barcelona. Somewhere off the city, on the open sea, the Panther was waiting.
With the utmost difficulty I chartered a tug and in the twilight set off to find the Panther. It was coming night when we finally saw her dark trim hull lying against the horizon. Well named the Panther, for in this case a false spring by her meant war. As we steamed up alongside a sentry hailed us from the deck. I shouted that I had come to see the Captain, but he told us to stand off. Finally, after persistently hailing the warship, the officer of the watch came to the rail and held parley with me.
"I have Imperial orders to see the Captain," I shouted.
Apparently this satisfied him, for he let me come on board. Without further delay I was shown into the Captain's room. Very important, the Captain. Picture him, a man in the forties, straight-backed, rather jolly, and with one of those German naval beards. The slightest mistake by the Captain of the Panther and England and France would have flung themselves into war with Germany. He stood for a moment regarding me, then he said,
"Well, what is this? What is your Wilhelmstrasse number?"
"Seventeen," I told him.
That appeared to satisfy the Captain. I knew that the Wilhelmstrasse had wired him that "Number Seventeen" was coming. Still he was careful.
"Where were your first instructions received?"
I felt him looking at me sharply.
"Confirmed by the Emperor," I replied, "and I deliver you herewith the following message. You are requested to use the private service code as soon as I have delivered this message to you and repeat it at once direct to Count Wedel."
The Captain got up and, moving noiselessly to the door, opened it swiftly. There was no one about.
"All right," he said, "let me have it."
I repeated what I had memorized, what the Emperor had given me in the secret chamber and immediately afterward destroyed all visible trace of. I said: "On no account, it does not matter what official commands you have received or may receive, are you to use open force when the Panther goes to Agidir. No matter what stress is brought to bear upon you by arising conditions, no matter what affront may be done your code of naval honor, you are under no circumstances to use any force against France or England."
Like myself, when the Emperor gave me that message, the Captain of the Panther was dumbfounded. It was a direct contradiction of the official orders he had received from the Foreign Office to go to Morocco and make a demonstration against the French and the English interests. Those previous orders had been to create war, this verbal message was to stop war. Could the German "jingos," the big gun manufacturers, the shell people, the army and navy men, the powerful feudal faction have heard me deliver that message to the Captain of the Panther, they would have bellowed in rage. The whole empire wanted war, but the tired, swarthy faced man in the little underground chamber at the Wilhelmstrasse, not "absolutely absolute" as he is popularly supposed to be, deemed it wise not to fly in the face of public opinion at the time and countermand the official orders to the Panther. So he had done so in the dark, verbally, by me, knowing that so he served the best interests of his empire.
The rest is contemporary history. You remember how, on Sunday morning, July 7, the Panther steamed to Morocco, how it forced its way into the harbor of Agadir and created an international sensation by remaining there more than two weeks. You remember how a French and an English warship came simultaneously, how they formed in what was equivalent to common line and how, with officers and everybody itching to open fire, war just missed being precipitated. You may not know that the British and French officers sent an ultimatum to the Captain of the Panther. Unless he left Agadir he would be forced to leave. That meant war.
Now, had the Captain of the Panther not received the private message from the Emperor, he would have been forced by his naval code to resist this ultimatum by force. Had he gone there acting under the original official orders, red war would have blazed across in Agadir Harbor. The slightest slip would have caused it--the report of a rifle. But the Panther steamed away.
And this is the cleverest part of the Emperor's scheme; he knew that France and England were allies, he didn't know, though, just how sincere this alliance was. By sending the Panther into Agadir he learned that the entente cordiale really meant something, that England and France were allies, that they were prepared to resist Germany shoulder to shoulder in war. It took a master stroke to bring the situation up to the point of war--for it was a dangerous business, with all Germany roaring for war--and then avert war when England and France were on the verge of it. But with his verbal message the Emperor shrewdly accomplished it. The results were before him. By creating the situation he knew that he had two powerful nations opposed to him. Good!
What he would do now would be to try to take one nation and secretly ally himself with it, leaving the other out in the cold. Then began the intrigues which planned the isolation of France, an amazing situation, a bombshell in present day international diplomacy, that I shall discuss fully in the next chapter.
THE ISOLATION OF FRANCE
After my experiences with the earlier stages of the French, English, and German situation, I was quite prepared for the most unexpected developments. What occurred in the middle of October, 1911, was, however, beyond what I had imagined. The Morocco incident had shown the German Emperor that the entente cordiale was indeed solid. England and France would stand shoulder to shoulder in war. Being used to the ways of German diplomacy, I knew that from the Wilhelmstrasse would come a quick countermove. I guessed, too, that when it came I would be employed. It stood to reason that, knowing so much of the trend and importance of the affair--I had seen the intrigue grow step by step--I was the logical choice.
Nor was my reasoning at fault. I soon received the expected summons, and it brought me into the most amazing of my diplomatic adventures--a mission which showed me the utter ruthlessness that characterizes foreign ministers, particularly when the vital interests of their countries are concerned.
Word to appear at the Wilhelmstrasse came when the autumn holidays were in full swing. The usual procedure of the Foreign Office having been observed, I found myself in Count von Wedel's private study. After an invitation to be seated, the Count surprised me. He complimented me on my previous missions on the entente cordiale situation, and handed me a pretty substantial check. It was actually 10,000 marks--$2,500--which the stubs of the royal check book will show.
As I took the money he remarked "Seine Majestät"--Foreign Office brevity for conveying that His Majesty was satisfied. Without more ado, von Wedel plunged into the subject. Leaning back and crossing his legs, he began to talk in his abrupt way.
"I want you to go with his Excellency, Herr von Kinderlen-Waechter, as his private attendant and secretary," began von Wedel. "I have selected you because of your knowledge of English and your insight into the whole matter in hand. There is to be a meeting of certain statesmen in a certain spot in the range of the Schwarzwald. You are to be the sole attendant of these gentlemen. You'll see to it that nothing of their identity becomes known. You will look after them in every way. You will destroy all writing, such as paper and blotters. You will burn any such things in the presence of Herr von Kinderlen-Waechter."
He paused impressively, and I found my mind in a whirl. What his words portended I could guess. This mission promised to be very interesting indeed.
"I want you to be at the place of meeting," von Wedel continued, "three days before the arrival of these gentlemen. You will have to make arrangements as regards catering and so forth. You'll be the only attendant. Means have been taken to assure strict privacy in the district. Understand that we want this to be thoroughly cloaked. I suggest to you the idea of a hunting party. The details I leave to you. The gentlemen in question may or may not be known to you. I shall write you their names."
His pen began scratching across a piece of paper, and I had a moment in which to realize the grave importance of this mission: the future of Germany menaced, complete isolation was in the making between England, France, and Russia; and the Kaiser was about to save Germany by a master stroke of diplomacy. Of what tremendous importance it was, however, I did not learn until I had gone down into the forest.
Looking up, von Wedel tossed a piece of paper across the desk to me (the identical paper which has been reproduced in connection with this article). It bore these names in his handwriting:
Viscount Haldane, Winston Spencer Churchill, Admiral von Tirpitz, General von Heeringen, General Moritz Ritter von Auffenberg, Herr von Kinderlen-Waechter.
I suppose, had it been my first Secret Service mission instead of the climax of eleven years in the service, I could not have controlled my surprise. These men, all meeting in a lonely spot in Taunus Hills region, foretold a grave situation. Especially was this true in view of the newspapers of Europe. Here was all the press having Germany and England ready to rush at each other's throats in war. It was the time of the German spy scare in England. And now here were the two powerful members of the English Cabinet meeting the Kaiser's Minister of War secretly.
I also knew of a secret visit Churchill and Haldane had made at the Foreign Office's invitation. Significantly these English diplomats had been shown certain of Germany's preparations for war, notably war in the sky.
But von Wedel was not yet through.
"These gentlemen," he said, "will meet at Schlangenbad about the middle of this month. You know the place, in the Taunus Hills--one of the Emperor's hunting lodges. I suggest that you get down there to-morrow and have everything ready. You thoroughly know what is required of you, Doctor?"
On my assenting I was dismissed. I lost no time in getting home to my quarters and into comfortable togs. This mission needed some thinking out. And after I told my Basuto boy to pack my bag, I glanced again at the list von Wedel had given me.
Haldane, Lord Chancellor of England, persona grata with the Kaiser--in fact, a personal friend. Churchill, First Lord of the British Admiralty. Waechter, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs and, despite court opposition, the trusted man of the Kaiser. Tirpitz and von Heeringen, chiefs of the German navy and army staffs, the latter a second Moltke. When I came to von Auffenberg's name I whistled. Von Auffenberg was Minister of War and the right-hand man of the Chancellor of the Austrian Empire. Thus three great powers were represented. Six men of this eminence, the brains and force of three nations, to meet in secret in a little obscure hunting lodge in the forest! It portended darkly for France; but how darkly I could not then conjecture. It interested me tremendously, but I consoled myself that I would probably know all when the party gathered in that secluded hunting lodge.
According to instructions, I presented myself early next morning at the residence of Herr von Kinderlen-Waechter. It was in the Thiergartenstrasse. Without delay I was shown into his Excellency's room. He was seated at his desk, and while we exchanged a few perfunctory words I permitted myself a moment's brief conjecture.
|"Looking up von Wedel tossed a piece of paper across the desk to me. It bore these names in his handwriting."|
Judging from appearances, you would never have taken this portly, rubicund, iron-gray, bushy-browed gentleman for a statesman. But a statesman he was for all that, and the Emperor and Germany miss him sorely. I would have taken him for a Boer Dopper or an English yeoman. This suggestion was supported by his atrocious taste in fancy waistcoats. The one he had on still sticks in my memory. It was a lurid peach-blossom creation, spotted with green. But once his steel-gray, deerhound eyes looked you up and down you forgot all about the fancy waistcoat and got right down to business. I told his Excellency I had come for his personal instructions.
Besides telling me to "halt my maul" (a German military expression literally meaning to keep your mouth shut, but implying the need for utmost secrecy) he gave me certain general instructions. But from them I could gain no idea of just what was going to happen. I could only guess. How big was the gathering storm he never even hinted.
Remembering von Wedel's suggestion about the hunting party, I procured some guns and reached the station in time to catch the 12.30 express for Schlangenbad.
It was early in October when I went to the Kur Hotel and registered as Herr Bamberger from Berlin. If you ever go to Schlangenbad, look up the register. Schlangenbad is a mineral watering place in Prussia, near the Black Forest, and within easy distance of our ultimate meeting place, the hunting lodge that von Wedel had mentioned.
I was alone at the hotel for several days. Then, traveling incognito, the dignitaries began to drift in. First came the Austrian, General Moritz Ritter von Auffenberg. A distinguished, quiet, unassuming gentleman, he is known to be high in the confidence of Francis Joseph. I found the War Minister very fond of salmon fishing, and got quite into his good graces by enthusiastic tales of fly fishing in New Zealand.
Admiral von Tirpitz and General von Heeringen came next. The Admiral is typical of the German sailor, a big man, six feet, wide of shoulder, blue-eyed, and full bearded. His manner I found genial and courteous. His exact opposite was von Heeringen, thin, almost crooked of body, stoop shouldered, unusually taciturn, and possessing deep-sunken, smoldering black eyes. He struck me as an animated mummy of the Rameses dynasty--come to think of it, he much resembles Rameses II.
The exact date of the meeting, as I recall it, was October 12, and the place a shooting lodge, named Ehrenkrug. On the morning of the twelfth I hired a vehicle and, loading provisions, wine, and other necessaries aboard, drove to the lodge, sixteen miles into the forest.
No farmhouse or other human habitation was within a radius of several miles. It was a large stone and brick building, somewhat similar to your colonial style. It had five or six guest rooms, a large general meeting hall, and a morning room. It being the property of the royal family, I found two old pensioners of the Imperial Forest Service in charge. They had a good fire going in the grate, which was welcome, for it was still a little damp and chilly, especially in this wet mountain forest.
Patroling both ends of the road were a number of gendarmes. They were scattered through the woods, too, forming a cordon through which no one could come. Indeed, they had challenged me. About three o'clock in the afternoon the German and Austrian envoys came out from the hotel, and at a quarter to four (I remember Waechter remarking "They're three-quarters of an hour late!") the chug of a motor announced the others, Lord Haldane and Winston Churchill.
I had never happened to meet Haldane before, and I found him the English gentleman personified--polished and reserved. Yet his reserve, tempered by age, blended into a genial mellowness. The usual English arrogance had evidently been subdued by reason of his training and cosmopolitan knowledge. In speech and action he was a Chesterfield, but in appearance he was not unlike a canon or a bishop, a little ascetic looking, and rather bald.
Quite the other type of Anglo-Saxon, still boyish in looks, high-strung and nervous, erratic in speech and action, just a bit self-conscious, Winston Churchill was the youngest member of this remarkable gathering. I had met him during the Boer War, and as he took off his motoring coat he looked at me closely.
"I believe I've seen you before," he said.
"I met the right honorable gentleman in the Bloemfontein Field Hospital during the war."
"Ah, yes," said Churchill, his face lighting up.
He had had his wound dressed there; his recognition showed his remarkable memory.
After refreshments the envoys immediately adjourned to the big morning room, and I was posted outside to see that no gendarme or forest pensioner carne within earshot. I was not present at the beginning of the conference, but after an hour had passed I was summoned. My first impression as I opened the door was of an air of tenseness. It was obvious in the way Churchill was staring across the table at Haldane. It was an ordinary large German oak dining-room table, and in the middle were two big shaded lamps. It was growing dusk, and after lighting the lamps, I backed away to a corner of the room. I had a distinct impression of the features of the six men who were making history round that table. There were writing materials, stacks of paper, and documents at every place. Sheets and sheets of paper were covered with their handwriting. Only in front of von Heeringen were the sheets blank, for he never makes a note of anything, carrying everything in his marvelous memory.
Obviously what were the last words of a speech came from Moritz, the Austrian, as I entered: "And to make this all possible," he was saving, "we must break the Russian Federation in the Balkans."
From his place at the head of the table the iron-gray-haired Kinderlen-Waechter rose slowly. I noticed he wore another of those atrocious vests. Turning on his left he gazed at Churchill and Tirpitz; his careful measuring eyes then met Moritz, an expectant, slightly nervous figure at the other end of the table awaiting the reply to the point he had raised. And Waechter's eyes turned from him to Heeringen, to Haldane; then he spoke. I recall distinctly the import of his remarks.
"Gentlemen," he said, "the point raised by General Moritz must stand, and, of course, it needs the sanction of our respective heads. As Lord Haldane has pointed out, it does complicate matters to some extent. The Balkans concern Austria most; to my way of thinking it is quite within reason to accede this point. [As I write I recall vividly how grave they had all become. They knew what this meant--war in the Balkans.] On all main points," said Kinderlen-Waechter, "we are agreed. As indicated by his Imperial Majesty, the primary reason of our meeting is to come to a tacit understanding in regard to technical details. This we have done. It is unfortunate, however, that this possible phase, the Balkan point, has not been gone into before. I suggest that we adjourn, to inform our respective Governments of this point. If necessary, we will meet again on Wednesday."
This second meeting, by the way, was not necessary, all the Governments represented tentatively agreeing with Austria. The treaty, however, was subject to signatures and if it was officially closed, I cannot tell.
Apparently the conference was at an end. But what had they accomplished? From the general tenor of their conversation it was obvious that they all agreed. But what were the terms of their bargain? Presently I was to know.
"Bamberger," said Kinderlen-Waechter, addressing me by the name I had taken, "gather up any pieces of paper on the table and consign them to the fire."
I replied: "Yes sir." Then turning to the others, he continued:
"Gentlemen, select the memoranda you wish to keep. The rest is going to be destroyed immediately."
While they ran over their papers, saving necessary scraps, I stood back from the table. It was characteristic of the men that Winston Churchill should have taken the most voluminous notes, while Heeringen had not put down a line. I then gathered up every scrap of paper left on the table--blotters, little note pads, foolscap--used or unused. Everything was to go into the fire.
I went about this slowly and deliberately, taking care to glance at everything before I carried it over to the grate. I wanted to make sure that nothing of value was destroyed. Here and there came a good chance to read some of the contents. Piece by piece from the memoranda the different men had made, always being careful not to confuse individual notes, thus learning one by one their train of thought, the thing began to piece itself together for me. There were extensive notes on army and navy matters. Churchill, for instance, had carefully noted the full strength that Austria and Germany could muster in case of war. Kinderlen-Waechter had recorded the full strength of England and Austria as given by Churchill and Moritz. So had Moritz taken down German and English statistics. Obviously it was a triangular alliance, each noting to what extent dependence could be placed upon the other. Then there were data on the French and Russian armies and navies. The significance of that was apparent. What puzzled me, however, were numerous statistics on Holland and Belgium.
Not until Kinderlen-Waechter and Churchill, squatting down by the fireplace and poking the burning papers with old-fashioned irons, not until then, when there began a conversation and other pairs conversed on certain points all around the room, did I gain a clear idea of just what had happened. What they said, the vital scraps of their conversation as they drifted to me while I moved to and from the table and fireplace, I shall now present as close to the words of the men involved as I am able.
Heeringen, who had drawn Haldane aside, said: "We are ready at any time with 3,500,000 men without any further straining of our reserves. According to our latest agreement Austria will support us with 2,000,000 more men. The financial aspect of this is, of course, out of my hands."
Haldane mumbled something that sounded like "that is very satisfactory." At any rate, he nodded an affirmative.
By this time the positions had changed somewhat, and Churchill drew Tirpitz aside. Churchill spoke German only indifferently, so they conversed in French and partly in English. I heard Tirpitz say:
"We could bottle up the Baltic in twelve hours. Russia would not have a chance to stir. Of course, in the event of any outside situation arising, we shall look to England to take care of such new conditions. That seems to rest clearly with your navy."
Churchill became a little cautious.
"There is a certain contingency that might arise," he said. "Suppose, under stress of circumstances the United States should take a definite stand against us in this matter?"
The reply of the Admiral was the very expressive German word--Quatsch! He further intimated that the United States was so interested in its own internal affairs that it would not be drawn into the question, and that in any event its navy would be needed for its own immediate protection. He had a disposition, however, to put the entire situation up to Churchill.
Kinderlen-Waechter and Moritz were deep in the Balkan question, and I sensed then the coming Balkan imbroglio.
"Without doubt," Moritz said, "we will bring that to an issue within a few months." I knew he meant that Austria would precipitate the Balkan question. Kinderlen-Waechter was serious.
"It has got to be done."
There were other snatches, all bearing on the same subject, and gradually the situation began to clarify in my mind. It was not, however, until I had noted the contents of certain documents before destroying them that the tremendous importance of the big stakes they were all playing for became apparent. What I shall now do is to reveal the substance of these documents, coupling them with overheard conversation, thus interpreting the full significance of the conference.
Within the last twenty-five years Germany has so enormously advanced in commerce that she urgently needs some further outlet on a northern seacoast. This means Holland and Belgium. Hamburg and Bremen are the only two practical harbors that Germany possesses for the distribution of her enormous export. The congestion in both places is such that steamers wait for weeks to load. One-quarter of Germany's exports goes through Antwerp. Germany must have Antwerp. Practically the whole of southern Germany's commerce, especially along the Rhine and the highway of the Rhine, pours into a foreign country at present. Germany must have Antwerp--in fact, the whole coast, Amsterdam and Rotterdam included.
The empire wants harbors, not colonies. The colonizing idea is a fallacy. Germany is, first and last, a manufacturing country. It never was and never will be, for a long time to come, a successful colonizer. At present all that Germany wants is markets, and facilities for extending her markets. These markets Germany will always be able to command because of her intense scientific application to all branches of manufacture. But these products need outlets. Germany is quite willing to let the others colonize so long as she has a chance to get her goods in. So much for the German situation.
England, in her vast oversea domains and possessions, wants rounding up. England has not been able in the past, and certainly is not at present able, to supply herself and her colonies. In Germany she has a first-class workman. Germany manufactures what England needs. Germany's building of her navy was never meant as a real menace to Great Britain. It was solely a means to impress the English that Germany would make a powerful and valuable ally in every shape and form. Conversely, it was a threat that she would be a dangerous opponent. This is clearly understood in the English and German Cabinets. Public opinion is being rapidly educated up to this in both countries. All the war-scare talk between Germany and England has been and is only a means to an end. The end is to throw dust in the eyes of the rest of the world. Germany and England will never willingly war. Destruction of one would mean the destruction of the other. They are too equally powerful to be able to fight each other; their real interests run too close together. Indeed, they are mutual. Germany manufactures, England uses. Only a miracle would separate them.
Shoulder to shoulder, Germany and England (Germany, of course, including Austria, and possibly Italy) could dictate to the rest of the world. There is one stumbling-block. This is France.
Well-informed Frenchmen have known and feared this for a long time. They have, of course, never mentioned it in public. Shrewd French statesmen have long kept it in the seclusion of their own minds. It would be political and possibly physical death openly to assert that France is doomed. But doomed she is.
With all her gallantry, hysterical patriotism, and wealth, she would never be able to hold out against Germany alone. Her attempts at alliances have been frenzied. To secure Russia's friendship she has loaned enormous sums of money. But the Japanese war and internal troubles have eliminated Russia as a high-class ally. She was at the time of the Black Forest conference but a secondary power. She is to-day balanced by Turkey and Austria. The Balkan States are smashed. So France did her utmost to solidify the entente cordiale fostered by the late King Edward VII under the stress of public opinion in England.
To what extent she met success we have seen. The Moroccan question showed England ready to back up France in war, but now comes this meeting in the Black Forest. Germany has shown England the greater advantage of a German-English coalition, and France is frozen out. England, with her shrewd alertness to make the most profitable deal, entertained if did not close the German proposition. In a nutshell, it is this:
Germany must have the lowland ports. Holland is not adverse to coming into the German Federation. Belgium is adverse, but could be snuffed out as easily as a candle. But French public opinion would never tolerate under any circumstances this German aggression. France would fight, even though knowing it to be a losing fight. If only she would let Germany have what she wants, there would be no war. But the French temperament, public opinion, years of decorating with flowers that Alsace-Lorraine symbol, the Strasbourg statue in Paris, have not been conducive to fostering a submissive spirit in France. To resent Germany's inevitable aggression is equally inevitable.
So much for what Germany gets out of it. Austria wants to round up her empire in the Balkans. Austria has to have outlets in the Mediterranean. England, if she stands by Germany, will be rewarded with French Northern Africa and the Dutch East India possessions. What will become of France? Reconstruction, partitioning, possibly a little kingdom, probably under the Orleans régime. France is in the lap of the gods. I know these things, for I possess them in black and white.
IN THE BALKAN COUNTRY
After my mission in the Black Forest, I went to Albeck, a well-known seaside resort on the Baltic. For more than a year the gentlemen at the Wilhelmstrasse had kept me on the run, and a vacation at Albeck--much like your Atlantic City only smaller--was not only welcomed but needed. I was just settling down to a period of quiet in and around the Kurhaus when there came a wire for my attendance at the Wilhelmstrasse. "At your earliest convenience" was the phrase which, of course, meant at once. Germany's language to her Secret Agents is always polite.
I am very frank to confess that the message put me a little out of sorts. All my plans for resting at Albeck went to smash. I knew that something big must be in the air else I would never have been recalled from a vacation that was only beginning. Wiring a reply I stated that I would arrive in Berlin on the 7.30 train and that any further commands would receive attention at my standing quarters in the Mittelstrasse. In a few hours I had caught a train and was being whirled south.
During the three-hour run I speculated on what was likely to be required from me. An inside rumor then current among us Secret Service men gave me the clew. I marshaled past events and ran them over in my mind. I knew that the Kaiser's diplomatic master stroke undermining the entente cordiale and tentatively holding off Great Britain, left the way clear for the execution of Austro-German policies in the Balkans.
As the express hurried me toward Berlin, I reflected that since the Russian-Japanese War, Russia, weakened as she was, felt her influence in European affairs waning. I knew it was about time for her to make a desperate effort to regain European prestige. I recalled that upon Russia's plight after the Japanese war, Austria immediately annexed Herzegovina and Bosnia. She did this with the tacit understanding and backing up of Germany. I knew that as a result of this, Russia was again at work in the Balkans. Greeks, Servians, Bulgarians, and Montenegrins, up till now suicidal enemies, were arriving at an understanding. There are as many differences of nationalities, castes and opinions in the Balkans as there are in India and it took clever manipulation, much money, and strenuous efforts on the part of Russia to unite these countries under Russian influence. The visit of the Crown Prince of Servia to Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, was engineered by Russia, and was a triumphant success in bringing about an understanding between Bulgaria and Servia. It absolutely unified Servia and Bulgaria. Why then the completely changed attitude of Servia and Bulgaria after their mutual successes against the Turk? Presently I shall show you the vast undercurrent forces forever moving beneath the Balkan situation.
I recalled having heard high Servian officials speculate as to their chances of reviving the ancient empire, so with the Bulgarians. After the reunion of Wallachia and Moldadia, I heard Roumanian officials express the wish to gain Dacia through the addition of Transylvania, Bukovina and the Banate of Ternesvar. This longing can easily be understood when one remembers that each of these States maintains royal court legations and an army the quality of which in the case of the Allies has just been tested and shown in their splendid fighting and sacrifices, but which is all out of proportion to their individual sizes and resources.
I knew there were armies mobilizing in the Balkans at a high mark of efficiency. They were equipped in a way totally beyond the means of such little countries. Who was supplying this driving force, the money, officers? They were but pawns, the Balkan States on an international chessboard.
Now before I relate my mission, consider these test points: The alliance of States usually hereditary enemies; the downfall of an empire, a background of the world's powers pulling the strings; the success of the Balkan Allies. Then the most amazing part of it all. Turkey, well thrashed, lost little save a few islands in the Ægean Sea, some of which it has already regained. The Allies gained nothing but debts--debts and empty honor which leaves them so exhausted that they can be no real factor in the world's politics for decades to come--and there lies the key.
Arriving in Berlin I made my way to my quarters in the Mittelstrasse. It was about eight o'clock when I put my key in the door. I found Kim very much awake and somewhat excited. At this unseemly hour there was a visitor! This was all the more unusual for I was not in the habit of receiving my most intimate friends or acquaintances at my private quarters.
"Koom, massa!" (Salute, master!) "Gentleman him here to see you. Kim him don't know if he do right, maybe wrong; but gentleman said it all right that him come in."
All apologies, Kim was fretting himself almost into a nervous collapse over the visitor. Rather curious, I walked into the sitting-room and found a man I had seen pretty often at the Wilhelmstrasse. I knew him to be Herr von Stammer, the right hand man of von Wedel. Although we were well known to each other by sight, we hardly conversed ten words outside of official business. At the time I thought it a little odd that the usual procedure was not observed, that someone came to my room instead of my going to the Wilhelmstrasse, seemed a bit unusual. As things developed, however, I saw a possible reason why.
"Your quarters are pretty well guarded here, Doctor," said Herr von Stammer. "Your Cerberus didn't want to let me in."
I half smiled. I could imagine what a battle a stranger must have to get by Kim.
"We received your wire from Albeck and as the Count is inaccessible, your orders will come through me this time."
There was an interruption, for Kim had appeared with cigarettes.
"The Count," continued von Stammer, driving direct to the point, "wishes you to go to Belgrade and get in close touch with existing conditions there. We wish you to ascertain the undercurrent situation. The official status is, of course, well known to us. But we want definitely to find out just how far Russian influences are at work in Bucharest and Sofia, just how far they have progressed and how far they are prepared to go in this Balkan affair. If you cannot get in Belgrade the wanted information--and absolute accuracy is imperative--go to the Bulgarian capital. But--and this is important--no time must be lost. A definite insight into the inner workings of the situation must be in my hands at the earliest possible moment."
Here indeed was a task.
"Understand," continued von Stammer, "you will have the assistance in this case of Austrian Secret employees. But, as I need not point out to you, it is inadvisable to take any of them with you, as all the Austrian agents are known to the Russian agents down in the Balkans. I suggest that you stop at Budapest and get all connecting links of possible help to you. You will obtain these from Kasimir Kowalsky, an Austrian agent whom you will find at Donaustrasse 24. By the way, do you know him?"
I said no.
"In this case," went on von Stammer, "I shall give instructions to facilitate matters. It is necessary for you to have passports. Have you any reason to fear your previous mission to the Balkans?"
He referred to that incident in 1903, current with the assassination of King Alexander and Queen Draga of Servia--an incident I don't like to think of, for it landed me on a blank wall looking into twelve ugly Mauser tubes, as you will recall from a previous chapter.
I considered that there were only two men in the Balkans who could have placed me from the 1903 incident. One Colonel Niglitch was dead, slain at the time of the Alexander assassination; the other was Stamboul and he was no doubt moving in the circles where my mission would take me. Were I to meet him it would mean recognition, a possible knife in the back. No, I was in no way keen to undertake this mission. My previous experience in the Balkans and all that ilk had given me a thorough distaste of the people there. There is no mixture of races so dangerous. Nearly every man is for a small sum a traitor and potential assassin. I had had a taste of their methods and I didn't want another. Von Stammer must have noticed my hesitation, for he grinned and said:
"Nervous about it?"
I frankly was. I told him so.
"Yes, I understand your attitude." [I had been on the go for over five months solid and I wanted a rest.] "I beg of you to consider though that you are the only man we have at our disposal who can see this thing through."
He then began to hint in such a way that it became obvious to me that refusal on my part would not be at all to the liking of the Wilhelmstrasse. Refusal would mean loss of favor and with it the choice jobs. As an added inducement, von Stammer promised double the usual remuneration. Frankly this was a point. I considered that the mission would not take me over three or four weeks and he had agreed to pay me $2,500, aside from the bonus always attached to successful and quick work. Still, I wasn't sure that I wanted to go. I knew there was the danger of recognition, and I knew the kind of irresponsible, hotheaded, temperamental people I was going among. It was far more difficult, far more hazardous, than any mission I had ever undertaken, in England or France; even the tremendous responsibilities of the affair in the Black Forest carried with them none of the personal dangers that this did. When he pressed me for a decision I requested some little time to think things over. Asking me to telephone his home before midnight and let him know what I was going to do, he departed.
I hope I am still a Christian, but contact and intercourse with the mysticism of Africa and India has made me superstitious. I have a curious habit at momentous times of indecision of taking two full packages of cards and playing Napoleon's solitaire. If I get it out once in three times, I generally go into the matter in hand without question. It never has failed me. Twice in my life I went against it; twice I had bitter cause of regret.
Well, I didn't give von Stammer his decision on the moment because I wanted to try the old test. Kim produced the cards and I began to play. I got it out the second time. Going to the 'phone I called von Stammer and told him I would undertake the mission. He asked me to come at once to his house, and there I received final instructions and passports, the latter essential south of the Austrian frontier.
At three o'clock in the morning I boarded the Orient Express via Vienna and made a stop over of a day at Budapest. I went immediately to Donaustrasse 24 and saw the Austrian agent Kowalsky. From him I gained points that were invaluable to me. For instance, he gave me the names of men who frequented certain places in Belgrade, men who would be of use to me. He also warned me of certain persons, especially women whom he knew to be in Russian employ. That night I caught a train for Belgrade, well satisfied with the results of my visit to Kowalsky.
Before dinner time the next day, I was installed at the Hotel de Paris in Belgrade. My rooms had been engaged for me beforehand and they were the most expensive in the hotel--for a reason. I found myself in an elaborate suite on the first door, known as the suite Des Princes. This was a necessary move of the parvenu as money is the first and last word in the Balkans. Belgrade and everybody in it pride themselves on their up-to-date Parisian style. Everybody lives in the Parisian way. Army officers, whose pay is infinitesimal, all live like Russian Grand Dukes. How they are able to manage this on the official Servian army salaries of 65 cents a day would naturally puzzle an outsider. The answer is, Russian gold. It buys anything and everything south of Budapest. It cannot buy in Montenegro where patriotism is supreme, nor can it buy what it wants among the Osmans. To be sure it can buy the Turk; but there is a vast difference between an Osmanly and a Turk.
Through my lavish expenditure of money, I soon was a marked person and courted by all the gay officers of the capital. One of their number was a Major Schuvealoff. A bon vivant and gambler, was Major Schuvealoff, with the tastes of a Grand Duke. On a mission of this kind a secret agent always likes to find a man who is "fast." I knew the Major to be in the Russian pay. Kowalsky tipped me off to that. I knew that it was from him I could get everything I wanted, even though he was taking the Czar's gold.
Into the gay life of Belgrade I plunged a-hunting, the Major the quarry. I gave a series of dinners at the Hotel de Paris. After the dinners there was gambling. I always lost to the Major. He lost to others but I was careful never to win from him. He fell into the way of dropping around at my quarters. Like most of his set, the Major was a heavy drinker. When his face would become very flushed and his tongue very glib, I would try to draw things out of him, but I never could get anything worth while. The slightest suspicious question made him close up as tight as an oyster.
I had seen him often in the company of a French lady, a Mlle. Rene Valon. It was obvious that she and the Major were on pretty good terms. Little incidents, things that happened in a room full of people, led me to guess that she was extremely fond of him. I made it my business to cultivate her acquaintance, for experience had often shown me that where gold and myself failed, a pair of flashing eyes and other felicities will often succeed. Like all the other women of that set in Belgrade, Mlle. Valon was woefully extravagant. She gambled heavily and one night I assisted her with a loan of 500 francs. I came to know her fairly well.
I had no previous indication of her being in any way connected with any foreign service. Indeed everything pointed to the contrary. But when on these missions, one is always on the qui vive. Mlle. Valon's French was perfect. She looked French, her mannerisms were French. Still I wasn't satisfied. In a case like this, it is wise to be suspicious of every one. I began to make the most delicate inquiries. In conversation I tried to draw out little things. I felt she was playing a rôle. I used outside sources, but everything bore out the French origin. Still I wasn't satisfied. Subsequently my quasi suspicions proved to be correct.
One night Mlle. Valon gave a supper party in her apartments in the Hotel de Paris. After the supper there was gambling among the guests. Here in the privacy of her rooms was an opportunity to discover some little thing that would either confirm her French claims or confirm my suspicions. I kept my eyes open, but they could find nothing that would show any connection with Russia. That is, they found nothing until Mlle. Valon got up from the table, went to her boudoir and returned nibbling on a piece of candy. It was the candy that gave her away.
I saw at once it was a particular brand of Russian candy quite distinct from similar confections in France and Turkey. In reality they are natural flowers such as roses and violets with their fragrance and natural taste in a champagne-colored, crystal substance, the nature of which is a secret. Made solely by Demitrof and Sons of Moscow, they are usually appreciated only by a born Moscovite. The taste for them must be acquired. Only a Russian or one who had for years lived in Russia would have it.
Although Mlle. Valon was personally unknown to me, five out of every ten of these women were invariably known to the Secret Service branch of the Continental police. My suspicions as to her confirmed, it was an even chance that I might be able to place her. I procured two snapshots of her and a specimen of her handwriting. These I forwarded to the chief of the sections in Vienna and Berlin, with a request to wire any possible information about her. Within forty-eight hours I had a reply. Mlle. Valon was well known to the Austrian police as a one-time keeper of a fashionable gambling resort in Galicia. She had left the country hurriedly after a stabbing affray. She was known in Crakau as Paula, and she was wanted by the police.
I engineered my next meeting with Mlle. Valon to be alone. After presenting her with a box of perfumes, I said abruptly:
"This is a change from Crakau, Paula."
It is always wise to smash right out, and not to put the other on guard through leading questions, and the trick had the desired effect. She recoiled. To your high American standards of chivalry, it may seem brutal to take advantage of a woman in this way, but it had to be done. Moreover, these women are absolutely conscienceless themselves.
"Grand Dieu! Who are you?"
"That does not concern you ma fille, I know that and a good deal more. Austria would be very glad to know where you are. Shall I tell them?"
She had recovered to an extent.
"What is your price for not telling?"
"Let Russia slip this once, gain me the information I seek and nothing further shall be said."
Her air of surprise was perfect.
"Russia? I know nothing at all about Russia."
I smiled, walked to her desk where there was a silver tray, and picked up a sugared rose.
"You're clever, Paula, but careless. Know nothing about Russia, yet have acquired a taste for the fine candies of the Moscovites? Remarkable, Paula."
She bit her lips.
"What do you want?"
"Now before we begin, Paula,"--that name seemed to vex her--"let it be understood that there is to be no double dealing here. It would be an easy matter for you to have me legitimately assassinated."
She would do that in this way:
She would tell one of her many admirers that I had insulted her. One morning I would come downstairs to be slapped in the face before a hotel full of people and what could I do? It would be a case of pistols and I would get a bullet.
"Remember," I cautioned her, "if anything happens to me here--and if they in Vienna do not hear from me every six hours, on the seventh you will be arrested. You will be arrested on an Imperial Austrian warrant. Your friends in here, army officers, though they are, will not dare to help you. Servia will not take the chance of angering Austria by refusing to acknowledge the imperial warrant. Remember, Paula, there is now an Austrian army on the Servian border."
The look she gave me was venomous.
"Now I'll tell you what I want," I continued. "Major Schuvealoff is in the Russian pay. He has got the key to the Russian influence here. He knows just how far they are prepared to go. I want that key. You've got to get it. I have the Major pretty well sounded. Money would be very acceptable to him. He is half-willing to sell out Russia, but he fears your supervision. I know that you were sent here by Russia, Paula, just to keep your eye on agents in Russian pay, principally on our friend Schuvealoff. I know you have not the situation in hand like he has. If you had, I wouldn't bother going any further, I'd get it from you... Now your part is to give him to understand that he has nothing to fear from you. No lapse by him will be reported. You're rather fond of him already, aren't you? If you value his safety you'd better do as I ask. Otherwise I shall also let him go up. I hold something over his head too."
This last shot in the dark seemed to bear the most weight with her. She said:
"What guarantee have I that you'll keep your side of the bargain?"
I said none, for the simple reason I couldn't give any.
"Your own sense," I explained, "and knowledge of the work you're doing should tell you that it is to my interest to get results, and not trouble about other things. I'll promise you, however, no further interference for this affair in Crakau. There will also be the price of a diamond collar in it for you." (I subsequently filed a requisition for $1,000 to be paid her, but I think she got more.) "You agree? Good!"
The agreement closed, I went back to the hotel well satisfied with the night's work.
Early the next morning a very perturbed Major Schovealoff was shown into my chamber. I greeted him cordially and opened fire with the remark.
"I see Mlle. Valon has conferred with you."
"How did you know?"
"Mon cher Major, this early visit, your sobriety, your nervous manner are indications enough. My time is valuable, and although your petite Paris here is very entertaining, I prefer the Baltic seashore. If you have anything to say to me, say it quickly, and to the point. I leave this afternoon for Vienna. It may interest you to know that you are absolutely safe. I put no stop to your no doubt valuable service to your employer. In fact, it's no affair of mine what you do after I leave. But I want the whole of your knowledge of Russian activity here and in Roumania."
"I know very little about Roumania."
I shook my head.
"This will not do, Major, you know about as much of Russian intrigues in Roumania as you do of them here. I want the whole or nothing. As Mlle. Valon--Paula--doubtless has told you, neither you nor she are in a position to hold back a single thing."
Without further attempt to bluff it out, he told me what I wanted. The gist of it was this:
With the aid of French money, Russia was heavily subsidizing Bulgaria and Servia against Turkey. Numerable non-commission Russian and French officers were pouring into Belgrade and Sofia. They were ready to take the field in the armies of the Allies. Most of the leading officers and men of affairs of the Allies were in the Russian pay. In fact, a systematic Russianization was in progress. The armies of the Allies were being equipped with a new kind of French gun. Bulgarian and Servian troops were being paid by Russian and French gold. Obviously the menace of the Czar abetted by France was to be a tremendous factor in the situation. Russia was in so deep that there was no pulling out.
This, of course, had been suspected by the cabinets of Germany and Austria. But how far and how thorough the actuality was, I had been sent to find out. The results of my mission showed beyond all doubt the urgent need for Germany and Austria to begin their machinations to off-set the rising power of Russia in the Balkans. I took the night's Orient Express for Berlin direct and I made my report to von Stammer, as Wedel was still inaccessible, being away with the Kaiser.
At once Austria and Germany set about to smash the threatening predominance of Russian influence in the Balkans. A solid coalition of Bulgaria, Servia and Montenegro with a Russian dominance would have played a solid factor in the policies of Germany, Austria and England. It would have interfered with the plans made for the isolation of France at that secret meeting in the Black Forest. This coalition had to be broken up. It was broken up.
At the crucial stage of the Balkan war, experts in Eastern questions turned curious eyes toward Roumania, the most advanced and the strongest of the Balkan States. The sway and influence behind Roumania controls the situation in the Balkans. Who is the power holding this key to the situation? Germany and Austria. The appearance of an army on Roumania's southwestern frontier would have made a vast difference in the success of the Balkan arms against the Turk. This army, however, did not appear until the Allies had finished fighting Turkey and had begun to fight themselves. I shall show you why this army was withheld.
The ruling house in Roumania is closely allied and related to the house of Hohenzollern. I need only mention Carmen Sylva, the Queen of Roumania, and King Charles, both German by birth. The direct commercial relationship between Germany and Roumania is also very great. Roumania, of all the Balkan countries, has least felt the yoke of the Turk and the intense hatred of the Turk rampant in the rest of the Balkan States is not characteristic of Carmen Sylva's domains. Russo-French machinations producing tangible results in Bulgaria, Servia, Montenegro and Albania met with only indifferent success in Roumania. If Russian persuasion and gold could have induced Roumania to throw her armies into the field against the Turk, the map of the Balkans would show some mighty changes. A Roumanian army corps, menacing Turkey's northwestern frontier during her struggle with the Balkan Allies, would certainly have seen the occupation of Constantinople by the allied forces. But those army corps were withheld through Austro-German influence and pressure on Roumania. Ready they were and they came in handy and were made use of by Germany and Austria in keeping Servia and Bulgaria in check. Bulgaria, Servia and Montenegro, stanchly believing Russia's promises in securing ratification of their successes and territory, found themselves left to their own resource, Russia being unable through force of circumstances to exert her pledged influence.
Humanity has been staggered by the results of the wars in the Balkans, but to those who were behind the scenes the results did not come as a surprise. Bulgaria alone had enough successes against the Turk to warrant great acquisitions of territory, so with her allies. Under ordinary circumstances there would have been no return to the status quo ante-bellum. Why this return?
When little countries previously hereditary enemies are welded together by an outside power and the influence of this power subsequently wanes, there is an inevitable outcome. The individual cupidity and jealousies will break forth, especially when judiciously fostered as they were in this instance by the counter influence of Germany and Austria. The result is well known. Servia was jealous of Bulgaria; Bulgaria was jealous of Montenegro; Greece was jealous of the lot and Roumania, instigated by her wirepullers, would not permit any of them to have anything. But through sheer exhaustion and disgust and a stoppage of Franco-Russian money we would have had one of the finest all around throat-cutting competitions the world has ever seen. In the meantime, the mutual jealousy and inability to divide the spoil was beneficial to Turkey, who really lost nothing worth speaking about, commensurate with the reverses received.
That and the breaking up of any possible coalition or federation of Balkan States under Russian influence was just what the German-Austrian Balkan policy demanded. A broken and prostrated Turkey, a united and strong central Balkan Federation able to put a million efficient fighters in the field, probably under Russian sway, would make a vast difference to German aims and aspirations in central Europe. A million soldiers coöperating with Russia would in the event of a European war take practically the whole of the Austrian forces, leaving Germany the sole care of the Russian battalions, which would mean quite half her available fighting force, weakening her operations by that half on her Franco and lowland border. As it stands now, the Balkans eliminated for decades to come; Turkey as a potential fighting stronger today than ever, would and will be used by Germany against any possible Russian interference; and the Turkish army, three-quarters of a million strong, in conjunction with the Austrian armies provides the needed guard against Russia, joining in or making capital out of any war Germany is likely to enter into in the near future.
Dr. Armgaard Karl Graves is not known in the Balkans, but among the gay extravagant army officers of Belgrade, "Count Arthur Zu Wernigrode" is.
MY MISSION AND BETRAYAL IN ENGLAND
During 1911 my diplomatic missions piled one upon the other. Of recent years it was the most tempestuous in European cabinets. The drama that began with my mission to Monte Carlo and developed through the swift climaxes of the Moroccan affair, the secret conference between Germany, Austria and England in the Taunus, that rushed on through the intrigues that preceded the Balkan War, had now lulled, gathering its forces perhaps for the final catastrophe, the general war of all the Powers, which may come this year--or next. To be sure the terms that the English, German and Austrian ministers had agreed upon in the Black Forest were now awaiting ratification by their respective governments. Bear this in mind--"were waiting ratification"--for it explains the mission that I was called upon to undertake on November 18, 1911.
I received the usual summons to report at the Wilhelmstrasse. Instead of being brought before Count von Wedel, I was taken over to Koenigergratzerstrasse 70, to the German Admiralty Intelligence Department. Here I met my old Chief Captain Tappken, head of the naval branch of the Intelligence Department. The Captain briefly informed me that it had been deemed advisable to send me to England--unwelcome news, this, as you will see. In the usual curt yet polite manner of German officers, the Captain introduced me to three naval experts. One was a construction officer, another in the signaling department, the third, an expert on explosives and mines. One at a time they took me in hand, grooming me in the intricacies of their respective fields. It was like a rehearsal in the grooming I had received years ago when taken into the Service and trained for months. I sat for hours over diagrams with a naval officer on each side. They brought me before charts that were as big as the wall of the room. These charts gave the exact dimensions and type of every vessel in the British navy. Not only that, I was made to study the silhouettes of all the new and different types of English warships--why you will see.
Obviously this special training was significant. Part of my mission to England was to watch the preparations and maneuvers of British warships at the naval bases on the Scottish coast.
As you may surmise, the situation between England and Germany was peculiar. The secret treaty of the Black Forest was awaiting ratification by the heads of the two governments. Of course the mass of subjects--indeed not ten men in each country--knew aught of what had transpired near Schlangenbad. Politicians had worked up a war scare to such pitch that the people of the two nations were ready to rush into conflict. Only a spark was needed to fire the situation. Realizing that under the menace of existing conditions, the unforeseen might happen, the Kaiser was not lessening his secret diplomatic intrigues; rather he was increasing them. It is a fact that even though two nations have a secret treaty, they each remain suspicious of the other. After all, secret treaties have been ruthlessly torn up. The vigilance of European cabinets must be eternal.
Hence my mission. It was included in my instructions to watch the movements of British warships off the Scottish coast and promptly cable the German Admiralty Intelligence Department concerning them. This is where a study of the silhouette charts would be invaluable. At night or in a fog or early in the morning I would not be able to distinguish the British ships by name. But knowing the silhouettes of all the naval types--for example, certain kinds of dreadnaughts, powerful cruisers, torpedo boat destroyers--I would be able to tell what ships were putting to sea. When I had memorized all the charts, they covered the names of the battle ships thereon and made me repeat the types. For instance, I would say, "That is a Queen Mary type of battle cruiser. The other is of the Ajax type. That destroyer is of the Viper type." And so on. There are well-defined architectural lines to every group of ships in the British navy and these silhouettes I learned to know by heart before I was permitted to leave Berlin.
Moreover, I had to brush myself up in topography and trigonometry. In England--so I learned from my instructions--it would be necessary to calculate distances, to take observations on the exact nature of the newly reconstructed Rossyth base near Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth; besides keeping in touch with things in Cromarty.
I was to watch especially the new Rossyth base and to report progress on armaments, new equipment, anything of use to the German Admiralty. I was to keep tab on all the British Beet maneuvers then in progress on the Scottish coast. It must be understood that the bases at Rossyth and Cromarty were Great Britain's answer to Germany's powerful naval base at Helgoland. So far as Germany's northern coasts are concerned, the Scottish coast is the most convenient point of attack for Great Britain. Fearing the unforeseen spark firing the hostile minds of the people of the two nations, Germany was thus preparing to be instantly informed of any sudden demonstration by the English fleets off Scotland. Not a ship could leave either Rossyth or Cromarty without an immediate cable being sent by me to Berlin, reporting how many war vessels and of what type had put to sea, also if possible the reason for the movement.
At the Intelligence Department, I was given carte blanche as to how to go about my mission. I am frank to say I did not care at all for it. I had good reason to be wary. The suspicious state of England at the time, and a stringent law just passed, made this mission very dangerous as far as your liberty was concerned. There was no danger of a knife thrust as in the Balkans, but there was of jail. Contrary to all precepts of British law, there had been rushed through the House of Commons, the Official Secrets Act, a clause so elastic and convenient for convictions that a judge could charge a jury to find a man guilty on suspicion only. As I recall it the gist of it was:
"Any person or persons making or obtaining any document whatsoever, endangering or likely to endanger the safeguards of Great Britain can be found guilty notwithstanding there being no consequent proof of any actual offense. A sentence of seven years penal servitude will be given the offender."
It does not need a lawyer to point out the tremendous power of prosecution that this added clause to the statutes put in the hands of the English government. As I stated, it was rushed through the House of Commons, but it was necessary. One has to admit that to be fair. Within six months three German spies had been arrested in England. There was a plague of them. Knowing this and also knowing the general efficiency of England's public servants and system, I was rather loath to stick my head into it. That penalty for being caught--seven years' penal servitude--loomed ominously, for penal servitude in England is plain hell. Also, I knew that although no passports are required in England, they still know pretty well what is going on, especially in regard to foreigners. It is easy to get into England, but deuced hard to get out. Also, knowing the secret understanding between the two governments, I had an uneasy premonition that everything was not quite right in the state of Denmark. Subsequent events proved to me that this feeling of mine, very seldom at fault, was correct.
However, strong pressure and great inducements were brought to bear on me and I undertook the mission, against my better judgment. When I left Berlin I was thoroughly equipped to carry out instructions. Every war vessel of the British navy, every fortification, naval base and depot of supplies was coded in Secret Service ciphers. Arrangements had been made with the Intelligence Department to transmit telegrams to addresses in Brussels, Copenhagen and Paris. In the event of the Brussels channel of communication being closed, I could resort to either of the others. The Brussels address was C. V. Noens, Rue de Venise, 34. Noens had instructions to forward any communications from me to the proper authorities in Berlin, and all letters from Berlin went from him to a little tobacconist's shop in London and were there remailed to me in Scotland. Six hours after my subsequent arrest in Glasgow, Scotland Yard detectives sought the tobacconist but found him not; nor did they find Noens.
As for the Copenhagen address, that was the proprietor of the Hotel Stadtkiel. Having had him at my beck and call during a mission to Copenhagen, I knew him to be in German pay. Marie Blanche, who conducted a modiste and lingerié shop on the Rue de Rivolie, handled all my communications to Paris.
I went to Edinburgh by way of Hook of Holland and Folkstone. I went by way of March, not going through London for a reason. The reason is that at all times and more especially with the air surcharged with war scares, all continental steamers and expresses entering London are closely watched. The general traveler does not know that every Dover, Calais and Flushing Express is met and watched not only by Scotland Yard detectives but by special government officers. As a rule, very little escapes them. Anyone not an Englishman is upon landing likely to notice an elderly, gray-haired, high-hatted English gentleman who looks like a retired army officer or cleric and who generally carries an umbrella. If this clerical looking gentleman decides a foreigner is suspicious, he is closely shadowed from the moment he enters London.
Circumventing this by going via March, I arrived in Edinburgh and put up at the old Bedford Hotel on Prince's Street, a quiet select Scottish hostelry. I registered under my quasi-correct name of A. K. Graves, M. D., Turo, Australia. My "stunt" was to convey the impression of being an Australian physician taking additional post-graduate courses at the famous Scottish seat of medical learning. After a few days' residence at the Bedford, I installed myself in private quarters at a Mrs. Macleod's, 23 Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh. The ordinary expense provided for my residential quarters was $75 a week. This of course did not include "extras," such as entertaining, motors, etc.
For the first fortnight I quietly took my bearings, creating a suggestion that I was a semi-invalid. Having by this time familiarized myself with Edinburgh and surroundings, I made frequent trips to the Firth of Forth upon which was located the Rossyth base. Now across the Firth there is a long bridge. It is between the Rossyth base and the North Sea. Warships going to and from the naval station pass under it. But more about this bridge later--something for the benefit of the English Admiralty.
Gradually I worked myself into the confidence of one of the bridge keepers. I shall not give the man's name for to do so would injure him and quite unwillingly he gave me facilities for studying the naval base and furnished me with scraps of information that I wanted to know. For this he received no money and he was not a traitor to his country. Through the little acquaintance I struck up with him, I was able to make a thorough study of the bridge and its structure--a strategic point, the bridge. Also, through the offices of my good friend the keeper, I was introduced to some of his "pals" in the waterguard. Because of my intimate knowledge of Robbie Burns, Walter Scott, "inside" history of Prince Charlie, and--ahem!--Scottish proclivity for a drop o' whisky, they accepted me as a half Scotchman.
From the waterguard I obtained more definite information regarding the Rossyth base. So much for the topographical knowledge which could only be obtained through personal contact with men who actually knew every inch of the ground. The charts back in Berlin could not give me that exact information. The higher scientific data of the fortifications and the base, I obtained by social intercourse with high placed officials--officers and engineers at Rossyth--whom I entertained at various times.
The schooling I had received in the silhouettes presently came in handy. One night my friend, the bridge tender, learned that the fleet was getting up steam. Accordingly, I stood on the bridge that night and waited. At five o'clock in the morning a gray, rainy, foggy morning, through which the ships moved almost ghost-like, I made out sixteen war vessels. From their silhouettes, I knew them to be dreadnaughts, cruisers, and torpedo boat destroyers. At once I filed a cable by way of Brussels, informing the Intelligence Department of the German Navy that an English fleet sixteen strong had put to sea. Subsequently I learned that in describing the sixteen ships I had made only one mistake.
I may here draw attention and in return for England's fair treatment of me during my trial, give them gratis, this information. The Firth of Forth Bridge constitutes a grave danger to the Rossyth Royal naval base.
For this reason: Its location between Rossyth and the sea is a decided menace. In the event of hostilities, in fact before the outbreak of war, it is no ways impossible to blow up the Firth of Forth Bridge and bottle all war vessels concentrated at the Rossyth base. They could thus be bottled up for several days powerless, while a foreign fleet swept at the Scottish coasts. The British foreign office will understand what I mean by this: Look to the middle island.
I found it to be partly intervened with soft, soapy neiss, making natural ruts and cavities that were ideal for the placing of explosives. I learned also that along the Edinburgh approach to the Firth of Forth Bridge were two pieces of ground and houses in reality owned by Germans although the deeds stood in Scottish names. Moreover, little fishing hamlets on either side of the bridge harbored more than one supposed Swedish fisherman but who in reality had his name still on the German Naval register. In the event of trouble these men, using explosives stored in the two houses in question, could have blown the Middle Island to atoms.
After about three weeks I began to be suspicious of being followed. Arriving home one night I noticed that my dress suit was arranged in a different way to what I had left it. I called my landlady and casually inquired if my tailor had been there. She said, "No, Doctor."
"Well," I replied. "What reason have you then to rearrange my clothes?"
Her face reddened and she seemed flustered.
"I wasn't in your room," she faltered. "I remember now. I believe the tailor was here. One of the servants let him in."
I have no reason to shield Mrs. Macleod, for with true Scottish thrift she got as much out of me as she could and then afterwards declared in court that she thought I was a German spy a fortnight after I had been in her house.
I made it my business to go around to my tailor's within an hour's time and he contradicted her story. He had not been at the house. To completely verify my suspicions that I was being shadowed, I went the next day into the "F and F," a well-known caterer on Prince's Street. In the writing-room I wrote some letters, one of which I purposely dropped on the floor. I withdrew to the washroom and returning in about fifteen minutes noticed that the letter had disappeared. Making inquiries of "buttons" and of the "desk girl" I learned that a gentleman had quietly picked up the letter and without reading it had put it in his pocket and walked away. That settled it. They were after me.
I hope this particular detective or his superior could read Greek. For they, or whoever spent their time translating my letter, read an ancient Greek version of "Mary had a Little Lamb."
I recognized it as an occasion where I had to make a right royal bluff. I went at once to police headquarters in Edinburgh. I asked for Chief Constable Ross, and sent in my card bearing Dr. A. K. Graves, Turo, S. Australia. Presently I was shown into the chief's room and was received by a typical Scottish gentleman. I opened fire in this way:
"Have you any reason to believe that I am a German spy?"
I saw that it had knocked him off his pins.
"Why, no," he said, startled. "I don't know anything at all about it."
"It's not by your orders then that I am followed?"
"Certainly not," he replied.
"Well, Chief, it's hardly likely that anything of such importance would transpire without your notice."
"What reason have you to believe that you were followed?" he asked.
"Reason in plenty," I replied. "Some agent had even the audacity to enter my apartments and search my effects. This, as you know, is absolutely against English law, a warrant being necessary for such procedure. If you have any reason to take me to be a German spy, go right ahead now, or let these rather nonsensical persecutions cease. I have taken this up to now to be rather a good joke, but my sense of humor has its limit."
Chief Constable Ross became serious, and very bravely said:
"Well, Doctor, you know we've got to obey orders. I'm quite satisfied though that there has been a mistake made and you shall no further be annoyed."
He bowed me out. Of course I knew I still would be shadowed which I did not mind in the least. I reasoned that my visit to the police might make them slow down a bit. Right along I communicated by cables and letter with Berlin and went the even tenor of my way. About a week after my experience with Constable Ross, I received information that William Beardmore & Co., of Glasgow, were constructing some new fourteen-inch guns for the British government. That meant a change of base.
I at once made it my business to go to Glasgow and get particulars. I installed myself in the Central Station Hotel, and in a few weeks gained all the information I wanted. It would take too long to detail how this was done, but you have a very expressive American saying, "money talks." I had the plans, firing systems, everything of interest about the new fourteen-inch turret guns. While in Glasgow I received letters addressed to me as James Stafford. I received two such letters, and upon my calling at a General Post-Office for a third, I was informed that there was a letter for A. Stafford.
"Oh yes, that is my letter," I said.
The clerk demurred and replied:
"You asked for James Stafford. Under those circumstances I cannot hand you this letter. It is against the postal law."
Not being in a position to raise a question I let it go at that, never for a moment thinking that my employers would be so culpably careless as to put any incriminating evidence in the mail. Events proved that that is just what they did. Moreover, I later came to know why that particular letter was addressed not to James but to A. Stafford. All my previous letters were addressed to me as Dr. A. K. Graves and were enclosed in the business envelope of the well-known chemical firm of Burroughs & Wellcome, Snowhills, London, E. C.--which paper had been fabricated for the purpose. Of course the letters were sent from the Continent to London and there reposted. The stationery of this chemical firm was fabricated so as to disarm any possible suspicion, for European post-offices are taught to be suspicious. It would be perfectly natural for me, a physician in Edinburgh, to receive a letter from a very well-known chemical concern.
When I left Edinburgh to find out about the fourteen-inch guns, I gave our people in London instructions to use plain envelopes and to address them to James Stafford, G. P. O., Glasgow. The first two letters were addressed correctly and plain envelopes were used. The third was not only misaddressed but was enclosed in one of the B. & W. envelopes--this as I later learned, for a reason.
No one having called for it, the letter was returned to the chemical company. At their office it was opened and found to contain a typewritten letter in the German language and five ten-pound notes on the Bank of England. The contents of the letter, was such as to lead the firm to call in the police.
On the evening of April 10, I had just put on my evening clothes and gone to the upstairs writing-room. I was awaiting a party of gentlemen who were coming to dine with me in the hotel. There came a "buttons" who announced:
"There's a gentleman downstairs to see you, Doctor."
A premonition stole over me. I knew that my guests would not have sent for me to come down but would have been announced. I realized that if I was going to be caught there was no avoiding it. Secret Service makes a man a fatalist. I took the precaution, however, to slip inside my dinner coat just under the arm, my little bag of chemicals, so often handy in an emergency. Then I went downstairs, one hand was thrust in my pocket, the other folded across my breast so that I could snatch the little bag of chemicals in an emergency.
I had hardly reached the last step of the grand stairway when four big plain-clothes men, pounced upon me. I had to do some swift thinking. I could have flung the chemicals in their faces and escaped, but I knew I could never get outside of the British Isles without being caught--outside of Glasgow for that matter. Such resistance would only incriminate matters still more, so I let my hand fall down to my side. More for the fun of it than anything else, I guess, I got on my horse and demanded to know what was the matter.
"You'll soon know," Inspector French declared.
It seems that a woman had just called me on the telephone and the Inspector, hurrying to the wire, pretended that he was I and tried to learn something.
He then ordered his men to search me and seemed amazed when they couldn't find any six shooters, daggers or bombs. I was taken back to my room and there he began going through my effects, and bundling them up. I knew I was up against it; but I wasn't going to make it any easier for them. I requested Mr. Morris, then manager of the hotel, and another witness to be called into my room. These gentlemen were kind enough to put down on paper a description of all my effects that were being taken away by the police. I was extremely careful to see that they noted and described all papers and written matters of any kind. There are often produced in court documents that are not found on a Secret Service agent at the time of his arrest. Inspector French--I recall him as an uncouth, illiterate bungler who subsequently tried to get a lot of publicity out of my arrest as if he himself had detected the whole concern, instead of having it thrust under his nose by the London chemical company--was preparing to ride over me roughshod. I insisted that he read the warrant for my arrest and with much grumbling he finally did so. It had been issued under the Official Secret Act that had been rushed through the House of Commons. I was charged with endangering the safeguards of the British Empire.
I spent the night in the Glasgow City Prison, and was taken the next day before a magistrate and formally committed to a sheriff's court. On July 12 my case came up before the Sheriff's court. Waiving preliminary examination, I was committed for trial to the Edinburgh High Court. It is significant that the extreme length of a committal without trial under British law is one hundred and five calendar days, which hundred and five days up to the last minute I certainly waited. They were trying to find out my antecedents but they did not succeed.
A letter from the Lord Provost informed me that all material for my defense should be in his hands a day before the trial. I had no defense. I neither denied nor admitted anything. I replied to his Lordship that as I was unaware of any offense there was no need of any defense. My attitude was a profound puzzle--which was as I wanted.
If you care to look over the back files of the English and Scottish newspapers of the time you will read that my trial was "the most sensational court procedure ever held in a Scottish court of justice."
Now I shall reveal every circumstance of it. For the first time I shall explain how, why and by whom I was secretly released. Until I revealed myself in the United States, even the German Foreign Office thought me in jail.
Against me the crown had summoned forty-five witnesses. They included admirals, colonels, captains, military and naval experts, post office officials--I cannot recall all. The press from all parts of Europe--for all Europe was vitally concerned in this trial--was represented. My memory shows me again the crowds that packed the big supreme court building at Edinburgh on the first day of the proceedings. The imposing names connected with the trial, the strange circumstances, a spy, moreover a German!--These things brought the excitement to fever heat.
Presiding was the Lord Justice of Scotland, himself no mean expert in military matters. The Solicitor General of Scotland, A. M. Anderson, who prosecuted for the crown, was supported by G. Morton, Advocate Deputy. The government had indeed an imposing array of bewigged, black-gowned, legal notables marshaled against me.
Those familiar with English court procedure know the impressive manner with which justice is dispensed. Punctually at ten on the morning of July 22, 1912, my trial opened. Clad in his royal red robe with the ermine collar of supreme justice, the Lord Justice entered the court. Before him walked a mace bearer, intoning "Gentlemen, the Lord Justice! Gentlemen, the Court!" After the impressive ceremonies had been observed, the jury was quickly empaneled, I making several challenges. Twelve years in the Secret Service naturally has made me know something of men. I knew that those twelve hard-headed, cautious Scottish jurymen would demand pretty substantial proof before convicting. At the time I am frank to say that I did not think there was a chance of a verdict of guilty being brought in. The evidence against me was too vague.
Expressing astonishment at my refusal to accept counsel--which was subsequently forced on me--His Lordship promised to guard my interest on legal points; and guard it he did. Repeatedly he ruled against the Solicitor General and challenged him on more than one point. I am frank in my admiration of British justice. My trial was a model of fairness.
On the first day I waived examination on all witnesses but the naval and military experts. I directed my fire against Rear Admiral T. B. Stratton Adair, who superintended the ordnance factories of the Beardmore Gun Works in Glasglow. The Admiral, a typical English gentleman of the naval officer type, long, lank with a rather ascetic, clear-cut Roman head, not unlike Chamberlain in general appearance, even to the single eye-glass, did not make much of a showing as an expert witness for the prosecution. The Admiral was called in on testimony concerning the new fourteen-inch gun. The point they were trying to establish was that it was impossible for a man to have my knowledge of these guns unless he had obtained it first hand from the works in Glasgow. Of course that brought the testimony into technicalities. I managed to involve the Admiral in a heated altercation on the trajectory and penetrating power of the so-much disputed fourteen-inch gun. One word led to another and notwithstanding that he ranked at that time as a rear admiral of the British Navy, the Admiral showed that he did not know as much about his own guns as I. Backed into this corner he was about to divulge things in support of his knowledge when he recovered himself, pulled up suddenly and appealed to the Court.
"Your Lordship, it is against the British Government to have any more questions on this point in open court."
I maintained that my knowledge of guns was such that I did not need to spy at Beardmore to obtain the things I knew. Subsequently after being cross-examined by me another of the government's naval experts told the court:
"It is quite possible for one with a ballistic knowledge such as the defendant's to be able with very little data to arrive at accurate conclusions regarding our new fourteen-inch guns."
A word of advice to the Admiral. Do not talk so much when you go motor boating with pretty young musical comedy girls. You see, Admiral, I made it my business to see those young ladies in Glasgow. What an interest they took in you--a great Admiral! It is you, Admiral, whom I thank for aiding me in securing the right persons from whom the secrets of your new fourteen-inch guns could be obtained.
A note they found in my effects was introduced as evidence. It read as follows:
"The firm of William Beardmore and Co., Parkhead, Glasgow. B first orders F new 13.5 guns F, Navy. Length 51 feet, weight 73 tons. One foot longer than 12-inch, but 12 tons heavier. Weight of shot, 1,250 lb., 400 lb. more than the 12-inch gun."
The upshot of it was that the first day of the trial ended with everybody positive that I would not be found guilty on the charge of obtaining secret information about their guns. Of course all this information I had obtained.
On the recess I was pleasantly surprised when a court orderly brought me refreshments from the judge's own table with his Lordship's compliments. It struck me that I was being treated more like a guest than a prisoner.
The second day of the trial brought the Burroughs & Wellcome letter into the testimony--the letter that had been refused me and had in turn gone back to the Chemical Company. Very gravely Sir Anderson, Crown Prosecutor, read the contents of this letter aloud. As I recall the exact wording it was:
We are pleased to learn of your successful negotiation of the business at hand. Be pleased to send us an early sample. As regards the other matter in hand I do not know how useful it will be to us: In any case my firm is not willing to pay you more than 100 in this case.
It was unsigned.
While reading, Sir Anderson held the five ten-pound notes in his hand. Upon finishing he began a vigorous indictment which in substance he declaimed in this way.
"On the face of it, this letter does not seem suspicious. But if you gentlemen will recall the times of Prince Charles' insurrections, periods whenever intrigues were going on, you will remember that in communications of this sort a government was always referred to as a 'firm.' If this was an honest business letter why was it enclosed in the envelope stationery of a company that knew nothing about it? Why was this letter unsigned? Why was cash enclosed, with it? What was his firm willing to pay 100 pounds for? Gentlemen, the reasons for all these things are obvious."
But the letter puzzled not only the court, the jury, the newspapers, but all England. For the first time I shall now explain it:
It was from the German government. By the "business at hand" they meant a new explosive and slow-burning powder that was to be used in the new type of fourteen-inch turret guns being made in Glasgow. Some of that explosive was in my possession. The fact that it was not discovered in my effects, nor was anything else incriminating found on me is because the Secret Agent who knows his business leaves nothing about; but he "plants" things, that is to say, leaves them in a safe deposit vault with the key in the hands of a person with power of attorney.
By the "sample" in the letter was meant a sample of the explosive. The "other business at hand" was spoken of as of tremendous importance, more vital to the safeguards of Britain than the other points mentioned in the letter.
There were sub-agents working at Cromarty. I did not know who they were; they simply made their reports to me, signing their German Secret Service number. I took up their points with Berlin. Well, the "other business in hand" was to put a certain British army officer under a monthly retaining fee of 100£ for which in the event of war he was to commit an act of unspeakable treason and treachery on a certain harbor defense.
I had judged my jurymen right, for they were very little impressed by this letter. It was all too vague and even the fluent language of a Crown Prosecutor does not impress a hard-headed Scotchman. I was feeling in high spirits indeed, when I saw one of the attendants approach Sir Anderson and deliver a document that had been handed into court. I at once recognized it and my heart dropped into my shoes. The Solicitor General read the document and smiled. I knew they had me.
In addressing the court the Solicitor General produced two pieces of thin paper--the same that had been brought in on the previous afternoon.
"I have got to show the court," he said impressively, "the most deadly code ever prepared against the safeguards of Great Britain."
And it certainly was. It contained the name of every vessel in the British Navy, every naval base, fortification and strategic point, in Great Britain. There were over ten thousand names and opposite each was written a number. For example, the battle cruiser Queen Mary was number 813.
As I have confessed, I am superstitious. And have I not reason to be? It was the Burroughs & Wellcome letter that got me caught in the first place. And my secret code was written in a book issued for the use of physicians by Burroughs & Wellcome! Both times the B & W mark was upon me.
Using a magnifying glass I had written in tiny characters my code. There were so many names it was impossible to memorize them all. Two opposite sheets of the little memoranda book were used, then the edges of the pages were pasted together. Whenever I learned the British warships were going to put to sea, I slipped the book in my pocket, went to a position of vantage where I could make out the silhouettes of the warships, classified them in my mind, and then writing out a cable put down the code numbers, say in this way.
214, 69, 700, 910, 21--(Necessary words were filled in by the A. B. C. code).
This message was sent by way of Brussels or Paris to the Intelligence Department of the German Admiralty in Berlin and told them what warships were putting to sea or arriving at Rossyth. The code contained such phrases as this:
"Current rumors." "Incoming." "Outgoing." "Clearing for action." "Have lowered defending nets." "Land fortifications are manned." "Protective maneuvers are being carried out at sea." "Coal being carried by rail." "Remarkable influx of Reservists." "Mine flelds being laid." "All is quiet; nothing important to report." "Liners are appearing."
The accidental finding of this code of course settled all further argument. I called no witness for the defense except two or three personal acquaintances to each of whom I put this question:
"What is your knowledge of my attitude as regards England?"
They all declared that even if I was a spy in the pay of any foreign government I certainly had never shown any personal feeling or animosity toward Great Britain.
All of which I figured might aid the cause of clemency. The jury was not out more than half an hour. I was found guilty of endangering the safeguards of the British Empire and under the new law that had been aimed against German spies I was liable to seven years' penal servitude. Even then my spirits were not down. I had what Americans call "a hunch."
Just before his Lordship, the Chief Justice, summed up, an aristocratic, gray-clad Englishman, who never had been in the court room before, appeared and was courteously, almost impressively, conducted to the bench. I noticed that the Chief Justice bowed to him with unction and they had about two minutes' whispered conversation. His Lordship was nodding repeatedly. This worried me. I felt I was going to get it good.
But, in substance, his Lordship's verdict was:
"Taking all the circumstances into consideration, the court pronounces a sentence of eighteen months' imprisonment."
I smiled and said:
"Exit Armgaard Karl Graves."
A murmur of astonishment was audible. Everybody in court was surprised. I heard gasps all around me, especially among the foreign newspaper reporters. With everybody expecting seven years of penal servitude, eighteen months of plain imprisonment was a bombshell. Why?
I was taken first to Carlton Hill Jail, Edinburgh, and transferred after two weeks to Barlinney Prison near Glasgow. Considering the circumstances, I was treated with surprising consideration. The conditions that had characterized my trial prevailed in the prison. I soon perceived that the Barlinney prison officials were trying to sound me in a canny Scotch way--with no result.
"You're foolish to stay in here--You must have something worth while--Why don't you get out?"
That was the gist of their talks with me from the warders up. I kept my mouth shut.
Now I shall present information that was denied the House of Commons upon the occasion of an inquiry into my case.
On the fifth week of my imprisonment I was taken to the office of the Governor of the prison. As I entered I saw a slight, soldierly looking English gentleman of the cavalry type--(a cavalry officer has certain mannerisms that invariably give him away to one who knows). The Governor spoke first:
"Graves, here is a gentleman who wishes to see you."
The stranger nodded to the Governor and said:
"I may be quite a while. You have your instructions."
"That's all right, sir," replied the Governor.
The Governor left and we were alone. The stranger rose.
"My name is Robinson, Doctor. Please take a seat."
Of course, being a prisoner, I had remained standing.
Robinson began some casual conversation.
"How are they treating you?"
"I have no complaints to make."
"Is the confinement irksome to you?"
"Naturally." I looked him straight in the face. "I am a philosopher. Kismet, Captain."
"Oh--ho" he exclaimed. "You address me as Captain. Wherefor this knowledge? We have never met."
"No," I replied. "But I have associated too long with various types of army officers not to be able to detect a British cavalry officer. Formerly of an Hussar regiment, I take it?"
He laughed for some time. He continued feeling his way in this manner. Then suddenly he changed front. Point blank he asked me:
"Now, old chap, we know that you worked for Germany against us. We also know that you are not a German. Is there any reason why you should not work for us? Any private reason?"
"Captain," I said, "you of all men ought to know that the betrayal of your employers for a monetary or a liberty reason alone is never entertained by a man who has been in my work. We go into it with our eyes open, well knowing the consequences if we are caught. We do not squeal if we are hurt."
For a time he looked at me very earnestly.
"H-m," he said. "That just bears out what we have been able to ascertain about you. It puzzled us how a man of your known ability acted the way you did. From the moment you landed in England, all the time you were doing your work, even after your arrest, in prison and in court you show a sort of listless, almost an indifferent attitude. If I may put it this way, you seemed in noways keen to go to extremes in any possible missions you might have had," he paused. "We think you could have done more than you did... The mildness of your sentence, has it surprised you?"
"Nothing surprises me, Captain."
His manner became very earnest.
"Supposing," he said, "we show you that it was a quasi-deliberate intention on the part of your employers to have you caught--what then?"
This did not startle me either. I had an idea of that all along. It is why I played my cards so quietly, why I did not accomplish in England everything I had a chance to accomplish. I did not grin this time.
"Under those circumstances," I said, "I am open to negotiations. But I am rather deaf and my vision is very much obscured as long as I see bars in front of my window."
The Captain smiled:
"Well, Doctor, I may see you again soon."
"Captain, I have not the slightest doubt but that you will. But let it be understood, please, that it's a waste of time as long as I am behind bars."
"Leave that to me," he said and we shook hands.
I was taken back to my cell. I am frank to admit that I didn't sleep much for the next two or three nights. All through my trial and in Barlinney I had been playing a part. When the occasion demanded I could be as cool as I was with Captain Robinson. But that was a strain and it took it out of me. During these following days I was nervous; I had insomnia; I paced my cell at night. The feeling of a jail is cold and thick.
But as I expected, another week brought Captain Robinson again. This time it was late in the evening after all the prisons were shut up tight. The Lieutenant-governor himself took me into the Governor's office. No other warder or prison official observed us.
"Well, Doctor," was the way Robinson greeted me. "I have something definite to propose to you. You can be of use to us. You have still sixteen months of your sentence to serve. Are you willing to give these sixteen months of your time to us--terms to be agreed upon later? I am prepared to supply you with proofs that you were deliberately put away, betrayed by your employers, the German government."
He did so to my complete satisfaction. As I guessed, I had come to learn so much of Germany's affairs that I was dangerous. To betray me in such a way that I would not suspect and squeal was a clever way to close my mouth for seven years in jail or until the Black Forest plans had matured.
"How would you suggest that we go about it?" he asked.
"To be of the slightest degree of use to you, nobody must know of my release," I added. "Here is my suggestion. I must leave the execution of it to you. The impression I conveyed around Edinburgh was that my health is rather indifferent. So it is also believed here in the prison. On those grounds it should be an easy matter for you to have me ostensibly transferred to another prison; instead of which, have me taken wherever you wish to. I see no necessity that outside the Lieutenant-governor, the Governor and yourself, any one need know of it."
"Yes, yes," said Robinson. "That coincides with my own ideas and plans." Presently he departed and I went back again to my cell.
At half-past five the next morning, I was aroused by the Lieutenant-governor. He was alone. There were no warders in sight. In the Governor's office I found all my clothes and effects ready and laid out for me. These I addressed and left with the Lieutenant-governor. We took a taxicab for the Caledonian Station in Glasgow. Few people were abroad in Glasgow at that time of day and there was no danger of recognition. The trip to London was uneventful. At Euston Station we were met by Captain Robinson. We went into a private waiting-room where Captain Robinson signed a paper for the Lieutenant-governor. It was what amounted to a receipt for the prison's delivery of me into his hands. Then the lieutenant-governor left us; then Robinson left, after handing over an envelope containing cash and instructions.
I was alone and free. I could then and there have disappeared. Obviously the English government trusted me fully.
My first move was to register at the Russel Square Hotel. Opening the envelope in my rooms, I found it contained ten pounds and the following instructions:
"Telephone at 10.30 to-morrow morning, this number Mayfair--"
I telephoned the Mayfair number and was told to hold the wire. Then Captain Robinson got on the phone and told me to meet him at luncheon that day at one o'clock at the Imperial Hotel. There another gentleman joined us--a Mr. Morgan, whom I easily judged and afterwards knew to be of the English Secret Service. Presently Morgan told me that I was to drive with Captain Robinson to Downing Street that afternoon.
"One of our ministers wishes to see you," he explained.
We drove to Downing Street, Captain Robinson and I, and stopped before the historic governmental building. After we had signed the book that all visitors to "Downing Street" must sign, I was ushered into an anteroom and Robinson took his leave. My name appears on this book as Trenton Snell, and if the English government challenges a statement that I shall subsequently make, let them produce the "Downing Street" book for the date I shall mention, let them have a handwriting expert compare the name "Trenton Snell" with my handwriting.
I make this statement for what followed is of tremendous importance.
After a twenty-minute wait, which impressed me as being different from the slam-in-and-slam-out methods of the Wilhelmstrasse, I was shown up a flight of stairs. The attendant knocked on the door, opened it and announced "The gentleman."
I was facing Sir Edward Grey.
He was seated behind a big green-covered mahogany desk. I noticed that the room seemed like a private library; books, memorandas, letters and dispatch cases littered not only the desk but the tables and chairs. The eye was struck by a huge piece of furniture, a tall leather-covered easy chair. I present these details for obvious reasons.
Sir Edward, looking small in the big armchair, was seated with his legs crossed. He was reading some document and without a sign of recognition he kept me standing there, it must have been ten minutes. I noticed that he glanced at me now and then above the top of the paper. Abruptly he told me to have a seat. When I said that I preferred to stand, he nodded and pulling open a drawer took from it a folder that, as subsequent events verified, I suspected to be a report on me. There was another period during which he seemed to be unaware of my presence, and I took advantage of it to size up my man. He impressed me as being one of those intolerable, typically English icicles, which only that nation seems able to produce in her public servants. Presumably through a century-long contact with the races of the East, the English diplomat of the Sir Edward Grey type presents the bland, imperturbable, non-committal, almost inane expression of the Oriental that hardly gives one any criterion of the tremendous power of perception and concentration beneath the mask.
After twirling his fingers, he said:
"I presume you are familiar with Germany's naval activity."
"Up to a certain point, sir."
"What point?" he asked quickly.
"I am familiar only with the Intelligence Department of the Admiralty," I replied.
"Their system?" he asked. "Is it so extensive and efficient as we have been led to believe?"
"That cannot be exaggerated."
At this Sir Edward began to throw out innuendoes to which I replied in like vein. The interview was not progressing. Finally he came out with what was in his mind.
Do you know if any officials or naval officers are selling or negotiating to sell information to Foreign Intelligence Departments?"
Although he had not said English officers or officials, I knew what he meant, but I made up my mind not to tell everything I knew.
"There are such," I replied.
It had the effect of making him look at me in a most startled manner.
"How do you know that? On what grounds do you make that assertion?" His agitation was ill-concealed.
"I have no specific proof," I replied--(which I had)--"but from information that has been gained, from plans that have been secured--plans like those of your battleships Queen Mary and Ajax--it is obvious that these things have been done with the cooperation of high officials of your country."
He pressed me for further details, but I withheld them. I could have told him a pretty story about the plans of the Queen Mary and Ajax. He fell to studying a rather voluminous report; then he began anew with his innuendoes. I guessed what was coming. Although his speech was more prolonged than I shall now present it, this is the gist of what he asked:
"Were you ever present at conferences attended by high officials? Were you, for instance, at the Schlangenbad meeting? Have you any data? Any documentary evidence of having been there?"
I was not a bit startled. I had guessed it would be that. His very question showed that it was useless for me to deny that I had been at the Black Forest conference. Possibly Churchill, recalling my meeting him during the Boer War, had dropped a word about this coincidence to his Lordship. Naturally I told him I possessed no such data. Still I did not like the trend of his talk. I began to suspect that this British Minister was doing one of two things. Either he did not know everything about the Black Forest meeting--(not at all improbable with the conditions existing in England's cabinet at that time)--or else he wanted to learn if I knew the tenor of that conference. In either ease it was one of those occasions where I deemed it wise to keep my own counsel.
After many searching questions upon the French system and her army and navy, he began to try to lead me to make comparisons between their strength and England's, these being based upon my personal observations. This, and the whole trend of his thought, led me to suspect that Sir Edward Grey was in noways sure in his own mind or favorable to the German-English alliance. With men like his Lordship, personal antipathy plays a powerful part in such matters.
He then began to try to make me divulge the contents of any personal dispatches I had carried for the German Emperor.
"Do you know," he asked abruptly, "if the German Emperor ever communicates with Viscount Haldane?"
He leaned forward eagerly.
"How and under what circumstances?"
"Why, I thought it common knowledge that they often correspond. They are good friends."
"Not that. I mean direct secret communications between them, concerning affairs of the state."
I denied any knowledge of this, although I knew it to be so.
He began his fishing around again and his hints found me very stupid.
My unsatisfactory answers seemed to displease Sir Edward Grey, for with true British discourtesy he abruptly began working at something on his desk and without even saying good day, let a commissaire bow me out.
A few days later I received definite instructions from Captain Robinson. I was to go on my first mission in the interests of the British Secret Service and subsequently another mission brought me to New York, where I resigned from service permanently.
TO NEW YORK FOR ENGLAND
It was in December, 1912, that I again felt the thrill of the old game as I moved about London under the plausible name of "Trenton Snell," engaged in guarding or obtaining state secrets, but this time for a new master. English secret agents are allowed liberal expense money and my work in London and other points in the British Isles was not so arduous as to prevent my taking frequent holidays. I judged that Downing Street was holding me for something big should the occasion arise. In London, my chief work for a time was counteracting the machinations and influences of German agents, forever infesting the British capital. Many a neat little plan inspired by the gentlemen of the Wilhelmstrasse went wrong during those next few weeks and back in Berlin they began to think that their spies had lost their cunning.
During this period I was under the direct orders of Captain Robinson, who, you will recall, had been the go-between for Downing Street in closing the bargain for my release from Barlinney Prison. Robinson, an ex-captain of the Hussars, was well up in subterranean affairs and to him Sir Edward Grey was no stranger.
|GENERALS VON HEERINGEN AND VON MOLTKE|
|Two famous military men who figured largely in Germany's war plans during Dr. Graves' service.|
Along in January there came to the ear of Downing Street rumors of a possible meeting between German and Japanese envoys. Moreover, the meeting ground was to be the United States. It may surprise Americans to learn that of late years their country has become a favorite meeting place for European diplomats, secret and otherwise. These men invariably sail from Europe, remarking something about taking a trip to the Rockies or visiting some noted fishing streams. They may be going into Canada or the Western States for the shooting; and when these gentlemen leave Europe on these little "vacations" they are generally shadowed, or attempts are made to shadow them. In the course of a few days after the English foreign office learned of the supposed meeting of German and Japanese agents to be held in America, I received official instructions. They were sharp and very much to the point. I was to find out what the meeting in the United States was about, and, if possible, to learn the nature of the diplomatic proposals likely to be considered by Japan and Germany. England herself having an alliance pending with Germany, was decidedly wary of this new diplomatic conversation with the yellow empire of the Pacific. What was in the wind? Why was Germany conniving secretly with Japan? What effect would it have on the English-Austrian-German alliance secretly discussed in the Taunus Hills only the autumn before. Obviously the mission was an important one.
The first step was to locate one of the German envoys. To do this I had to cross to the Continent, a dangerous proceeding, at best, for there were abundant possibilities of recognition. Especially was it sticking one's head in the mouth of danger to be seen in Germany. Nevertheless to Germany I had to go to locate my man. It must be understood that the big missions of Secret Service are accomplished by many coöperating agencies. True, Great Britain had been rather slow in perfecting a continental system of espionage, but by 1913 the machinery was operating well. Downing Street had special lines of intelligence from all the European capitals. I lost no time in making use of the resources of these lesser agents, in fact a system of spying on spies, and soon had information at my disposal that led me to go to Berlin.
It was in Berlin that I learned that a man known as Carl Schmidt would be the messenger for the Wilhelmstrasse, bearing the instructions too important to be trusted to transatlantic cable cipher. Exercising infinite care and tremendous patience--for should I be recognized in Berlin, the German Foreign Office would have been thrown into consternation: "What's this? A man we believed safely looking through the bars of an English prison is at large in our own capital. Hm"--completely effacing myself so far as possible, I managed to keep track of the whereabouts of Carl Schmidt.
It was drawing near to February 4, the sailing day of the Kaiser Wilhelm II, and I kept the quarry in sight night and day. It was with the most satisfied of smiles therefore that I ascertained the purchase of railroad accommodations by Carl Schmidt for Bremen, the sailing port of the big North German Lloyd liner. Taking care to secure a seat in the same compartment with Herr Schmidt, I watched him all the way from Berlin to Bremen. Now, whenever I have carried a document of any description while traveling for any length of time, I have always let my hand wander toward its hiding place to assure myself that it was still there. Sometimes I fished in my pockets for a match, or used any pretext to locate the paper without betraying myself. There is not a human being who will not give some little sign of concern, perhaps only once an hour, but often enough to betray himself to the trained observer. Accordingly I set myself to watch Carl Schmidt's hands. Not for a minute did I relax my vigilance, yet not once on the way to Bremen did the German envoy betray himself by an apparent motion. Whereupon I became positive that Herr Schmidt had not the document upon his person. Where then was it?
It was an easy matter at the steamship offices to find out the number of Schmidt's stateroom. He had engaged room 48 on the first promenade deck. I immediately asked for the rooms on the other side, and by a judicious use of my favorite "palm oil" I secured them. It was imperative now to board the steamer and keeping out of sight until she left port. I had made up my mind to try and obtain the document between Bremen and Cherbourg. This being successful I should be able to leave the ship at the latter port and return at once to London.
From the moment the big North German Lloyd liner steamed out of port, I kept a close watch on Schmidt, still to no purpose. There was only one moment day or night, when the messenger left his dispatch box unguarded and when I finally got at it, I found no document. Obviously the dispatch box was a blind. Herr Schmidt was not guilty of a single piece of carelessness that would betray the hiding place of the dossier. All this had to be done between Bremen and Cherbourg, and when the liner pulled into the French harbor nothing had been accomplished. It was a question of remaining on board and solving the problem before reaching New York.
Now it was risky business to attempt anything for the next few days for I was traveling on a ship of a line that was subsidized by the German government. Once Herr Schmidt realized that there was anything in the wind, it would mean a check to my activities. Schmidt could send a wireless message to the Wilhelmstrasse, and back would be flashed a message to the captain of the Kaiser Wilhelm II authorizing any action Schmidt deemed advisable. Thus could he easily put me under custody on some trumped-up charge. Still, there was no risk involved in watching Schmidt to locate a possible confederate who was carrying the dossier. I watched him unceasingly but confederates there were none. Only one play remained and to make it I must wait patiently until the ship was almost at its dock in New York. Then Herr Schmidt could use the wireless and command the captain's assistance to his heart's content. It would be too late.
During the few days immediately following, I kept my activities well concealed. In fact, I made it my business to avoid Schmidt. My method of handling the situation did not necessitate my striking up an acquaintance with the man. On the contrary to disarm him of all possible suspicions I shunned him. I even contrived not to sit at Herr Schmidt's table in the dining salon. Meanwhile, Robinson, back in Downing Street, kept his hands on the situation, sending me two wireless messages on board the steamer.
All dispatches sent to "Buzzing" London, find their way to Downing Street. It was very probable that being in the diplomatic service, Herr Schmidt would know this term "Buzzing." I thought it unwise to risk a reply. So I kept in the dark waiting for my chance. During the voyage nothing had occurred to arouse the suspicions of Herr Schmidt and he began to relax his vigilance after the ship was four days out. But I was careful not to take the slightest advantage of his ease at this point. I would wait until the ship was almost in port; then make my play.
To prepare for this I had days ago begun to cultivate the acquaintance of one of the baggage men. This man at once attracted me by his shifty eyes and unhealthy red complexion. It hag often been a Secret Service precept with me: "Give me a hard drinker or a man who is fast and I'll land him nine times out of ten." Well, the baggage master was no exception. I decided to ply him with liquor to make his tongue run away. I made it my business to see that this particular baggage man was in an incompetent state afternoon and night. One night as he was chin-chucking a stewardess with whom he was infatuated, this red-faced gentleman said:
"Well, Doctor, we're going to get married, the little lady and I. We're going to set up in business. Do you know of any small hotel that we could bug cheap?"
At this I was all attention; I had been waiting for some lead of this sort.
"Ho, friend," I said; "ready to buy a hotel eh? There must be plenty of gold in your job."
The lout winked heavily.
"Sure," he said. "Just as we are about to reach port we ask everybody on board to prepare for us a statement of the things they have to declare. We give it to the customs officers when they come on board in the Lower Bay of New York. Well, some of those fancy rich people always want to do a bit of smuggling and don't declare lots of things. I have known that for years. What do I do?" Becoming boastful, he patted the stewardess on the shoulder, at which she glanced at me a little frightened. She seemed to realize that her future spouse was talking too much. She tried to remonstrate with him but he was too full of his theme and good spirits.
"Nonsense, my girl; I will tell my friend. Aren't we all drinking together?"
Turning once more to me he said:
"What do I do, Doctor. Well, first I look over the lot of declarations. Then I pick out two or three that look pretty good. I make a list of the things they claim to have in their trunks. Then I get at their baggage and give it a smash, accidentally of course--things are apt to be broken in the hold you know, the boat pitching, carelessness by the porters and all that. So the luggage of my fancy folks is broken open. We look it over. If my lady has held out anything from her declaration, out of the trunk that comes and into my private quarters."
I winked knowingly as if to praise his cleverness.
"We reach the bay; the customs officers come on board. We give them all the declarations. The fancy folks are standing round their baggage waiting for the customs man to get through. Suddenly one of them cries:
"'Oh, my sealskin coat is gone!'
"I step up and politely say:
"'But you must be mistaken. Madame said nothing about a sealskin coat on her declaration so she could not have had one.'
"Ha! Ha! The customs man hears this so she can say nothing. Finish! Ah yes, your old friend baggage man knows a thing or two."
Needless to say this was all grist to my mill. It was just what I wanted. When the ship was a day from New York, I said to the rascal:
"My friend, I want to look at the luggage of Carl Schmidt for ten minutes. It is check number 31694 and is a kiste."
The baggage man was very sorry but that could not be done. If it were found out he would lose his position.
"Either I get at that kiste," I said, "or up you go."
The baggage man attempted to bluster.
"No heroics now, my friend," I smiled. "I know enough about you and your little ingenious piece of graft to tell a pretty story at the North German Lloyd offices in New York. Now do I get a look at Herr Schmidt's kiste?"
With a growl the baggage man yielded, whereupon I gave him $75 to bind the bargain and handed the stewardess $25 so as to assure her support. Still, it would not do to meddle with the chest until the liner was steaming into port, for were Schmidt to discover that his luggage had been tampered with and the dispatch abstracted, since by the process of elimination I concluded it must be there, the alarm would go throughout the ship and every passenger would be searched. Remember this was a German reserve ship.
The chance came after the Kaiser Wilhelm II had steamed past Sandy Hook and was moving up the Lower Bay of New York. With his destination in sight, with no signs in any way suspicious during the trip over, Herr Schmidt had become very easy in mind. With many of the other passengers be went forward and from the deck watched the looming horizon of New York's skyscrapers. A most interesting sight the skyline, something to engross your attention. I was interested in something else.
I was interested in the luggage that was being prepared for the customs officers. On a lower deck the kiste of Carl Schmidt had been conveniently set apart from the other trunks and boxes and the German agent himself was waiting for the customs man to pass upon it. This done, Schmidt was guilty of an unwarrantable piece of carelessness. He tipped the baggage master and left him to lock up the kiste while he went up on the promenade deck to enjoy the view. This did not surprise me, for I had been expecting some such blunder to make my way easier. I had conjectured as nothing had occurred during the entire voyage to excite Schmidt's suspicions that he would be careless as his destination was neared.
Accordingly, when I saw him leave his luggage to the mercies of the baggage man, I stepped forward. Quite unconcernedly in view of the other passengers who were still standing waiting their turn, acting entirely as if it were my own, I opened the unlocked kiste and rummaging among its contents soon brought to light a plain, large envelope sealed with wax. Breaking the seal I took out the only paper it contained, glanced at it, smiled to myself and went to work--swift work, for at any moment Schmidt might return.
If I had not made my plans long ahead, the simple taking of the document would only have added to the problem. Understand, I did not want to steal the document, merely its contents. Now, in the brief minutes that I had beside the luggage, it was impossible to memorize all the contents of the document. So I judged would be the case and I had come prepared.
Under my arm was a popular novel and between the pages of this lay a sheet of special lotion paper, chemically treated in a way known only to the German Secret Service and capable of taking a quick clean print of anything written in pencil or ink. As I lifted the dossier from the kiste I noticed that it was embossed on a greenish white paper, not unlike a bank of England note in color. It was written in German and signed with a foreign office cipher, the letters W and R intertwined. Following this was the numeral 24, the Wilhelmstrasse serial number of the document.
Taking a chance that Herr Schmidt would be fascinated just a minute longer by the magic skyline of New York, I slipped the dossier against the special lotion paper and took an accurate print by sitting on it for two minutes. I then replaced the document in the dispatch envelope and being sure to leave everything appearing as it was, even to fixing the broken seal as best I could, lest by chance Herr Schmidt should return and glance at his kiste.
It was a case now of getting safely off the ship and reaching the nearest cable office for had Schmidt suspected anything, the boat would never have docked until everybody on board had been searched. There was small danger of this, however, for nothing had occurred to alarm Herr Schmidt. The lotion paper used by the German Secret Service has been perfected to such an extent that when taking the print it does not leave any signs on the original. Accordingly, there would likely not have been a clew--only on close scrutiny would it be seen that the seal had been tampered with--even had Schmidt examined his kiste again before landing.
My luggage passed, I made my way to the nearest cable office outside the zone of the steamship offices. At Fourteenth Street and Broadway I entered a Western Union office and wrote out this message to "Buzzing" London. A copy of this being herewith reproduced:
February 12, 1913.
Obtained sample. Letter most important. Not safe writing. Will take to-morrow night's steamer Queenstown. Not sufficient fare. Wire twenty-five pounds W. Union, Broadway 14th.
It may be of interest to note that at the time of my announcing my presence in this country through the medium of the New York American that a copy of this dispatch was secured from the cable company; also that Hearst reporters identified me at the cable office as "Trenton Snell."
When I presented myself at the Fourteenth Street office the next day I received this message:
London, Eng., February 13, 1913.
W. U. 14 Bway.
Cable some details if possible, come London, can't meet you Queenstown.
(The above message accompanies Cable remittance this date.)
The British Foreign Office replying to my request for further funds had cabled the twenty-five pounds which less exchange came to $121.75. At the Western Union office at Fourteenth Street I was paid cheek number 962 to the order of Trenton Snell from "Rob Robinson" London. Now being on alien territory, I refrained from sending a copy of the stolen dispatch by cable. There would be no aid of secrecy from the cable company. I had planned to enclose the copy by registered mail; sending it to Box 356, G. P. O., London, which was the address of the department of the Foreign Office for which I worked, but Robinson demanded immediate details. Accordingly I sent back this wire:
Right. Will wire from Canada. British Territory.
That was imperative, for only in Canada could I secure a guarantee of secrecy for so important a message as that which I would send. Before cabling the details and mailing the original, I made a copy of the document. It was not worded in the official diplomatic form. Rather it appeared to be a note of memoranda and instruction that was to guide the German envoys in their meeting with the Japanese--which meeting was subsequently held at the Hotel Astor, in New York City, and to which meeting went the German envoys, instructed by the document which Herr Schmidt thought he delivered so secretly and trustworthily. This is it; word for word, as it was copied from the print taken in the Herr Schmidt's stateroom:
Germany sanctions and will not obstruct Japan in any colonization intention Japan entertained as regards the Far East, and would not obstruct the acquiring of coaling stations in the South Seas other than New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. Germany would not prevent the acquisition of Germany vessels by Japan providing such vessels were not auxiliary cruisers of the Imperial German Navy.
Germany wishes it understood that in the event of a conflict between Japan and another nation, Germany will maintain a strict neutrality in any event not affecting Germany itself. Germany expresses a higher regard for the Japanese nation and desires closer contact with Japan.
This document, as has been stated, was initialed with the letters W and R, which is sometimes the way the Kaiser O. K.'s any diplomatic document. In any event it had a regular serial number; in this instance number twenty-four of the German Foreign Office.
Of course the acquisition of this document by Great Britain relieved the minds of the English statesman. There was not as they had feared a possible menace in understanding between Germany and Japan. It was simply an agreement by Germany not to intervene in any colonization scheme of the Japanese in the islands of the Pacific. In return for this it was understood that Japan was to do even more thoroughly what she has done in the past. In other words, she must go on playing the rôle of bogieman for the United States. A word about this may not be out of place.
Germany, that is official Germany, is rather friendly toward the United States. Japan, the "yellow peril" is a great war dirigible that is inflated with war scares and hysteria. This aims to keep the United States preoccupied on their Western coastline, so they will not have any desire to meddle with certain plans that may eventuate in Europe within the next few years. The Japanese question is fostered by Europe to keep America's hands full in the event of the coming European war. It is all bluff and occasionally Japan must be rewarded for keeping up the bluff. In this instance Germany permitted Japan to colonize and permitted her to buy all the German ships she wanted with the exception of those big transatlantic liners that are auxiliary cruisers of the German navy, ships which in time of war may be transformed at short notice into good fighting machines. Let me emphasize with all due knowledge of the alarmist's fears that United States need never fear the "Yellow Peril" as long as she does not antagonize the dominant powers of Europe.
"THE GERMAN WAR MACHINE"
The numerical strength, disposition and efficiency of the German army are more or less well known. The brain and all prevailing power controlling its fighting force of four and half a million men--or taking the Triple Alliance into consideration--the forces of which would in the event of war be controlled from Berlin--a force in round numbers of 9,000,000 men is, however, not known. Here for the first time is published an account of the inside workings of the German War Machine as far as is possible for any one man to give. Through my intimate connections with the German and other Secret Service systems; through constant contact with prominent army and navy officers, I had special facilities of which I availed myself to the full, to gain the inside knowledge which I here commit to paper.
The most efficient and elaborate system ever devised by the ingenuity of man, used not only for war and destruction but as an intelligence clearing house for the whole of the Empire, is the German War Machine. Conceived by General Stein in the days of the Napoleonic wars, added to and elaborated by successive administrations, solely under the control of the ruling house, its efficiency, perfect and smooth working is due to the total absence of political machinations or preferences. Brains, ability, and thorough scientific knowledge are the only passports for entrance in the Grosser General Stab, the General Staff of the German Empire. You will find blooded young officers and gray-haired generals past active efficiency, experts ranking from an ordinary mechanic to the highest engineering expert, all working harmoniously together with one end in view, the acme of efficiency. Controlled and directed by the War Lord in person through the Chef des Grossen General Stabs, in my time General Field Marshal von Heeringen, this immense machine, the pulsing brain of a fighting force of four and half a millions of men, is composed of from 180 to 200 officials.
At the Peace of Tilsit, after the crushing defeat of the Prussian armies at Prussian Eylau and Friedland, Bonaparte had Prussia and the whole of Central Europe at his mercy. Contrary to the advice of his generals, especially the succinct advice of his often unheeded mentor Talleyrand, to completely disintegrate Prussia, Napoleon through his fondness for pretty women let himself be tricked by Louise of Prussia. The interesting historical story of this incident may be apropos here, showing how the world's history can be changed through a kiss. At the Peace Conference in Tilsit, Napoleon, on the verge of disintegrating Prussia, met the beautiful Queen Louise of Prussia. Through her pleadings and the imprint of Napoleon's kiss on her classic arm Bonaparte granted Prussia the right to maintain a standing army of 12,000 men. That in itself did not mean much but it gave able and shrewd Prussian patriots the opportunity to circumvent and hoodwink Bonaparte's policy.
Prussia has always been fortunate in producing able men at the most needed moments. A man arose with a gift for military organization. He had every province, district, town, and village in Prussia carefully scheduled and the able-bodied men thereof put on record. He selected the 12,000 men permitted Prussia under the Napoleonic decree and drilled them. No sooner were those men drilled than they were dismissed and another 12,000 called in. From this point dates modern conscription--the father of which was General Stein--and this also inaugurated the birth of the War Machine. In the three years Prussia had 180,000 well-drilled men and 120,000 reserves, quite a different proposition from the 12,000 men Napoleon thought he had to face on his retreat from Moscow, and which played a decisive factor in the overthrow of the dictator of Europe.
Through the wars of 1864 and 1866 to 1870, the Franco-Prussian War, the War Machine of Prussia was merged into that of the German Empire and is a record of increasing efforts, entailing unbelievable hard work and a compilation of the minutest details. The modern system of organization, especially the mobilization schedules, are Helmuth von Moltke's, the "Grosse Schweiger," the Great Silent, the strategist of the 1871 campaign.
It is curious that there is a great similarity between the late Moltke and Heeringen. They have the same aquiline features, tall, thin, dried-up body, the same taciturn disposition, even to their hobbies--Moltke being an incessant chess player, Heeringen using every one of his spare moments to play with lead soldiers. He is reputed to have an army of 30,000 lead soldiers with which he plays the moment he opens his eyes--much in the same manner as Moltke, who used to request his chess-board the first thing in the morning. In military circles Heeringen is looked upon with the same respect and accredited with quite as much strategical knowledge as Moltke was. It is a significant fact, that, whenever there is any tension in Europe, especially between Germany and France, General von Heeringen or his comrade in arms, General von Thulsen Haeseler--also a great strategist and iron disciplinarian, immediately takes command of Metz, the most important base and military post in the Emperor's domain.
There is no man alive who knows one-half as much about the strategical position of Metz and the surrounding country as General von Heeringen. Often on stormy, bitter cold winter nights, sentries on outposts stationed and guarding the approaches of Metz are startled to find a gaunt, limping figure, covered in a gray army greatcoat with no distinguishing marks, stalking along. Accompanied by orderlies carrying camp stools and table, night glasses and electric torches, halting repeatedly, hidden men taking down in writing the short, croaking sentences escaping between the thin compressed lips, the "Geist of Metz" prowls round measuring every foot of ground fifty miles east, west, north, and south of his beloved Metz. The steel tipped arrow ever pointing at the heart of France is safe in the hands of such guardians.
The visible head of this vast organization is called Der Grosse General Stab with headquarters in Berlin. Each army corps has a "kleine General Stab" who sends its most able officers to Berlin. These officers in conjunction with the most able scientists, engineers and architects the Empire can produce, compose the Great General Staff. The virtual head is the German Emperor. The actual executive is called "Chef des Grossen General Stabs."
There is a small, dingy, unpretentious room in the General Staff Gebaude where at moments of stress and tension or international complications, assemble five men. His Majesty, at the head of the table; to the right the Chef of Grossen General Stab; to the left his Minister of War; then the Minister of Railways, and the Chief of Admiral Stab. You will notice the total absence of the Ministers of Finance and Diplomacy. When those five men meet the influence of diplomatic and financial affairs has ceased. They are there to act. The scratching of the Emperor's pen in that room means war, the setting in motion of a fighting force of 5,000,000 men.
Here is another instance:
When the feeling and stress over the Moroccan question was at its height General von Heeringen on leaving his quarters for his usual drive in the Thiergarten was eagerly questioned by a score of officers, awaiting his exit.
"Excellency! Geht's los?" ("Do we begin?")
Grimly smiling, returning their salutes and without pause, limping to his waiting carriage came his answer:
"Sieben Buchstaben, meine Herren!" ("Seven letters, gentlemen!")
In Germany military parlance this means the Emperor's signature, Wilhelm II, to the mobilization orders.
In order to give the reader a fairly correct view of this mighty organization, I have to explain each group separately. The whole system rests on the question of mobilization, meaning the ability to arm, transport, clothe, and feed a fighting force of four and one-half million men, in the shortest possible time on any given point in either eastern or western Europe. For let it be clearly understood that the main point of the training of the German armies is the readiness to launch the entire fighting force like a thunderbolt on any given point of the compass. Germany knows through past experience the advisability and necessity of conducting war in an enemy's country. The German army is built for aggression. There are four main groups:
Each of these groups is, of course, subdivided into numerous branches which we shall go into under each individual head.
First comes organization. The German army is composed of three distinct parts: the standing army, the reserves, and Landwehr.
The standing arm comprises 790,000 officers and men. This body of men is ready at an instant. It is the reserves who need an elaborate system of mobilization. The reserves are divided into two classes, first and second reserves. So is the Landwehr, having two levies--the first and second Aufgebot. Every able-bodied man on reaching the age of twenty-one can be called upon to serve the colors. One in five only is taken, as there is more material than the country needs--the fifth being selected for one of five branches: infantry, cavalry, artillery, Genie corps, or the navy. The time of service in the infantry is two years; in the cavalry three, in the artillery three, in the Genie corps two, and in the navy three. Well-conducted men get from two to four months of their time. This is by no means a charity on the part of the authorities, but a well-thrashed and deep-laid scheme to circumvent the Reichstag as it gives the Emperor another 75,000 men. A certain class of men passing an examination called Einjahriges Zeugniss or possessing a diploma called Abiturienten Examen (the equivalent of a B. A.) serve only one year in each branch. This class provides most of the reserve officers. The active officers, usually the scions of an aristocratic house or the sons of the old military or feudal families in Germany, are mostly educated in one of the state Kadetten-Anstalten, military academies, of which Gross-Lichterfelde bei Berlin is the most famous. The real backbone and stiffening of the German army and navy is the noncommissioned officers recruited from the rank and file. In fact, this body of men is the mainstay of the thrones in the German Empire, especially of Prussia. These men, after about twelve years of service in an army where discipline, obedience, and efficiency are the first and last word, are then drafted into all the minor administrative officers of the state, such as minor railway, post, excise, municipal, and police. The reader will see the significance of this when it is pointed out that not only the Empire but the War Machine has these well-trained men at its beck and call. The same thing applies to the drafting of officers to hold the highest administrative positions in the state.
There are twenty-five army corps all placed in strategical position. The strongest is in Alsace-Lorraine and along the Rhine; the second in importance garrisoning the Prussian-Russian border. The whole country is subdivided into Bezirks commandos (districts posts) whose business is to have on record not only every able-bodied man--reservists--but every motor, horse, and vehicle available; also food and coal supply--in fact, everything likely to be wanted or useful to the army. Every German reservist, or otherwise, knows the reporting place of his district and has to report there when notified within twenty-four hours. The penalties for noncompliance are high even in peace times. In the event of war or martial law they are absolutely stringent. The commandos are so placed that they could forward their drafts of men and material to their provincial concentration points at the quickest possible notice. These provincial concentration points, being railway centers, are so located that the masses of men and materials pouring in from all sides can be handled and sent in the wanted and needed direction without any congestion. How this is done I shall explain when I come to transportation. In each of those district commandos are depots, Montirungs-Kammern (arsenals), where a full equipment for each individual on the roll is kept. The marvelous quickness with which a civilian is transferred into a fully equipped military unit must be seen to be believed, and is only made possible through systematic training and constant maneuvers. These maneuvers are costly, but have long been recognized in German military circles as essential in training the units and familiarizing the commanders with the handling of enormous masses of men. In the last Kaiser maneuvers over half a million men were concentrated and massed; in fact, shuttlecocked from one end of the Empire to the other without a hitch.
The control of the army in peace or in war lies with the Emperor. He is the sole arbiter and head. No political or social body of men has any control in army matters. No political jealousies would be permitted. Obedience and efficiency are demanded. Mutual jealousies and political tricks such as we have seen in the Russian campaign in the East and lately in France are impossible in the German system, for the Emperor would break instantly, in fact has done so, any general guilty of even the faintest indication of such an offense. And there is no appeal to a Congress, a Chamber of Deputies, or political organ against the Emperor's decision.
Last but not least, under the heading of the organization comes the financial aspect. Out of the five milliards of francs, the war indemnity paid by France to Germany in 1871, 200,000,000 marks in gold coin, mostly French, were put away as the nucleus of a ready war chest. In a little medieval-looking watch tower, the Julius Thurm near Spandau, lies this ever-increasing driving force of the mightiest war engine the world has ever seen. Ever increasing, for quietly and unobtrusively 6,000,000 marks in newly minted gold coins are taken year by year and added to the store. On the first of October each year since 1871, three ammunition wagons full of bright and glittering twenty-mark pieces clatter over the drawbridge and these pieces are stored away in the steel-plate subterranean chambers of the Julius Thurm, ready at an instant's notice to furnish the sinews to the man wielding this force. This is a tremendous power in itself, for there are now close to 500,000,000 marks ($120,000,000) in minted gold coinage in storage there. This provides the necessary funds for the German army for ten calendar months. The authorities have no necessity to ask the country, warring politicians--in this instance the Reichstag--for money to start a campaign. They have got it ready to hand. Once war is declared and started, if needed they'll get the rest.
This money is under the sole control of military authorities. It has often been declared a myth. I know it to be a fact. Notwithstanding the financial straits Germany has gone through at times or may go through, this money will never be touched. It is there for one purpose only and that purpose is war. Needless to say, it is amply guarded. Triple posts in this garrison town, devices to flood instantly the whole under fifteen feet of water from the river Havel, are but items in the system of protection. Twice a year the Emperor in person, or his heir apparent, personally inspects his war chest. Mechanical-balanced devices are employed to check the correct weight. It is a marvelously simple mechanism by means of which in less than two hours the whole of this vast hoard of gold can be accurately checked and the absence of a single gold piece detected.
One of the most important parts of the organization is the question of transportation. Hannibal's campaigns against Cæsar and Napoleon's central European wars owed their success in a great measure, if not wholly, to their quickness of motion. This applies about tenfold in modern warfare. In actual armament the leading powers in Europe are practically on a par. The personnel, as regards personal courage, stamina, elan, or whatever you wish to call it, is fairly equal also. There is little difference in the individual prowess of French, Russian, English, and German soldiers. This is well known to military experts. The difference is mainly a question of discipline, technique, and preparedness, the main factor being, as indicated, the ability to throw the greater number of troops in the shortest possible time against the enemy at any given point, without exhausting man and beast unnecessarily and enervating the country to be traversed. It is therefore necessary to have numerous arteries of traffic at disposal. This will lead us later to the question of victualization, Germany following closely one of Moltke's axioms: "March separately, but fight conjointly."
Only in a country where all railroads, highways, and waterways, and where post and telegraph are owned and controlled by the state, is it possible to evolve and perfect a system of transportation such as is at the disposal of the German General Staff. Every mile of German railroads, especially the ones built within the last twenty years, has been constructed mainly for strategical reasons. Taking Berlin as the center you will find on looking at a German, more especially a Prussian, railroad map, close similarity to a spider's web. From Berlin you will see trunk lines extending in an almost direct route to her French and Russian frontiers. Not single or double, but treble and quadruple lines of steel converging with other strategic lines at certain points such as Magdeburg, Hanover, Nordhausen, Kassel, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Cologne, or Strassburg--to name but a few. Places such as enumerated are invariably provincial commandos, having garrisons, arsenals, and depots on a large scale.
The capacity of the railroad yards for handling large bodies of men and vast amounts of goods swiftly is judiciously studied. At any given time, especially at tense political moments, at every large strategical railway center in Germany there are a certain number of trucks and engines kept for military purposes only--sometimes, as in the Rhine division during the acute period of the Morocco question, with steam up.
As previously related, 90 per cent. of all the railway officials are ex-soldiers. Five minutes after the signing of the mobilization orders by the Emperor, the whole of the railway system would be under direct military control. Specially trained transportation and railway experts on the General Staff would take over the direction of affairs. Besides this, there exists in the German standing army a number of Eisenbahn Regimenter (railway corps)--all trained railroad builders and mechanics. Elaborate time-tables and transportation cards are in readiness to be put into operation on the instant of mobilization, superseding the civil time-tables of peace. Theoretically and practically the schedules are tested twice a year during the big maneuvers.
The same applies to the waterways and highroads of the Empire. A keen observer will often wonder at the broadness, solidness, and excellent state of repair of the chaussees and country roads, out of all proportion to the little traffic passing along. They are simply strategical arteries kept up by the state for military purposes. The heads of the transportation and railway corps in Berlin sit before the huge glass-covered tables where the whole of the German railway system to its minutest detail is shown in relief, and they by pressing various single buttons can conduct an endless chain of trains to any given point of the Empire.
To show the accurate workings of this system I shall relate an incident. During the Kaiser maneuvers in West Prussia a few years ago I happened to be at headquarters in Berlin delivering some plans and records of the English Midland Railway system when a General Staff Officer entered the signal hall and made inquiries as to the whereabouts of a certain train having a regiment on board destined to a certain part of the maneuver field. One of the operators through the simple manipulation of some ivory keys in the short space of two and a half minutes (as I was keenly interested, I timed it) could show the exact spot of the train between two stations, the train being over 310 miles distant from Berlin.
As every class A1 vessel in the merchant marine of Germany, especially the passenger boats of the big steamship lines, can be pressed into government service, so can all motor vehicles, taxis, and trucks owned either privately or by corporations be called upon if considered necessary. Through this vast and far-reaching system of transportation Germany is enabled to throw a million fully equipped men on to either of her frontiers within forty-eight hours. She can double this host in sixty hours more.
Napoleon's dictum that an army marches on its stomach is as true to-day as it was then, adequate provisions for man and beast being the most important factor in military science. The economic feeding of three-quarters of a million men in peace time is work enough. It becomes a serious problem in the event of war, especially to a country like Germany which is somewhat dependent on outside sources for the feeding of her millions. The authorities, quite aware of a possible blockading and consequent stoppage of imports, have made preparations with their usual thorough German completeness. At any given time there is sufficient foodstuff for man and beast stored in state storehouses and the large private concerns to feed the entire German army for twelve months. This might seem inadequate, but is not so, the authorities being well aware that war in Europe at the present time could and would not last longer than such a period.
Once a year these storehouses are overhauled and perishable or deteriorating provisions replaced. Tens of thousands of tons of foodstuffs, especially fodder, are sold far below their usual market prices to the poorer classes, notably farmers. Likewise the material used by the army is as far as possible supplied by the farmer direct. The total absence of bloated, pudgy-fingered army contractors in Germany is pleasant to the eyes of those who know the conditions in some other countries I could mention.
Besides, the whole of the German fighting machine is so organized that in all probability decisive battles would be fought in the enemy's country, in which case the onus of feeding the troops would fall on the enemy, called in military parlance "requisitioning and commandeering." In this, German, and especially Prussian, quartermasters are in no way behind their English confrères of whose activity in the Boer War I know from personal experience.
To give but another instance of the scientific thoroughness in detail, take a single food preparation--the Erbswurst (pea-meal sausage), a preparation of peas, meal, bacon, salt and seasoning, compressed in a dry state into air- and water-tight tubes in the form of a sausage, each weighing a quarter of a pound. Highly nutritious, light in weight, practically indestructible, wholesome, this is easily prepared into a palatable meal with the simple addition of hot water. Of this preparation huge quantities are always kept in stock for the army.
Without doubt the most important division of the General Staff and upon whose information and efforts the whole machine hinges is the Intelligence Department--really covering many different fields--for instance, general science, especially strategy, topography, ballistics, but mainly the procuring of information data, plans, maps, etc., kept more or less secret by other powers. In this division the brightest young officers and general officials are found. The training and knowledge required of the men in this service are exacting to a degree. It requires in most cases the undivided attention--often a life study--to a single subject.
It has been the unswerving policy of the Prussian military authorities to know as much of the rest of the European countries as they know of their own. In the war of 1870-71, German commanders down to a lieutenant leading a small detachment had accurate information, charts and data of every province in France, giving them more accurate knowledge of a foreign country than that country had of itself. It is a notorious fact that, after the defeat of the French armies at Weissenburg and Worth and later at Metz, the French commanders and officers lost valuable time and strategical positions through sheer ignorance of their own country. This is impossible under the Prussian system. To-day there is not a country in Europe but of which there are the most elaborate charts and maps, topographically exact to the minutest detail docketed in the archives of the General Staff. This applies as a rule to the General Staff of most nations, but not to such painstaking details.
While undergoing instructions in the Admiral Stab in the Koenigergratzerstrasse 70, previous to my being sent on an English mission, a controversy arose between my instructor and myself as to the distance between two towns on the Lincolnshire coast. He pushed a button and requested the answering orderly to bring map 64 and the officer in charge. With the usual promptness both map and officer appeared. The officer, who could not have been more than twenty-five years of age, discussed with me in fluent colloquial English the whole of this section of Lincolnshire. Not a hummock, road, road-house, even to farmers' residences and blacksmith's shop of which he did not have exact knowledge. I expressed astonishment at this most unusual acquaintance with the locality, and suggested that he must have spent considerable time in residence there. Conceive my astonishment when informed that he had never been out of Germany and the only voyage ever taken by him led him as far as Helgoland. Subsequently through careful inquiries and research--my work bringing me into constant contact with the various divisions--I found that the whole of England, France and Russia was carefully cut into sections, each of those sections being in charge of two officers and a secretary whose duty it was to acquaint and make themselves perfectly familiar with everything in that particular locality. Through the far-reaching system of espionage, the latest and most up-to-date information is always forthcoming, and time and again I myself, often returning from a mission like one of those to the naval base in Scotland, have sat by the hour verbally amplifying my previous reports.
A part of the intelligence system is the personality squad, whose duty it is to acquaint themselves with the personality of every army and navy officer of the leading powers. I have seen reports as to the environments, habits, hobbies, and general proclivities of men such as Admiral Fisher, commanding the Channel Squadron of the British Navy, down to Colonel Ribault, in charge of a battery in Toulouse. To military or naval officers and men of affairs, the reason and benefit of such a system are obvious. The general reader, however, may not quite see the point. The position of a commander in the field is analogous to the executive head of a big selling concern. A semi-personal knowledge of the foibles and characteristics of his customers without doubt gives him an advantage over a rival concern, neglecting the personal equation being really more important than is generally understood. This has long been recognized and fully taken advantage of by the German Army authorities.
Within the last few years an entirely new and according to German ideas most important factor has entered and disturbed the relative military power of European nations. This is the aërial weapon.
Since the days of Otto Lilienthal and his glider it has been the policy of Germany to keep track of all inventions likely to be embodied and made use of in the War Machine. It is a far cry from Lilienthal's glider to the last word in aërial construction such as the mysterious Zeppelin-Parseval sky monster that, carrying a complement of twenty-five men and twelve tons of explosives, sailed across the North Sea, circled over London, and returned to Germany. Lilienthal's glider kept aloft four minutes, but this new dreadnaught of Germany's dying navy was aloft ninety-six hours, maintaining a speed of thirty-eight miles an hour, this even in the face of a storm pressure of almost eighty meters. Such feats as these are significant. They are at the same time the outcome and the cause for the development of this part of the War Machine.
It is my purpose here to tell you how far Germany has advanced and progressed in this struggle for mastery of the sky. I shall disclose facts about her system that have never appeared in print--that have never been heard in conversation. They are known only to the General Staff at Berlin, not even in the cabinets of Europe.
Germany without doubt has the most up-to-date aërial fleet in the world. The Budget of the Reichstag of 1908-1909 allows and provides for the building and maintenance of twelve dirigibles of Zeppelin type. As far as the knowledge of the rest of the world is concerned this is all the sky navy that Germany possesses. It is a fact, though, that she has three times the number which she officially acknowledges.
The dirigible balloon centers in Germany are five and they are situated at vitally strategic points. There are two on the French border, one on the Russian border, one on the Atlantic Coast, and a central station near Berlin. The exact places are Strassburg, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Posen, Wilhelmshafen, and Berlin. This does not include the marvelous station at Helgoland in the North Sea, this being a strategic point in relation to Great Britain. Nothing is known about this Helgoland station. No one but those on official business are permitted within a thousand yards of it. I shall tell things concerning it.
Besides these purely military posts, there are a number of commercial stations necessary as depots of the regular transportation aëerial lines that operate for the convenience of the public. Like Germany's commercial steamers, however, they are controlled and subsidized by the Government. At a few hours' notice they can be converted and made use of for Government purposes. Taking these transportation lines into consideration, it is safe to state that by summer of the present year Germany could send fifty huge airships to war.
It may be a puzzle to Americans why, in the face of disasters and accidents to these Zeppelins, Germany is spending about $4,000,000 on her aërial fleet. Now we come to a very significant point. I know and certain members of the German General Staff know, as well as trusted men in the aërial corps, that there are two conditions under which airships are operated in Germany. One is the ordinary more or less well-known system which characterizes the operation of all the passenger lines now in service in the Empire. It is the system under which all the disasters that appear in the newspapers occur. Airships that are used in the general army flights and maneuvers are also run under the same system as the passenger dirigibles--for a reason.
The other system is an absolute secret of the German General Staff. It is not used in the general maneuvers, only in specific cases, and these always secretly. It has been proved to be effective in eliminating 75 per cent. of the accidents which have characterized all of Germany's adventures in dirigibles and heavier-than-air machines. These statistics are known only by the German General Staff office.
Let us go into this further. Critics of the German dirigible who foolishly rate the French aëroplane superior point out that the Zeppelins have three serious defects--bulk and heaviness of structure, inflammability of the gas that floats them, and inability to store enough gas to stay in the air the desirable length of time without coming down. The secret devices of the German War Office have eliminated all these objectionable features. They have overcome the condition of bulk and heaviness of structure by their government chemists devising the formula of a material that is lighter than aluminum, yet which possesses all of that metal's density and which has also the flexibility of steel. Airships not among the twelve that Germany admits officially are made of this material. Its formula is a government secret and England or France would give thousands of dollars to possess it.
The objection of inflammability of the lifting power has also been overcome. The power of the ordinary hydrogen gas in all its various forms has been multiplied threefold by a new dioxygen gas discovered at the Spandau government chemical laboratory. This gas has also the enormous advantages of being absolutely noninflammable. I have seen experiments made with it. It cannot be used for illuminating purposes. Dirigibles that are equipped with it are not liable to the awful explosions that have characterized flights under the ordinary system. The new gas has also the enormous advantage of having a liquid form. To produce the gas it is only necessary to let the ordinary atmosphere come in contact with the liquid. Carried in cylinders two feet long and with a diameter of six inches it is obvious that enough of this liquid can be carried aboard the big war dirigibles to permit their refilling in midair. So, you see, all the objections to the commonly known system of operation have been overcome by the War Office.
The last dirigible tried by the War Office in 1912, the mysterious Zeppelin X, made a continuous trip from Stettin over the Baltic to Upsala in Sweden, thence across the Baltic again to Riga in the Gulf of Finland, where it doubled and sailed back to Stettin. This was a journey of 976 miles. The airship had a complement of twenty-five men and five tons of dead weight. It traveled under severe weather conditions, the month being March, and snow-storms, hail and rain occurring throughout the voyage. The significance of this flight can be easily understood if you consider the distance from Strassburg or Düsseldorf to Paris or other strategical points to France is approximately 298 miles. A ship like the Zeppelin X could sail over the French border, dynamite the fortifications around Paris and return, the journey being roughly 900 miles--76 miles less than the actual trip made by the Zeppelin X. Moreover, the German military trials have shown the possibility of an aërial fleet leaving their home ports and cruising to foreign lands and returning without the necessity of landing to replenish their gas tanks or fuel.
Let me show you how the German aërial corps is made up. It is called the Luftschiffer Abteilung and is composed of ten battalions, each consisting of 350 men. They are all trained absolutely for this branch of the service. Only the smartest mechanics and artificers are selected. In the higher branches the most intelligent and bravest officers hold command. Considering the usual pay in continental armies, the wages of the men in the General aërial corps are exceptionally high. In fact they are the highest paid in the German army. They are not ordinary enlisted men, meaning that they serve only their two years' time. Most of them have agreed to serve a lengthy term. Married men are not encouraged to enroll in this branch of the service. It is obvious from the nature of the work that the hazards are often great. The wonderful system of the German War Machine has been installed with rare detail in the aërial corps. The equipment of the different stations is really marvelous. For everything human ingenuity has been able to devise concerning the dirigible you will find in application. Each station is fully equipped and is an absolutely independent center in itself. Take the base at Helgoland. It is the newest and the one that is always cloaked with secrecy.
At the extreme eastern corner of the island of Helgoland one sees, amid the sandy dunes, three vast oblong, iron-gray structures. At a distance they are not unlike overgrown gasometers. I say at a distance, for it is impossible for any visitor to get within a thousand yards of the station. The solitary approach is guarded by a triple post of the marine guard. If you walk toward the station, before you come within a hundred yards of the guard, you will find large signs setting forth in unmistakable and terse language that dire and swift penalties follow any further exploration in that direction. Not only English but German visitors to Helgoland have found out through their course that even the slightest infringement of the rules of these signs is dangerous. I shall however, take you a little closer.
Walking on until you are within fifty yards of the great balloon sheds, you pause before a tall fence of barbed wire, this connected with an elaborate alarm-bell system that sounds in the two guard houses. For instance, if an enterprising secret agent of France were to try to steal up on the station, if he came by night and cut through the barbed wire, a series of bells would immediately sound the general alarm. Having passed through the six strands of barbed wire a tall octagonal tower meets the eye. In this tower are installed two powerful searchlights as well as a complete wireless outfit. All the Zeppelins carry wireless. By means of elaborate reflectors, it is possible with the searchlights to flood the whole place with daylight in the middle of the night. Thus ascensions can be made safely at any hour of the twenty-four. The three oblong sheds stand in a row, the middle being the largest, having spaces for two complete dirigibles, while the other sheds house but one each. They are about 800 feet long, 200 feet broad and 120 feet high. The whole structure itself can be shifted to about an angle of forty degrees, this being worked on a plan similar to the railroad engine turntable. The reason for it is that with the veering of the wind the sheds are turned so that the doors will be placed advantageously for the removal of the airship from its place of shelter.
The whole layout and the vast area of space show that it is the Government's intention to still further increase the plant. In fact, on my last visit to Helgoland--and it was more than two years ago--I saw the evidence of another shed about to be built. At the station is the most efficient meteorological department of all the stations. The most up-to-date and sensitive instruments connected with this science are there in duplicates and the highest experts such as only Germany can produce are in charge of the department.
When I was at Helgoland I noticed a vast difference in the strength of the fortifications compared to what they had been. They used to be tremendous, but since the addition of the naval base they have become secondary. Half the soldiers on duty there have been transferred elsewhere; so with the big guns. There is no longer any need for them. As I stated, I saw a fourth big balloon shed in the course of construction. I have not been on the island for two years. Nobody has been near the extreme eastern end except those closely identified with the service. Considering that Germany has not built more than one extra shed, that means five dirigibles, and there is nothing on earth that could stand up against them. Helgoland does not need forts any more. The new forts float in the sky and can rain death.
Helgoland has always been a sore spot of British diplomacy. Originally England owned the island; now it is a menace to England. When Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister of England, he conceived what he believed to be a shrewd diplomatic move. He offered Bismarck the island of Helgoland in exchange for some East African concessions. Helgoland is now the key and guard of Germany's main artery of commerce, being the key to Hamburg. With the dirigible station of Helgoland to guard her, Hamburg is impregnable and on England's northern coast they have a way of looking out across the North Sea with troubled eyes, for who knows when those terrible cartridge-shaped monsters will rise into the air and sweep over the sea? Stranger things have happened, even though the countries have their secret diplomatic understandings.
Let us consider one of these new war monsters, the latest and most powerful, the X 15. The latest Zeppelins, charged with the newly discovered dioxygenous gas, giving these sky battleships triple lifting capacity; the perfecting of the Diesel motor, giving enormous consumption (fifty of these Diesel engines, their workings secret to the German Government, are stored under guard at the big navy yards at Wilhelmshafen and Kiel, ready to be installed at the break of war into submarines and dirigibles), have given the German type of aircraft an importance undreamed of and unsuspected by the rest of the world.
The operating sphere of the new balloons has extended from 100 to 1,200-1,400 kilometers. Secret trial trips of a fully equipped Zeppelin like X 15, carrying a crew of twenty-four men, six quick-firing guns, seven tons of explosive, have extended from Stettin, over the Baltic, over Swedenburg in Sweden, recrossing the Baltic and landing at Swinemunde, with enough gas, fuel, and provisions left to keep aloft another thirty-six hours. The distance all told covered on one of these trips was 1,180 kilometers. This fact speaks for itself. The return distance from Helgoland to London, or any midland towns in England, corresponds with the mileage covered on recent trips. In the event of hostilities between England and Germany, this statement needs no explanation. That is why I mentioned that the latter-day Zeppelins were a powerful factor in bringing about an amiable understanding between those two powerful countries. For neither the historic wooden walls of Nelson's day nor the steel plates of her modern navy could help England or any other nation against the inroads of the monsters of the air.
The capacity of seven tons of explosive does not exhaust the resources of this type of weapon. I have it on good authority that the new Zeppelins can carry double that quantity of explosive if necessary. As the size of these vessels increases, so does the ratio of their carrying capacity.
Picture the havoc a dozen such vultures could create attacking a city like London or Paris. Present-day defense against these ships is totally inadequate. In attacking large places, the Zeppelins would rise to a height of from 6,000 to 8,000 feet, at which distance these huge cigar-shaped engines of death, 700 feet long, would appear the size of a football, and no bigger. I know that Zeppelins have successfully sailed aloft at an altitude of 10,000 feet. Picture them at that elevation, everybody aboard in warm, comfortable quarters, ready to drop explosives to the ground. The half informed man--and there appear to be many such in European cabinets, which recalls the proverb about a little knowledge being a dangerous thing--likes to say that a flock of aëroplanes can put a dirigible out of business. Consider now an aëroplane at an elevation of 6,000 feet and remember that the new Zeppelins have gone thousands of feet higher. An aviator at 6,000 feet is so cold that he is practically useless for anything but guiding his machine. How in the world is he or his seat-mate going to do harm to a big craft the size of the Zeppelin that is far above him? An aviator who has ever gone up, say 8,000 feet, will tell you when he comes down what a harrowing experience he has had. What good can an individual be, exposed to the temperature and the elements at such an altitude, in doing harm to the calm, comfortable gentlemen in the heated compartments of the Zeppelin?--Quatsch! which is a German army term for piffle!
At 8,000 feet the small target a Zeppelin affords would move at a rate of speed of from thirty-five to sixty miles an hour. The possible chances of being hit by terrestrial gunfire are infinitesimally small. This does not take into account the vast opportunities that a dirigible has for night attacks or the possibility of hiding among the clouds. The X 15, sailing over London, could drop explosives down and create terrible havoc. They don't have to aim. They are not like aviators trying to drop a bomb on the deck of a warship. They simply dump overboard some of the new explosive of the German Government, these new chemicals having the property of setting on fire anything that they hit, and they sail on. They do not have to worry about hitting the mark. Consider the size of their target. They are simply throwing something at the City of London. If they do not hit Buckingham Palace they are apt to hit Knightsbridge. And remember that whatever one of the new German explosives strikes, conflagration begins.
Aëroplanes, biplanes, monoplanes, and the other innumerable host of small craft so often quoted as a possible counterdefense against the Zeppelin, are overrated, and are in any case theoretical. The German authorities have made vast and exhaustive trials in these matters. The strenuous efforts on the part of this Empire to increase its dirigible fleet is to my way of thinking answer enough. The German General Staff at Berlin tries out more thoroughly than any nation in the world every new device of warfare. They have tried the aëroplane and the dirigible. I have heard the leading experts and aviators who have been assigned to both types agreeing that the Zeppelins of the X 15 type have nothing to fear from any present-day flying machine--and that is good enough for me.
ARMING FOR PEACE OR WAR
The map of Europe is certain to undergo some very decided changes within the next decade, very possibly in less time. Social and economic conditions, let alone the paramount political ambitions of the individual rulers, must bring about a decided alteration in state boundaries in Central Europe. This will be accomplished either with or without war--with bloodshed most likely. History and human propensities have shown the inability to settle any vital points by peaceful arbitration and the more one comes in contact with the forces, obvious and otherwise, directing human affairs, the more one learns the rather disheartening fact that the millennium is as far off as ever. The prophecies of the old Biblical prophets about wars and rumors of wars are as pertinent to-day as before the advent of Christ. The methods may have changed since the conception of the Christian religion but the results will be attained now as ever by the right of a mighty sword arm.
The most virile and aggressive power in the center of Europe is Germany proper--this term of Germany, including the whole of the Teutonic races, such as the German-speaking portion of Austria, Hungary (for your true Hungarian is a keen admirer of strength and force), Holland, Switzerland and in all probability the Norsemen and Viking branches of the Teutonic clan, meaning Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Social and commercial aims and aspirations in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, independent as they are and probably always will be, still show a decided trend to Central Germanic cohesion. The whole of Europe is roughly divided into three dominant races--the Teutonic, the Latin and the Slavish. The Teutonic has Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Norse subdivisions. The Latin, Gallic, has the French, Italian and Spanish nations; and the Slavonic comprises the Slavs and Romanic races with their innumerable subdivisions such as Moscovite, Chech, Pole, Croat, Serb, Bulgar, Bojar, etc. These three groups are distinctly different in habits, thoughts, manners and ambitions. Through race and religion they are also deeply antagonistic by reason of its higher commercial development (I do not say education, and art, music or literature, for there your Latin or Slav excels), the Teutonic races have outstripped the other two. Commercialism means consolidation and concentration and since the Napoleonic wars the Germanic races--at the beginning slowly but within the last twenty-five years rapidly--have drawn together at an astonishing pace. In countries such as Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland, each possessing their own petty machinery of expensive government; existent only through the mutual jealousies of their bigger neighbors, there has grown up a decidedly incorporating spirit. Notwithstanding the natural disinclination of the ruling factions of that country, the general mass of the people are by no means averse to become members of a vast central European empire, the unswerving ambition of the house of the Hohenzollerns.
Since the days when the Counts of Nuremburg became electors of Brandenburg, from the grosse Kurfurst, Frederick the Great, to the present Emperor, the house of Hohenzollern has shown itself to be the most virile dynasty in modern history. Not always clever, they possessed the rare faculty of finding, developing and using men having the necessary ability to execute their current policies.
In thoroughly feudal and aristocratic countries such as comprise Central Europe, especially Germany, decided, unswerving aims are necessary. If these policies are conducted in a clear, level-headed manner, judiciously developing the wealth and culture of the general masses, the stability of such a government or throne is well-nigh unshakable.
It has often been spoken and written that in countries such as Germany and Austria, Socialism, to quote but one of the numerous "isms," has undermined existing governmental powers. To a close student, these assertions are absolutely wrong. Teutonic Germanic races have ever been given to deeply analytical, philosophical studies, criticising and dissecting, the policies of their rulers. But underlying, you will find a deeply practical sense and appreciation of material benefits. The German Socialist is in fact a practical dreamer, quite in contrast to his mercurial, effervescent Latin prototype. The rulers of Germany have learned the lesson that the stability of a throne rests in the welfare of her people and everyone must admit that they have succeeded in this respect better than any other dynasty known to history. Germany without doubt is the most uniformly prosperous and civilized country in the world. And therein lies the danger, as no sane and prosperous business can afford to stand still. Neither can a solvent virile nation such as Germany, mark time. For this reason: Two things must happen in the near future. Germany must expand peacefully in Europe, to the northeast and west; or there will be war. The reasons for this I gave in the chapter on "The Isolation of France."
And that the chances of peaceful and really sensible adjustment are thoroughly discounted among German men of affairs, must be pretty obvious to the careful reader. An intensely practical and saving people such as the Germans would not spend billions in money, a vast amount of time and labor, in perfecting and keeping up a fighting machine without being thoroughly convinced of the necessity of this investment. Strong, wealthy and powerful as Germany is to-day, the strain is tremendous and for this reason alone existing political and geographical conditions in Europe must undergo a decided change.
These changes are bound to occur but it is hard to set a correct time. It may be to-morrow; it certainly will not be more than a decade hence. The death of the Emperor Francis Joseph will precipitate it at once--and he is old and feeble.
Secondly, the Church. The mainstay of the Catholic Church rests with the Austrian monarchy and with the death of the old Emperor, it would--in fact have to--look to some other country and ruler for protection. There is no Catholic ruler in a Catholic country to-day able to support and protect the dignity of the Church. The German Emperor is a Protestant monarch, but he is first and last a Christian, and thanks to his usual keen and far-sighted policy, backed up by strong spiritual convictions, religious dissensions are almost unknown in his empire. The Catholic religion enjoys in no country, save the United States, more real freedom from persecution than it does in Germany. And the Emperor's personal standing with the Vatican is excellent. I need only remind the reader of his perennial visits to the King of Italy when he never fails to visit the Vatican, paying his respects as the ruler of twenty-seven millions of Catholics, if you please, to the keeper of Peter's keys.
In my work, I have met eminent dignitaries and princes of the Catholic Church who voiced pretty freely--that is for churchmen--their confidences, willingness of their support to the Emperor's general policies.
As Germany has provided herself with a buffer state and ally in Southern Europe, meaning Turkey, so she has cleverly succeeded in creating a similar condition in the extreme north of Europe. Sweden and Norway, at no time friendly to the Moscovite--you need only recall the days of Charles XII--have within the last few years developed a strong martial feeling against Russian aggression. Both countries are intensely patriotic and independent and would not on any account tolerate incorporation. Germany does not want Norway and Sweden, and Scandinavia knows that. They also know that Russia, having a free hand, does want them. Hence they are looking towards Germany to keep a national independence. With German help, Sweden and Norway could maintain, transport and place three-quarters of a million of first-class fighting men in the field and that at strategical and crucial points of the Russian Empire.
The personal domination of the house of Hohenzollern even outside political matters is tremendous, by virtue of great wealth and marriages,--the Emperor's sons having married the most wealthy princesses in Europe--besides the privately invested fortunes of the Emperor, giving him a tremendous influence in commercial affairs. Wilhelm holds the thunderbolt that will shake the world.
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