In the World War
by Count Ottokar Czernin
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In the autumn of 1917 the peace movement diminished visibly. The U-boat fiasco was very obvious. England saw that she was able to overcome the danger. The German military leaders still spoke of the positively expected successes of their submarines, but the tenor of their predictions became very different. There was no longer any talk of the downfall of England within a few months. A new winter campaign was almost a certainty, and yet the Germans insisted that though mistakes occurred in the term fixed, this was not so respecting the ultimate effect of the U-boats and that England would collapse. The U-boat warfare had achieved this amount of success, that the Western front remained intact, though it would otherwise have fallen.

The military situation underwent a change in the autumn. The end of the war in the East was within sight, and the possibility of being able to fling the enormous masses of troops from the East into the line in the West, and at last break through there, greatly improved the situation.

It was not on the sea that the U-boat campaign had brought about a decision, but it enabled a final decision on land to be made; such was the new military opinion. Paris and Calais could not be taken.

In these different phases of military hopes and expectation we floated like a boat on a stormy sea. In order to land in the haven of peace, we needed a military wave to carry us nearer to the land; then only could we unfurl the sail of understanding that would help us to reach the saving shores. As long as the enemy persisted only in dealing with the crushed and depopulated Central Powers all was in vain.

I never believed in the success of the U-boat warfare. I believed in a break-through on the Western front, and during the winter of 1917-1918 lived in the hope that by such means we might break the obstinate love of destruction in our enemies.

As long as our adversaries' peace terms remained the same peace was impossible, as was also the bringing of any outside pressure to bear on Germany, for it was true that "the German army was fighting more to support Austria-Hungary than it was for its own existence."

Threatening and breathing disaster, the decisions of the Pact of London confronted us. They forced us always to take up arms again, and drove us back into the field.

* * * * *

At the time of writing these lines, in June, 1919, Austria has long ceased to exist. There is only left now a small, impoverished, wretched land called German-Austria, a country without army or money; helpless, starving, and wellnigh in despair. This country has been told of the peace terms at St. Germain. It has been told it must give up the Tyrol as to be handed over to Italy. And defenceless and helpless as it is, it sends up a cry of despair and frantic grief. One voice only is heard—such peace is impossible!

How could an Austrian Government accept the dictates of London at a time when our armies stood far advanced in enemy country, unvanquished and unbroken, when we had for Ally the strongest land Power in the world, and when the greatest generals of the war so firmly believed in the break-through and in final victory?

To demand that in 1917 or 1918 I should have accepted peace terms which in 1919 were rejected by the whole of the German-Austrian people is sheer madness. But it may be there is method in such madness. The method of using every means to discredit the "old regime."

* * * * *

In the beginning of August, 1917, an effort was made at a rapprochement between England and Germany which, unfortunately, almost immediately broke down.

At the suggestion of England a neutral Power had sounded Germany with regard to Belgium. Germany replied that she was ready for direct verbal negotiations with England on the Belgian question. In transmitting this favourable answer, Germany did not entrust it to the same neutral Power that had brought the message, but for some unknown reason confided it to a trusted messenger from another neutral country. This latter appears to have been guilty of some indiscreet dealings, and when rumours of the affair reached Paris it caused some anxiety. It was probably thought there that England was more interested in the Belgian than in the Alsace-Lorraine question.

The messenger sent from Berlin thought that his task had failed, and sent word to Berlin that, owing to his errand having been made known, the opinion among the Entente was that every step taken by Germany was condemned beforehand to failure.

The Government which had employed the messenger took up the case on its own initiative, and transmitted the German reply to London. No answer was ever received from England.

This is the account as given to me post festum by Berlin, and doubtless reflects Berlin's views. Whether the incident in detail was exactly as described, or whether many more hitherto unknown events took place, has not been proved.

During the war all happenings on the other side of the trenches were looked upon with dim and gloomy eyes as through a veil, and, according to news received by me later, it was not clear whether England had sent an answer. Whether it was dispatched and held up on the way, or what became of it I never knew. It is said never to have reached Berlin.

A warlike speech by Asquith on September 27 appears to be connected with this unsuccessful attempt, and served to calm the Allies.

It appears extremely doubtful to me, however, whether this advance would have led to anything, had the occasion been more favourable. The previously mentioned letter of the Imperial Chancellor Michaelis dates from those August days, a letter referring to Belgian projects which were very far removed from the English ideas on the subject. And even if it had been possible to settle the Belgian question, there would have been that of Alsace-Lorraine, which linked France and England together, and, first and foremost, the question of disarmament. The chasm that divided the two camps would have grown so wide that no bridge could possibly have spanned it.

Not until January, 1918, did I learn the English version. According to that, the Germans are said to have taken the first steps, and the English were not disinclined to listen, but heard nothing further. It was stated in Vorwaerts that the suggestion was made at the instigation of the Cabinet Council, but that subsequently military influence gained the upper hand. The episode did not tend to improve the frame of mind of the leading men in England.

In the early summer of 1917 conditions seemed favourable for peace and the hope of arriving at an understanding, though still far distant, was not exactly a Utopian dream. How far the hope of splitting our group and the failure of the U-boat warfare may have contributed to stiffen the desire for war in the Entente countries cannot definitely be stated. Both factors had a share in it. Before we came to a deadlock in the negotiations, the position was such that even in case of a separate peace we should have been compelled to accept the terms of the conference of London. Whether the Entente would have abandoned that basis if we had not veered from the straight course, and by unofficial cross-purposes become caught in the toils of separatist desires, but had quickly and consistently carried out our task, is not proved, and never will be. After the debacle in the winter of 1918-19 it was intimated to me as a fact that when Clemenceau came into power a peace of understanding with Germany became out of the question. His standpoint was that Germany must be definitely vanquished and crushed. Our negotiations, however, had begun under Briand, and Clemenceau only came into power when the peace negotiations had become entangled and were beginning to falter.

With regard to Austria-Hungary, both France and England would have welcomed a separate peace on our part, even during Clemenceau's period of office; but in that case we should have had to accept the terms of the London conference.

Such was the peace question then. How it would have developed if no misleading policy had come into being naturally cannot be stated.

I am not putting forward suppositions but confirming facts. And the fact remains that the failure of the U-boat campaign on the one hand, and a policy carried on behind the backs of the responsible men on the other hand, were the reasons why the favourable moment passed and the peace efforts were checked. And I herewith repeat that this fact does not in itself prove that peace negotiations would not also have failed later if the two reasons mentioned above had not existed.

It became quite clear in the autumn that the war would have to continue. In my speeches to delegations I endeavoured to leave no doubt that we were faithful to our Allies. When I said "I see no difference between Strassburg and Trieste," I said it chiefly for Sofia and Constantinople, for the overthrow of the Quadruple Alliance was the greatest danger. I still hoped to be able to prop the trembling foundations of the Alliance policy, and either to secure a general peace in the East, where the military opposition was giving way, or to see it draw nearer through the anticipated German break-through on the Western front.

Several months after my dismissal in the summer of 1918 I spoke in the Herrenhaus on foreign policy, and warned everyone present against trying to undermine the Quadruple Alliance. When I declared that "honour, duty to the Alliance, and the call for self-preservation compel us to fight by the side of Germany," I was misunderstood. It did not seem as though the public realised that the moment the Entente thought the Quadruple Alliance was about to break up, from that moment our cause was lost. Had the public no knowledge of the London agreement? Did they not know that a separate peace would hand us over totally defenceless to those cruel conditions? Did they not realise that the German army was the shield that afforded us the last and only possibility of escaping the fate of being broken up?

My successor steered the same course as I had done, doubtless from the same reasons of honour and the call for self-preservation. I have no particulars as to what occurred in the summer of 1918.

Afterwards events followed in rapid succession. First came our terrible defeat in Italy, then the Entente break-through on the Western front, and finally the Bulgarian secession, which had gradually been approaching since the summer of 1917.


As is the case in all countries, among the Entente during the war there were many and varied currents of thought. When Clemenceau came into office the definite destruction of Germany was the dominant war aim.

To those who neither see nor hear the secret information which a Foreign Minister naturally has at his disposal, it may appear as though the Entente, in the question of crushing Germany's military strength, had sometimes been ready to make concessions. I think that this may have been the case in the spring of 1917, but not later, when any such hope was deceptive. Lansdowne in particular spoke and wrote in a somewhat friendly tone, but Lloyd George was the determining influence in England.

When sounding England on different occasions, I endeavoured to discover by what means the dissolution of the military power in Germany was to be or could be guaranteed—and I invariably came to an impasse. It was never explained how England intended to carry out the proposal.

The truth is that there is no way of disarming a strong and determined people except by defeating them, but such an aim was not to be openly admitted to us in the preliminary dealings. The delegates could not suggest any suitable mode of discussion, and no other proposals could lead to a decision.

Lansdowne, and perhaps Asquith as well, would have been content with a parliamentary regime which would have deprived the Emperor of power and given it to the Reichstag. Not so Lloyd George; at least, not later. The English Prime Minister's well-known speech, "A disarmament treaty with Germany would be a treaty between a fox and many geese," conveyed what he really thought.

After my Budapest speech, which was treated with such scorn and contempt in the Press and by public opinion on the other side of the Channel, word was sent to me from an English source that it was said the "Czernin scheme" might settle the question. But again it was not Lloyd George who said that.

Owing to the extreme distrust that Clemenceau, the English Prime Minister, and with them the great majority in France and England, had of Germany's intentions, no measure could be devised that would have given London and Paris a sufficient guarantee for a future peaceful policy. From the summer of 1917, no matter what Germany had proposed, Lloyd George would always have rejected it as inadequate.

In consequence of this it was quite immaterial later to the course of the war that Germany not only did nothing whatever to allay English fears, but, on the contrary, poured oil in the fire and fanned the flames.

Germany, the leading military Power in the war, never for one moment thought of agreeing to disarmament under international control. After my speech in Budapest I was received in Berlin not in an unfriendly manner, but with a sort of pity, as some poor insane person might be treated. The subject was avoided as much as possible. Erzberger alone told me of his complete agreement with me.

Had Germany been victorious her militarism would have increased enormously. In the summer of 1917 I spoke to several generals of high standing on the Western front, who unanimously declared that after the war armaments must be maintained, but on a very much greater scale. They compared this war with the first Punic War. It would be continued and its continuation be prepared for; in short, the tactics of Versailles. The standard of violence must be planted, and would be the banner of the generals, the Pan-Germans, the Fatherland Party, etc. etc. They thought as little about a reconciliation of the nations after the war as did the Supreme Council of Four at Versailles, and Emperor, Government and Reichstag floundered helplessly in this torrent of violent purpose.

The military spirit flourished on the Spree as it is doing now on the Seine and the Thames. Lloyd George and Unter den Linden in Berlin. The only difference between Foch and Ludendorff is that the one is a Frenchman and the other a German; as men they are as like as two peas.

The Entente is victorious, and many millions are delighted and declare that the policy of Might is justified. The future only can show whether this is not a terrible mistake. The lives of hundreds of thousands of young, hopeful men who have fallen might have been saved if in 1917 peace had been made possible for us. The triumph of victory cannot call them back to life again. It appears to me that the Entente has conquered too much, too thoroughly. The madness of expiring militarism, in spite of all its orgies, has perhaps celebrated its last triumph at Versailles.


Taking it altogether, the real historical truth concerning the peace movement is that, in general, neither the Entente nor the ruling, all-powerful military party in Germany wished for a peace of understanding. They both wished to be victorious and to enforce a peace of violence on the defeated adversary. The leading men in Germany—Ludendorff above all—never had a genuine intention of releasing Belgium in an economic and political sense; neither would they agree to any sacrifices. They wished to conquer in the East and the West, and their arbitrary tendencies counteracted the pacifist leaning of the Entente as soon as there were the slightest indications of it. On the other hand, the leading men in the Entente—Clemenceau from the first and Lloyd George later—were firmly resolved to crush Germany, and therefore profited by the continuous German threats to suppress all pacifist movements in their own countries, always ready to prove that a peace of understanding with Berlin would be a "pact between the fox and the geese."

Thanks to the attitude of the leading Ministers in Germany, the Entente was fully persuaded that an understanding with Germany was quite out of the question, and insisted obstinately on peace terms which could not be accepted by a Germany still unbeaten. This closes the circular vitiosus which paralysed all negotiating activities.

We were wedged in between these two movements and unable to strike out for ourselves, because the Entente, bound by their promises to their Allies, had already disposed of us by the Pact of London and the undertakings to Roumania and Serbia. We therefore could not exercise extreme pressure on Germany, as we were unable to effect the annulment of those treaties.

In the early summer of 1917 the possibility of an understanding seemed to show itself on the horizon, but it was wrecked by the previously mentioned events.


[8] Helfferich's expose is reproduced in the Appendix. (See p. 288.)

[9] At this time I did not know that my secret report to the Emperor was handed over to Herr Erzberger and not kept secret by him. (Later it was made public through the revelations of Count Wedel.)

[10] The disclosures made by Count Wedel and Helfferich concerning Erzberger are only a link in the chain.



Through the dwindling away of the inclination for peace in the enemy camp we were faced in the autumn of 1917 by the prospect either of concluding separate peace and accepting the many complicated consequences of a war with Germany and the ensuing mutilation of the Monarchy under the terms of the Pact of London, or else fighting on and, aided by our Allies, breaking the will for destruction of our enemies.

If Russia was the one to let loose war, it was Italy who perpetually stood in the way of a peace of understanding, insisting upon obtaining under all circumstances the whole of the Austrian territory promised to her in 1915. The Entente during the war assigned the several parts to be enacted. France was to shed the most blood; England, besides her fabulous military action, to finance the war, together with America, and diplomatic affairs to be in Italy's hands. Far too little is known as yet, and will only later be public knowledge, as to the extent to which Italian diplomacy dominated affairs during the war. Our victories in Italy would only have changed the situation if the defeats that were suffered had led to an Italian revolution and a complete overthrow of the regime existing there. In other words, the Royal Government would not be influenced in its attitude by our victories. Even had our armies advanced much farther than they did, it would have held to its standpoint in the expectation that, perhaps not Italy herself, but her Allies, would secure final victory.

Such was the situation in the autumn of 1917 when Wilson came forward with his Fourteen Points.

The advantage of the Wilson programme in the eyes of the whole world was its violent contrast to the terms of the Pact of London. The right of self-determination for the nations had been utterly ignored in London by the allotment of German Tyrol to Italy. Wilson forbade this and declared that nations could not be treated against their will and moved hither and thither like the pieces in a game of chess. Wilson said that every solution of a territorial question arising out of this war must be arrived at in the interests and in favour of the peoples concerned, and not as a mere balancing or compromise of claims from rival sources; and further, that all clearly stated national claims would receive the utmost satisfaction that could be afforded them, without admitting new factors or the perpetuation of old disputes or oppositions, which in all probability would soon again disturb the peace of Europe and the whole world. A general peace, established on such a basis could be discussed—and more in the same strain.

The publication of this clear and absolutely acceptable programme seemed from day to day to render possible a peaceful solution of the world conflict. In the eyes of millions of people this programme opened up a world of hope. A new star had risen on the other side of the ocean, and all eyes were turned in that direction. A mighty man had come forward and with one powerful act had upset the London resolutions and, in so doing, had reopened the gates for a peace of understanding.

From the first moment the main question was, so it seemed, what hopes were there of Wilson's programme being carried out in London, Paris and, above all, in Rome?

Secret information sent to me from the Entente countries seemed to suggest that the Fourteen Points were decidedly not drawn up in agreement with England, France and Italy. On the other hand I was, and still am, fully persuaded that Wilson had spoken honestly and sincerely and, as a matter of fact, believed that his programme could be carried out.

Wilson's great miscalculation was his mistaken estimate of the actual distribution of power in the Entente on the one hand, and his surprising ignorance of national relationships in Europe, and especially in Austria-Hungary, on the other hand, which would greatly weaken his position and his influence on his Allies. There would be no difficulty in the Entente's cleverly introducing Wilson into the international labyrinth and there bewildering him with wrong directions, so that he could not find his way out again. To begin with, therefore, Wilson's theory brought us not a step further.

The '67 settlement was proposed by a leading German-Magyar magnate in Austria-Hungary. Fifty years ago nationalism was much less developed than it is now. Nations were still sleeping—the Czechs, Slovaks and Southern Slavs, the Roumanians and Ruthenians had barely awakened to national life. Fifty years ago it was possible to distinguish between what was deceptive and what gave promise of lasting. The union between Italians and Germans only took effect with the coming of—or was perhaps the first sign of—the world-movement. At all events it was in the second half of the last century that we came within the radius of international politics.

The world's racial problems found a centre in Austria-Hungary, whose affairs, therefore, became very prominent. A chemist can enclose in his retorts different substances and observe how, following the eternal laws of nature, the processes of nature take place. In a similar way during past decades the effect of unsolved racial antagonisms might have been studied within the Habsburg Monarchy and the inevitable explosion anticipated, instead of its being allowed to culminate in the world war.

In putting forward his Fourteen Points Mr. Wilson obviously felt the necessity of settling the world problem of nationality and recognised that the Habsburg Monarchy, once arranged and settled, could serve as a model to the world, as hitherto it had afforded a terrifying example. But to begin with, he overlooked the fact that in the settling of national questions there must be neither adversary nor ally, as those reflect passing differences, whereas the problem of nationality is a permanent one. He also ignored the fact that what applies to the Czechs applies also to Ireland, that the Armenians as well as the Ukrainians desire to live their own national life, and that the coloured peoples of Africa and India are human beings with the same rights as white people. He also failed to see that good will and the desire for justice are far from being sufficient in themselves to solve the problem of nationality. Thus it was that under his patronage, and presumably on the basis of the Fourteen Points, the question of nationality was not solved but simply turned round where not actually left untouched. If Germans and Magyars had hitherto been the dominating races they would now become the oppressed. By the terms settled at Versailles they were to be handed over to states of other nationality. Ten years hence, perhaps sooner, both groups of Powers as they exist at present will have fallen. Other constellations will have appeared and become dominant. The explosive power of unsolved questions will continue to take effect and within a measurable space of time again blow up the world.

Mr. Wilson, who evidently was acquainted with the programme of the Pact of London, though not attaching sufficient importance to the national difficulties, probably hoped to be able to effect a compromise between the Italian policy of conquest and his own ideal policy. In this connection, however, no bridge existed between Rome and Washington. Conquests are made by right of the conqueror—such was Clemenceau's and Orlando's policy—or else the world is ruled on the principles of national justice, as Wilson wished it to be. This ideal, however, will not be attained—no ideal is attainable; but it will be brought very much nearer. Might or Right, the one alone can conquer. But Czechs, Poles and others cannot be freed while at the same time Tyrolese-Germans, Alsatian-Germans and Transylvanian-Hungarians are handed over to foreign states. It cannot be done from the point of view of justice or with any hope of its being permanent. Versailles and St. Germain have proved that it can be done by might, and as a temporary measure.

The solution of the question of nationality was the point round which all Franz Ferdinand's political interests were centred during his lifetime. Whether he would have succeeded is another question, but he certainly did try. The Emperor Charles, too, was not averse to the movement. The Emperor Francis Joseph was too old and too conservative to make the experiment. His idea was quieta non movere. Without powerful help from outside any attempt during the war against the German-Magyar opposition would not have been feasible. Therefore, when Wilson came forward with his Fourteen Points, and in spite of the scepticism with which the message from Washington was received by the German public and here too, I at once resolved to take up the thread.

I repeat that I never doubted the honourable and sincere intentions entertained by Wilson—nor do I doubt them now—but my doubts as to his powers of carrying them out were from the first very pronounced. It was obvious that Wilson, when conducting the war, was much stronger than when he took part in the Peace Conference. As long as fighting proceeded Wilson was master of the world. He had only to call back his troops from the European theatre of war and the Entente would be placed in a most difficult position. It has always been incomprehensible to me why the President of the United States did not have recourse to this strong pressure during this time in order to preserve his own war aims.

The secret information that I received soon after the publication of the Fourteen Points led me to fear that Wilson, not understanding the situation, would fail to take any practical measures to secure respect for the regulations he had laid down, and that he underestimated France's, and particularly Italy's, opposition. The logical and practical consequences of the Wilson programme would have been the public annulment of the Pact of London; it must have been so for us to understand the principles on which we could enter upon peace negotiations. Nothing of that nature occurred, and the gap between Wilson's and Orlando's ideas of peace remained open.

On January 24, 1918, in the Committee of the Austrian Delegation, I spoke publicly on the subject of the Fourteen Points and declared them to be—in so far as they applied to us and not to our Allies—a suitable basis for negotiations. Almost simultaneously we took steps to enlighten ourselves on the problem of how in a practical way the fourteen theoretical ideas of Wilson could be carried out. The negotiations were then by no means hopeless.

Meanwhile the Brest negotiations were proceeding. Although that episode, which represented a victory for German militarism, cannot have been very encouraging for Wilson, he was wise enough to recognise that we were in an awkward position and that the charge brought against Germany that she was making hidden annexations did not apply to Vienna. On February 12—thus, after the conclusion of the Brest peace—the President, in his speech to Congress, said:

Count Czernin appears to have a clear understanding of the peace foundations and does not obscure their sense. He sees that an independent Poland composed of all the undeniably Polish inhabitants, the one bordering on the other, is a matter for European settlement and must be granted; further, that Belgium must be evacuated and restored, no matter what sacrifices and concessions it may involve; also that national desires must be satisfied, even in his own Empire, in the common interests of Europe and humanity.

Though he is silent on certain matters more closely connected with the interests of his Allies than with Austria-Hungary, that is only natural, because he feels compelled under the circumstances to defer to Germany and Turkey. Recognising and agreeing with the important principles in question and the necessity of converting them into action, he naturally feels that Austria-Hungary, more easily than Germany, can concur with the war aims as expressed by the United States. He would probably have gone even further had he not been constrained to consider the Austro-Hungarian Alliance and the country's dependence on Germany.

In the same speech the President goes on to say:

Count Czernin's answer referring mainly to my speech of January 8 is couched in very friendly terms. He sees in my statements a sufficiently encouraging approach to the views of his own Government to justify his belief that they afford a basis for a thorough discussion by both Governments of the aims.

And again:

I must say Count Hertling's answer is very undecided and most confusing, full of equivocal sentences, and it is difficult to say what it aims at. It certainly is written in a very different tone from that of Count Czernin's speech and obviously with a very different object in view.

There can be no doubt that when the head of a State at war with us speaks in such friendly terms of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, he has the best intentions of coming to an understanding. My efforts in this connection were interrupted by my dismissal.

In these last weeks during which I remained in office the Emperor had definitely lost faith in me. This was not due to the Wilson question, nor yet was it the direct consequence of my general policy. A difference of opinion between certain persons in the Emperor's entourage and myself was the real reason. The situation became so strained as to make it unbearable. The forces that conspired against me convinced me that it would be impossible for me to gain my objective which, being of a very difficult nature, could not be obtained unless the Emperor gave me his full confidence.

In spite of all the rumours and stories spread about me I do not intend to go into details unless I should be compelled to do so by accounts derived from reliable sources. I am still convinced to this day that morally I was perfectly right. I was wrong as to form, because I was neither clever nor patient enough to bend the opposition, but would have broken it, by reducing the situation to a case of "either—or".




In the autumn of 1917 I had a visit from a subject of a neutral state, who is a pronounced upholder of general disarmament and world pacifism. We began, of course, to discuss the theme of free competition in armaments, of militarism, which in England prevails on the sea and in Germany on land, and my visitor entered upon the various possibilities likely to occur when the war was at an end. He had no faith in the destruction of England, nor had I; but he thought it possible that France and Italy might collapse. The French and Italians could not possibly bear any heavier burdens than already were laid on them; in Paris and Rome, he thought, revolution was not far distant, and a fresh phase of the war would then ensue. England and America would continue to fight on alone, for ten, perhaps even twenty, years. England was not to be considered just a little island, but comprised Australia, India, Canada, and the sea. "L'Angleterre est imbattable," he repeated, and America likewise. On the other hand, the German army was also invincible. The secession of France and Italy would greatly hinder the cruel blockade, for the resources of those two countries—once they were conquered by the Central Powers—were very vast, and in that case he could not see any end to the war. Finally, the world would collapse from the general state of exhaustion. My visitor cited the fable in which two goats met on a narrow bridge; neither would give way to the other, and they fought until they both fell into the water and were drowned. The victory of one group as in previous wars, he continued, where the conqueror gleaned a rich harvest of gains and the vanquished had to bear all the losses, was out of the question in this present war. Tout le monde perdra, et a la fin il n'y aura que des vaincus.

I often recalled that interview later. Much that was false and yet, as it seemed to me, much that was true lay in my friend's words. France and Italy did not break down; the end of the war came quicker than he thought; and the invincible Germany was defeated. And still I think that the conclusions he arrived at came very near the truth.

The conquerors' finances are in a very precarious state, particularly in Italy and France; unrest prevails; wages are exorbitant; discontent is general; the phantom of Bolshevism leers at them; and they live in the hope that the defeated Central Powers will have to pay, and they will thus be saved. It was set forth in the peace terms, but ultra posse nemo tenetur, and the future will show to what extent the Central Powers can fulfil the conditions dictated to them.

Since the opening of the Peace Congress at Versailles continuous war in Europe has been seen: Russians against the whole world, Czechs against Hungarians, Roumanians against Hungarians, Poles against Ukrainians, Southern Slavs against Germans, Communists against Socialists. Three-fourths of Europe is turned into a witch's cauldron where everything is concocted except work and production, and it is futile to ask how this self-lacerated Europe will be able to find the war expenses laid upon her. According to human reckoning, the conquerors cannot extract even approximate compensation for their losses from the defeated states, and their victory will terminate with a considerable deficit. If that be the case, then my visitor will be right—there will only be the vanquished.

If our plan in 1917, namely, Germany to cede Alsace-Lorraine to France in exchange for the annexation of all Poland, together with Galicia, and all states to disarm; if that plan had been accepted in Berlin and sanctioned by the Entente—unless the non possumus in Berlin and opposition in Rome to a change in the Pact of London had hindered any action—it seems to me the advantage would not only have been on the side of the Central Powers.

Pyrrhus also conquered at Asculum.

* * * * *

My visitor was astonished at Vienna. The psychology of no city that he had seen during the war could compare with that of Vienna. An amazing apathy prevailed. In Paris there was a passionate demand for Alsace-Lorraine; in Berlin the contrary was demanded just as eagerly; in England the destruction of Germany was the objective; in Sofia the conquest of the Dobrudsha; in Rome they clamoured for all possible and impossible things; in Vienna nothing at all was demanded. In Cracow they called for a Great Poland; in Budapest for an unmolested Hungary; in Prague for a united Czech State; and in Innsbruck the descendants of Andreas Hofer were fighting as they did in his day for their sacred land, Tyrol. In Vienna they asked only for peace and quiet.

Old men and children would fight the arch-enemy in Tyrol, but if the Italians were to enter Vienna and bring bread with them they would be received with shouts of enthusiasm. And yet Berlin and Innsbruck were just as hungry as Vienna. C'est une ville sans ame.

My visitor compared the Viennese to a pretty, gay, and frivolous woman, whose aim in life is pleasure and only pleasure. She must dance, sing, and enjoy life, and will do so under any circumstances—sans ame.

This pleasure-loving good nature of the Viennese has its admirable points. For instance, all enemy aliens were better treated in Vienna than anywhere else. Not the slightest trace of enmity was shown to those who were the first to attack and then starve the city.

Stronger than anything else in Vienna was the desire for sensation, pleasure, and a gay life. My friend once saw a piece acted at one of the theatres in Vienna called, I believe, Der Junge Medardus. The scene is laid during the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon. Viennese citizens condemned to death for intriguing with the enemy are led away by the French. In a most thrilling scene weeping women and children bid them farewell. A vast crowd witnesses the affair. A boy suddenly rushes in shouting: "Napoleon is coming." The crowd hurries away to see him, and cries of "Long live Napoleon" are heard in the distance.

Such was Vienna a hundred years ago, and it is still the same. Une ville sans ame.

I pass on the criticism without comment.


In different circles which justly and unjustly intervened in politics during my time of office, the plan was suggested of driving a wedge between North and South Germany, and converting the latter to the peaceful policy of Vienna in contradistinction to Prussian militarism.

The plan was a faulty one from the very first. To begin with, as already stated, the most pronounced obstacle to peace was not only the Prussian spirit, but the Entente programme for our disruption, which a closer connection with Bavaria and Saxony would not have altered. Secondly, Austria-Hungary, obviously falling more and more to pieces, formed no point of attraction for Munich and Dresden, who, though not Prussian, yet were German to the very backbone. The vague and irresponsible plan of returning to the conditions of the period before 1866 was an anachronism. Thirdly and chiefly, all experiments were dangerous which might create the impression in the Entente that the Quadruple Alliance was about to be dissolved. In a policy of that nature executive ability was of supreme importance, and that was exactly what was usually lacking.

The plan was not without good features. The appointment of the Bavarian Count Hertling to be Imperial Chancellor was not due to Viennese influence, though a source of the greatest pleasure to us, and the fact of making a choice that satisfied Vienna played a great part with the Emperor William. Two Bavarians, Hertling and Kuehlmann, had taken over the leadership of the German Empire, and they, apart from their great personal qualities, presented a certain natural counter-balance to Prussian hegemony through their Bavarian origin; but only so far as it was still possible in general administration which then was in a disturbed state. But farther they could not go without causing injury.

Count Hertling and I were on very good terms. This wise and clear-sighted old man, whose only fault was that he was too old and physically incapable of offering resistance, would have saved Germany, if she possibly could have been saved, in 1917. In the rushing torrent that whirled her away to her fall, he found no pillar to which he could cling.

Latterly his sight began to fail and give way. He suffered from fatigue, and the conferences and councils lasting often for hours and hours were beyond his strength.




By letters patent November 5, 1916, both the Emperors declared Poland's existence as a Kingdom.

When I came into office, I found the situation to be that the Poles were annoyed with my predecessor because, they declared, Germany had wanted to cede the newly created kingdom of Poland to us, and Count Burian had rejected the offer. Apparently there is some misunderstanding in this version of the case, as Burian says it is not correctly rendered.

There were three reasons that made the handling of the Polish question one of the greatest difficulty. The first was the totally different views of the case held by competent individuals of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. While the Austrian Ministry was in favour of the so-called Austro-Polish solution, Count Tisza was strongly opposed to it. His standpoint was that the political structure of the Monarchy ought not to undergo any change through the annexation of Poland, and that Poland eventually might be joined to the Monarchy as an Austrian province, but never as a partner in a tripartite Monarchy.

A letter that he wrote to me from Budapest on February 22, 1917, was characteristic of his train of thought. It was as follows:

YOUR EXCELLENCY,—Far be it from me to raise a discussion on questions which to-day are without actual value and most probably will not assume any when peace is signed. On the other hand, I wish to avoid the danger that might arise from mistaken conclusions drawn from the fact that I accepted without protest certain statements that appeared in the correspondence of our diplomatic representatives.

Guided exclusively by this consideration, I beg to draw the attention of Your Excellency to the fact that the so-called Austro-Polish solution of the Polish question has repeatedly (as in telegram Nr. 63 from Herr von Ugron) been referred to as the "tripartite solution."

With reference to this appellation I am compelled to point out the fact that in the first period of the war, at a time when the Austro-Polish solution was in the foreground, all competent circles in the Monarchy were agreed that the annexation of Poland to the Monarchy must on no account affect its dualistic structure.

This principle was distinctly recognised by the then leaders in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, as also by both Prime Ministers; it was also recognised and sanctioned by His late Majesty the Emperor and King Francis Joseph. I trust I may assume that this view is shared by Your Excellency; in any case, and to avoid misunderstanding, I must state that the Royal Hungarian Government considers this to be the ground-pillar of its entire political system, from which, in no circumstances, would it be in a position to deviate.

It would, in our opinion, be fatal for the whole Monarchy. The uncertainty of the situation lies in the Austrian State, where the German element, after the separation of Galicia, would be in a very unsafe position, confronted by powerful tendencies that easily might gain the upper hand should a relatively small number of the Germans, whether from social-democratic, political-reactionary or doctrinary reasons, separate from the other German parties. The establishment of the new Polish element as a third factor with Austria-Hungary in our constitutional organism would represent an element so unsafe, and would be combined with such risks for the further development of the policy of the Habsburg Great Power, that, in view of the position of the Monarchy as such, I should feel the greatest anxiety lest the new and unreliable Russian-Polish element, so different from us in many respects, should play too predominant a part.

The firm retention of dualism, according to which half the political influence on general subjects rests with Hungary, and the Hungarian and German element in common furnish a safe majority in the delegation, alone can secure for the dynasty and the two States under its sceptre an adequate guarantee for the future.

There is no other factor in the Monarchy whose every vital interest is so bound up in the dynasty and in the position of the Monarchy as a Great Power, as Hungary. The few people whose clear perception of that fact may have become dulled during the last peaceful decade must have been brought to a keener realisation of it by the present war.

The preservation of the Danube Monarchy as a vigorous and active Great Power is in the truest sense of the word a vital condition for the existence of the Hungarian State. It was fatal for all of us that this willing people, endowed with so many administrative qualities, ready to sacrifice themselves for all State and national aims, have for centuries past not been able to devote themselves to the common cause. The striving for a solution of the world racial problem and the necessity of combining the responsibilities of a Great Power with the independence of the Hungarian State have caused heavy trials and century-long friction and fighting.

Hungary's longing for independence did not take the form of efforts for dissolution. The great leaders in our struggle for liberty did not attack the continuance of the Habsburg Empire as a Great Power. And even during the bitter trials of the struggle they never followed any further aim than to obtain from the Crown a guarantee for their chartered rights.

Hungary, free and independent, wished to remain under the sceptre of the Habsburgs; she did not wish to come under any foreign rule, but to be a free nation governed by her own king and her own laws and not subordinate to any other ruler. This principle was repeatedly put forward in solemn form (in the years 1723 and 1791), and finally, in the agreement of 1867, a solution was found which endowed it with life and ensured its being carried out in a manner favourable for the position of a great nation.

In the period of preparation for the agreement of 1867 Hungary was a poor and, comparatively speaking, small part of the then Monarchy, and the great statesmen of Hungary based their administrative plan on dualism and equality as being the only possible way for ensuring that Hungarian independence, recognised and appealed to on many occasions, should materialise in a framework of modern constitutional practice.

A political structure for the Monarchy which would make it possible for Hungary to be outvoted on the most important questions of State affairs, and therefore subject to a foreign will, would again have nullified all that had been achieved after so much striving and suffering, so much futile waste of strength for the benefit of us all, which even in this war, too, would have brought its blessings. All those, therefore, who have always stood up firmly and loyally for the agreement of 1867 must put their whole strength into resisting any tripartite experiments.

I would very much regret if, in connection with this question, differences of opinion should occur among the present responsible leaders of the Monarchy. In view of this I considered it unnecessary to give publicity to a question that is not pressing. At all events, in dealing with the Poles, all expressions must be avoided which, in the improbable, although not impossible, event of a resumption of the Austro-Polish solution, might awaken expectations in them which could only lead to the most complicated consequences.

The more moderate Poles had made up their minds that the dualistic structure of the Monarchy would have to remain intact, and that the annexation of Poland by way of a junction with the Austrian State, with far-reaching autonomy to follow, would have to be the consequence. It would therefore be extremely imprudent and injurious to awaken fresh aspirations, the realisation of which seems very doubtful, not only from a Hungarian point of view but from that which concerns the future of the Monarchy.

I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my highest esteem.


Budapest, February 22, 1917.

The question as to what was to be Poland's future position with regard to the Monarchy remained still unsolved. I continued to press the point that Poland should be annexed as an independent state. Tisza wanted it to be a province. When the Emperor dismissed him, although he was favoured by the majority of the Parliament, it did not alter the situation in regard to the Polish question, as Wekerle, in this as in almost all other questions, had to adopt Tisza's views; otherwise, he would have been in the minority.

The actual reason of Tisza's dismissal was not the question of electoral reforms, as his successors could only act according to Tisza's instructions. For, as leader of the majority, which he continued to be even after his dismissal, no electoral reforms could be carried out in opposition to his will. Tisza thought that the Emperor meditated putting in a coalition majority against him, which he considered quite logical, though not agreeable.

The next difficulty was the attitude of the Germans towards Poland. At the occupation of Poland we were already unfairly treated, and the Germans had appropriated the greater part of the country. Always and everywhere, they were the stronger on the battlefield, and the consequence was that they claimed the lion's share of all the successes gained. This was in reality quite natural, but it greatly added to all diplomatic and political activities, which were invariably prejudiced and hindered by military facts. When I entered upon office, Germany's standpoint was that she had a far superior right to Poland, and that the simplest solution would be for us to evacuate the territory we had occupied. It was, of course, obvious that I could not accept such a proposal, and we held firmly to the point that under no circumstances would our troops leave Lublin. After much controversy, the Germans agreed, tant bien que mal, to this solution. The further development of the affair showed that the German standpoint went through many changes. In general, it fluctuated between two extremes: either Poland must unite herself to Germany—the German-Polish solution, or else vast portions of her territory must be ceded to Germany to be called frontier adjustments, and what remained would be either for us or for Poland herself. Neither solution could be accepted by us. The first one for this reason, that the Polish question being in the foreground made that of Galicia very acute, as it would have been quite impossible to retain Galicia in the Monarchy when separated from the rest of Poland. We were obliged to oppose the German-Polish solution, not from any desire for conquest, but to prevent the sacrifice of Galicia for no purpose.

The second German suggestion was just as impossible to carry out, because Poland, crippled beyond recognition by the frontier readjustment, even though united with Galicia, would have been so unsatisfactory a factor that there would never have been any prospect of harmonious dealings with her.

The third difficulty was presented by the Poles themselves, as they naturally wished to secure the greatest possible profit out of their release by the Central Powers, even though it did not contribute much to their future happiness so far as military support was concerned. There were many different parties among them: first of all, one for the Entente; a second, Bilinski's party; above all, one for the Central Powers, especially when we gained military successes.

On the whole, Polish policy was to show their hand as little as possible to any particular group, and in the end range themselves on the side of the conquerors. It must be admitted that these tactics were successful.

In addition to these difficulties, there prevailed almost always in Polish political circles a certain nervous excitement, which made it extremely difficult to enter into any calm and essential negotiations. At the very beginning, misunderstandings occurred between the Polish leaders and myself with regard to what I proposed to do; misunderstandings which, toward the end of my term of office, developed into the most bitter enmity towards me on the part of the Poles. On February 10, 1917, a whole year before Brest-Litovsk, I received the news from Warsaw that Herr von Bilinski, apparently misunderstanding my standpoint, evolved from the facts, considered that hopes represented promises, and in so doing raised Polish expectations to an unwarranted degree. I telegraphed thereupon to our representative as follows:

February 16, 1917.

I have informed Herr von Bilinski, together with other Poles, that it is impossible in the present unsettled European situation to make, on the whole, any plans for the future of Poland. I have told them that I sympathise with the Austro-Polish solution longed for by all our Poles, but that I am not in the position to say whether this solution will be attainable, though I am equally unable to foretell the opposite. Finally, I have also declared that our whole policy where Poland is concerned can only consist in our leaving a door open for all future transactions.

I added that our representative must quote my direct orders in settling the matter.

In January, 1917, a conference was held respecting the Polish question: a conference which aimed at laying down a broad line of action for the policy to be adopted. I first of all referred to the circumstances connected with the previously-mentioned German request for us to evacuate Lublin, and explained my reasons for not agreeing to the demand. I pointed out that it did not seem probable to me that the war would end with a dictated peace on our side, and that, with reference to Poland, we should not be able to solve the Polish question without the co-operation of the Entente, and that there was not much object so long as the war lasted in endeavouring to secure faits accomplis. The main point was that we remain in the country, and on the conclusion of peace enter into negotiations with the Entente and the Allies to secure a solution of the Austro-Polish question. That should be the gist of our policy. Count Tisza spoke after me and agreed with me that we must not yield to the German demand for our evacuation of Lublin. As regards the future, the Hungarian Prime Minister stated that he had always held the view that we should cede to Germany our claim to Poland in exchange for economic and financial compensation; but that, at the present time, he did not feel so confident about it. The conditions then prevailing were unbearable, chiefly owing to the variableness of German policy, and he, Count Tisza, returned to his former, oft-repeated opinion that we should strive as soon as possible to withdraw with honour out of the affair; impose no conditions that would lead to further friction, but the surrendering to Germany of our share in Poland in exchange for economic compensation.

The Austrian Prime Minister, Count Clam, opposed this from the Austrian point of view, which supported the union of all the Poles under the Habsburg sceptre as being the one and only desirable solution.

The feeling during the debate was that the door must be closed against the Austro-Polish proposals, and that, in view of the impossibility of an immediate definite solution, we must adhere firmly to the policy that rendered possible the union of all the Poles under the Habsburg rule.

After Germany's refusal of the proposal to accept Galicia as compensation for Alsace-Lorraine, this programme was adhered to through various phases and vicissitudes until the ever-increasing German desire for frontier readjustment created a situation which made the achievement of the Austro-Polish project very doubtful. Unless we could secure a Poland which, thanks to the unanimity of the great majority of all Poles, would willingly and cheerfully join the Monarchy, the Austro-Polish solution would not have been a happy one, as in that case we should only have increased the number of discontented elements in the Monarchy, already very high, by adding fresh ones to them. As it proved impossible to break the resistance put up by General Ludendorff, the idea presented itself at a later stage to strive for the annexation of Roumania instead of Poland. It was a return to the original idea of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the union of Roumania with Transylvania, closely linked to the Monarchy. In that case we should have lost Galicia to Poland, but a certain compensation would have been conceded to us in Roumania with her corn and oil springs, and for the Monarchy, as for the Poles, it appeared better to unite the latter collectively with Germany rather than to divide them, as suggested in the Vienna-Berlin dispute.

The plan for the annexation of Roumania presented wellnigh insurmountable internal difficulties. Owing to her geographical position, Roumania ought naturally to be annexed to Hungary. Tisza, who was not in favour of the plan, would, nevertheless, have agreed to it if the annexed country had been administered from Budapest and in the Magyar spirit, which meant that it would be incorporated in Hungary. This, for obvious reasons, would involve the failure of the plan, for the Roumanians would gain no advantage from the annexation if it was to be at the sacrifice of their national independence. On the other hand, the Austrian Ministry raised quite justifiable objections to the suggestion of a future combination that would add a rich and vast country to Hungary, while Austria would be reduced in proportion, and compensation in one or other form was demanded. Another, but tentative, plan was to make over Bosnia and the Herzegovina definitely by way of compensation to Austria. All these ideas and plans, however, were of a transitory nature, evoked by the constantly recurring difficulties in Berlin and Warsaw, and they invariably fell through when it was seen that the obstacles arising from dualism were not to be overcome. The original Austro-Polish solution was taken up again, although it was impossible to extort from the Germans a definite statement as to a reasonable western frontier for Poland. In the very last term of my office the Roumanian plan again came up, partly owing to the bitter feelings of the Poles on the Cholm question, and partly owing to the claims made by Germany, which rendered the Austro-Polish solution impossible.

Simultaneously with these efforts, a plan for the future organisation of the Monarchy was being considered. The Emperor adhered to the correct standpoint, as I still consider it to be, that the structure of the Monarchy, after an endurable issue from the war, would have to be altered, and reconstruction on a far more pronounced national basis be necessary. As applied to the Poles, this project would entail the dividing of East and West Galicia, and an independent position for the Ruthenian Poles.

When at Brest-Litovsk, under the pressure of the hunger riots that were beginning, I refused to agree to the Ukrainian demands, but consented to submit the question of the division of Galicia to the Austrian Crown Council. I was impelled thereto by the conviction that we were adhering strictly to the programme as it had been planned for the Monarchy.

I will give fuller details respecting this question in the next chapter, but will merely relate the following incident as an example to show the degree of hostile persecution to which I was exposed. The rumour was spread on all sides that the Emperor had told the Poles that "I had concluded peace with the Ukraine without his knowledge and against his will." It is quite out of the question that the Emperor can have made such a statement, as the peace conditions at Kieff were a result of a council convoked ad hoc, where—as the protocol proves—the Emperor and Dr. von Seidler were responsible for the terms.

The great indignation of the Poles at my conduct at Brest-Litovsk was quite unfounded. I never promised the Poles that they were to have the Cholm district, and never alluded to any definite frontiers. Had I done so the capable political leaders in Poland would never have listened to me, as they knew very well that the frontiers, only in a very slight degree, depended on the decisions at Vienna. If we lost the war we had nothing more to say in the matter; if a peace of agreement was concluded, then Berlin would be the strongest side, having occupied the largest portion of the country; the question would then have to be decided at the general Conference.

I always told the Polish leaders that I hoped to secure a Poland thoroughly satisfied, also with respect to her frontier claims, and there were times when we seemed to be very near the accomplishment of such an aim; but I never concealed the fact that there were many influences at work restricting my wishes and keeping them very much subdued.

The partition of Galicia was an internal Austrian question. Dr. von Seidler took up the matter most warmly, and at the Council expressed the hope of being able to carry out these measures by parliamentary procedure and against the opposition of the Poles.

I will allude to this question also in my next chapter.

Closely connected with the Polish question was the so-called Central-European project.

For obvious and very comprehensible reasons Germany was keenly interested in a scheme for closer union. I was always full of the idea of turning these important concessions to account at the right moment as compensation for prospective German sacrifices, and thus promoting a peace of understanding.

During the first period of my official activity, I still hoped to secure a revision of the Pact of London. I hoped, as already mentioned, that the Entente would not keep to the resolution adopted for the mutilation of the Monarchy, and I did not, therefore, approach the Central-European question closer; had I raised it, it would greatly have complicated our position with regard to Paris and London. When I was compelled later to admit that the Entente kept firmly to the decision that we were to be divided in any case, and that any change in their purpose would only be effected, if at all, by military force, I endeavoured to work out the Central-European plan in detail, and to reserve the concessions ready to be made to Germany until the right moment had arrived to make the offer.

In this connection it seemed to me that the Customs Union was unfeasible, at any rate at first; but on the other hand, a new and closer commercial treaty would be desirable, and a closer union of the armies would offer no danger; it was hoped greatly to reduce them after the war. I was convinced that a peace of understanding would bring about disarmament, and that the importance of military settlements would be influenced thereby. Also, that the conclusion of peace would bring with it different relations between all states, and that, therefore, the political and military decisions to be determined in the settlement with Germany were not of such importance as those relating to economic questions.

The drawing up of this programme was met, however, by the most violent opposition on the part of the Emperor. He was particularly opposed to all military rapprochement.

When the attempt to approach the question failed through the resistance from the crown, I arranged on my own initiative for a debate on the economic question. The Emperor then wrote me a letter in which he forbade any further dealings in the matter. I answered his letter by a business report, pointing out the necessity of continuing the negotiations.

The question then became a sore point between the Emperor and myself. He did not give his permission for further negotiations, but I continued them notwithstanding. The Emperor knew of it, but did not make further allusion to the matter. The vast claims put forward by the Germans made the negotiations extremely difficult, and with long intervals and at a very slow pace they dragged on until I left office.

Afterwards the Emperor went with Burian to the German Headquarters. Following that, the Salzburg negotiations were proceeded with and, apparently, at greater speed.




In the summer of 1917 we received information which seemed to suggest a likelihood of realising the contemplated peace with Russia. A report dated June 13, 1917, which came to me from a neutral country, ran as follows:

The Russian Press, bourgeois and socialistic, reveals the following state of affairs:

At the front and at home bitter differences of opinion are rife as to the offensive against the Central Powers demanded by the Allies and now also energetically advocated by Kerenski in speeches throughout the country. The Bolsheviks, as also the Socialists under the leadership of Lenin, with their Press, are taking a definite stand against any such offensive. But a great part of the Mensheviks as well, i.e. Tscheidse's party, to which the present Ministers Tseretelli and Skobeleff belong, is likewise opposed to the offensive, and the lack of unanimity on this question is threatening the unity of the party, which has only been maintained with difficulty up to now. A section of the Mensheviks, styled Internationalists from their trying to re-establish the old Internationale, also called Zimmerwalder or Kienthaler, and led by Trotski, or, more properly, Bronstein, who has returned from America, with Larin, Martow, Martynoz, etc., returned from Switzerland, are on this point, as with regard to the entry of Menshevik Social Democrats into the Provisional Government, decidedly opposed to the majority of the party. And for this reason Leo Deutsch, one of the founders of the Marxian Social Democracy, has publicly withdrawn from the party, as being too little patriotic for his views and not insisting on final victory. He is, with Georgei Plechanow, one of the chief supporters of the Russian "Social Patriots," which group is termed, after their Press organ, the "Echinstvo" group, but is of no importance either as regards numbers or influence. Thus it comes about that the official organ of the Mensheviks, the Rabocaja Gazeta, is forced to take up an intermediate position, and publishes, for instance, frequent articles against the offensive.

There is then the Social Revolutionary party, represented in the Cabinet by the Minister of Agriculture, Tschernow. This is, perhaps, the strongest of all the Russian parties, having succeeded in leading the whole of the peasant movement into its course—at the Pan-Russian Congress the great majority of the peasants' deputies were Social Revolutionaries, and no Social Democrat was elected to the executive committee of the Peasants' Deputies' Council. A section of this party, and, it would seem, the greater and more influential portion, is definitely opposed to any offensive. This is plainly stated in the leading organs of the party, Delo Naroda and Zemlja i Wolja. Only a small and apparently uninfluential portion, grouped round the organ Volja Naroda, faces the bourgeois Press with unconditional demands for an offensive to relieve the Allies, as does the Plechanow group. Kerenski's party, the Trudoviks, as also the related People's Socialists, represented in the Cabinet by the Minister of Food, Peschechonow, are still undecided whether to follow Kerenski here or not. Verbal information, and utterances in the Russian Press, as, for instance, the Retch, assert that Kerenski's health gives grounds for fearing a fatal catastrophe in a short time. The official organ of the Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies' Council, the Isvestia, on the other hand, frequently asserts with great emphasis that an offensive must unquestionably be made. It is characteristic that a speech made by the Minister of Agriculture, Tschernow, to the Peasants' Congress, was interpreted as meaning that he was opposed to the offensive, so that he was obliged to justify himself to his colleagues in the Ministry and deny that such had been his meaning.

While, then, people at home are seriously divided on the question of an offensive, the men at the front appear but little inclined to undertake any offensive. This is stated by all parties in the Russian Press, the symptoms being regarded either with satisfaction or with regret. The infantry in particular are against the offensive; the only enthusiasm is to be found among the officers, in the cavalry or a part of it, and the artillery. It is characteristic also that the Cossacks are in favour of war. These, at any rate, have an ulterior motive, in that they hope by success at the front to be able ultimately to overthrow the revolutionary regime. For there is this to be borne in mind: that while most of the Russian peasants have no landed property exceeding five deshatin, and three millions have no land at all, every Cossack owns forty deshatin, an unfair distinction which is constantly being referred to in all discussion of the land question. This is a sufficient ground for the isolated position of the Cossacks in the Revolution, and it was for this reason also that they were formerly always among the most loyal supporters of the Tsar.

Extremely characteristic of the feeling at the front are the following details:

At the sitting on May 30 of the Pan-Russian Congress, Officers' Delegates, a representative of the officers of the 3rd Elizabethengrad Hussars is stated, according to the Retch of May 1, to have given, in a speech for the offensive, the following characteristic statement: "You all know to what extremes the disorder at the front has reached. The infantry cut the wires connecting them with their batteries and declare that the soldiers will not remain more than one month at the front, but will go home."

It is very instructive also to read the report of a delegate from the front, who had accompanied the French and English majority Socialists at the front. This report was printed in the Rabocaja Gazeta, May 18 and 19—this is the organ of the Mensheviks, i.e. that of Tscheidse, Tseretelli and Skobeleff. These Entente Socialists at the front were told with all possible distinctness that the Russian army could not and would not fight for the imperialistic aims of England and France. The state of the transport, provisions and forage supplies, as also the danger to the achievements of the Revolution by further war, demanded a speedy cessation of hostilities. The English and French Socialist delegates were said to be not altogether pleased at this state of feeling at the front. And it was further demanded of them that they should undertake to make known the result of their experience in Russia on the Western front, i.e. in France. There was some very plain speaking, too, with regard to America: representatives from the Russian front spoke openly of America's policy of exploitation towards Europe and the Allies. It was urged then that an international Socialist conference should be convened at the earliest possible moment, and supported by the English and French majority Socialists. At one of the meetings at the front, the French and English Socialists were given the following reply:

"Tell your comrades that we await definite declarations from your Governments and peoples renouncing conquest and indemnities. We will shed no drop of blood for Imperialists, whether they be Russians, Germans or English. We await the speediest agreement between the workers of all countries for the termination of the war, which is a thing shameful in itself, and will, if continued, prove disastrous to the Russian Revolution. We will not conclude any separate peace, but tell your people to let us know their aims as soon as possible."

According to the report, the French Socialists were altogether converted to this point of view. This also appears to be the case, from the statements with regard to the attitude of Cachin and Moutet at the French Socialist Congress. The English, on the other hand, were immovable, with the exception of Sanders, who inclined somewhat toward the Russian point of view.

Private information reaching the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this country states that shots were fired at M. Thomas, the Minister of Munitions, in the course of one of his war speeches at the Russian front.

The disorganisation at the front is described by an officer or soldier at the front in the same organ, the Rabocaja Gazeta for May 26, as follows:

"The passionate desire for peace, peace of whatever kind, aye, even a peace costing the loss of ten governments (i.e. districts), is growing ever more plainly evident. Men dream of it passionately, even though it is not yet spoken of at meetings and in revolutions, even though all conscious elements of the army fight against this party that long for peace." And to paralyse this, there can be but one way: let the soldiers see the democracy fighting emphatically for peace and the end of the war.

The Pan-Russian Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Delegates' Councils and the Army Organisation at the front in St. Petersburg June 1-14 took for its first point in the order of the day the following: "The War, questions of defence and the struggle for peace." At this time the Government would doubtless have to give a declaration with regard to the answer already received at the beginning of June from the Allies as to their war aims. This congress will also probably decide definitely upon the nomination for the Stockholm Conference and appoint delegates. Point 4 deals with the question of nationality. An open conflict had broken out between the Petersburg Workers' and Soldiers' Deputy Councils and the Ukrainian Soldiers' Congress, sitting at Kieff, on account of the formation of an Ukrainian army. The appointment of an "Ukrainian Army General Committee" further aggravated the conflict.

With regard to the increasing internal confusion, the growing seriousness of the nationality dispute, the further troubles in connection with agricultural and industrial questions, a detailed report dealing separately with these heads will be forwarded later.

Towards the end of November I wrote to one of my friends the following letter, which I have given in extenso, as it shows faithfully my estimate of the situation at the time:

Vienna, November 17, 1917.

MY DEAR FRIEND,—After many days, full of trouble, annoyance and toil, I write to you once more in order to answer your very noteworthy observations; to be in contact with you again turns my thoughts into other channels, and enables me, for the time at least, to forget the wretchedness of every day.

You have heard, you say, that matters are not going so well between the Emperor and myself, and you are sorry for this. I am sorry myself, if for no other reason than that it increases the friction of the daily working machine to an insupportable degree. As soon as a thing of this sort leaks out—and it does so fast enough—all enemies, male and female, rush in with renewed strength, making for the vulnerable point, in the hope of securing my overthrow. These good people are like carrion vultures—I myself am the carrion—they can scent from afar that there is something for them to do, and come flying to the spot. And the lies they invent and the intrigues they contrive, with a view to increasing existing differences—really, they are worthy of admiration. You ask, who are these inveterate enemies of mine?

Well, first of all, those whom you yourself conjecture.

And, secondly, the enemies whom every Minister has, the numbers of those who would fain be in his place. Finally, a crowd of political mountebanks from the Jockey Club, who are disgusted because they had hoped for some personal advantage through my influence, and I have ignored them. No. 3 is a comfortingly negligible quantity, No. 2 are dangerous, but No. 1 are deadly.

In any case, then, my days are numbered. Heaven be thanked, relief is not far off. If only I could now settle things with Russia quickly, and thus perhaps secure the possibility of a peace all round. All reports from Russia seem to point to the fact that the Government there is determined on peace, and peace as speedily as possible. But the Germans are now full of confidence. If they can throw their massed forces against the West, they have no doubt of being able to break through, take Paris and Calais, and directly threaten England. Such a success, however, could only lead to peace if Germany could be persuaded to renounce all plans of conquest. I at any rate cannot believe that the Entente, after losing Paris and Calais, would refuse to treat for peace as inter pares—it would at least be necessary to make every endeavour in that direction. Up to now Hindenburg has done all that he promised, so much we must admit, and the whole of Germany believes in his forthcoming success in the West—always taking for granted, of course, the freeing of the Eastern front; that is to say, peace with Russia. The Russian peace, then, may prove the first step on the way to the peace of the world.

I have during the last few days received reliable information about the Bolsheviks. Their leaders are almost all of them Jews, with altogether fantastic ideas, and I do not envy the country that is governed by them. From our point of view, however, the most interesting thing about them is that they are anxious to make peace, and in this respect they do not seem likely to change, for they cannot carry on the war.

In the Ministry here, three groups are represented: one declines to take Lenin seriously, regarding him as an ephemeral personage, the second does not take this view at all, but is nevertheless unwilling to treat with a revolutionary of this sort, and the third consists, as far as I am aware, of myself alone, and I will treat with him, despite the possibly ephemeral character of his position and the certainty of revolution. The briefer Lenin's period of power the more need to act speedily, for no subsequent Russian Government will recommence the war—and I cannot take a Russian Metternich as my partner when there is none to be had.

The Germans are hesitating—they do not altogether like the idea of having any dealings with Lenin, possibly also from the reasons already mentioned; they are inconsistent in this, as is often the case. The German military party—which, as everyone knows, holds the reins of policy in Germany entirely—have, as far as I can see, done all they could to overthrow Kerenski and set up "something else" in his place. Now, the something else is there, and is ready to make peace; obviously, then, one must act, even though the party concerned is not such as one would have chosen for oneself.

It is impossible to get any exact information about these Bolsheviks; that is to say, there is plenty of information available, but it is contradictory. The way they begin is this: everything in the least reminiscent of work, wealth, and culture must be destroyed, and the bourgeoisie exterminated. Freedom and equality seem no longer to have any place on their programme; only a bestial suppression of all but the proletariat itself. The Russian bourgeois class, too, seems almost as stupid and cowardly as our own, and its members let themselves be slaughtered like sheep.

True, this Russian Bolshevism is a peril to Europe, and if we had the power, besides securing a tolerable peace for ourselves, to force other countries into a state of law and order, then it would be better to have nothing to do with such people as these, but to march on Petersburg and arrange matters there. But we have not the power; peace at the earliest possible moment is necessary for our own salvation, and we cannot obtain peace unless the Germans get to Paris—and they cannot get to Paris unless their Eastern front is freed. That is the circle complete. All this the German military leaders themselves maintain, and it is altogether illogical of them now apparently to object to Lenin on personal grounds.

I was unable to finish this letter yesterday, and now add this to-day. Yesterday another attempt was made, from a quarter which you will guess, to point out to me the advantage of a separate peace. I spoke to the Emperor about it, and told him that this would simply be shooting oneself for fear of death; that I could not take such a step myself, but would be willing to resign under some pretext or other, when he would certainly find men ready to make the attempt. The conference of London has determined on a division of the Monarchy, and no separate peace on our part would avail to alter that. The Roumanians, Serbians and Italians are to receive enormous compensation, we are to lose Trieste, and the remainder is to be broken up into separate states—Czechish, Polish, Hungarian and German. There will be very slight contact between these new states; in other words, a separate peace would mean that the Monarchy, having first been mutilated, would then be hacked to pieces. But until we arrive at this result, we must fight on, and that, moreover, against Germany, which will, of course, make peace with Russia at once and occupy the Monarchy. The German generals will not be so foolish as to wait until the Entente has invaded Germany through Austria, but will take care to make Austria itself the theatre of war. So that instead of bringing the war to an end, we should be merely changing one opponent for another and delivering up provinces hitherto spared—such as Bohemia and Tyrol—to the fury of battle, only to be wrecked completely in the end.

On the other hand, we might perhaps, in a few months' time, secure peace all round, with Germany as well—a tolerable peace of mutual understanding—always provided the German offensive turns out successful. The Emperor was more silent then. Among his entourage, one pulls this way, another that—and we gain nothing in that manner among the Entente, while we are constantly losing the confidence of Berlin. If a man wishes to go over to the enemy, then let him do it—le remede sera pire que le mal—but to be for ever dallying with the idea of treachery and adopting the pose without carrying it out in reality—this I cannot regard as prudent policy.

I believe we could arrive at a tolerable peace of understanding; we should lose something to Italy, and should, of course, gain nothing in exchange. Furthermore, we should have to alter the entire structure of the Monarchy—after the fashion of the federation Danubienne proposed in France—and I am certainly rather at a loss to see how this can be done in face of the Germans and Hungarians. But I hope we may survive the war, and I hope also that they will ultimately revise the conditions of the London conference. Let but old Hindenburg once make his entry into Paris, and then the Entente must utter the decisive word that they are willing to treat. But when that moment comes, I am firmly determined to do the utmost possible, to appeal publicly to the peoples of the Central Powers and ask them if they prefer to fight on for conquest or if they will have peace.

To settle with Russia as speedily as possible, then break through the determination of the Entente to exterminate us, and then to make peace—even at a loss—that is my plan and the hope for which I live. Naturally, after the capture of Paris, all "leading" men—with the exception of the Emperor Karl—will demand a "good" peace, and that we shall never get in any case. The odium of having "spoiled the peace" I will take upon myself.

So, I hope, we may come out of it at last, albeit rather mauled. But the old days will never return. A new order will be born in throes and convulsions. I said so publicly some time back, in my Budapest speech, and it was received with disapproval practically on all sides.

This has made a long letter after all, and it is late. Lebe wohl, and let me hear from you again soon.—In friendship as of old, yours

(Signed) CZERNIN.

With regard to the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk, I will leave my diary to speak for itself. Despite many erroneous views that may appear in the following notes, and various unimportant details, I have not abbreviated it at all, since it gives, in its present form, what I believe will be a clear picture of the development.

"December 19, 1917.—Departure from Vienna, Wednesday, 19th.

"Four o'clock, Nordbahnhof. Found the party already assembled there: Gratz and Wiesner, Colloredo, Gautsch and Andrian, also Lieut. Field-Marshal Csicserics, and Major Fleck, Baden.

"I took the opportunity on the journey to give Csicserics an idea of my intentions and the tactics to be pursued. I told him that in my opinion Russia would propose a general peace, and that we must of course accept this proposal. I hoped that the first steps for a general peace would be taken at Brest, and not given up for a long time. Should the Entente not accept, then at least the way would be open for a separate peace. After that I had long discussions with Gratz and Wiesner, which took up more or less the whole day.

"December 20, 1917.—Arrived at Brest a few minutes past five. At the station were the Chief of Staff, General Hoffmann, with some ten of his suite, also the emissary Rosenberg and Merey with my party. I greeted them on the platform, and after a few words Merey went into the train with me to tell me what had happened during the past few days. On the whole, Merey takes a not unfavourable view of the situation, and believes that, unless something unforeseen crops up, we should succeed within a reasonable time in arranging matters satisfactorily.

"At six o'clock I went to pay my visit to General Hoffmann; he gave me some interesting details as to the mentality of the Russian delegates, and the nature of the armistice he had so fortunately concluded. I had the impression that the General combined expert knowledge and energy with a good deal of calm and ability, but also not a little Prussian brutality, whereby he had succeeded in persuading the Russians, despite opposition at first, to agree to very favourable terms of truce. A little later, as arranged, Prince Leopold of Bavaria came in, and I had some talk with him on matters of no importance.

"We then went to dinner, all together, including the whole staff of nearly 100 persons. The dinner presented one of the most remarkable pictures ever seen. The Prince of Bavaria presided. Next to the Prince sat the leader of the Russian delegation, a Jew called Joffe, recently liberated from Siberia; then came the generals and the other delegates. Apart from this Joffe, the most striking personality in the delegation is the brother-in-law of the Russian Foreign Minister, Trotski, a man named Kameneff, who, likewise liberated from prison during the Revolution, now plays a prominent part. The third delegate is Madame Bizenko, a woman with a comprehensive past. Her husband is a minor official; she herself took an early part in the revolutionary movement. Twelve years ago she murdered General Sacharow, the governor of some Russian city, who had been condemned to death by the Socialists for his energy. She appeared before the general with a petition, holding a revolver under her petticoat. When the general began to read she fired four bullets into his body, killing him on the spot. She was sent to Siberia, where she lived for twelve years, at first in solitary confinement, afterwards under somewhat easier conditions; she also owes her freedom to the Revolution. This remarkable woman learned French and German in Siberia well enough to read them, though she cannot speak them, not knowing how the words should be pronounced. She is the type of the educated Russian proletariat. Extremely quiet and reserved, with a curious determined set of the mouth, and eyes that flare up passionately at times. All that is taking place around her here she seems to regard with indifference. Only when mention is made of the great principles of the International Revolution does she suddenly awake, her whole expression alters; she reminds one of a beast of prey seeing its victim at hand and preparing to fall upon it and rend it.

"After dinner I had my first long conversation with Hr. Joffe. His whole theory is based on the idea of establishing the right of self-determination of peoples on the broadest basis throughout the world, and trusting to the peoples thus freed to continue in mutual love. Joffe does not deny that the process would involve civil war throughout the world to begin with, but he believes that such a war, as realising the ideals of humanity, would be justified, and its end worth all it would cost. I contented myself with telling him that he must let Russia give proof that Bolshevism was the way to a happier age; when he had shown this to be so, the rest of the world would be won over to his ideals. But until his theory had been proved by example he would hardly succeed in convincing people generally to adopt his views. We were ready to conclude a general peace without indemnities or annexations, and were thoroughly agreed to leave the development of affairs in Russia thereafter to the judgment of the Russian Government itself. We should also be willing to learn something from Russia, and if his revolution succeeded he would force Europe to follow him, whether we would or not. But meanwhile there was a great deal of scepticism about, and I pointed out to him that we should not ourselves undertake any imitation of the Russian methods, and did not wish for any interference with our own internal affairs: this we must strictly forbid. If he persisted in endeavouring to carry out this Utopian plan of grafting his ideas on ourselves, he had better go back home by the next train, for there could be no question of making peace. Hr. Joffe looked at me in astonishment with his soft eyes, was silent for a while, and then, in a kindly, almost imploring tone that I shall never forget, he said: 'Still, I hope we may yet be able to raise the revolution in your country too.'

"We shall hardly need any assistance from the good Joffe, I fancy, in bringing about a revolution among ourselves; the people will manage that, if the Entente persist in refusing to come to terms.

"They are strange creatures, these Bolsheviks. They talk of freedom and the reconciliation of the peoples of the world, of peace and unity, and withal they are said to be the most cruel tyrants history has ever known. They are simply exterminating the bourgeoisie, and their arguments are machine guns and the gallows. My talk to-day with Joffe has shown me that these people are not honest, and in falsity surpass all that cunning diplomacy has been accused of, for to oppress decent citizens in this fashion and then talk at the same time of the universal blessing of freedom—it is sheer lying.

"December 21, 1917.—I went with all my party to lunch at noon with the Prince of Bavaria. He lives in a little bit of a palace half an hour by car from Brest. He seems to be much occupied with military matters, and is very busy.

"I spent the first night in the train, and while we were at breakfast our people moved in with the luggage to our residence. We are in a small house, where I live with all the Austro-Hungarian party, quite close to the officers' casino, and there is every comfort that could be wished for here. I spent the afternoon at work with my people, and in the evening there was a meeting of the delegates of the three Powers. This evening I had the first talk with Kuehlmann alone, and at once declared positively that the Russians would propose a general peace, and that we must accept it. Kuehlmann is half disposed to take my view himself; the formula, of course, will be 'no party to demand annexations or indemnities'; then, if the Entente agree, we shall have an end of all this suffering. But, alas! it is hardly likely that they will.

"December 22, 1917.—The forenoon was devoted to the first discussion among the Allies, the principles just referred to as discussed with Kuehlmann being then academically laid down. In the afternoon the first plenary sitting took place, the proceedings being opened by the Prince of Bavaria and then led by Dr. Kuehlmann. It was decided that the Powers should take it in turns to preside, in order of the Latin alphabet as to their names, i.e. Allemagne, Autriche, etc. Dr. Kuehlmann requested Hr. Joffe to tell us the principles on which he considered a future peace should be based, and the Russian delegate then went through the six main tenets already familiar from the newspapers. The proposal was noted, and we undertook to give a reply as early as possible after having discussed the matter among ourselves. These, then, were the proceedings of the first brief sitting of the peace congress.

"December 23, 1917.—Kuehlmann and I prepared our answer early. It will be generally known from the newspaper reports. It cost us much heavy work to get it done. Kuehlmann is personally an advocate of general peace, but fears the influence of the military party, who do not wish to make peace until definitely victorious. But at last it is done. Then there were further difficulties with the Turks. They declared that they must insist on one thing, to wit, that the Russian troops should be withdrawn from the Caucasus immediately on the conclusion of peace, a proposal to which the Germans would not agree, as this would obviously mean that they would have to evacuate Poland, Courland, and Lithuania at the same time, to which Germany would never consent. After a hard struggle and repeated efforts, we at last succeeded in persuading the Turks to give up this demand. The second Turkish objection was that Russia had not sufficiently clearly declared its intention of refraining from all interference in internal affairs. But the Turkish Foreign Minister agreed that internal affairs in Austria-Hungary were an even more perilous sphere for Russian intrigues than were the Turkish; if I had no hesitation in accepting, he also could be content.

"The Bulgarians, who are represented by Popow, the Minister of Justice, as their chief, and some of whom cannot speak German at all, some hardly any French, did not get any proper idea of the whole proceedings until later on, and postponed their decision until the 24th.

"December 24, 1917.—Morning and afternoon, long conferences with the Bulgarians, in the course of which Kuehlmann and I on the one hand and the Bulgarian representatives on the other, were engaged with considerable heat. The Bulgarian delegates demanded that a clause should be inserted exempting Bulgaria from the no-annexation principle, and providing that the taking over by Bulgaria of Roumanian and Serbian territory should not be regarded as annexation. Such a clause would, of course, have rendered all our efforts null and void, and could not under any circumstances be agreed to. The discussion was attended with considerable excitement at times, and the Bulgarian delegates even threatened to withdraw altogether if we did not give way. Kuehlmann and my humble self remained perfectly firm, and told them we had no objection to their withdrawing if they pleased; they could also, if they pleased, send their own answer separately to the proposal, but no further alteration would be made in the draft which we, Kuehlmann and I, had drawn up. As no settlement could be arrived at, the plenary sitting was postponed to the 25th, and the Bulgarian delegates wired to Sofia for fresh instructions.

"The Bulgarians received a negative reply, and presumably the snub we had expected. They were very dejected, and made no further difficulty about agreeing to the common action. So the matter is settled as far as that goes.

"In the afternoon I had more trouble with the Germans. The German military party 'fear' that the Entente may, perhaps, be inclined to agree to a general peace, and could not think of ending the war in this 'unprofitable' fashion. It is intolerable to have to listen to such twaddle.

"If the great victories which the German generals are hoping for on the Western front should be realised, there will be no bounds to their demands, and the difficulty of all negotiations will be still further increased.

"December 25, 1917.—The plenary sitting took place to-day, when we gave the Russians our answer to their peace proposals. I was presiding, and delivered the answer, and Joffe replied. The general offer of peace is thus to be made, and we must await the result. In order to lose no time, however, the negotiations on matters concerning Russia are being continued meanwhile. We have thus made a good step forward, and perhaps got over the worst. It is impossible to say whether yesterday may not have been a decisive turning point in the history of the world.

"December 26, 1917.—The special negotiations began at 9 A.M. The programme drawn up by Kuehlmann, chiefly questions of economical matters and representation, were dealt with so rapidly and smoothly that by 11 o'clock the sitting terminated, for lack of further matter to discuss. This is perhaps a good omen. Our people are using to-day to enter the results of the discussion in a report of proceedings, as the sitting is to be continued to-morrow, when territorial questions will be brought up.

"December 26, 1917.—I have been out for a long walk alone.

"On the way back, I met an old Jew. He was sitting in the gutter, weeping bitterly. He did not beg, did not even look at me, only wept and wept, and could not speak at first for sobs. And then he told me his story—Russian, Polish, and German, all mixed together.

"Well, he had a store—heaven knows where, but somewhere in the war zone. First came the Cossacks. They took all he had—his goats and his clothes, and everything in the place—and then they beat him. Then the Russians retired, beat him again, en passant as it were, and then came the Germans. They fired his house with their guns, pulled off his boots, and beat him. Then he entered the service of the Germans, carrying water and wood, and received his food and beatings in return. But to-day he had got into trouble with them in some incomprehensible fashion; no food after that, only the beatings; and was thrown into the street.

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