In the World War
by Count Ottokar Czernin
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"The beatings he referred to as something altogether natural. They were for him the natural accompaniment to any sort of action—but he could not live on beatings alone.

"I gave him what I had on me—money and cigars—told him the number of my house, and said he could come to-morrow, when I could get him a pass to go off somewhere where there were no Germans and no Russians, and try to get him a place of some sort where he would be fed and not beaten. He took the money and cigars thankfully enough; the story of the railway pass and the place he did not seem to believe. Railway travelling was for soldiers, and an existence without beatings seemed an incredible idea.

"He kept on thanking me till I was out of sight, waving his hand, and thanking me in his German-Russian gibberish.

"A terrible thing is war. Terrible at all times, but worst of all in one's own country. We at home suffer hunger and cold, but at least we have been spared up to now the presence of the enemy hordes.

"This is a curious place—melancholy, yet with a beauty of its own. An endless flat, with just a slight swelling of the ground, like an ocean set fast, wave behind wave as far as the eye can see. And all things grey, dead grey, to where this dead sea meets the grey horizon. Clouds race across the sky, the wind lashing them on.

"This evening, before supper, Hoffmann informed the Russians of the German plans with regard to the outer provinces. The position is this: As long as the war in the West continues, the Germans cannot evacuate Courland and Lithuania, since, apart from the fact that they must be held as security for the general peace negotiations, these countries form part of the German munition establishment. The railway material, the factories, and, most of all, the grain are indispensable as long as the war lasts. That they cannot now withdraw from there at once is clear enough. If peace is signed, then the self-determination of the people in the occupied territory will decide. But here arises the great difficulty: how this right of self-determination is to be exercised.

"The Russians naturally do not want the vote to be taken while the German bayonets are still in the country, and the Germans reply that the unexampled terrorism of the Bolsheviks would falsify any election result, since the 'bourgeois,' according to Bolshevist ideas, are not human beings at all. My idea of having the proceedings controlled by a neutral Power was not altogether acceptable to anyone. During the war no neutral Power would undertake the task, and the German occupation could not be allowed to last until the ultimate end. In point of fact, both sides are afraid of terrorisation by the opposing party, and each wishes to apply the same itself.

"December 26, 1917.—There is no hurry apparently in this place. Now it is the Turks who are not ready, now the Bulgarians, then it is the Russians' turn—and the sitting is again postponed or broken off almost as soon as commenced.

"I am reading some memoirs from the French Revolution. A most appropriate reading at the present time, in view of what is happening in Russia and may perhaps come throughout Europe. There were no Bolsheviks then, but men who tyrannised the world under the battle-cry of freedom were to be found in Paris then as well as now in St. Petersburg. Charlotte Corday said: 'It was not a man, but a wild beast I killed.' These Bolsheviks in their turn will disappear, and who can say if there will be a Corday ready for Trotski?

"Joffe told me about the Tsar and his family, and the state of things said to exist there. He spoke with great respect of Nicolai Nicolaievitch as a thorough man, full of energy and courage, one to be respected even as an enemy. The Tsar, on the other hand, he considered cowardly, false, and despicable. It was a proof of the incapacity of the bourgeois that they had tolerated such a Tsar. Monarchs were all of them more or less degenerate; he could not understand how anyone could accept a form of government which involved the risk of having a degenerate ruler. I answered him as to this, that a monarchy had first of all one advantage, that there was at least one place in the state beyond the sphere of personal ambition and intrigues, and as to degeneration, that was often a matter of opinion: there were also degenerates to be found among the uncrowned rulers of states. Joffe considered that there would be no such risk when the people could choose for themselves. I pointed out that Hr. Lenin, for instance, had not been 'chosen,' and I considered it doubtful whether an impartial election would have brought him into power. Possibly there might be some in Russia who would consider him also degenerate.

"December 27, 1917.—The Russians are in despair, and some of them even talked of withdrawing altogether. They had thought the Germans would renounce all occupied territory without further parley, or hand it over to the Bolsheviks. Long sittings between the Russians, Kuehlmann, and myself, part of the time with Hoffmann. I drew up the following:—

"1. As long as general peace is not yet declared, we cannot give up the occupied areas; they form part of our great munition works (factories, railways, sites with buildings, etc.).

"2. After the general peace, a plebiscite in Poland, Courland, and Lithuania is to decide the fate of the people there; as to the form in which the vote is to be taken, this remains to be further discussed, in order that the Russians may have surety that no coercion is used. Apparently, this suits neither party. Situation much worse.

"Afternoon.—Matters still getting worse. Furious wire from Hindenburg about "renunciation" of everything; Ludendorff telephoning every minute; more furious outbursts, Hoffmann very excited, Kuehlmann true to his name and 'cool' as ever. The Russians declare they cannot accept the vague formulas of the Germans with regard to freedom of choice.

"I told Kuehlmann and Hoffmann I would go as far as possible with them; but should their endeavours fail, then I would enter into separate negotiations with the Russians, since Berlin and Petersburg were really both opposed to an uninfluenced vote. Austria-Hungary, on the other hand, desired nothing but final peace. Kuehlmann understands my position, and says he himself would rather go than let it fail. Asked me to give him my point of view in writing, as it 'would strengthen his position.' Have done so. He has telegraphed it to the Kaiser.

"Evening.—Kuehlmann believes matters will be settled—or broken off altogether—by to-morrow.

"December 28, 1917.—General feeling, dull. Fresh outbursts of violence from Kreuznach. But at noon a wire from Bussche: Hertling had spoken with the Kaiser, who is perfectly satisfied. Kuehlmann said to me: 'The Kaiser is the only sensible man in the whole of Germany.'

"We have at last agreed about the form of the committee; that is, a committee ad hoc is to be formed in Brest, to work out a plan for the evacuation and voting in detail. Tant bien que mal, a provisional expedient. All home to report; next sitting to be held January 5, 1918.

"Russians again somewhat more cheerful.

"This evening at dinner I rose to express thanks on the part of the Russians and the four Allies to Prince Leopold. He answered at once, and very neatly, but told me immediately afterwards that I had taken him by surprise. As a matter of fact, I had been taken by surprise myself; no notice had been given; it was only during the dinner itself that the Germans asked me to speak.

"Left at 10 P.M. for Vienna.

"From the 29th to the morning of the 3rd I was in Vienna. Two long audiences with the Emperor gave me the opportunity of telling him what had passed at Brest. He fully approves, of course, the point of view that peace must be made, if at all possible.

"I have dispatched a trustworthy agent to the outer provinces in order to ascertain the exact state of feeling there. He reports that all are against the Bolsheviks except the Bolsheviks themselves. The entire body of citizens, peasants—in a word, everyone with any possessions at all—trembles at the thought of these red robbers, and wishes to go over to Germany. The terrorism of Lenin is said to be indescribable, and in Petersburg all are absolutely longing for the entry of the German troops to deliver them.

"January 3, 1918.—Return to Brest.

"On the way, at 6 P.M., I received, at a station, the following telegram, in code, from Baron Gautsch, who had remained at Brest:

"'Russian delegation received following telegram from Petersburg this morning: To General Hoffmann. For the representatives of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian and Turkish delegations. The Government of the Russian Republic considers it necessary to carry on the further negotiations on neutral ground, and proposes removing to Stockholm. Regarding attitude to the proposals as formulated by the German and Austro-Hungarian delegation in Points 1 and 2, the Government of the Russian Republic and the Pan-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Councils of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies consider, in entire agreement with the view expressed by our delegation, that the proposals are contrary to the principle of national self-determination, even in the restricted form in which it appears in Point 3 of the reply given by the Four Powers on the 12th ult. President of the Russian Delegation, A. Joffe." Major Brinkmann has communicated this by telephone to the German delegation, already on the way here. Herr von Kuehlmann has sent a telephone message in return that he is continuing the journey, and will arrive at Brest this evening.'

"I also went on of course, considering this manoeuvre on the part of the Russians as rather in the nature of bluffing. If they do not come, then we can treat with the Ukrainians, who should be in Brest by now.

"In Vienna I saw, among politicians, Baernreither, Hauser, Wekerle, Seidler, and some few others. The opinion of almost all may be summed up as follows: 'Peace must be arranged, but a separate peace without Germany is impossible.'

"No one has told me how I am to manage it if neither Germany nor Russia will listen to reason.

"January 4, 1918.—Fearful snowstorm in the night; the heating apparatus in the train was frozen, and the journey consequently far from pleasant. On awaking early at Brest the trains of the Bulgarians and Turks were standing on adjacent sidings. Weather magnificent now: cold, and the air as at St. Moritz. I went across to Kuehlmann, had breakfast with him, and talked over events in Berlin. There seems to have been desperate excitement there. Kuehlmann suggested to Ludendorff that he should come to Brest himself and take part in the negotiations. After long discussion, however, it appeared that Ludendorff himself was not quite clear as to what he wanted, and declared spontaneously that he considered it superfluous for him to go to Brest; he would, at best, 'only spoil things if he did.' Heaven grant the man such gleams of insight again, and often! It seems as if the whole trouble is more due to feeling against Kuehlmann than to anything in the questions at issue; people do not want the world to have the impression that the peace was gained by 'adroit diplomacy,' but by military success alone. General Hoffmann appears to have been received with marked favour by the Kaiser, and both he and Kuehlmann declare themselves well satisfied with the results of their journey.

"We talked over the reply to the Petersburg telegram, declining a conference in Stockholm, and further tactics to be followed in case of need. We agreed that if the Russians did not come, we must declare the armistice at an end, and chance what the Petersburgers would say to that. On this point Kuehlmann and I were entirely agreed. Nevertheless, the feeling, both in our party and in that of the Germans, was not a little depressed. Certainly, if the Russians do break off negotiations, it will place us in a very unpleasant position. The only way to save the situation is by acting quickly and energetically with the Ukrainian delegation, and we therefore commenced this work on the afternoon of the same day. There is thus at least a hope that we may be able to arrive at positive results with them within reasonable time.

"In the evening, after dinner, came a wire from Petersburg announcing the arrival of the delegation, including the Foreign Minister, Trotski. It was interesting to see the delight of all the Germans at the news; not until this sudden and violent outbreak of satisfaction was it fully apparent how seriously they had been affected by the thought that the Russians would not come. Undoubtedly this is a great step forward, and we all feel that peace is really now on the way.

"January 5, 1918.—At seven this morning a few of us went out shooting with Prince Leopold of Bavaria. We went for a distance of 20 to 30 kilometres by train, and then in open automobiles to a magnificent primeval forest extending over two to three hundred square kilometres. Weather very cold, but fine, much snow, and pleasant company. From the point of view of sport, it was poorer than one could have expected. One of the Prince's aides stuck a pig, another shot two hares, and that was all. Back at 6 P.M.

"January 6, 1918.—To-day we had the first discussions with the Ukrainian delegates, all of whom were present except the leader. The Ukrainians are very different from the Russian delegates. Far less revolutionary, and with far more interest in their own country, less in the progress of Socialism generally. They do not really care about Russia at all, but think only of the Ukraine, and their efforts are solely directed towards attaining their own independence as soon as possible. Whether that independence is to be complete and international, or only as within the bounds of a Russian federative state, they do not seem quite to know themselves. Evidently, the very intelligent Ukrainian delegates intended to use us as a springboard from which they themselves could spring upon the Bolsheviks. Their idea was that we should acknowledge their independence, and then, with this as a fait accompli, they could face the Bolsheviks and force them to recognise their equal standing and treat with them on that basis. Our line of policy, however, must be either to bring over the Ukrainians to our peace basis, or else to drive a wedge between them and the Petersburgers. As to their desire for independence, we declared ourselves willing to recognise this, provided the Ukrainians on their part would agree to the following three points: 1. The negotiations to be concluded at Brest-Litovsk and not at Stockholm. 2. Recognition of the former political frontier between Austria-Hungary and Ukraine. 3. Non-interference of any one state in the internal affairs of another. Characteristically enough, no answer has yet been received to this proposal!

"January 7, 1918.—This forenoon, all the Russians arrived, under the leadership of Trotski. They at once sent a message asking to be excused for not appearing at meals with the rest for the future. At other times also we see nothing of them. The wind seems to be in a very different quarter now from what it was. The German officer who accompanied the Russian delegation from Dunaburg, Captain Baron Lamezan, gave us some interesting details as to this. In the first place, he declared that the trenches in front of Dunaburg are entirely deserted, and save for an outpost or so there were no Russians there at all; also, that at many stations delegates were waiting for the deputation to pass, in order to demand that peace should be made. Trotski had throughout answered them with polite and careful speeches, but grew ever more and more depressed. Baron Lamezan had the impression that the Russians were altogether desperate now, having no choice save between going back with a bad peace or with no peace at all; in either case with the same result: that they would be swept away. Kuehlmann said: 'Ils n'ont que le choix a quelle sauce ils se feront manger.' I answered: 'Tout comme chez nous.'

"A wire has just come in reporting demonstrations in Budapest against Germany. The windows of the German Consulate were broken, a clear indication of the state of feeling which would arise if the peace were to be lost through our demands.

"January 8, 1918.—The Turkish Grand Vizier, Talaat Pasha, arrived during the night, and has just been to call on me. He seems emphatically in favour of making peace; but I fancy he would like, in case of any conflict arising with Germany, to push me into the foreground and keep out of the way himself. Talaat Pasha is one of the cleverest heads among the Turks, and perhaps the most energetic man of them all.

"Before the Revolution he was a minor official in the telegraph service, and was on the revolutionary committee. In his official capacity, he got hold of a telegram from the Government which showed him that the revolutionary movement would be discovered and the game be lost unless immediate action were taken. He suppressed the message, warned the revolutionary committee, and persuaded them to start their work at once. The coup succeeded, the Sultan was deposed, and Talaat was made Minister of the Interior. With iron energy he then turned his attention to the suppression of the opposing movement. Later, he became Grand Vizier, and impersonated, together with Enver Pasha, the will and power of Turkey.

"This afternoon, first a meeting of the five heads of the allied delegations and the Russian. Afterwards, plenary sitting.

"The sitting postponed again, as the Ukrainians are still not ready with their preparations. Late in the evening I had a conversation with Kuehlmann and Hoffmann, in which we agreed fairly well as to tactics. I said again that I was ready to stand by them and hold to their demands as far as ever possible, but in the event of Germany's breaking off the negotiations with Russia I must reserve the right to act with a free hand. Both appeared to understand my point of view, especially Kuehlmann, who, if he alone should decide, would certainly not allow the negotiations to prove fruitless. As to details, we agreed to demand continuation of the negotiations at Brest-Litovsk in the form of an ultimatum.

"January 9, 1918.—Acting on the principle that attack is the best defence, we had determined not to let the Russian Foreign Minister speak at all, but to go at him at once with our ultimatum.

"Trotski had prepared a long speech, and the effect of our attack was such that he at once appealed for adjournment, urging that the altered state of affairs called for new resolutions. The removal of the conference to Stockholm would have meant the end of matters for us, for it would have been utterly impossible to keep the Bolsheviks of all countries from putting in an appearance there, and the very thing we had endeavoured with the utmost of our power to avoid from the start—to have the reins torn from our hands and these elements take the lead—would infallibly have taken place. We must now wait to see what to-morrow brings: either a victory or the final termination of the negotiations.

"Adler said to me in Vienna: 'You will certainly get on all right with Trotski,' and when I asked him why he thought so, he answered: 'Well, you and I get on quite well together, you know.'

"I think, after all, the clever old man failed to appreciate the situation there. These Bolsheviks have no longer anything in common with Adler; they are brutal tyrants, autocrats of the worst kind, a disgrace to the name of freedom.

"Trotski is undoubtedly an interesting, clever fellow, and a very dangerous adversary. He is quite exceptionally gifted as a speaker, with a swiftness and adroitness in retort which I have rarely seen, and has, moreover, all the insolent boldness of his race.

"January 10, 1918.—The sitting has just taken place. Trotski made a great and, in its way, really fine speech, calculated for the whole of Europe, in which he gave way entirely. He accepts, he says, the German-Austria 'ultimatum,' and will remain in Brest-Litovsk, as he will not give us the satisfaction of being able to blame Russia for the continuance of the war.

"Following on Trotski's speech, the Committee was at once formed to deal with the difficult questions of territory. I insisted on being on the Committee myself, wishing to follow throughout the progress of these important negotiations. This was not an easy matter really, as the questions involved, strictly speaking, concern only Courland and Lithuania, i.e., they are not our business, but Germany's alone.

"In the evening I had another long talk with Kuehlmann and Hoffmann, in the course of which the General and the Secretary of State came to high words between themselves. Hoffmann, elated at the success of our ultimatum to Russia, wished to go on in the same fashion and 'give the Russians another touch of the whip.' Kuehlmann and I took the opposite view, and insisted that proceedings should be commenced quietly, confining ourselves to the matters in hand, clearing up point by point as we went on, and putting all doubtful questions aside. Once we had got so far, in clearing up things generally, we could then take that which remained together, and possibly get telegraphic instructions from the two Emperors for dealing therewith. This is undoubtedly the surest way to avoid disaster and a fresh breach.

"A new conflict has cropped up with the Ukrainians. They now demand recognition of their independence, and declare they will leave if this is not conceded.

"Adler told me at Vienna that Trotski had his library, by which he set great store, somewhere in Vienna, with a Herr Bauer, I fancy. I told Trotski that I would arrange to have the books forwarded to him, if he cared about it. I then recommended to his consideration certain prisoners of war, as L. K. and W., all of whom are said to have been very badly treated. Trotski noted the point, declared that he was strongly opposed to ill-treatment of prisoners of war, and promised to look into the matter; he wished to point out, however, that in so doing he was not in the least influenced by the thought of his library; he would in any case have considered my request. He would be glad to have the books.

"January 11, 1918.—Forenoon and afternoon, long sittings of the Committee on territorial questions. Our side is represented by Kuehlmann, Hoffmann, Rosenberg, and a secretary, in addition to myself, Csicserics, Wiesner, and Colloredo. The Russians are all present, but without the Ukrainians. I told Kuehlmann that I only proposed to attend as a second, seeing that the German interests were incomparably more affected than our own. I only interpose now and again.

"Trotski made a tactical blunder this afternoon. In a speech rising to violence, he declared that we were playing false; we aimed at annexations, and were simply trying to cover them with the cloak of self-determination. He would never agree to this, and would rather break off altogether than continue in that way. If we were honest, we should allow representatives from Poland, Courland, and Lithuania to come to Brest, and there express their views without being influenced in any way by ourselves. Now it should here be noted that from the commencement of the negotiations it has been a point of conflict whether the legislative bodies at present existing in the occupied territories are justified in speaking in the name of their respective peoples, or not. We affirm that they are; the Russians maintain they are not. We at once accepted Trotski's proposal, that representatives of these countries should be called, but added that, when we agreed to accept their testimony, then their judgment if in our favour should be taken as valid.

"It was characteristic to see how gladly Trotski would have taken back what he had said. But he kept his countenance, fell in with the new situation at once, and requested that the sitting be adjourned for twenty-four hours, as our reply was of such far-reaching importance that he must confer with his colleagues on the matter. I hope Trotski will make no difficulty now. If the Poles could be called, it would be an advantage. The awkward thing about it is that Germany, too, would rather be without them, knowing the anti-Prussian feeling that exists among the Poles.

"January 12, 1918.—Radek has had a scene with the German chauffeur, which led to something more. General Hoffmann had placed cars at the disposal of the Russians in case they cared to drive out. On this occasion it happened that the chauffeur was not there at the proper time, and Radek flew into a rage with the man and abused him violently. The chauffeur complained, and Hoffmann took his part. Trotski seems to consider Hoffmann's action correct, and has forbidden the entire delegation to go out any more. That settled them. And serve them right.

"No one ventured to protest. They have indeed a holy fear of Trotski. At the sittings, too, none of them dare to speak while he is there.

"January 12, 1918.—Hoffmann has made his unfortunate speech. He has been working at it for days, and was very proud of the result. Kuehlmann and I did not conceal from him that he gained nothing by it beyond exciting the people at home against us. This made a certain impression on him, but it was soon effaced by Ludendorff's congratulations, which followed promptly. Anyhow, it has rendered the situation more difficult, and there was certainly no need for that.

"January 15, 1918.—I had a letter to-day from one of our mayors at home, calling my attention to the fact that disaster due to lack of foodstuffs is now imminent.

"I immediately telegraphed the Emperor as follows:

"'I have just received a letter from Statthalter N.N. which justifies all the fears I have constantly repeated to Your Majesty, and shows that in the question of food supply we are on the very verge of a catastrophe. The situation arising out of the carelessness and incapacity of the Ministers is terrible, and I fear it is already too late to check the total collapse which is to be expected in the next few weeks. My informant writes: "Only small quantities are now being received from Hungary, from Roumania only 10,000 wagons of maize; this gives then a decrease of at least 30,000 wagons of grain, without which we must infallibly perish. On learning the state of affairs, I went to the Prime Minister to speak with him about it. I told him, as is the case, that in a few weeks our war industries, our railway traffic, would be at a standstill, the provisioning of the army would be impossible, it must break down, and that would mean the collapse of Austria and therewith also of Hungary. To each of these points he answered yes, that is so, and added that all was being done to alter the state of affairs, especially as regards the Hungarian deliveries. But no one, not even His Majesty, has been able to get anything done. We can only hope that some deus ex machina may intervene to save us from the worst.'"

"To this I added:

"'I can find no words to describe properly the apathetic attitude of Seidler. How often and how earnestly have I not implored Your Majesty to intervene forcibly for once and compel Seidler, on the one hand, and Hadik, on the other, to set these things in order. Even from here I have written entreating Your Majesty to act while there was yet time. But all in vain.'

"I then pointed out that the only way of meeting the situation would be to secure temporary assistance from Germany, and then to requisition by force the stocks that were doubtless still available in Hungary; finally, I begged the Emperor to inform the Austrian Prime Minister of my telegram.

"January 16, 1918.—Despairing appeals from Vienna for food supplies. Would I apply at once to Berlin for aid, otherwise disaster imminent. I replied to General Landwehr as follows:

"'Dr. Kuehlmann is telegraphing to Berlin, but has little hope of success. The only hope now is for His Majesty to do as I have advised, and send an urgent wire at once to Kaiser Wilhelm. On my return I propose to put before His Majesty my point of view, that it is impossible to carry on the foreign policy if the food question at home is allowed to come to such a state as now.

"'Only a few weeks back your Excellency declared most positively that we could hold out till the new harvest.'

"At the same time I wired the Emperor:

"'Telegrams arriving show the situation becoming critical for us. Regarding question of food, we can only avoid collapse on two conditions: first, that Germany helps us temporarily, second, that we use this respite to set in order our machinery of food supply, which is at present beneath contempt, and to gain possession of the stocks still existing in Hungary.

"'I have just explained the entire situation to Dr. Kuehlmann, and he is telegraphing to Berlin. He, however, is not at all sanguine, as Germany is itself in straitened circumstances. I think the only way to secure any success from this step would be for Your Majesty to send at once, through military means, a Hughes telegram to Kaiser Wilhelm direct, urgently entreating him to intervene himself, and by securing us a supply of grain prevent the outbreak of revolution, which would otherwise be inevitable. I must, however, emphatically point out that the commencement of unrest among our people at home will have rendered conclusion of peace here absolutely impossible. As soon as the Russian representatives perceive that we ourselves are on the point of revolution, they will not make peace at all, since their entire speculation is based on this factor.'

"January 17, 1918.—Bad news from Vienna and environs: serious strike movement, due to the reduction of the flour rations and the tardy progress of the Brest negotiations. The weakness of the Vienna Ministry seems to be past all understanding.

"I have telegraphed to Vienna that I hope in time to secure some supplies from the Ukraine, if only we can manage to keep matters quiet at home for the next few weeks, and I have begged the gentlemen in question to do their utmost not to wreck the peace here. On the same day, in the evening, I telegraphed to Dr. von Seidler, the Prime Minister:

"'I very greatly regret my inability to counteract the effect of all the errors made by those entrusted with the food resources.

"'Germany declares categorically that it is unable to help us, having insufficient for itself.

"'Had your Excellency or your department called attention to the state of things in time, it might still have been possible to procure supplies from Roumania. As things are now, I can see no other way than that of brute force, by requisitioning Hungarian grain for the time being, and forwarding it to Austria, until the Roumanian, and it is to be hoped also Ukrainian, supplies can come to hand.'

"January 20, 1918.—The negotiations have now come to this: that Trotski declares his intention of laying the German proposals before Petersburg, though he cannot accept them himself; he undertakes, in any case, to return here. As to calling in representatives from the outer provinces, he will only do this provided he is allowed to choose them. We cannot agree to this. With the Ukrainians, who, despite their youth, are showing themselves quite sufficiently grown to profit by the situation, negotiations are proceeding but slowly. First they demanded East Galicia for the new 'Ukrainia.' This could not be entertained for a moment. Then they grew more modest, but since the outbreak of trouble at home among ourselves they realise our position, and know that we must make peace in order to get corn. Now they demand a separate position for East Galicia. The question will have to be decided in Vienna, and the Austrian Ministry will have the final word.

"Seidler and Landwehr again declare by telegram that without supplies of grain from Ukraine the catastrophe is imminent. There are supplies in the Ukraine; if we can get them, the worst may be avoided.

"The position now is this: Without help from outside, we shall, according to Seidler, have thousands perishing in a few weeks. Germany and Hungary are no longer sending anything. All messages state that there is a great surplus in Ukraine. The question is only whether we can get it in time. I hope we may. But if we do not make peace soon, then the troubles at home will be repeated, and each demonstration in Vienna will render peace here most costly to obtain, for Messrs. Sewrjuk and Lewicky can read the degree of our state of famine at home from these troubles as by a thermometer. If only the people who create these disturbances know how they are by that very fact increasing the difficulty of procuring supplies from Ukraine! And we were all but finished!

"The question of East Galicia I will leave to the Austrian Ministry; it must be decided in Vienna. I cannot, and dare not, look on and see hundreds of thousands starve for the sake of retaining the sympathy of the Poles, so long as there is a possibility of help.

"January 21, 1918.—Back to Vienna. The impression of the troubles here is even greater than I thought, and the effect disastrous. The Ukrainians no longer treat with us: they dictate!

"On the way, reading through old reports, I came upon the notes relating to the discussions with Michaelis on August 1. According to these, Under-Secretary of State von Stumm said at the time:

"'The Foreign Ministry was in communication with the Ukrainians, and the separatist movement in Ukrainia was very strong. In furtherance of their movement, the Ukrainians demanded the assurance that they should be allowed to unite with the Government of Cholm, and with the areas of East Galicia occupied by Ukrainians. So long as Galicia belongs to Austria, the demand for East Galicia cannot be conceded. It would be another matter if Galicia were united with Poland; then a cession of East Galicia might be possible.'

"It would seem that the unpleasant case had long since been prejudged by the Germans.

"On January 22 the Council was held which was to determine the issue of the Ukrainian question. The Emperor opened the proceedings, and then called on me to speak. I described first of all the difficulties that lay in the way of a peace with Petersburg, which will be apparent from the foregoing entries in this diary. I expressed my doubt as to whether our group would succeed in concluding general peace with Petersburg. I then sketched the course of the negotiations with the Ukrainians. I reported that the Ukrainians had originally demanded the cession of East Galicia, but that I had refused this. With regard to the Ruthenian districts of Hungary also they had made demands which had been refused by me. At present, they demanded the division of Galicia into two parts, and the formation of an independent Austrian province from East Galicia and Bukovina. I pointed out the serious consequences which the acceptance of the Ukrainian demands would have upon the further development of the Austro-Polish question. The concessions made by the Ukrainians on their part were to consist in the inclusion in the peace treaty of a commercial agreement which should enable us to cover our immediate needs in the matter of grain supplies. Furthermore, Austria-Hungary would insist on full reciprocity for the Poles resident in Ukraine.

"I pointed out emphatically that I considered it my duty to state the position of the peace negotiations; that the decision could not lie with me, but with the Ministry as a whole, in particular with the Austrian Prime Minister. The Austrian Government would have to decide whether these sacrifices could be made or not, and here I could leave them in no doubt that if we declined the Ukrainian demands we should probably come to no result with that country, and should thus be compelled to return from Brest-Litovsk without having achieved any peace settlement at all.

"When I had finished, the Prime Minister, Dr. von Seidler, rose to speak. He pointed out first of all the necessity of an immediate peace, and then discussed the question of establishing a Ukrainian crown land, especially from the parliamentary point of view. Seidler believed that despite the active opposition which was to be expected from the Poles, he would still have a majority of two-thirds in the House for the acceptance of the bill on the subject. He was not blind to the fact that arrangement would give rise to violent parliamentary conflicts, but repeated his hope that a two-thirds majority could be obtained despite the opposition of the Polish Delegation. After Seidler came the Hungarian Prime Minister, Dr. Wekerle. He was particularly pleased to note that no concessions had been made to the Ukrainians with regard to the Ruthenians resident in Hungary. A clear division of the nationalities in Hungary was impracticable. The Hungarian Ruthenians were also at too low a stage of culture to enable them to be given national independence. Dr. Wekerle also laid stress on the danger, alike in Austria, of allowing any interference from without; the risk of any such proceeding would be very great, we should find ourselves on a downward grade by so doing, and we must hold firmly to the principle that no interference in the affairs of the Monarchy from without could be tolerated. In summing up, however, Wekerle opposed the point of view of the Austrian Prime Minister.

"I then rose again to speak, and declared that I was perfectly aware of the eminent importance and perilous aspects of this step. It was true that it would bring us on to a down-grade, but from all appearances, we had been in that position already for a long time, owing to the war, and could not say how far it might lead us. I put the positive question to Dr. Wekerle, what was a responsible leader of our foreign policy to do when the Austrian Prime Minister and both the Ministers of Food unanimously declared that the Hungarian supplies would only suffice to help us over the next two months, after which time a collapse would be absolutely unavoidable, unless we could secure assistance from somewhere in the way of corn? On being interrupted here by a dissentient observation from Dr. Wekerle, I told him that if he, Wekerle, could bring corn into Austria I should be the first to support his point of view, and that with pleasure, but so long as he stood by his categorical denial, and insisted on his inability to help us, we were in the position of a man on the third floor of a burning house who jumps out of the window to save himself. A man in such a situation would not stop to think whether he risked breaking his legs or not; he would prefer the risk of death to the certainty of the same. If the position really were as stated, that in a couple of months we should be altogether without food supplies, then we must take the consequences of such a position. Dr. von Seidler here once more took up the discussion, and declared himself entirely in agreement with my remarks.

"During the further course of the debate, the probability of a definitive failure of the Austro-Polish solution in connection with the Ukrainian peace was discussed, and the question was raised as to what new constellation would arise out of such failure. Sektionschef Dr. Gratz then took up this question. Dr. Gratz pointed out that the Austro-Polish solution must fail even without acceptance of the Ukrainian demands, since the German postulates rendered solution impossible. The Germans demanded, apart from quite enormous territorial reductions of Congress-Poland, the restriction of Polish industry, part possession of the Polish railways and State domains, as well as the imposition of part of the costs of war upon the Poles. We could not attach ourselves to a Poland thus weakened, hardly, indeed, capable of living at all, and necessarily highly dissatisfied with its position. Dr. Gratz maintained that it would be wiser to come back to the programme already discussed in general form; the project, by which United Poland should be left to Germany, and the attachment of Roumania to the Monarchy in consequence. Dr. Gratz went at length into the details of this point of view. The Emperor then summed up the essence of the opinions expressed to-day as indicating that it was primarily necessary to make peace with Petersburg and the Ukrainians, and that negotiations should be entered upon with Ukrainia as to the division of Galicia. The question as to whether the Austro-Polish solution should be definitely allowed to drop was not finally settled, but shelved for the time being.

"In conclusion, Dr. Burian, the Minister of Finance, rose to speak, and pointed out, as Dr. Wekerle had done, the danger of the Austrian standpoint. Burian declared that, while the war might doubtless change the internal structure of the Monarchy, such alteration must be made from within, not from without, if it were to be of any benefit to the Monarchy at all. He further pointed out that if the Austrian principle of the division of Galicia were to be carried through, the form of so doing would be of great importance. Baron Burian advised that a clause referring to this should be inserted, not in the instrument of peace itself, but in a secret annexe. This form was, in his, Burian's, view, the only possible means of diminishing the serious consequences of the steps which the Austrian Government wished to take."

Thus the notes in my diary relative to this Council. The Austrian Government was thus not only agreed as to the proposed arrangement with the Ukraine; it was indeed at the direct wish of the Government, by its instigation and on its responsibility, that it was brought about.

"January 28, 1918.—Reached Brest this evening.

"January 29, 1918.—Trotski arrived.

"January 30, 1918.—The first plenary session has been held. There is no doubt that the revolutionary happenings in Austria and in Germany have enormously raised the hopes of the Petersburgers for a general convulsion, and it seems to me altogether out of the question now to come to any peace terms with the Russians. It is evident among the Russians themselves that they positively expect the outbreak of a world-revolution within the next few weeks, and their tactics now are simply to gain time and wait for this to happen. The conference was not marked by any particular event, only pin-pricks between Kuehlmann and Trotski. To-day is the first sitting of the Committee on territorial questions, where I am to preside, and deal with our territorial affairs.

"The only interesting point about the new constellation seems to be that the relations between Petersburg and Kieff are considerably worse than before, and the Kieff Committee is no longer recognised at all by the Bolsheviks as independent.

"February 1, 1918.—Sitting of the Territorial Committee, I myself presiding, with the Petersburg Russians. My plan is to play the Petersburgers and the Ukrainians one against the other, and manage at least to make peace with one of the two parties. I have still some slight hope that a peace with one may so affect the other that possibly peace with both may be attained.

"As was to be expected, Trotski replied to my question, whether he admitted that the Ukrainians should treat with us alone on questions dealing with their frontiers, with an emphatic denial. I then, after some exchange of words, proposed that the sitting be adjourned, and a plenary sitting convened, in order that the matter might be dealt with by the Kieff and Petersburg parties together.

"February 2, 1918.—I have tried to get the Ukrainians to talk over things openly with the Russians, and succeeded almost too well. The insults hurled by the Ukrainians to-day against the Russians were simply grotesque, and showed what a gulf is fixed between these two Governments, and that it is not our fault that we have not been able to bring them together under one hat on the question of peace. Trotski was so upset it was painful to see. Perfectly pale, he stared fixedly before him, drawing nervously on his blotting paper. Heavy drops of sweat trickled down his forehead. Evidently he felt deeply the disgrace of being abused by his fellow-citizens in the presence of the enemy.

"The two brothers Richthofen were here a little while ago. The elder has shot down some sixty, the younger 'only' some thirty enemy airmen. The elder's face is like that of a young and pretty girl. He told me 'how the thing is done.' It is very simple. Only get as near to the enemy as possible, from behind, and then keep on shooting, when the other man would fall. The one thing needful was to 'get over your own fright,' and not be shy of getting quite close to your opponent.—Modern heroes.

"Two charming stories were told about these two brothers. The English had put a price on the head of the elder Richthofen. When he learned of this, he sent down broadsheets informing them that to make matters easier for them, he would from the following day have his machine painted bright red. Next morning, going to the shed, he found all the machines there painted bright red. One for all and all for one.

"The other story is this: Richthofen and an English airman were circling round each other and firing furiously. They came closer and closer, and soon they could distinctly see each other's faces. Suddenly something went wrong with Richthofen's machine-gun, and he could not shoot. The Englishman looked across in surprise, and seeing what was wrong, waved his hand, turned and flew off. Fair play! I should like to meet that Englishman, only to tell him that he is greater, to my mind, than the heroes of old.

"February 3, 1918.—Started for Berlin. Kuehlmann, Hoffmann, Colloredo.

"February 4, 1918.—Arrived Berlin. Nothing this afternoon, as the Germans are holding council among themselves.

"February 5, 1918.—Sitting all day. I had several violent passages of arms with Ludendorff. Matters seemed to be clearing up, though this is not yet altogether done. Apart from deciding on our tactics for Brest, we have at last to set down in writing that we are only obliged to fight for the pre-war possessions of Germany. Ludendorff was violently opposed to this, and said, 'If Germany makes peace without profit, then Germany has lost the war.'

"The controversy was growing more and more heated, when Hertling nudged me and whispered: 'Leave him alone, we two will manage it together without him.'

"I am now going to work out the draft at once and send it in to Hertling.

"Supper this evening at Hoehenlohe.

"February 6, 1918.—Arrived Brest this evening. Wiesner has been at it untiringly and done excellent work; the situation, too, is easier now. The leader of the Austrian Ruthenians, Nikolay Wassilko, arrived yesterday, and albeit evidently excited by the part his Russian-Ukrainian comrades are playing at Brest, speaks nationally, far more chauvinistically than when I thought I knew him in Vienna, and we have at last agreed on the minimum of the Ukrainian demands. I gave as my advice in Berlin that we should try to finish with the Ukrainians as soon as possible. I could then in the name of Germany commence negotiations with Trotski, and try if I could not get speech with him privately, and find out whether any agreement were possible or not. It is Gratz's idea. After some opposition we agreed.

"February 7, 1918.—My conversation with Trotski took place. I took Gratz with me; he has far exceeded all my expectations of him. I began by telling Trotski that a breach of the regulations and a resumption of hostilities were imminent, and wished to know if this could not be avoided before the fatal step were definitely taken. I therefore begged Herr Trotski to inform me openly and without reserve what conditions he would accept. Trotski then declared very frankly and clearly that he was not so simple as we appeared to think, that he knew well enough force was the strongest of all arguments, and that the Central Powers were quite capable of taking away the Russian provinces. He had several times tried to bridge a way for Kuehlmann during the conference, telling him it was not a question of the right of self-determination of the peoples in the occupied districts, but of sheer brutal annexation, and that he must give way to force. He would never relinquish his principles, and would never give his consent to this interpretation of the right of self-determination. The Germans must say straight out what were the boundaries they demanded, and he would then make clear to all Europe that it was a brutal annexation and nothing else, but that Russia was too weak to oppose it. Only the Moon Sound Islands seemed to be more than he could swallow. Secondly, and this is very characteristic, Trotski said he could never agree to our making peace with the Ukraine, since the Ukraine was no longer in the hands of its Rada, but in the hands of his troops. It was a part of Russia, and to make peace with it would be interfering in the internal affairs of Russia itself. The fact of the matter seems to be that about nineteen days ago the Russian troops really did enter Kieff, but were subsequently driven out, the Rada once more coming into power as before. Whether Trotski was unaware of this latter development or purposely concealed the truth I cannot say for certain, but it seems as if the former were the case.

"The last hope of coming to an understanding with Petersburg has vanished. An appeal from the Petersburg Government to the German soldiers has been discovered in Berlin, inciting them to revolt, to murder the Kaiser and their generals, and unite with the soviets. Following on this came a telegram from Kaiser Wilhelm to Kuehlmann ordering him to terminate negotiations at once, by demanding, besides Courland and Lithuania, also the unoccupied territories of Livonia and Esthonia—all without regard to the right of self-determination of the peoples concerned.

"The dastardly behaviour of these Bolsheviks renders negotiation impossible. I cannot blame Germany for being incensed at such proceedings, but the instructions from Berlin are hardly likely to be carried out. We do not want to drag in Livonia and Esthonia.

"February 8, 1918.—This evening the peace with Ukraine is to be signed. The first peace in this terrible war. I wonder if the Rada is still really sitting at Kieff? Wassilko showed me a Hughes message dated 6th inst. from Kieff to the Ukrainian delegation here, and Trotski has declined my suggestion to dispatch an officer of the Austrian General Staff to the spot, in order to bring back reliable information. Evidently, then, his assertion that the Bolsheviks were already masters of Kieff was only a ruse. Gratz informs me, by the way, that Trotski, with whom he spoke early this morning, is much depressed at our intention of concluding peace with Ukraine to-day after all. This confirms me in my purpose of having it signed. Gratz has convened a meeting with the Petersburgers for to-morrow; this will clear matters up, and show us whether any agreement is possible, or if we must break off altogether. In any case, there can be no doubt that the intermezzo at Brest is rapidly nearing its end."

After conclusion of peace with Ukraine, I received the following telegram from the Emperor:

"'Court train, February 9, 1918.

"'Deeply moved and rejoiced to learn of the conclusion of peace with Ukraine. I thank you, dear Count Czernin, from my heart for your persevering and successful endeavours.

"'You have thereby given me the happiest day of my hitherto far from happy reign, and I pray God Almighty that He may further continue to aid you on your difficult path—to the benefit of the Monarchy and of our peoples.


"February 11, 1918.—Trotski declines to sign. The war is over, but there is no peace.

"The disastrous effects of the troubles in Vienna will be seen clearly from the following message from Herr von Skrzynski, dated Montreux, February 12, 1918. Skrzynski writes:

"'I learn from a reliable source that France has issued the following notification: We were already quite disposed to enter into discussion with Austria. Now we are asking ourselves whether Austria is still sound enough for the part it was intended to give her. One is afraid of basing an entire policy upon a state which is perhaps already threatened with the fate of Russia.' And Skrzynski adds: 'During the last few days I have heard as follows: It has been decided to wait for a while.'"

Our position, then, during the negotiations with Petersburg was as follows: We could not induce Germany to resign the idea of Courland and Lithuania. We had not the physical force to do so. The pressure exerted by the Supreme Army Command on the one hand and the shifty tactics of the Russians made this impossible. We had then to choose between leaving Germany to itself, and signing a separate peace, or acting together with our three Allies and finishing with a peace including the covert annexation of the Russian outer provinces.

The former alternative involved the serious risk of making a breach in the Quadruple Alliance, where some dissension was already apparent. The Alliance could no longer stand such experiments. We were faced with the final military efforts now, and the unity of the Allies must not in any case be further shaken. On the other hand, the danger that Wilson, the only statesman in the world ready to consider the idea of a peace on mutual understanding, might from the conclusion of such a peace obtain an erroneous impression as to our intentions. I hoped then, and I was not deceived, that this eminently clever man would see through the situation and recognise that we were forced to act under pressure of circumstances. His speeches delivered after the peace at Brest confirmed my anticipation.

The peace with Ukraine was made under pressure of imminent famine. And it bears the characteristic marks of such a birth. That is true. But it is no less true that despite the fact of our having obtained far less from Ukraine than we had hoped, we should, without these supplies, have been unable to carry on at all until the new harvest. Statistics show that during the spring and summer of 1918 42,000 wagon-loads were received from the Ukraine. It would have been impossible to procure these supplies from anywhere else. Millions of human beings were thus saved from death by starvation—and let those who sit in judgment on the peace terms bear this in mind.

It is also beyond doubt that with the great stocks available in Ukraine, an incomparably greater quantity could have been brought into Austria if the collecting and transport apparatus had worked differently.

The Secretary of State for Food Supplies has, at my request, in May, 1919, furnished me with the following statistical data for publication:

Brief survey of the organisation of corn imports from Ukraine (on terms of the Brest-Litovsk Peace) and the results of same:

When, after great efforts, a suitable agreement had been arrived at with Germany as to the apportionment of the Ukrainian supplies, a mission was dispatched to Kieff, in which not only Government officials but also the best qualified and most experienced experts which the Government could procure were represented.

Germany and Hungary had also sent experts, among them being persons with many years of experience in the Russian grain business, and had been in the employ of both German and Entente grain houses (as, for instance, the former representative of the leading French corn merchants, the house of Louis Dreyfuss).

The official mission arrived at Kieff by the middle of March, and commenced work at once. A comparatively short time sufficed to show that the work would present quite extraordinary difficulties.

The Ukrainian Government, which had declared at Brest-Litovsk that very great quantities, probably about one million tons, of surplus foodstuffs were ready for export, had in the meantime been replaced by another Ministry. The Cabinet then in power evinced no particular inclination, or at any rate no hurry, to fulfil obligations on this scale, but was more disposed to point out that it would be altogether impossible, for various reasons, to do so.

Moreover, the Peace of Brest had provided for a regular exchange system, bartering load by load of one article against another. But neither Germany nor Austria-Hungary was even approximately in a position to furnish the goods (textiles especially were demanded) required in exchange.

We had then to endeavour to obtain the supplies on credit, and the Ukrainian Government agreed, after long and far from easy negotiations, to provide credit valuta (against vouchers for mark and krone in Berlin and Vienna). The arrangements for this were finally made, and the two Central Powers drew in all 643 million karbowanez.

The Rouble Syndicate, however, which had been formed under the leadership of the principal banks in Berlin, Vienna and Budapest, was during the first few months only able to exert a very slight activity. Even the formation of this syndicate was a matter of great difficulty, and in particular a great deal of time was lost; and even then the apparatus proved very awkward to work with. Anyhow, it had only procured comparatively small sums of roubles, so that the purchasing organisation in Ukraine, especially at first, suffered from a chronic lack of means of payment.

But, in any case, a better arrangement of the money question would only have improved matters in a few of the best supplied districts, for the principal obstacle was simply the lack of supplies. The fact that Kieff and Odessa were themselves continually in danger of a food crisis is the best indication as to the state of things.

In the Ukraine, the effects of four years of war, with the resulting confusion, and of the destruction wrought by the Bolsheviks (November, 1917, to March, 1918) were conspicuously apparent; cultivation and harvesting had suffered everywhere, but where supplies had existed they had been partly destroyed, partly carried off by the Bolsheviks on their way northward. Still, the harvest had given certain stocks available in the country, though these were not extensive, and the organisation of a purchasing system was now commenced. The free buying in Ukraine which we and Germany had originally contemplated could not be carried out in fact, since the Ukrainian Government declared that it would itself set up this organisation, and maintained this intention with the greatest stubbornness. But the authority in the country had been destroyed by the Revolution, and then by the Bolshevist invasion; the peasantry turned Radical, and the estates were occupied by revolutionaries and cut up. The power of the Government, then, in respect of collecting supplies of grain, was altogether inadequate; on the other hand, however, it was still sufficient (as some actual instances proved) to place serious, indeed insuperable, obstacles in our way. It was necessary, therefore, to co-operate with the Government—that is, to come to a compromise with it. After weeks of negotiation this was at last achieved, by strong diplomatic pressure, and, accordingly, the agreement of April 23, 1918, was signed.

This provided for the establishment of a German-Austro-Hungarian Economical Central Commission; practically speaking, a great firm of corn merchants, in which the Central Powers appointed a number of their most experienced men, familiar, through years of activity in the business, with Russian grain affairs.

But while this establishment was still in progress the people in Vienna (influenced by the occurrences on the Emperor's journey to North Bohemia) had lost patience; military leaders thought it no longer advisable to continue watching the operations of a civil commercial undertaking in Ukraine while that country was occupied by the military, and so finally the General Staff elicited a decree from the Emperor providing that the procuring of grain should be entrusted to Austro-Hungarian army units in the districts occupied by them. To carry out this plan a general, who had up to that time been occupied in Roumania, was dispatched to Odessa, and now commenced independent military proceedings from there. For payment kronen were used, drawn from Vienna. The War Grain Transactions department was empowered, by Imperial instructions to the Government, to place 100 million kronen at the disposal of the War Ministry, and this amount was actually set aside by the finance section of that department.

This military action and its execution very seriously affected the civil action during its establishment, and also greatly impaired the value of our credit in the Ukraine by offering kronen notes to such an extent at the time. Moreover, the kronen notes thus set in circulation in Ukraine were smuggled into Sweden, and coming thus into the Scandinavian and Dutch markets undoubtedly contributed to the well-known fall in the value of the krone which took place there some months later.

The Austro-Hungarian military action was received with great disapproval by the Germans, and when in a time of the greatest scarcity among ourselves (mid-May) we were obliged to ask Germany for temporary assistance, this was granted only on condition that independent military action on the part of Austria-Hungary should be suppressed and the whole leadership in Ukraine be entrusted to Germany.

It was then hoped that increased supplies might be procured, especially from Bessarabia, where the Germans have established a collecting organisation, to the demand of which the Roumanian Government had agreed. This hope, however, also proved vain, and in June and July the Ukraine was still further engaged. The country was, in fact, almost devoid of any considerable supplies, and in addition to this the collecting system never really worked properly at all, as the arrangement for maximum prices was frequently upset by overbidding on the part of our own military section.

Meantime everything had been made ready for getting in the harvest of 1918. The collecting organisation had become more firmly established and extended, the necessary personal requirements were fully complied with, and it would doubtless have been possible to bring great quantities out of the country. But first of all the demands of the Ukrainian cities had to be met, and there was in many cases a state of real famine there; then came the Ukrainian and finally the very considerable contingents of German and Austro-Hungarian armies of occupation. Not until supplies for these groups had been assured would the Ukrainian Government allow any export of grain, and to this we were forced to agree.

It was at once evident that the degree of cultivation throughout the whole country had seriously declined—owing to the entire uncertainty of property and rights after the agrarian revolution. The local authorities, affected by this state of things, were little inclined to agree to export, and it actually came to local embargoes, one district prohibiting the transfer of its stocks to any other, exactly as we had experienced with ourselves.

In particular, however, the agitation of the Entente agents (which had been frequently perceptible before), under the impression of the German military defeats, was most seriously felt. The position of the Government which the Germans had set up at Kieff was unusually weak. Moreover, the ever-active Bolshevik elements throughout the whole country were now working with increasing success against our organisation. All this rendered the work more difficult in September and October—and then came the collapse.

The difficulties of transport, too, were enormous; supplies had either to be sent to the Black Sea, across it and up the Danube, or straight through Galicia. For this we often lacked sufficient wagons, and in the Ukraine also coal; there were, in addition, often instances of resistance on the part of the local railways, incited by the Bolsheviks, and much more of the same sort.

However great the lack of supplies in Ukraine itself, however much the limitations of our Russian means of payment may have contributed to the fact that the hopes entertained on the signing of peace at Brest-Litovsk were far from being realised, we may nevertheless maintain that all that was humanly possible was done to overcome the unprecedented difficulties encountered. And in particular, by calling in the aid of the most capable and experienced firms of grain merchants, the forces available were utilised to the utmost degree.

Finally it should perhaps be pointed out that the import organisation—apart from the before-mentioned interference of the military department and consequent fluctuations of the system—was largely upset by very extensive smuggling operations, carried on more particularly from Galicia. As such smuggling avoided the high export duty, the maximum prices appointed by the Ukrainian Government were constantly being overbid. This smuggling was also in many cases assisted by elements from Vienna; altogether the nervousness prevailing in many leading circles in Vienna, and frequently criticising our own organisation in public, or upsetting arrangements before they could come into operation, did a great deal of damage. It should also be mentioned that Germany likewise carried on a great deal of unofficially assisted smuggling, with ill effects on the official import organisation, and led to similar conditions on our own side.

Despite all obstacles, the machinery established, as will be seen from the following survey, nevertheless succeeded in getting not inconsiderable quantities of foodstuffs into the states concerned, amounting in all to about 42,000 wagons, though unfortunately the quantities delivered did not come up to the original expectations.


I. Foodstuffs obtained by the War Grain Transactions Department (corn, cereal products, leguminous fruits, fodder, seeds):

Total imported for the contracting states (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey) 113,421 tons Of which Austria-Hungary received 57,382 " Grain and flour amounting to 46,225 "

II. Articles obtained by the Austrian Central Purchasing Company:

Of which Austria-Hungary Total received:

Butter, fat, bacon 3,329,403 kg. 2,170,437 kg. Oil, edible oils 1,802,847 " 977,105 " Cheese, curds 420,818 " 325,103 " Fish, preserved fish, herrings 1,213,961 " 473,561 " Cattle 105,542 head 55,421 head (36,834,885 kg.) (19,505,760 kg.) Horses 98,976 head 40,027 head (31,625,172 kg.) (13,165,725 kg.) Salted meat 2,927,439 " 1,571,569 " Eggs 75,200 boxes 32,433 boxes Sugar 66,809,969 kg. 24,973,443 kg. Various foodstuffs 27,385,095 " 7,836,287 " ——————- ——————- Total 172,349,556 " 61,528,220 " and 75,200 boxes and 32,433 boxes eggs eggs (Total, 30,757 wagons) (Total, 13,037 wagons)

The goods imported under II. represent a value of roughly 450 million kronen.

The quantities smuggled unofficially into the states concerned are estimated at about 15,000 wagons (about half the official imports).

So ended this phase, a phase which seemed important while we were living through it, but which was yet nothing but a phase of no great importance after all, since it produced no lasting effect.

The waves of war have passed over the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, washing it away as completely as a castle of sand on the shore is destroyed by the incoming tide.

Long after I was reproached by the Polish element in the Herrenhaus, who asserted that I had proved my incapability by my own confession that the Peace of Brest had not withstood the test of subsequent events. But should I have shown more capability by asserting, after the collapse of the Central Powers, that the peace still existed?

The term "bread peace" (Brotfrieden) was not coined by me, but by Burgemeister Weisskirchner on the occasion of my reception by the Gemeinderat of Vienna at the Nordbahnhof. The millions whose lives were saved by those 42,000 wagon-loads of food may repeat the words without a sneer.



At Brest-Litovsk rumours had already spread that Roumania did not intend to continue the war. These rumours assumed a very definite character after peace was concluded with the Ukraine. That peace, as well as Trotski's attitude, left no doubt in Bucharest that Roumania could no longer reckon on further co-operation on the part of Russia and gave rise to the idea in some circles that she would turn back. I say in some circles, for there was one group which, to the very last moment, was all for war.

While at Brest-Litovsk I began to get into touch with the leaders of the Hungarian Parliament in order to come to an agreement on the peace aims relating to Roumania. It was evident that, as regards Roumania, a peace without annexations would be more difficult to bring about than with any other state, because the treacherous attack by the Roumanians on the whole of Hungary had raised the desire for a better strategical frontier. As might be expected, I met with violent opposition from Hungary, where, under the name of strategical frontier rectifications, as a matter of fact greater annexations were desired. The first person with whom I dealt was Stephen Tisza, who, at great trouble, was brought to modify his original standpoint and finally was led so far as to admit that the fundamental ideas for peace were capable of acceptance. On February 27, 1918, he handed me a pro-memoria with the request to show it to the Emperor, in which he explained his already more conciliatory point of view, though, nevertheless, he very distinctly showed his disapproval of my intentions. The pro-memoria reads as follows:

Unfortunately, Roumania can withdraw from the war not as much exhausted as justice and the justified interests of the Monarchy could wish.

The loss of the Dobrudsha will be made good by territorial gains in Bessarabia, while the frontier rectifications demanded by us are out of all proportion with Roumania's guilt and with her military situation.

Our peace terms are so mild that they are as a generous gift offered to vanquished Roumania and are not at all to be made a subject for negotiations. In no case are these negotiations to assume the character of trading or bargaining. If Roumania refuses to conclude peace on the basis laid down by us our answer can only be a resumption of hostilities.

I consider it highly probable that the Roumanian Government will run that risk to prove her necessity in the eyes of the Western Powers and her own population. But it is just as probable that after breaking off negotiations she will just as quickly turn back and give way before our superior forces.

At the worst a short campaign would result in the total collapse of Roumania.

In all human probability it is almost certain that the development of affairs will take a course similar to the last phase in the peace with Northern Russia, and will lead to an easy and complete success for the Central Powers. That we lay down the frontier rectification as conditio sine qua non forms a justifiable measure to protect an important interest for the Monarchy of a purely defensive nature. It is energetically demanded by the entire patriotic public opinion of Hungary. It appears out of the question that a Minister of Foreign Affairs, had he taken up another attitude in the matter, would have been able to remain in the Delegation.

And, besides, the procedure—to which the greatest importance must be attached—is absolutely necessary in order not to compromise the chances of a general peace.

It is obvious from the public statements of leading statesmen of the Western Powers that they will not be prevailed upon to agree to an acceptable peace, as they do not believe in our capacity and firm resolve to carry it out. Whatever confirms their views in this respect widens the distance between us and peace; the only way to bring us really nearer to peace is to adopt an attitude that will lead them to think differently.

This must constitute the line of action in our resolves and undertakings. In connection with the Roumanian peace, it is evident that to yield on the frontier question—even for fear of a breakdown in the negotiations—must have a deplorable effect on the opinion our enemies have of us. It would certainly be right not to take advantage of Roumania's desperate situation, but to grant her reasonable peace terms in accordance with the principles embodied in our statements. But if we do not act with adequate firmness on that reasonable basis we shall encourage the Western Powers in the belief that it is not necessary to conclude a peace with us on the basis of the integrity of our territory and sovereignty, and fierce and bitter fighting may be looked for to teach them otherwise.


February 27, 1916.

Andrassy and Wekerle were also opposed to a milder treatment of Roumania, and thus the whole Hungarian Parliament were of one accord on the question. I am not sure what standpoint Karolyi held, and I do not know if at that period the "tiger soul" which he at one time displayed to Roumania, or the pacifist soul which he laid later at the feet of General Franchet d'Esperey, dominated.

Thus at Brest-Litovsk, when the Roumanian peace appeared on the horizon, I took up the standpoint that the party desirous of peace negotiations must be supported.

The episode of the Roumanian peace must not be taken out of the great picture of the war. Like the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, the Roumanian peace was necessary from a military point of view, because it seemed desirable to release troops in the East as quickly as possible and transfer them to the Western front. It was urgently desired and repeatedly demanded that we should come to a final settlement with Roumania as soon as possible. In order to secure a speedy result I had already, from Brest-Litovsk, advised the Emperor to send word privately to King Ferdinand that he could reckon on an honourable peace should he wish to enter into negotiations. The Emperor took my advice, and Colonel Randa had one or two interviews with a member of the immediate entourage of the King. But the German opinion was that King Ferdinand must be "punished for his treachery" and no negotiations entered into with him. For this reason, and to avoid fruitless controversy, I first imparted to Herr von Kuehlmann the accomplished fact and informed him that we had put ourselves secretly into communication with King Ferdinand. This event was quite in accordance with the standard of equality in our Federation, by which every member was privileged to act according to the best of his ability and was merely bound to inform the friendly Powers of the proceedings. It was not our duty to apply to Germany for permission to take such a step.

There was a three-fold reason why I did not share Germany's opinion on this question. In the first place, my point of view was that it was not our duty to mete out divine justice and to inflict punishment, but, on the contrary, to end the war as quickly as possible. Therefore my duty was to seize every means possible to prevent a continuance of the war. I must mention here that the idea prevailing in many circles that the Roumanians were quite at the end of their strength, and were compelled to accept all the conditions, is entirely false. The Roumanians held very strong positions, the moral in the army was excellent, and in the last great attack on Maracesci, Mackensen's troops had suffered very severely. This success turned the Roumanians' heads, and there were many leading men in the ranks of the Roumanian army who sided entirely with those who wished to carry on the war a l'outrance. They did not count so much on an actual victory, but were upheld by the hope that for some time to come they could maintain the defensive and that, meanwhile, the decisive successes of their Allies on the West would secure victory for them. They were probably afraid, too, that a peace concluded with us would place them in permanent disgrace with the Entente—that they would lose the friendship of the Entente, fail to gain ours, and find themselves between two stools. The second reason which decided me to insist on negotiating with the King was that, from a dynastic point of view, I considered it most unwise to dethrone a foreign king. There was already then a certain fall in the value of kings on the European market, and I was afraid it might develop into a panic if we put more kings off their thrones. The third reason was that, in order to conclude peace, we must have a competent representative in Roumania. If we were to depose the King we should divide Roumania into two camps and would, at the best, only be able to conclude a transitory peace with that party which accepted the dethronement of the King. A rapid and properly-secured peace could only be concluded with the legitimate head in Roumania.

In the introductory interviews which Colonel Randa had on February 4 and 5 with the confidential envoy from the King of Roumania, the envoy asked whether all the Quadruple Alliance Powers were acting in the step in question, and whether the occupied territory in Roumania would be released. I was notified of this inquiry of the King, and replied that I was persuaded that no refusal need be expected from the other Central Powers should he, with the object of securing an honourable peace, address them accordingly. As to the question of territorial possessions, I stated that, for the present, I was not able to express any opinion on the matter, as it would have to be a subject for the introductory negotiations.

The view held by the German military leaders in agreement with Hungarian politicians that Roumania should be treated differently from, and in a much sterner manner than, any other state was, if the question is considered from the point of view of retribution, quite justified. Roumania's actions with regard to us were far more treacherous than those of Italy. Italy, owing to her geographical position and to the fact of her being totally dependent on the Western Powers—a blockade by whom might finally have forced her to submit to their demands—would have found it very difficult to remain neutral in this world war. Roumania was not only perfectly independent, but was amply provided for through her rich granaries. Apart from the fact that Roumania alone was to blame for allowing things to go so far that Russia was enabled finally to send her an ultimatum and so force her into war, it must be admitted that Roumania was far less likely to be influenced by the Entente than Italy. But neither would the Russian ultimatum have taken effect if Roumania had not consciously and willingly placed herself in a position in regard to military and political matters that gave her into Russia's power. Bratianu said to me in one of our last interviews: "Russia is exactly like a blackcock dancing before the hens." In admitting the truth of this appropriate comparison, it must be added that the female of the simile, longing to be embraced, directly provoked violence.

For two years Bratianu had stirred up public opinion against us in his own country. Had he not done so, and had he not finally bared his Russian frontier of all troops, the Russian ultimatum would have had no effect.

In Roumania the Avarescu Ministry was in power. On February 24 Kuehlmann and I had our first interview alone with Avarescu at the castle of Prince Stirbey, at Buftia. At this interview, which was very short, the sole topic was the Dobrudsha question. The frontier rectifications, as they stood on the Austro-Hungarian programme, were barely alluded to, and the economic questions, which later played a rather important part, were only hinted at. Avarescu's standpoint was that the cession of the Dobrudsha was an impossibility, and the interview ended with a non possumus from the Roumanian general, which was equivalent to breaking off negotiations. As regards the Dobrudsha question, our position was one of constraint. The so-called "old" Dobrudsha, the portion that Roumania in 1913 had wrested from Bulgaria, had been promised to the Bulgarians by a treaty in the time of the Emperor Francis Joseph as a reward for their co-operation, and the area that lies between that frontier and the Constanza-Carnavoda railway line was vehemently demanded by the Bulgarians. They went much further in their aspirations: they demanded the whole of the Dobrudsha, including the mouth of the Danube, and the great and numerous disputes that occurred later in this connection show how insistently and obstinately the Bulgarians held to their demands. At the same time, as there was a danger that the Bulgars, thoroughly disappointed in their aspirations, might secede from us, it became absolutely impossible to hand over the Dobrudsha to the Roumanians. All that could be effected was to secure for the Roumanians free access to Constanza, and, further, to find a way out of the difficulty existing between Turkey and Bulgaria in connection with the Dobrudsha.

In order not to break off entirely all discussion, I suggested to Avarescu that he should arrange for his King to meet me. My plan was to make it clear to the King that it would be possible for him now to conclude a peace, though involving certain losses, but still a peace that would enable him to keep his crown. On the other hand, by continuing the war, he could not count on forbearance on the part of the Central Powers. I trusted that this move on my part would enable him to continue the peace negotiations.

I met the King on February 27 at a little station in the occupied district of Moldavia.

We arrived at Focsani at noon and continued by motor to the lines, where Colonel Ressel and a few Roumanian officers were waiting to receive me. We drove past positions on both sides in a powerful German car that had been placed at my disposal, and proceeded as far as the railway station of Padureni. A saloon carriage in the train had been reserved for me there, and we set off for Rasaciuni, arriving there at 5 o'clock.

The Roumanian royal train arrived a few minutes later, and I at once went across to the King.

Incidentally my interview with King Ferdinand lasted twenty minutes.

As the King did not begin the conversation I had to do so, and said that I had not come to sue for peace but purely as the bearer of a message from the Emperor Charles, who, in spite of Roumania's treachery, would show indulgence and consideration if King Ferdinand would at once conclude peace under the conditions mutually agreed on by the Quadruple Alliance Powers.

Should the King not consent, then a continuance of the war would be unavoidable and would put an end to Roumania and the dynasty. Our military superiority was already very considerable, and now that our front would be set free from the Baltic to the Black Sea, it would be an easy matter for us, in a very short space of time, to increase our strength still more. We were aware that Roumania would very soon have no more munitions and, were hostilities to continue, in six weeks the kingdom and dynasty would have ceased to exist.

The King did not oppose anything but thought the conditions terribly hard. Without the Dobrudsha Roumania would hardly be able to draw breath. At any rate, there could be further parley as to ceding "old" Dobrudsha again.

I said to the King that if he complained about hard conditions I could only ask what would his conditions have been if his troops had reached Budapest? Meanwhile, I was ready to guarantee that Roumania would not be cut off from the sea, but would have free access to Constanza.

Here the King again complained of the hard conditions enforced on him, and declared he would never be able to find a Ministry who would accept them.

I rejoined that the forming of a Cabinet was Roumania's internal business, but my private opinion was that a Marghiloman Cabinet, in order to save Roumania, would agree to the conditions laid down. I could only repeat that no change could be made in the peace terms laid before the King by the Quadruple Alliance. If the King did not accept them, we should have, in a month's time, a far better peace than the one which the Roumanians might consider themselves lucky to get to-day.

We were ready to give our diplomatic support to Roumania that she might obtain Bessarabia, and she would, therefore, gain far more than she would lose.

The King replied that Bessarabia was nothing to him, that it was steeped in Bolshevism, and the Dobrudsha could not be given up; anyhow, it was only under the very greatest pressure that he had decided to enter into the war against the Central Powers. He began again, however, to speak of the promised access to the sea, which apparently made the cession of the Dobrudsha somewhat easier.

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