The Kaiser answers his American attacker

Published by carolyn on Sat, 2019-04-27 00:13

Kaiser Wilhelm II enjoying a light moment with his officers.

A MR. BRUCE BARTON, THE AMERICAN EDITOR of Every Week magazine, published in his August 7, 1916 issue a “Personal Letter to the Kaiser.” It was shockingly condescending to the point of insulting to Germany and its emperor Wilhelm II. Of course, the letter was not sent,  but just printed in Barton's magazine as something of an editorial. It gives us an idea of just how sleezy were the slanders directed against Germany and Germans in general at that time and how difficult it must have been for German Americans to tolerate.

In response to Barton's letter, The Fatherland published it's own “Open Letter” to him, authored by a “Proxy” for Kaiser Wilhelm. My sense is that it is the work of The Fatherland's editor, George Sylvester Viereck. I think it does an outstanding job sounding convincingly like Wilhelm; if I hadn't been told otherwise, I could easily believe it was the emperor himself, even though I, of course, am not familiar with him. Viereck was, though.

I want to point out a particularly rude statement of Barton's:

“For when your men get back from the trenches, Wilhelm, and see you all nice and warm and cozy in Potsdam, you're going to notice something in their attitude that wasn't there in 1913. They're going to be a little restless and shuffle their feet a bit when you tell them how God has called you to rule over them …”

Pay attention to the clever, good-natured comeback "Wilhelm" gave in response to that! And FYI, the Kaiser was not all "warm and cozy" but was active with his troops on the battle fronts—not staying close to his throne like George the 5th. -cy

Vol 5, no 4     August 30, 1916    Page 3


by Proxy

(Recently Every Week published an open letter to Emperor William which received editorial comment in The Fatherland. We take pleasure herewith printing a reply to Mr. Bruce Barton's epistle by Proxy.)

DEAR Bruce:

Your name is familiar to me but, Bruce, I do not quite place it on American soil. There was once a young man by the name of Bruce and he restored to Scotland the right of independence. I have no doubt but that your father, in giving you title to the name of the famous Scottish king, believed that in your veins ran the blood of the liberty-loving Bruce of Scotland. I hope so, and I hope that you have also read English history, particularly with reference to British tyranny in America. If you have, Bruce, perhaps we are going to be friends again, in spite of your experience with the two Prussian coachmen who chased you and threw snowballs at you. You say, Bruce, that you were ten years old and that you got into a fight with them. Weren't you rather a foolhardy young lad to throw snowballs at two grown men and expect them to let you pepper them? Perhaps you mocked them, Bruce, and laughed at them, as you say you have laughed at me and at Teddy, and so when you took to your legs, my Prussian coachmen got in their laugh, just as I am having my little laugh at you now, for you seem, Bruce, to have an oblique vision and your letter reads to me like a brief for the defendant.

Now, Bruce, I am not going to defend the sinking of the Lusitania. The loss of life of non-combatants is regrettable, but the crime of carrying women and children on munitions ships for a shield is as cowardly as the use of the American flag on an English vessel to give it immunity from the enemy against whom it has declared war. You recall, too, Bruce, the atrocities of warfare and cite in your brief those alleged to have been committed by my troops. I do not defend atrocities of warfare whether they are committed by war-mad men among my troops, or by French or English aviators dropping bombs in Alsace Lorraine, on helpless cities, and Barton especially selecting Corpus Christus day, or by the East Indian troops in France, who cut off my soldiers' ears and ravaged and looted at will.

These things have occurred, and, possibly, have occurred on both sides of the lines, but warfare, Bruce, is more cruel than even snowballing. You recall the Boxer rebellion—that is, you hold a brief upon German soldiers. Do you recall that my minister was murdered in cold blood on the streets of Peking, and that his wife, an American woman, with all other members of the foreign legation, were at the mercy of fanatical mobs without the protection of the throne, for sixty days besieged behind barracks of bags made from the women's skirts, starved to the point of exhaustion and with little ammunition to defend themselves against tens of thousands of armed Boxers? Do you know, Bruce, that English soldiers, and their Japanese allies, caught many of the leaders of those Boxers and stood them over open graves and cut their heads off? And they weren't any too particular either about identificaiton—there wasn't any trial or delayed formalities.

Do you know, Bruce, that Russian cossacks with the Allies in 1900 murdered thousands of Chinese without regard to sex or their participation in the legation outrage? Do you know that the cossacks cut off the heads of Chinamen, en route to Peking, and drove spikes through their skulls and made a trail of skull-blazed paths from Tientsien to the walls of the capital? Do you know, Burce, that cossacks of this same breed are fighting my troops in the East and that they have committed atrocities compared with which the horrors of the Spanish inquisition fade into insignificance; that they have gorged out eyes, cut off ears, slit tongues and ravaged women—helpless, non-combatants in Pilkallen, Tilset, Stallupoenen, Gumbinnen and Goldap? You haven't said much about these things in your letter, Bruce. You seem to read your history of our affairs over here from censored newspapers and inclined your ear to English-Americans who have gone to France and Belgium to find a case against us. Perhaps if you read history deeper and had studied diplomacy longer, you would know more about the affairs of Belgium before the war. You would know that the strong arm has long bolstered up the rotten monarchy of Leopold. You would know that England wrenched from us a treaty that we had with Belgium, a treaty as favorable to us as was the later treaty, which was favored to France and England. You would know, Bruce, that if we must dig up things as a basis of friendship for your hundred millions that we must go back further than the “scrap of paper” incident. We must go back to Frederick and to George IV and try to begin where friendship began.

I am glad you referred to business, Bruce, for I suspect that you are a good businessman, for you have savings stored up from honest toil and honest investment. You no doubt have pride in your savings and want to hand them on to your son, clean and untainted with the blood of war-stained Europe. I am sure you would not want to put money in the bank that had come from profits earned by killing men. That would hurt me very much if I thought so, and make it very difficult to renew our friendship. War is a horrible thing and only excusable between nations fighting for a principle or fighting for their existence. To profit by such a catastrophe to humanity is to write yourself down as a vulture. I hope the majority of your hundred millions of people feel that way and I am sure they do. I am sure, Bruce, the farmers, the artisans, the laboring men, the academicians, the statesmen do not want to enlarge their bank accounts by manufacturing death for humanity in Europe. I'm sure, you who have been my friend, would not countenance such cruelty. I am sure you would not have stood by and rolled icy snowballs for these two Prussian coachmen, if they were snowballing your brother, who has now gone to fight the Mexicans. I am sure you are sorry that munitions manufacturers sold arms to Mexico, now that your brother is going there with troops without enough ammunition, blankets, medicine, food.

If you are not sorry and you countenance all these things, it is going to be very hard for us to get together. It is going to be very hard anyway, if you only read censored despatches and inspired journalism. It is going to very hard, for us, Bruce, if you only see with one eye and listen with one ear.

One of my friends in your country, not Hansel or Schwartz, but the grandson of a veteran of 1812, has written me a letter about things that are going on in America. I can't tell you how I received it—not by wireless, for your government will not permit that—not by cable for all cables are in the hands of my English cousins—but he tells me that there is a path from the headquarters of the British Secret Service to certain departments of the American Government, not literally, Bruce, but figuratively, and that when the British Ambassador is not visiting Mr. Morgan at his country estate on Long Island or on his yacht, that he is busy despatching information to the Department of Justice. Some of it leaks out through a New England journal and other items of gossip find their way into various newspapers, who guard over the interest of stock speculations. He tells me that the British Embassy knows more about what Americans are doing, particularly hyphen Americans, than does the American Secret Service. He tells me that there are numerous retired English army officers, or officers on leave, visiting America; that they travel much, live at the best hotels, entertain and are entertained, yes, and even boast that they are connected with the English Information Bureau. I suppose, Bruce, this accounts for the grave suspicion that there are spies in your midst; that you look with suspicion upon Hansel and Schwartz—and that any firm selling to German exporting firms, are blacklisted. I am afraid, Bruce, that you are unduly apprehensive from German quarters. I am afraid someone has poisoned your mind and endangered your friendship unnecessarily with your good German companions. Do not, my dear Bruce, fill your heart with concern over your cook. I have no spies in America who will corrupt her. I have many good American friends whose blood takes root in the Fatherland, some eight million, perhaps more. They may win away your cook, but my spies are all at the front, fighting, not on leave. Such as championed my cause in America, were, Bruce, like yourself, writers and publicists—some official, others self-appointed. Those who with violent attempts exposed themselves to criticism were promptly requested to cease, as you say in your letter to me.

And now, Bruce, lest any apprehension for my future cloud a reestablishment of the entente cordiale between us, let me conclude by saying that I shall welcome any slap on my back and the endearing cognomen of “Bill” from my returned and triumphant soldiers. If worry you must, let your sympathies go out to the unfortunate tax-ridden nations who, after the war, must for centuries pay interest upon the scraps of paper held in the coffers of your war-made millionaires. They will need and deserve your sympathy, as will the hundreds and thousands in your country whose wages will be cut and whose products and stocks will drop to hard-time prices.

I hope, Bruce, you won't hold hatred in your heart towards me. I hope you won't refuse to buy of me after the war—you may need a friend, you know, in the trade war that must follow, and you may need a customer.

And now, Bruce, I must close, for I have talked frankly, and tried to open a way to a reapproachment. I shall mail this via submarine, as our cousins across the channel have a pernicious habit of distorting phrases, as well as cutting out sentences, as, perhaps, you have recently noticed, all the American correspondents in Germany have protested their inability to tell the plain truth about German affairs, because of garbled despatches by the British censors, and in a round robin have appealed to your government for fair treatment.

WILHELM I. R.,  By Proxy.


Wilhelm II


Clearly not written by the Kaiser, but nevertheless an interesting appraisal of British and Russian attrocities in war.
After Germany's industrial, scientific and philosophical renaissance was in full swing - 18th to 19th centuries, and Germany successfully exported industrial machines and domestic goods across the world, it very seriously and adversely affected British exports, creating a monetary crisis. Germany's export successes were down to her superior product design and manufacturing. Industries and people around the world prefered German machines and goods. The British Empire was bankrupt in around 1885. Hence the early seeds of engeneering war against Germany. And similarly happened in mid-1930. It's all about money for the war profiteers, and no different after WWII.

"... an interesting appraisal of British and Russian attrocities in war."

I think so too. That's why I wanted to publish it. I don't cover that enough in these posts -- both the colored troops the British and French used that didn't follow the conventional rules of war, and what they then called "Russian Cossacks" who were unbelievably savage.

Did you read Barton's letter to the Kaiser? I think everyone should, as that is what really shows the level of prejudice that was circulated among Americans to poison their minds against Germany. It worked too! That is what's so scary about propaganda--how well it works. And the British are very, very good at it, from generations of experience, and they had lots of agents in the United States, as they also did during WWII which is far better known. WWI remains little understood by the general public.

Russia was also experienced and very dependent on propaganda, as well as secret police and spying, etc. In comparison, Germany was obtuse and way behind the curve. They believed in effort and honesty and justice, being much newer to the game of world politics. Most of what Barton says in his Letter to the Kaiser is simply false. That's why it's so offensive.

Once America enters the war, it will be all over for the Germans, as in WWII, and America will save Britain and France's bacon from the far superior Germans - as in WWII. 
See John Mosier's controversial book Myth of the Great War: A New Military History of World War I. Here's the blurb from Amazon: 

This challenging and controversial analysis of the war on the Western Front from 1914 to 1918 reveals how and why the Germans consistently defeated the French and the British with one-half to one-third fewer casualties than the Allies, and how American troops in 1918 saved the Allies from defeat and a negotiated peace with the Germans.
Based on a decade of research into previously unused French and German sources, The Myth of the Great War shows what actually happened at the front as the participants perceived it at the time, as opposed to what French and British commanders and governments claimed. John Mosier, who visited all the major battlefields, describes and analyzes campaigns that are routinely neglected or ignored and shows why conventional accounts of such major battles as Verdun are incorrect. He explains how German tactics, weapons, training, and leadership were consistently superior, and why the endless, ineffective attacks of the French and British with inferior weapons and battle tactics of the previous century resulted in mindless slaughter and defeat. Mosier also discusses the major military leaders on both sides ' including Joffre, Petain, Foch, Gallieni, French, Haig, Wilson, Moltke, Ludendorff, Falkenhayn, Mudra, and Pershing.
The French and British military controlled, suppressed, and manipulated all battlefield reports. German losses were magnified; failures became successes, defeats victories. Allied intelligence was grossly inaccurate and inadequate, and the result was a distorted picture of what was really happening. Absorbing and persuasive, The Myth of the Great War is a striking new assessment of the military realities of World War I.

A few points of resemblance between the Kaiser and Hitler... From the Barton letter:

In spite of all your peacock struttiness, you have created and inspired the most marvelously efficient nation that the world has ever seen. You have abolished poverty; you have so arranged your social system as to take care of a very large population in a very small country; you have made it possible for every man to be sure of a job, and of a comfortable instead of a dreadful old age. You have eliminated loafers and made life a happy experience for your people. No other ruler has ever done so much, and my hat was off to you for it.
I was forever writing editorials to point out how much better you run your schools and your cities and your business life than we do.

That sounds very much like Hitler's Germany, and Barton sounds like the Americans (on Counter-Currents, for example) who admire and respect what Hitler did for Germany, 1933 to 1939 only. In their view, Hitler spoiled it all by expansionism / making war. On 4Chan, the English posters like to scream at the Germans, 'You should have stopped at Austria, mate!' or 'You should have stopped at Czechoslovakia!'.

Putting it as kindly as I can, it still seems to me that in your passion for efficiency you have developed in the Prussian character a certain ruthlessness that gives scant regard to the rights of the weak in the world. And, Wilhelm, it's going to be hard for you and me to become really good friends again until you change that in the character of your people.

Americans today could use a little of that 'certain ruthlessness' at the Mexican border. They can't stop that record inflow of immigration without it. But there's too much 'regard to the rights of the weak in the world' in the US today, such that, they couldn't again even pull off an Operation: Wetback.
But back to Germany and WWI. Viereck's description of atrocities against German soldiers evokes (for me) some of the passages from Mark Mazower's 'Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44' (1993). Talk about repeating the past! German military experience in Greece recalls that in the Balkans in WWI:

Hitler's initial admiration for the brave performance of the Greek army in April 1941 wore off under the pressure of sabotage attacks on occupation forces. 'The Germans harbored no hatred against the Greeks, ' wrote General Hubert Lanz. 'On the contrary, they admired the great past and lofty culture of Hellas. But how would they react to guerrilla warfare?'

During 1943 the answer to Lanz's question emerged as visions of the 'lofty culture of Hellas' gave way to the nightmarish sterotype of the 'Balkan fanatic'. This bloodthirsty creature already obsessedthose Germans fighting the partisans and Chetniks in occupied Yugoslavia. Many senior Wehrmacht officers in the region - Lohr himself, for example - were Austrians who had served in the Habsburg army during the First World War and still felt the old imperial prejudices against Balkan peoples... As the andartiko [Greek guerrillas] developed in Greece, the 'Balkan' stereotype came into play there too: 'bandits' were supposedly endemic in the region; they had no conception of military honour, and they were drawn from a primitive population which 'under the influence of fanatical leaders, can be incited to a warfare so pitiless and inhuman as to be scarcely conceivable'...

Such opinions were fostered at the highest levels. Recalling the Vernichtungskrieg (war of annihilation) on the Eastern Front, Lohr reminded his officers that 'this is a fight to the death, without a halfway house'. Criticising those who harboured residual sympathies for the andartes, he warned that 'ideas of a "peace loving people's heroism" etc. are misguided. Precious German blood is at stake. ' Hitler himself issued orders to drop words like 'franc-tireur' (Freischiirler) and 'partisan' for the more unequivocal term 'bandits' when referring to the guerrillas.

Reinforcing their fears of local insurgents, the rank and file heard horrifying stories of how the guerrillas mutilated captured German soldiers: these Balkan primitives and communist fanatics were, of course, ignorant of civilised behaviour. Erhard Glitz, an officer stationed south of Thebes, described one occasion when 'a tribunal of [guerrilla] judges showed the soldiers a selection of knives and let them choose the one with which they preferred to be stabbed to death. With the bandits cheering raucously they were, one by one, stabbed between throat and chest from above by means of the notorious "Schaecht" thrust . . . . Those who did not die immediately were kicked and clubbed and then left lying.'

Glitz had not witnessed these horrors himself; he admits that he had only heard about them from another soldier, though he insisted that they had happened just as he had described...

Mazower thinks Glitz's story is all bunkum, of course:

Yet certain motifs in his story - the perversion of justice, the inhumanity of the 'bandits', and the incongruous anti-Semitic allusions - drew upon standard Nazi propaganda about racial inferiors and 'anti-social' groups. The reference to the so-called ' "Schaecht" thrust' was a common anti-Semitic accusation against Jewish cattle traders in the Third Reich which had little to do with andartes in Greece.

Thanks David,  Regarding your first paragraph describing the good things and social benefits the Kaiser had brought about in Germany --- I've been saying, but not enough, that Hitler was not out of the mainstream of German culture and history, as his detractors like to say.

"Hitler was an aberration." "Hitler was a break in German history - he was completely out of the mainstream or flow of German thought and culture."

This is patently untrue. His National-SOCIALISM was fully in line with Bismark's reforms, which had the full support of the two Kaiser Wilhelms, and even continued under the Weimar Republic (which however was too degenerate and suffered economic collapse). Hitler cleaned up the morality and continued to make life better for the German people. Culture, science and the arts, plus the intelligensia, were thriving in the Third Reich. Germany was Germany! The detractors try to say otherwise but they're provably wrong.

In my book The Artist Within the Warlord, Hermann Giesler recalls (in Chapt. One) that after the successful conclusion of the Battle of France in 1940, Wilhelm II sent Hitler a telegram of warm congratulations. He was clearly very pleased with the job Hitler was doing.

As far as Barton goes -- for me he is trying to diminish the Kaiser and reinforce the lies told about Germany's behavior, which maybe he believed! That's possible, but his inclusion of the story of the two Prussian "coachmen" who threw snowballs at him and laughed when he fell and cried is a little thick. It doesn't ring true to me. I find all this anti-Germanism disgusting. It makes me angry -- very angry.

First it should have been mentioned that Mark Mazower is Jewish.
His work likely has a misleading effect, but the way he jots down his notes is rather reminiscient of David Irving's book: systematic, orderly, thorough, and robust. His source for Glitz's story is an affidavit which is alluded to in Transcript for NMT 7: Hostage Case (available online), but the person shies away from reading it after mentioning atrocities by partisans (citing it's voluminous content as his excuse).
But this transcript does contain testimony from a Hans Keller: "The orders given concerning the partisan organization often seemed too mild to the German soldier in retaliation for the atrocities committed by the bandits."
Keller also subsequently adds that the Greek people were grateful to General Felmy, acknowledging this humane treatment. This actually suggests that the partisans/bandits were not an overwhelming influence among the Greek people.
It's certain that atrocities happened, but it's not sound to call attention to them, especially when they're based on hearsay.
"Mazower thinks Glitz's story is all bunkum, of course":
You omitted the part where Mazower mentions testimonies from Ludwig Gunter and Hermann Franz as a counterweight to the story, although these seem to come from interrogation reports via the OSS.

It's certain that atrocities happened, but it's not sound to call attention to them, especially when they're based on hearsay.

What a strange thing to say. I call your attention to the official and honest Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau's work on Crete, based solely on sworn witness testimony to competent (real) judges, as I covered in my August 10, 2015 reading of Alfred de Zayas' book, in which it was determined without doubt that the worst type of mutilation of German corpses was widespread. Also, their clothing was stolen and worn by Greek "partisans", whom included youngsters 10 years old. They also used dum dum bullets and hunting ammunition.

You point out missing testimony, even though it "seems to come from interrogation reports of the OSS."

I really don't know what to make of it. What exactly are you trying to say?

Ms. Yeager, I meant making an exception for Greeks, in the face of the  the apparent overwhelmingly positive testimony about the Greek people from various German officers who distinguished them from the Greek partisan groups. The Greek people were usually the only ones among the Baltic states who were acknowledged by Germans. I don't believe this was just an optimistic belief that wore off as the war intensified. I'm currently looking through a dozen memoirs and diaries for more testimony of Greek conduct beyond 1941-1942. I'm fully convinced that WW2 could have been won if Germany hadn't gotten entangled with Italy's invasion of Greece and had instead opted to secure the moral support of the Greek people. Giesler's memoirs reveals that Mussolini's invasion of Greece was not for idealistic reasons. Various sources report Hitler's displeasure when he heard the report.
Also, it's within my interests to bring about a future German-Grecian cooperation, which is perhaps more viable and worthwhile than a German-Polish/Slavic one. I can't have an account based on hearsay interfering with that. I'll look into the book you mentioned to me however.
As a corollary, I recently visited one of the nationalistic sites (predominantly American/white nationalist) which had bothered to mention/celebrate Hitler's birthday this year and I was simply appalled by their hypocrital attitude towards Germans. They wanted to silence two German commenters (who were mentioning atrocities committed by Poles and their distrust of Poles) by accusing them of being subversives. I had been interacting with these commenters for months, I had no suspicsion about them being non-German. One of them unwaveringly spoke up for Germans, although she had an overweaning sentimentality.
And from a moral standpoint, it's not really healthy to reopen past wounds. History/revisionist books have an alarming effect, even in the ancient Roman literature. Where is the merit of reading about how people were butchered in graphic detail? I'll make an exception for histories which document explicitly Jewish atrocities, but the other nations wanting a piece of the pie were usually lackeys or imbeciles. We must consider how some nations are forced to go along with the prevailing state of affairs, they're not all war-obssessed.
I think it'd be better to focus on emphasizing Hitler's positive traits and stressing that he was epochs ahead of his times. Also growing insight into his private philosophy and an emphasis on consistent he was in adhereing to these beliefs.
I will concede that the Germans have the greater right and justifications to bring up complaints about the injustices and grievances they suffered in WW1-WW2, as opposed to the other nations which cheaply play the victim card (i.e. Poles, Armenians).

You point out missing testimony, even though it "seems to come from interrogation reports of the OSS."

Testimony which comes from the OSS is rather dubious. Apparently Hermann Franz mentioned that the Greek partisans had treated his soldiers decently. As for Ludwig Gunter, he is said to have been captured by Greek guerrillas in August 1944, but there's not much information about him.

You certainly do create big projects for yourself and what I would consider impossible ones. Smile  Today's Greeks are not the same people as the ancients you like to study. They are racially changed. I have been very critical of Greece, especially during their 2015 financial crisis.

I still am. I think you are giving more emphasis to that which you want to believe than is warranted by the evidence ... cherry-picking a statement here and there.

I'm fully convinced that WW2 could have been won if Germany hadn't gotten entangled with Italy's invasion of Greece and had instead opted to secure the moral support of the Greek people.

Wow. That's really going out on a limb. So Italy would have been stymied and Britain would have established itself in Greece and more, while Germany did what? Played a moral card?

I thought you were too smart to want to construct ideal kingdoms of the imagination. I'm glad your situation allows you to indulge your interests to your heart's content, but you're never going to do away with "real-politik" and those who practice it.

Thanks for the explanation and best wishes, Carolyn