Germany’s Hope for Peace

  1. Germany’s Hope for Peace

Our talks took place in the library of the Chancellery at a round table beneath the coat of arms of Bismarck and with souvenirs of the Iron Chancellor on every hand. Our interpreter was Dr. Otto Carl Kiep, legal counselor of the Chancellery, a master of English as of German. For a full fortnight we availed ourselves of scraps of time, early and late, between Cabinet meetings, administrative duties and the demands of the electoral campaign, then at its height. Of talking alone there was twenty-four solid hours, and then days and nights of writing, translating, re-translating, revising and revising again. Judge Marx made his final study of my finished draft as he traveled between Berlin and Frankfort in the course of a speaking tour.

Dignity, simplicity, modesty, spiritual-mindedness, instinctive grasp of essentials, broad human sympathy and individual warmth of nature are conspicuous qualities of Judge Marx’s personality. His eyes are gray, his face round and benevolent, his forehead wide and high. He has a white mustache and his hair is cut short all over. He speaks rapidly in a low voice, making occasional simple gestures with his hands, and often smiling searchingly into the eyes of those about him. His kindliness, his courtesy, cannot be exaggerated; these, so far as I could observe, never were thrust aside by duty, however urgent and onerous. His gold-rimmed spectacles add to his professorial benignity.

Appearance of of Chancellor.

From the room where we talked we looked out upon the wooded gardens of the Chancellery—a paradise in summer, already flooded with the melody of the thrush. Flanking these gardens was the colonnade, specially constructed for the strolls and the State-causeries of Bismarck and the old Emperor. Near at hand were the Chancellor’s office, with its great desk and lofty ceilings; Bismarck’s room, with his own roll-top mahogany desk, a bookcase atop, and on the walls portraits of the old Emperor, Von Bulow and the Iron Chancellor himself, a vivid, grim, and powerful figure; the Congress Hall, where the representatives of the Great Powers, including Disraeli, met to settle the Eastern question; the Cabinet Room, where there are soi many meetings now; the gilded and artistic Salon, with winter garden, scene of magnificent social gatherings in the past; next door the Foreign Office—the whole in the center of the most historic associations of the Wilhelmstrasse, the most famous and aristocratic street of the greatest modern city of Europe.

Wilhelm Marx, aged 61, was born at Cologne, where he attended the gymnasium. He studied law at Bonn University and entered the legal service of the State in 1884, and he has held many judgeships, including that of the Presidency of the Court of Appeal in Berlin. He is president of the Catholic schools organization of Germany, and of the People’s Catholic Union. For nineteen years he has been a member of the Prussian Diet. He was a member of the German National Assembly and then a member of the new Reichstag. He is the author of numerous works on legal and educational questions. Judge Marx became the German Chancellor Nov. 30, 1923, in succession to Gustav Stresemann, now Minister of Foreign Affairs.

He Has Given Notable Service.

“What are Republican Germany’s chief anxieties and problems?” was the opening question.

“All center in the Reparations question. Speaking quite non-rhetorically, this question is pregnant with life or death for Germany. If we be freed politically and economically; if our definitive burden be one we can bear; and, if we receive the foreign financial countenance essential to our solvency, we can erect a stable democratic State, and bring back to our people the prosperity vital alike to them and to those producing and distributing nations that stand in a relation of interdependence to them. Denied the advantages I have enumerated, we can look forward to nothing but the disruption of our State and the prostration of our economy, with the measureless misery they imply.”

“Do you regard as synonymous the safety of the Republic and the safety of European peace?”

“I regard the Republic as a powerful influence for neighborliness, reason, and justice in Europe—that is to say, a powerful influence for peace here and everywhere. If the Republic went down before a nationalistic movement, produced and fostered by unrelenting pressure from abroad, such radical developments, whether in the direction of the extreme Right or the extreme Left, obviously would be fatal to any sort of fullment of the Treaty of Versailles. We have met and subdued indescribable difficulties. Our efforts—efforts to cope with the concrete and the unavoidable—have provided, I think, an incomparable field for the study of history, political economy, finance, and every major problem of organized human life, beset with the most grievous conditions that can afflict a people. Radical dangers, from the extreme Right and the extreme Left, have been put down. Republicanism is rooted in the convictions of the people. It can be uprooted only by storms that may break over it from abroad.”

“Your Army is loyal?”

Loyalty of the German Army.

“In every crisis before the war, during the war, and since the war, our Army has been loyal. Its traditions, of which it is proud, are strictly adverse to any participation in politics. Its spiritual substance is German. It reflects instinctive Germanic devotion to discipline. Bolshevism found it adamant. The uprising in Munich under Hittler clearly showed the Army’s attitude to the Republic. Its vicissitudes have given us military and civil names that will live in history beside those of our great leaders of the war and of former times—the man, for example, who stayed the tide of bolshevism; those who grappled with the task of rebuilding our wrecked social and economic structure; those who kept to their posts in the heaviest seas, and helped to steer our waterlogged craft through the countless rocks on the passage.”

“You refer to men like Ebert, von Seeckt, Noske?”

“To these and many others we owe gratitude. But none seeks prominence; all desire to do their duty to the nation unostentatiously. As long as this sense of duty remains, we face the future, however anxious, not without confidence.”

“How does Republican Germany look upon disarmament?”

Asks General Disarmament.

“We have accepted it in principle, and regard it with favor if it be universal. Internationally, Germany already is disarmed. We have neither army nor navy of international meaning. Thus Germany has everything to gain and nothing to lose from the advance of this magnificent ideal. We live encircled by arms and impotent upon the seas. Our frontiers are open—no rivers or mountains to shelter us, as Italy has, or Spain has, as France would like in the Rhine; no command of the air; no protecting waters such as those ridden by Britain’s fleet. Germany stands as the world’s sole great example of disarmament, waiting for others powers to come up.”

“Can there be any effective disarmament except a psychological disarmament? With nations so formidably competent in engineering, mechanics, and chemistry, will not war eternally threaten until all faith in war, and all desire to make war, shall have been eradicated from the human mind?”

“Psychological disarmament undoubtedly is essential to permanent peace. How is it to be effected and maintained? Heavy wars, like the Great War, effect it, but they cannot maintain it.

“Consider the privations and sufferings of our nation in the war. Much of this is still unknown abroad. Even our fighting troops had to submit to severe rationing. As early as 1916 the meat rations were restricted, while clothing and outfit were meager. Thus, apart from the physical and moral hardships of modern warfare, the material conditions under which we pursued the war contrasted vividly with the wealth and abundance of the Allies’ resources, fed mainly from the inexhaustible supplies of America. Our troops were rushed back and forth, from East to West, from Europe to Asia, withstanding strains patently in excess of those of the average allied units. Such causes cannot be without effect. He who knows from experience what war—modern war—means has no eagerness for its renewal. His experience breeds pacifism of the soundest and most durable nature. The German nation is saturated with the knowledge and abhors the thought of further war; it desires peace.

War Sufferings Breed Peace Desires.

“This sentiment was particularly marked in 1919. Germany at that time not only yearned for peace but believed implicitly in its realization. Upon this psychology we fain would have built great things. We still hope to do so. But here, as in so many directions, policies and actions beyond our control tend to confound and defeat us. All around us we hear the clash of arms. Military inculcations, war talk, drilling, martial pageantry, new ingenuity in munitional engineering—every one of them is an influence for the rearming of Germany psychologically, and to negate such influences transcends human power.

“We deplore the situation. We have youth who know little or nothing of war. They are subject to war infection, as were their predecessors, who went away to battle shouting, laughing, and singing. Heavy wars disarm peoples in their minds; only the abolition of the teachings of war and of the objective symbols of war can keep peoples disarmed in their minds. If we are to abolish war we must forget war. If we are to abolish war we must fill the minds and souls of our young with the gospel, the emotions and the images of peace.”

To Preserve Mental Disarmament.

“Your feeling is that the world’s supreme need is peace?”

“That certainly is my feeling.”

“Do you know of a better way than through a League of Nations to get peace?”


“Do you see any peril to nationality or to political and territorial sovereignty in the League as it stands today?”

“So far as I can see, the League, as such, in practice, does not endanger the freedom of will, the independence, the security, of any nation. Great powers, democracies, will avoid any organization that threatens to wrest their destiny from their own hands. Preservation of the democratic principle presupposes the operation of local knowledge and control. Peoples are not ready for world federalism—for national autonomies related to an over-riding central authority, as, for example, the American States to Washington or the German States to Berlin. The League of Nations, as I understand it, would enthrone reason, justice, and peace, not by the crude and ineffectual instrumentality of compulsion, but by a peace-breeding voluntarism based upon international understanding and desire.”

“Will the German Republic join the League?”

Germany Would Join the League.

“It will join as soon as it may be permitted to join consistently with what it conceives to be its rightful position among the nations. Otherwise it could not join with any prospect of serving itself or mankind. We should want a permanent place on the Council, for we are not a minor power. Besides, we should not want the League, with our support, to be identified with ex parte points of view respecting post-war adjustments. We should like its outlook upon world affairs to be uninfluenced by passions, prejudices, and political expedients with taproots in the war. This stream of world power, which, as Republican Germany hopes, may become a mighty and resistless stream, should not be poisoned at its source.”

“What would be the effect of America’s joining?”

“”Without presuming to suggest to America what she should do in this or any other matter, I should say that American ideals and moral authority cannot be spared from any movement destined to dignify and gladden the world with confidence and tranquillity. Reciprocal trust and peace would be hard enough to get, even with every great nation helping to the limit of its power. It is indispensable to any successful peace movement that it embrace all the principal constituents of human strength in the world.”

“Then you would wish Russia to join?”

“I should wish all nations to put their shoulders to the wheel in this superlatively important matter.”

“You perceive no way for mankind to progress harmoniously without some kind of body in permanent session functioning for nations somewhat after the manner of a national government in a system of federated states?”

International Good Understanding.

“I am convinced that the problems common to the nations demand an international body for their regular study and systematic accommodation.”

“What do you consider the best method of moving against international ignorance?”

“There are many ways leading to international understanding. The main condition is good will—the wish to understand and come together. Herein lies the great moral duty of the Press. Propaganda must be done away with; honesty and sincerity must reign. There are, however, other practical methods—for instance, the interchange of children and young folk. Many thousands of German children found homes and succor in neighboring countries like Holland, Switzerland and Scandinavia, when our country was facing famine after the Armistice. These children return to us with hearts full of gratitude and broader minds. They know there are others than Germans whom they can trust and love. Foreign students coming to us and living in German families undergo a similar mental and sentimental change. It is an effective way of internationalizing intelligence and fellow-feeling. Exchange of professors, students, ministers, and publicists is excellent. Whoever has the welfare of his own country at heart, and appreciates the universality of the effect of good or ill fortune in any part of the world, will rejoice over all well-judged attempts to moderate excessive nationalism in the interests of the common weal.”

“What is the housing situation in Germany?”

Germany’s Housing Difficulties.

“It is a situation involving bad living conditions, economic difficulties, and political perplexities. We suffer from a great lack of housing accommodation, with its inevitable physical discomforts, moral evils, social detriments, and anxieties for government. During the war we could build no houses. Moreover, we drastically restricted rents, and this restriction operated against house construction. It became necessary for the State to enter upon a large scheme of cheap housing for the people. To this, objections have frequently been raised in the foreign Press on the ground that it would promote industrial dumping; but we were forced to persist in the scheme, as the homelessness of large numbers of the population was intolerable from the standpoint of both social order and humanity.

“State building revenues were raised from the wealthier classes, and the accommodation accorded to each member of the community was restricted by public law. Our rule was one room for one person. Whoever had more rooms was billeted up with lodgers paying a cheap paper-mark rent. Naturally, there arose a desire on the part of persons of means to buy themselves free from billeting. This was allowed by the State on the basis of a payment sufficient to build as many rooms as were withdrawn from the operation of the rule of one room for one person. Thus a certain sum of money was raised, and a cheap construction program was carried out under the direction of our Minister of Public Welfare. This, to a certain extent, helped to relieve the situation.

“Experience, however, led us more and more to give up administrative control of residential property. It was expensive and, by keeping down the rent, it rendered house building a non-paying business. Besides, this kind of administration had the tendency to lead to corruption. Socialism in this realm failed us. The natural incentive to all industrial production—the prospect of earning interest on the capital outlay and profits thereon—had to be re-established, and we decided to return to the principle of private enterprise. Laws restricting rents are being progressively abolished.

“Unhappily, our housing troubles have not yet gone. Rents are rising rapidly and the cost of living is following them. Higher costs of living call for more wages and more wages bring back the threat of inflation. Nevertheless, we have taken our decision in favor of trusting capitalistic principles to resuscitate the building trade, and we shall stand by this decision. There is not sufficient capital available on our money market to produce a building boom. Still, we hope the mere fact of housing properties becoming an attractive investment may lead to an increased construction of houses that will mean less unemployment and hence a lightening of the burdens of the State in this respect.

Housing Scarcity Is Still Acute.

“There is a group of broad facts which strikingly reveals the genesis of our housing problem. For five years during the war house building in Germany was dead. Several hundred thousand young men came home from the war eager to get married and start housekeeping. Engaged couples had one reply for the question, ‘When is the wedding to be?’ It was, ‘When we can find a house.’ One year, a year and a half, three years of waiting—it was and still is so all over Germany. Immigrants flowed in upon us from East and West; immigrants from the ceded territories; fugitives expelled from the Ruhr and the Rhineland; thousands of people from Russia, Galicia, Poland, and the dismembered Austro-Hungarian Empire; Germans from the East and the Baltic; boatloads of Germans turned out of countries in which they had found homes and occupation before the war—about 2,000,000 of them in all.”

“One hears that Germany is a nation of tax-dodgers; that monetary penalties are, or were, of no avail because of the worthlessness of the mark; that both civil and criminal law in the Republic is discredited; that the great industrialists, not the Reich, are Germany; that the Republican Government cannot subdue these industrialists; that it is impotent before extra-constitutional military societies financed by the treasuries of big industry; that a masked army of aggression is in process of integration. What can we say on these heads?”

No Secret Army of Aggression.

“Take the last point first. There is in Germany only one military force of the slightest consequence as such—the Reichswehr, our Army. It stands unflinchingly for the Republic. It stands for law and order within our borders and for peace beyond them—the Republic’s policy, from which on no account will it depart. This myth of a nascent German army of aggression should be dismissed from men’s minds once for all. It is a source of nothing but universal evil, warping thought, disfiguring policy, buttressing militarism, postponing reconstruction, dashing the hopes of settled peace.

“Property, in the days immediately following the war, when there was a general menace of bolshevism, anarchy, and crimes of violence, and when our military resources were compulsorily inadequate to control such a situation—property, including the great industries, sought to defend itself by privately employed guards. These were magnified into the potential units of a formidable army. They never were such and still less are they such now. With the growth of governmental power and a return of the normal orderliness of the German people, these guards, or so-called military bands, became unnecessary and were suppressed. Similarly, we have suppressed as an element of possible disturbance and danger, our fascisti or more extreme and demonstrative nationalists. They are not allowed to make military preparations of any kind.

“Now as to tax-dodging, collapse of law and the alleged puissance and implied disloyalty of the leaders of German industry. Again, let us take the last point first. German industrialists are no more an element apart in German life than are American industrialists in American life or the industrialists of any other country in the life of that country. Our industrialists are German, believe in Germany, love Germany, and serve Germany according to their light. What motive or interest could they have in dishonoring her, in despoiling her, in spreading misery and desperation among her people? They have their ideas about government and policy, as have the rest of us. But they are not seditionists and they are not trying to establish an industrial tyranny.

Ways of German Industrialists.

“As regards tax-dodging, I suppose the practice is not wholly unknown in most countries, and even in normal times. Law enforcement, too, always presents difficulties quite generally. Our times for a good many years have not been normal times. We have passed through conditions unforeseeable and unimaginable—have trodden perhaps the strangest and most bewildering ground in the whole march of human history. Economic and social disorganization we have plumbed to its depths. We have witnessed financial vagaries that made our best-trained minds reel. In the midst of our embarrassments, falling thick and fast, rushing upon us from unexpected directions, established experience and doctrinaire thinking alike seemed a mockery.

“There was the so-called ‘flight of capital.’ Exporters and industrialists selling their goods abroad hesitated to convert foreign money into paper marks for fear of the losses threatening by depreciation. Besides, they frequently had to purchase their raw materials from abroad and required foreign currency for such transactions. Thus deposits were accumulated abroad sometimes, no doubt, in excess of actual requirements.

Germany’s “Flight of Capital.”

“But also the great mass of wage-earners and consumers was forced through the effects of depreciation to depart from sound economic principles. Germans were the thriftiest people in Europe. They loved to work and save. It was their life. Monetary depreciations swept away this great, primitive, sustaining instinct by making any kind of saving impossible. Everyone’s preoccupation was not to save his earnings but to spend them as quickly as he could, lest they turn to nothing in his hands. Boys and girls, told by their parents to be saving, to hold their money, laughed at the advice. ‘Do you think us idiots?’ they said. Even public officials formerly completely unconversant with investment transactions, when they received their salaries, ran as fast as they could to the stock exchange to convert their money into shares. What else could they do to avoid the consequences of depreciation and still maintain some kind of liquid capital?

“It was the same everywhere—this amazing spectacle, this indescribable national moral and material tragedy of agonized earners, by nature provident, dropping their money as if it were on fire. Money is a marvelous thing in a nation. Stable, of fixed worth, enjoying universal confidence, it is not merely a medium of exchange; it is a preservant of values; it is the bedrock of national morale. Destroy its stability and you shock your civilization into ruins. If we have had turbulence; if we have had anarchy; if we have had a collapse of civil and criminal law; if we have shown many signs of a nation shattered and desperate, it has been because and only becaused our people were bereft of everything that makes social sanity and discipline possible.

“On the other hand, gold-standard currencies rushed into Germany as air into a vacuum. Foreigners flocked hither to scoop up our inflated marks, exchange them for full-value German commodities and retire enriched. From a neutral country, for example, there came a man for a little recreation in Berlin. He lived well at a fashionable hotel, bought in the Unter den Linden a beautiful German gold watch for the mark yield of a few gold notes, returned home and sold his watch for a sufficient profit to cover all his expenses in Germany. Thus the wealth still remaining in the country after the war was subjected to a heavy drain.

The Bankruptcy of a Nation.

“German employers, like their employes, ran a breathless race with the descent of the mark. Accustomed to pay their workers monthly, they began to pay weekly and finally daily, to minimize the losses from depreciation. For the same reason the workers no sooner received their marks than they hurried to get rid of them for something that would retain its value.

“All State functions were harried correspondingly. Money received for taxes lost its value while in course of collection. Obligations were put off in order that they might be met with cheaper currency. Crimes against property multiplied, for necessitous people were disposed to take what the fruits of their labor would not buy. Men and women went into the forests for wood and into the fields for potatoes. Such crimes were punished in accordance with the law, but penalties were often futile against cold and hunger.

“Contradictory views were held of what should or could be done. We passed highly restrictive and punitive legislation against the flight of capital. All privacy of commercial and banking accounts was set aside. Our methods resembled the bolshevistic inquisition. We turned on the taxation screw as far as practicable. We obtained what foreign currency we could to pay Reparations. But, in the end, all expedients failed, bankruptcy was complete, and payments under the Treaty of Versailles ceased.

“It is asserted that we voluntarily extinguished the value of the mark by inflation. On the contrary, we frantically fought to maintain the standard of our money, realizing that depreciation meant confiscation; that lifelong savings would be snuffed out; that the middle and working classes would be impoverished; that the national morale would undergo an unprecedented strain and that our entire social order might be engulfed in disaster. Not any desire of ours, nor any fault or default of ours, reduced the mark to worthless paper; this calamity befell us because of the imposition upon our war-weakened country of burdens greater than it could bear.

The Tragedy of the Falling Mark.

“We are accused, again, of governmental connivance with industrial and commercial cleverness in ‘siphoning’ wealth out of Germany in the form of the gold deposits abroad derived from the sale of German exports to which I have already referred. It is the allegation that these credits were left in foreign countries to evade Reparations payments. Precisely the contrary is the truth. We were struggling to maintain our domestic economy and to discharge the obligations fixed by the Treaty of Versailles. To do these things it was indispensable that our industrial and commercial apparatus should work. If this apparatus worked we must get food and raw materials from other countries, and such commodities were not to be had for the degraded mark. Such accumulations of foreign credit by German exporters as were permitted by the German Government—and our laws were as stringent as our observation was vigilant—were intended to keep German life and production going, not only to meet domestic needs but to make Reparations payments.

“If some exporters built up larger foreign credits than the German laws intended they should—and this is not impossible—it was not because of, but in spit of, the policy and the endeavors of the Reich. Our thought and energy in the Wilhelmstrasse wereever directed not to give special help or privileges to the trading community or any other class of our population, but to serve the Commonwealth, whose interests we believed would be advanced by honestly meeting, so far as possible, all the obligations of the government.

Individuality of Foreign Credits.

“Some persons talk as if it were easy for the German government to enter foreign banks and levy upon German credits there. At the first hint of such a thing American competent circles immediately pointed out its impossibility. Attempts to institute inquiries looking to an appraisal of German credits in the banks of European countries proved futile at the outset as no country would ever tolerate such interference in its banking business. The sanctity of private property would not permit of any such measure. And we ourselves have that feeling. It probably is not far from the truth to say that to overturn the principle of the inviolability of private property is to overturn the foundation of our present social and economic organization. So much for the charges that the German Republic deliberately committed against its people the crime of inflation and aided and abetted its exporters in an organized attempt to swindle the beneficiaries of the Treaty of Versailles.”

“One hears that Germany is rich and also that she is poor.”

Potential Wealth, Actual Poverty.

“In a sense, she is both. Potentially, Germany is rich; she has certain natural and the sociological elements of great national wealth and power. Actually, German is not only poor but bankrupt. She has the plant for a vast industry, agricultural and commercial, but she has no working capital. Great as were her trading activities during the quarter of a century before the war, she had not time to accumulate the huge reserves of capital of the older business communities. She had relatively little amassed wealth; what she had was consumed during the war, delivered up under the Treaty of Versailles, or has evaporated by depreciation.

“Capitalistic industrialism without liquid capital is like a living organism drained of blood; it is a dead frame. Economically Germany is no longer a vital phenomenon; she is a gigantic skeleton. Understanding, wisdom, forbearance abroad, together with German skill, labor, and thrift at home, can reclothe this skeleton with strong sinew and healthy flesh, and reirrigate its arteries with blood; ignorance, folly, aggression from outside will arrest rebuilding processes inside, and we shall see an irreparable crumbling of the skeleton’s bones. Censure of other Governments we wish to avoid; we hope their own complexities and perplexities will aid them in appreciating those of the Government of the German Republic.”

“Will you explain how it finally became possible for you to return to the gold standard—to establish the rentenmark?”

Striving for a Balanced Budget.

“In much of our discussion, necessarily, for the purposes of full explanation to those who have not been in position to follow recent German history as closely as Germans have followed it, we have been looking backward; our view has been retrospective; we have been examining past phases in the quick-moving drama of post-war German life. There are those who ask: ‘Why did you not establish the rentenmark sooner? Why did you not earlier take a firm stand against the slump of your money?’ My answer is, ‘Because it was impossible.’

“Why was it impossible? It was impossible because the total of our inescapable expenditures was far greater than our wealth-producing capacity. We could get nowhere near a balancing of our budget, and the balanced budget, needless to say, is the sine qua non of national solvency and of the corollary of national solvency—stable currency. Our problem, so far as Reparations were concerned—and Reparations were only one of our difficulties—was incalculably aggravated by the fact that we could not ascertain what was demanded of us. We were required to shovel against a heap of sand, the sand always running down upon us, and no light reaching us as to when the task would end. It is a kind of labor that almost no conceivable leadership can—if it ought to—induce a nation to perform.

“France, in recent weeks, has been experiencing some of the trials that come to an incumbered nation in connection with its currency. There has been a struggle to save the franc. If the franc has been hard pressed, if it has fallen, if extraordinary measures have been imperative to arrest its fall, who can wonder that the mark lost its value? France had the powerful financial support of America and England during the war, and those countries have not required her to pay even interest on her debt. Furthermore, France retained all her extensive colonies—even increased her colonial domain—and maintained full economic liberty.

Lesson of France’s Difficulties.

“France has been collecting from Germany since the war. Germany herself financed her entire war outlay—borrowed nothing from abroad—and shouldered military occupation expenses and Reparations deliveries after the war. France, of course, had her vast burden of reconstruction in her devastated territories; but, when all is said, Germany’s financial burdens were immensely heavier. As France did not deliberately sink the franc, so Germany did not deliberately sink the mark.

“Return to stable currency in Germany was out of the question while we were floundering in a financial region of bottomless quicksand.

“The rentenmark, so far a successful experiment, based on the experience gained through similar previous attempts made in other countries during the last century and avoiding the errors committed on such former occasions, rests upon just one thing—German solvency. German solvency may have come to stay, and it may not. If it goes, as it went before, it seems inevitable that the rentenmark will go, as the mark went. Our temporary monetary stability is the result of heroic financial efforts made possible by suspending Reparations payments and reducing internal expenditures to the iron minimum.

Stability of the Rentenmark.

“Impossible Reparations demands—which, happily, we hope the combined foreign experience and judgment focused upon the problem will avert—would crush the foundations of the rentenmark, and involve not only Germany but Europe in continuing disaster. We require a moratorium, or credits, or both, and we require the prudent consideration of those in whose power it lies to prevent us from helping either ourselves or them.”

“Is religious feeling strong or weak among the people?”

Religious Sentiment in Germany.

“Reduced in material fortunes and psychologically depressed, our people in general have sought solace and strength in religion. We have greater church attendances than before the war. This return of the people to religion has been strongly stimulated by the humanitarian work of religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church and the Quakers, and by a national reaction against the spirit of war and against the atheistic tenets of Socialism. Socialism, indeed, in the crush of events in Germany since the war, would seem to have shown many shortcomings, economically and spiritually.”

“What are the moral habits and tendencies of the young?”

“Enforced simplification of life has benefited our boys and girls. It has made them less affected, more serious, keener on healthful pleasures. Our young of the better classes are more democratic. Snobbishness is diminished. We see fewer monocles, patent leather shoes and other signs of dandyism. Girls’ dresses are simpler. Our young folk walk more and motor less. Life’s responsibilities have a larger place in their thoughts. Similar remarks apply to the working classes; there is a more natural mode of life all around. But it is true that pastors, social workers and teachers complain of other post-war developments; order and discipline among the rising generation have been loosened, respect for authority shattered by the tide of revolution and its after effects; thrift and economy, as already shown, have lost their educational value. The lack of universal military training, with its healthful influence on the bodies and minds of our young men—its education in obedience and self-command—is here perceptible.”

“Motion pictures, the press, the platform, literature, art, in Germany—are they tending to consolidate or to disintegrate character?”

Beneficial After Effects of War.

“On the whole, I should say, their influence has not proved to be detrimental. The newspapers and the book trade in Germany suffered severely under the economic consequences of publishers turned to the printing of foreign books, paid for in foreign currencies. More normal publishing conditions, however, have returned of late and the country is the gainer.

“In general, it may be said that the sufferings of the war and its after effects have produced certain beneficial results—simpler life, devotion to work, a desire for spiritual and ethical elevation to replace the materialistic assets lost—and that this development is also reflected in the different forms of public expression.”

“What are the basic ideals of modern Germany?”

Ideals of Present-Day Germany.

“In a phrase, to build up a happy, prosperous and powerful democracy, dedicated to peace and civilization. Our conception of education is democratic. It opens the door of advancement to all our people. We believe in and seek humanistic culture, but we also bear in mind the popular need for vocational training. It is our aim to draw upon both classicism and vocationalism in the interests of the Republic itself and in the interests of those responsibilities which it shares with other nations.

“Individual liberty is the fundamental of fundamentals of the Constitution of the Federation. Personal destiny in no respect is committed to human hands; it is committed to the law. Contrary, in certain particulars, to the situation under the Empire, our citizens are free to migrate, to emigrate, to worship, to work as they will. Men and women have complete legal, civic, and political equality, whether of right or of duty. Marriage, the foundation of family life, rests upon the equal rights of both sexes.

“It is our purpose as a State, while safeguarding the liberty of the citizen and making of his home an individual sanctuary, to collaborate with him in preserving the purity, health, and social progression of the family. Motherhood, in our view, has a special claim upon the protection and care of the Republic. Opportunities shall be provided by law equalizing the advantages, bodily, mental, and social, of illegitimate children with those of legitimate children. Every care will be taken to promote in every practicable way the vigor, sanity, and happiness of the rising generation.

“We have no State Church, but levy taxes for the support of all creeds and denominations in accordance with their numerical strength. These taxes enable the various religious bodies to devote all of their collections to the charities of their choice.

Elements of Freedom and Equality.

Freedom of religion, of the press, of assembly, of speech, or art, science, and teaching is guaranteed under our Constitution. Our education is free and compulsory to the eighteenth year. Private schools require the approval of the State and there must be no separation of pupils having reference to the means of their parents. It is a provision of the Constitution that our education shall be directed to the reconciliation of nations. Every pupil, upon completion of school attendance, receives a copy of the Constitution.

“In ultimate essentials the Constitution of the German Republic, I believe, closely resembles the Constitutions of Britain and the United States. In some respects our system corresponds to that of Great Britain. In other respects it follows American lines and in still other respects we have singularities of our own. Like the American and unlike the British Constitution, ours is written; we have a feeling in such things for definition and relative rigidity. Like the British and unlike the American Constitution ours empowers the President of the Federation, within limits, to dissolve the Reichstag; we favor a prompt method of liquidating deadlocks. There are other differences, but all these instruments of government, as I understand them, presuppose that supreme power proceeds from the people and aspire to forward a vigorous, humane, and peaceful social evolution, based upon the principles of property rights and popular liberty.”

“What might one transmit, by way of final word, as Republican Germany’s message to other States and peoples?”

Light Needed to Give Peace.

“Our appeal is for justice in judgment, for fair treatment in spirit, for mutuality of forbearance and respect. I do not wish to discuss the question of the responsibility for the war. I merely would say, in this connection, that no one can understand the German people or have in them the confidence they deserve, if such person imagines them capable of deliberately and wantonly setting out to slay and conquer. Mankind in no part of the world is more inclined to peace and to international friendship than are the Germans.

“It is misunderstanding that causes war. Misunderstanding breeds fear and animosity and the spirit of slaughter. It follows that the world needs light—needs international education. As soon as Germany, now struggling in the thicket of political and economic disorganization, can free her limbs and see her way out of the forest, she will be ready and eager to do her part, both by precept and by example, to advance humanity toward the goal of peace. Progress in that direction, in my opinion, is possible only through concentration of effort, internationally organized. Such an organization would be a clearing house of world information and a focal point of world confidence. It is such a role that Germany would wish to see the League of Nations fulfill.”

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  1. Germany’s Hope for Peace