If Indemnities Are Not Exacted, the Teutons Will Use Resources to Conquer World Trade.
Germany Can Afford to Pay
If Indemnities Are Not Exacted, the Teutons Will Use Resources to Conquer World Trade.
RETURNING from a trip through Germany, Herbert Kaufman, the wellknown American writer and editor of McClure’s Magazine, writes to the London Times that Germany is in a sound position, is recovering rapidly and in a position to pay full indemnities. On the latter point he agrees with Col. MacLean, who declared In MacLean’s Magazine over a year ago that Germany was able to make full reparation. Mr. Kaufman writes in part as follows:
If Germany is threatened by Bolshevism and despair, the ominous signs were signally lacking in the region from which I have just returned.
If Germany is incapable of preserving law and order, without the maintenance of great bodies of armed men, the disaffected multitudes offered as excuse for a gradual reduction of military forces are concentrated beyond the area of my observations.
While Germany’s envoys have been bickering, dickering, finessing, haggling, and playing for time across the border, her people are making roads, repairing telegraph and telephone systems, building houses, pushing production, and cultivating every inch of arable ground with an intensity that betokens unbroken moral and undeterred resolve.
Given many more months of grace and the shrewd Teuton will have much of his indemnity money securely and irreparably invested in concrete houses, highways, rails, and ballast.
The milliards for which the Supreme Council is ineffectually reaching lie heaped along the roadside ready for eager shovels. They are being transmitted into mortar and moulded into bricks. I speak only for the section I have personally visited, but if the rest of the Empire is as well ordered and industrious, if the remaining population is carrying on with equal fervour, German skill and German will can cope with the very reasonable debt owed to justice and the victims of her megalomania.
Germany is suffering from shortages, but so is all civilization. The mark has woefully depreciated, but not beyond the recuperative capacity of such an efficient people.
Meat is expensive in Germany, not intrinsically dearer than in many other lands. There is no linen. Fats are still scarce, soap is costly, fabrics of all sorts in limited supply, but German bones are still well upholstered, and the common fare is more varied and nutritious than Italy’s or Japan’s. Sundays and holidays are marked by throngs of picnickers, bylanes are crowded with bicycles and pleasure carts. Horses are numerous and, if anything, far too plump.
If defeat and the penalties imposed by the Allies have soured the German character and offered a fertile surface for Bolshevism, the German has suddenly become past master in the art of dissimulation, and these are the merriest lot of anarchists I have ever met.
Folk generally are not well dressed— they never have been. Shoes are not smart—German foot-gear never was, but if boots are clumsy, they are sound and efficient, and thus far neither sabot nor clogs seem necessary, even for the farmers.
The loudly bewailed lack of fuel has not yet affected the vast southern forests. The slopes of the Schwarzwald seem as thickly timbered as ever, and every little copse is as trim as a public park. There may be a lack of metal, but it is not apparent on the telegraph poles. Germany has metal enough and money enough to keep her communications in pre-war condition, which is more than can be said of America or France or England.
As for necessities the beer is unspeakable—but so is that of England. One may fill any ordinary need at the chemist’s, chocolates and bon bons of fair quality can be had at every turn. The bread is very poor, but it suffices, and I have eaten worse at home.
The best meal I have had in Europe was at the Hotel Stephanie in Baden-Baden. For a dinner (two persons; comprising cocktails of orange juice with English gin and a dash of absinthe, a perfect consommé,
a young Rhine salmon, with mayonnaise such as neither London nor Paris provides, hors d’oeuvres decidedly better than the Pré-Catalan or Claridge’s can furnish, steaks of infinite tenderness, with marrow Bordelaise sauce, new peas, new potatoes, bread and butter, a bottle of Himmelreich Gradier, and the best Java coffee, together with the chauffeur’s food and drinks (including a 15 per cent, tax.) I paid exactly 372 marks (about 2i. 10s. at present rate of exchange. And this, mind you, at an hotel which even the manager of the famed Crillon acknowledges to be the best on the Continent.
The recent maitre d’holel of the Hotel Chatham, Paris, one of the head waiters of the Carlton, and a former chef de service of the Blackstone Hotel, Chicago, approached my table at intervals and renewed acquaintance, but none of the three attempted in the least to propagandize, except by expressing the hope that America would soon interest itself in furnishing milk and better flour for the younger children, who, they assured me, were sadly in need of both.
They were excellently dressed, robust, evidently contented, and hinted that I would soon find them back at their old posts.
Nowhere did I encounter any appreciation of the outer world’s attitude toward the Germans. They feel certain that once the details of settlement have been arranged we shall severally welcome them back to the fold and afford them all past opportunities to prosper in our midst.
But there is no servility, no cringing; a strange dignity rather, and well-measured courtesy, as befits a people satisfied as to their status and worth.
In Karlsruhe I spent several hours at Police Headquarters inquiring for an American friend who had married a professor in the Technical High School there, and, while a search was being made through the records, had ample opportunity for conversation with the officials. They expressed no regret over Germany’s position, and in nowise endeavoured to win my sympathy. In the course of the afternoon several prisoners were brought in and ordered to find work, it being explained to me that idlers are no longer permitted. The headquarters telephone operator asserted that the moral throughout in that section is all that could be desired, and that infractions of law and order are well within the norm.
Karlsruhe is tidy, its pleasure gardens well patronized, children as lusty as those on the streets of London. The latest Paris modes were in evidence, building operations are in full blast, and factories running on schedule.
I found one batch of cattle waiting for shipment at the railroad yards, but saw only one milk cow, one goat, and no sheep.
While Germany’s heavy mortality is proclaimed by crowded graveyards, there are an astonishing number of sound, hearty young fellows about—about as well dressed and good-humored as one usually saw before 1914.
One reads of weak Governments and potential revolutions, but there are no obtruding signs of mismanagement or national dissatisfaction. To me, Germany appeared alive, vital, and prosperous—■ neither repentant nor .regretful. She is wasting no time in douleurs or day dreams. Her head is clear and soundly set upon her shoulders. Neither her aspect nor her activities support the veiled threats and unctuous pleas presented at Spa.
I speak only for such parts as I have seen; I knew the old Germany, and there is little about the new that is manifestly different.
My personal opinion is that she can pay her obligations without undue difficulty. My hope is that she will be made to pay in full. Defeat has not broken her spirit, and I do not think it has altered her character.
Revenge is not written in the amount demanded for reparation, and reparation will be scantily served even by the full amount. If any nation in Europe must put up with hardships and inefficiencies, Germany deserves to be that Bower But Germany is rapidly making herself
efficient with the funds that France and England and Belgium must have to be competent, comfortable, habitable commonwealths again.
If the Allies permit much further dallying they will find the money they seek planted in the fields, sealed in walls, nailed to railroad sleepers, stretched on poles, cannily invested beyond reclamation in the wherewithals to reconquer world trade— and possibly more.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.