Obrázky na stránke
[blocks in formation]





LL reports agree that the twelfth week of the war-October 21 to 28-saw the most desperate fighting since the outbreak of hostilities.


In western Belgium the conflict has been so near the coast that the Allied fleet has been able to take part in the destruction. one place, Dixmude, the Germans are said to have made eight assaults in the same night at great cost, but without avail. The despatches from the Meuse are meager, but indicate a new desperation in the French attempt to drive the Germans from St. Mihiel. The French have resumed the offensive in the neighborhood of Nancy, and claim substantial gains. They seem also to be pushing their campaign in Alsace once more. On the eastern battle line-whether one chooses to believe the despatches from Berlin and Vienna or from Petrograd-it is evident that the combat increases in fury.


No definite result has yet been reached in the campaign between Arras, in France, and the English Channel. The line has hardly fluctuated in the last ten days. Both sides have been rushing reinforcements to this district, but neither has as yet established any overwhelming supremacy. The Germans have announced a gain in having crossed the River Yser in the face of the Belgian army. They forced the Belgians back here, as they did in the earlier days of the war, with overwhelming numbers. But as we go to press there is no evidence that they were able to cross the river in force, and some despatches indicate that they were driven back.

The losses on both sides are said to be appalling. Neither army is willing to settle. down to a defensive; both are trying desperately to advance. It is possible that they

could " dig themselves in" and produce a deadlock here as they have done on the Aisne, but neither side is content to accept "a draw," although a drawn game, here as elsewhere, amounts to a victory for the Allies.

But that both sides are making a supreme effort, not to hold this line, but to push forward, is indicated by all the despatches. There is little doubt that the Germans are concentrating here all their available strength. Telegrams come from several places in Belgium telling of large reinforcements and heavy artillery being rushed to the front. If the Allies check them, it would practically end the danger of further German advance into France; the French Government would probably move back to Paris; there would be little chance of a serious German offensive for several months; and by New Year's the Allies would be appreciably stronger than to-day. By that time the Germans will probably have organized a new field army. It is, however, doubtful if Germany will ever be able to maintain a larger army in this western campaign than she now has. However, the Allies do not seem content to check the Germans; they also are bent on advancing.

The more desperate the condition of the Germans, the more they will be tempted to risk great losses to accomplish some impressive victory. Their whole theory is based on aggressive warfare. The moment they stop attacking, all their primary advantage of superior organization is lost. And the longer the campaign lasts without a signal triumph, the more imperative it is for them to maintain the aggressive.

For the Allies the situation is different. While there is always a certain tactical advantage in the offensive, as one cannot, of course, win a battle without attacking, and while the French have strong reasons for trying to


drive out the invader, still time fights for the Allies, and sound strategy should make them prefer a safe defensive to any grave risk.

So a desperate offensive proves very little about the condition of the Germans; it is to be expected of them. But the vehement aggressive of the Allies points to great confidence and superabundant strength.

Compared to previous engagements, compared even to other points along the battle line from Switzerland to the Channel, this campaign in Flanders does not seem to offer sufficient strategic importance to justify a supreme effort. Either side can be forced back a good many miles-the German right to Ghent or the Allied left to Calais-without disaster.

The intensity of the present struggle in Flanders is probably due to other than military reasons. The moral effect of victory here will be great for either side. Unless Germany can show some definite gain soon, she will find it increasingly hard to raise money. Her military machine is exceedingly expensive. Itis being financed partly, no doubt, by patriots, but more by bankers, proverbially cosmopolitan, who expected the army to win. They had invested in a Victory machine. And unless the army begins to produce results, to declare dividends, new stock issues will fall flat.

Some German merchants have tried to pay their debts to Swiss firms in the paper of the new German war loan. If the Germans were besieging Paris, if their army had overwhelmed the Allies, as for a while seemed possible, the Swiss merchants would have accepted these Imperial treasury notes.


it is, they have refused them and have appealed to their Government, which is making diplomatic protests at Berlin.

How money is raised for these vast armies is a mystery to a layman, but it seems evident that, if nothing succeeds like success, nothing is harder to finance than failure. A victory for the Allies in Flanders would make it easier for them to float loans. A German defeat might force Imperial bonds down to a point at which the Government would be seriously embarrassed.

This and similar considerations may explain why both sides are fighting in Flanders with unprecedented desperation.


It became evident during this twelfth week of the war that the Germans had suffered a severe reverse in Poland. The newspapers

of October 14 announced that Warsaw was threatened. Two weeks later, while the exact position of the Germans is uncertain, they are at least fifty miles west of Warsaw, and some reports say they are making desperate efforts to escape from their pursuers and reform on the line of the Warta. The Russian Central Army was slow in getting into action, but when at last it was ready it struck hard and effectively.

The despatches are still too scant to reconstruct the details of the engagement, but, with the information at hand, it seems that-leaving out of account East Prussia, where both sides claim victories but no substantial advance the Russians have been faced by three Austro-German armies. The first army on the north, probably all German, seems to have advanced towards the Vistula on a broad front stretching from twenty-odd miles north of Warsaw to the Pilitza River, at the south of that city. The second army-the Center-composed of Germans and Austrians, extended from the Pilitza to the Galician frontier. And south of this was a third army, mostly Austrian, but commanded by Germans, with a front from the frontier to the Carpathian Mountains.

The first German army was badly defeated a short distance to the west of Warsaw by a heavy frontal attack, combined with a wide enveloping movement of Cossacks, who got past their left flank to the north. Their retreat was rapid to save their lines of communication. They were driven back fifty, perhaps a hundred, miles. But, in spite of the bad condition of the roads, they may be able to save the bulk of their forces and to reform in strong defensive lines, as the Germans stopped their retreat on the Aisne in France.

The fate of the Army of the Center, to the south of the Pilitza, is still uncertain. The fighting there is at its height. The retreat of the Northern Army leaves their left flank exposed; and even if they are not actually defeated, they may have to retire as far as the Northern Army.

The farther south one goes, the vaguer is the news. Daily despatches from Vienna claim that the reformed Austrian army is everywhere victorious. They apparently have regained much of the ground they lost at first. The two armies seem to be facing each other across the river San. The fortress of Przemysl is still being bombarded by the Russians, and which army occupies Jaroslav is uncertain. It is probable that the Russians

[blocks in formation]

This map shows the commercial basin of the Adriatic and the significance of the Italian occupation of Avlona. The Straits of Otranto are less than fifty miles wide; the navigable channel is much less. All the seagoing commerce of Austria-Hungary will have to pass under the Italian guns. Cattaro, which is now being bombarded by the Allied fleet from the sea and by the Montenegrins from land, is the southernmost Austrian port. It is the rail-head of a long line through the Slavic provinces. Trieste is the main Austrian port.


consider the Galician campaign of secondary importance, and that they have withdrawn troops from there to concentrate against the Germans in Poland.

The Russian victory before Warsaw is their greatest achievement so far. They have met the German army-conceded by every one to be the finest fighting machine in the world-and have signally defeated it. The Petrograd despatches tell of many thousand German soldiers buried by the victors on the battlefield. On this battlefield the Russian army has also buried the memory of the Yalu River and Mukden.

Of course the exuberant Petrograd despatches are probably exaggerated. But the very silence of the Berlin War Office is eloquent tribute to the Russian success.


The "Journal de Genève," the principal newspaper of Switzerland, publishes in its number of October 7 an interesting statistical analysis of the "official" announcements issued by the German War Office. While our communications with Berlin have been dependent on wireless, the Swiss have had normal telegraphic and mail news from Germany.

From the 4th of August to the 6th of October the authorities at Berlin issued eighty-nine statements-forty-three during August, thirty-nine during September, and seven in the first week of October. Of these, sixty-three referred to the western campaign and twenty-six to the Russian border. Only one, the 18th of August, admitted a slight reverse. Two divisions had been driven back at Schirmeck in Alsace and had lost their artillery.

During the eight days of the Battle of the Marne, September 6 to 13, the German War Office issued four statements :

1. Sept. 7. The Kaiser was at the front before

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

This was all about the Battle of the Marne until September 14. The communication of that date said: "The operations, of which the details cannot yet be published, have led to a new battle which is favorable to us. The news spread by the enemy is false."

The same reticence was preserved in regard to the eastern campaign, between the 25th of September and the 3d of October, when the Russians under General Rennenkampf were driving the Germans back from the Niemen across the East Prussian frontier. The official announcements either reported German victories or that the situation was unchanged. Apparently the words fail," "defeat," and so forth, have been erased from the dictionary of the German War Office.


Although the Kaiser has said that he no longer recognizes any political differences in his realm and sees only Gern.ans, although the Chancellor and the Ambassador to Washton and Dr. Dernburg insist in all their speeches on this surprising unity among the German people, we have had reports now and then of the suppression of various newspapers whose views did not correspond with this official unanimity. The "Vorwaerts," the organ of the Social Democrats, the largest single party in the Reichstag, has been suspended several times; according to the latest reports it has been permanently suppressed. I have been unable to secure copies of the incriminated issues of the " Vorwaerts," but "Le Temps," of Paris, publishes translated excerpts from it. Le Temps," like the London "Times," is a paper of dignity and does not often knowingly publish a hoax.

it in toto.

[ocr errors]

According to this authority the "Vorwaerts" was suspended on the 27th of September for an article entitled "Germany and Foreign Lands." "Le Temps" translates The reason for German unpopularity beyond the frontiers, according to this article, is that "this country of so great an economic development is at the same time the country which has given as a gift to its working class the anti-Socialist laws, and, after their repeal, a police régime full of chicanery. equality existed only on paper."

The passages which seem to have been especially offensive to the authorities were the following:

"It has appeared to foreigners, as it has



[blocks in formation]

"The foreign comrades may be assured that the German working class disapproves of all predatory policies to-day, just as it always has, and that it is determined to fight

-as far as circumstances permit—against all covetous assaults on other peoples.

"The foreign comrades may be assured that, if the German workers defend their Fatherland, they do not forget on that account that their interests are the same as those of the proletariat of other countries, that like them, against their will, in spite even of their repeated and formal demonstrations in behalf of peace, they have been drawn into the war."

On the 1st of October, three days later, the "Vorwaerts reappeared, with the following official letter on its first page:

[ocr errors]

The lawyer Hugo Haase, member of the Reichstag, accompanied by the director of the Vorwaerts," Richard Fischer, member of the Reichstag, came to ask me to reconsider the edict of the 27th of September [ordering the suspension of the "Vorwaerts"]. The condition which I imposed was that, given the unanimity of the German people since the outbreak of the war, the "Vorwaerts" should in the future abstain from bringing up the theme of the class struggle and hatred. By a letter of this date Herr Haase declares that the managers of the "Vorwaerts" have resolved to edit the "Vorwaerts" during the duration of the state of war [martial law] in conformity with the condition imposed by me and to take the necessary measures to observe this condition.

In these circumstances I declare myself ready to reconsider the Order of Suspension pronounced against the "Vorwaerts" on the 27th of September. I further demand that this letter be printed at the head of the next issue of this paper.

GENERAL VON KESSEL, Commander-in-Chief, Berlin.

These texts are possibly somewhat distorted in their double translation, but they throw light on the reasons for which the military authorities of Germany have had to limit, and at times suppress, the expression

of opinion among a people who are cially" unanimous.


511 "offi

On the 27th of October news reached us that the Boer insurrection on the Orange River frontier had been defeated, and that its leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Maritz, had fled across the border into German territory. On the 28th a graver revolt is announced. The rebels have seized Heilbron, a small town near the center of the colony. No information is given as to the size of the disaffected force, but its leaders are hosts in themselves. General Beyers was, until the outbreak of this war, commander-in-chief of the colonial forces. He threw up his commission rather than fight the Germans. The name of General Christian de Wet carries even greater weight. No other one of the Boer commanders caused the English troops more trouble than de Wet. He is very much of a national hero for the Dutch element of the South African Union, and while he may not be able to draw many of his old comrades in arms into open rebellion, it may be very difficult to persuade even loyal Boers to march against him.


On a preceding page is a map of the Adriatic. The newspapers of the 27th gave small space to the despatch from Rome that announced the landing of Italian marines at Avlona. But the redemption of Trieste and the Trentino would hardly mean more to Italians than the occupation of this marvelous harbor. If nature had called in trained engineers to help her, she could not have designed a better naval base than Avlona. All the war-ships

of the world could ride at anchor there andonce it has been fortified-all the navies in the world could not force their way in.

The Straits of Otranto are to the Adriatic what the Straits of Gibraltar are to the Mediterranean and the Straits of Dover to the North Sea. With Italy in control of Avlona—she already has a fortified base on her side-Austria ceases to be a naval power. The one commercial port of the Teutons on the warm seas is at Trieste, their one naval base at Pola, both at the extreme north of the Adriatic at the bottom of a cul-de-sac of which Italy now controls the mouth.

Once upon a time the Adriatic was a Venetian lake, and ever since the Turks conquered the Dalmatian coast the Italians have dreamed of regaining their control of

« PredošláPokračovať »