Mr. Runyon to Mr. Olney .
Berlin , October 10, 1895 . (Received Oct. 25.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 377, of the 2d instant, I would add that in the visit of the secretary of this embassy to Munich, therein mentioned, he called upon Dr. Loewenfeld, one of the attorneys of Mr. Louis Stern, to speak with him in reference to the advisability of further action with the Bavarian Government. Dr. Loewenfeld deprecated any further steps in that direction as being inadvisable. I may say that in one of my interviews with the Imperial foreign office on the subject it was suggested by Baron von Rotenhan, then acting secretary of state for foreign affairs, that a personal application by me to the prince regent of Bavaria might, in view of the hostility of the people to the granting of the application, embarrass the regent by giving ground for the imputation that any favorable action he might take had been merely the result of diplomatic influence, without regard to the merits of the application. The adverse feeling above referred to and the jealousy of diplomatic interference in the case are shown in an article from the Cologne Gazette, a very influential journal, a copy of which, with translation, is hereto annexed.
I yesterday again went to the foreign office to speak to Baron Marschall von Bieberstein himself on the subject of the application for pardon. In the conversation which I then had with him, he, after recognizing the right of the United States to look after the interests of their citizen, expressed his unwillingness to discuss the proceedings of the trial or the propriety of the granting by the pardoning power of the application for pardon or commutation. The exercise of this power, he remarked, rests entirely with the prince regent of Bavaria. Baron von Marschall said that, in his own opinion, the sentence was not too harsh or disproportionate to the offense, which in Germany is regarded as one of much gravity. He said a German subject would have been punished in like manner for the same offense—using abusive language to an official on duty and threatening to box his ears—and he asked on what ground pardon or commutation could be asked for Mr. Stern. “Certainly,” said he, “not on the ground that he is a wealthy American, for foreigners are quite as much bound to observe the laws of Germany when they come here as are German subjects, and the fact of the great [Page 484] wealth of the offender is no reason for applying to him a different kind of punishment than would under the same circumstances for the same offense be inflicted upon a poor man.”
I replied that it would seem clear that the law has been sufficiently vindicated in the proceedings already taken in Mr. Stern’s arrest, with the requirement of the large bail demanded, his trial and conviction and the sentence, and that it appeared to me that the case is one in which clemency, at least so far as to relieve from the ignominy of imprisonment, might well be exhibited with no prejudice to the law or its interests, particularly in view of Mr. Stern’s apology and his apologetic conduct—as to the latter, referring to his offer to give a large sum of money to the poor of Kissingen, which is repeated in his petition, and that it seemed to me that the administration of the German law (especially seeing that the application to the pardoning power in no wise impugns the judicial action in the case) could not be prejudiced by favorable action upon the petition, and that, moreover, in view of the fact that the incident was causing a painful feeling in the United States, it is very desirable that Mr. Stern be spared the ignominy of imprisonment.
On the subject of the large amount of bail which was required—80,000 marks—to which I referred above, Baron von Marschall said the judicial action in the matter was quite in accordance with German law, far larger bail being required from a man of wealth than from one of but little means. He further said that the sentiment in the United States to which I had alluded must arise from the difference in the views in the two countries taken in regard to the conduct of individuals toward officials when acting in discharge of their duty; that in Germany due respect to those who are in official position is strictly insisted upon from all persons under such circumstances, and that if the matter be properly viewed the public in America must concede the propriety of the action of the German authorities, which, he said, is merely an insistence that the law of the country be respected and infractions thereof impartially punished. He also spoke of the great feeling in Germany on the subject of this case—a feeling very adverse to the granting of the pardon—and asked whether I had read the speeches in the Bavarian Parliament in reference to the matter, contrasting the action of the Government therein with its action in the Fuchsmühle case.
I replied that I had seen them and had read the expressions to which he alluded, A translation of certain extracts from those speeches I have already sent you.