Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1915, Supplement, The World War
File No. 701.6311/171
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 21.]
Sir: With reference to my confidential despatch No. 2091 of September 2,1 relative to the documents which were taken by the British authorities from Mr. James F. J. Archibald, the American citizen who was clandestinely acting as despatch bearer of the Austro-Hungarian and German Embassies at Washington, I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed, photographic copies and translation of the Hungarian memorandum which formed the enclosure to Doctor Dumba’s letter to Baron Burian, mentioned in my No. 2091.
I have further the honor to transmit, herewith enclosed, photographic copies (somewhat reduced in size) of a despatch dated New York, August 20, 1915, from the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at Washington to the Minister for Foreign Affairs at Vienna, relative to the exposure by the New York World newspaper of the alleged secret activities of the German Embassy at Washington, and of Geheimrat Albert. A translation of this despatch is also enclosed.
There is also enclosed herewith a photographic copy and translation of an official report from the German military attaché at Washington, dated New York, August 20, to the War Office at Berlin on the same subject.
I also enclose photographic copy with translation of another report from the German military attaché, also dated New York, August 20, to the Ministry of War at Berlin, on the subject of the purchase in the United States of toluol.
The last enclosure to this despatch consists of a photographic copy and translation of a letter written by Captain Von Papen to his wife, which bears on these subjects.
I have [etc.]
The Hungarian memorandum enclosed in the letter of August 20, 1915,2 from the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador ( Dumba ) to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Burian )
I must divide the matter into two parts—the Bethlehem and the Middle West business; but the point of departure is common to both, viz., press agitation, which is of the greatest importance as regards our Hungarian-American workmen, and by means of the press we can reach both Bethlehem and the West. In my opinion we must start a very strong agitation on this question in the Freedom (Szabadság), a leading organ, with respect to the Bethlehem works and, the conditions there. This can be done in two ways, and both must be utilized. In the first place, a regular daily section must be devoted to the conditions obtaining there, and a campaign must be regularly conducted against those indescribably degrading conditions. The Freedom has already done something similar in the recent past, when the strike movement began at Bridgeport. It must naturally take the form of strong, deliberate, decided, and courageous action. Secondly, the writer of these lines would begin a labor novel in that newspaper much on the lines of Upton Sinclair’s celebrated story, and this might be published in other local Hungarian, Slovak, and German newspapers also. Here we arrive at the point that, naturally, we shall also [Page 937] require other newspapers. The American Magyar Nepszava (Word of the People) will undoubtedly be compelled willingly or unwillingly to follow the movement initiated by the Freedom (Szabadság), for it will be pleasing to the entire Hungarian element in America, and an absolutely patriotic act to which that open journal (the Nepszava) could not adopt a hostile attitude.
Of course it is another question to what extent and with what energy and devotion that newspaper would adhere to this course of action without regard to other influences, just as it is questionable to what extent the other local patriotic papers would go. There is great reason why, in spite of their patriotism; the American-Hungarian papers have hitherto shrunk from initiating such action. The position is as follows: To start with, the Szabadság which to-day is one of the greatest, in every respect, of the papers printed in a foreign language in America, has already made gigantic sacrifices from a patriotic point of view. Others have only a faint idea of the magnitude of the homeward migration that will take place directly after the termination of the war, whereas the Hungarian papers have direct and better opportunities of observing the shadow which that gigantic migration homewards always casts before it. It is a fact that the paper alone used by the Szabadság, for example, in printing only those copies which go to subscribers who are in arrears with their subscriptions, costs at least $1,000 a month, while the actual total cost of the paper does not amount to more than $3,500. In view of this fact that one-third of the total subscribers get the paper for nothing, or at all events on credit, you can see what a patriotic action this newspaper is performing. Naturally, under such circumstances you can hardly expect that such a paper should go much further in the way of violent agitation which would have the result of making their subscribers now in regular work unable to meet their subscriptions. as, for example, the Bethlehem workers. I have long been wishing to start a direct movement in that paper, but the above point of view made us hold our hand.
The position of affairs is much the same with the American-Hungarian Nepszava, as you might conclude from the special appeal addressed by the editor at the beginning of the war to his readers. The local Hungarian papers also suffer from the fact that a part of their subscribers are in arrears with their subscriptions, as they are out of work, while others are slow in paying because they want to go back to Hungary. To what extent this intention of migrating homewards influences the whole matter is shown by the fact that at present very many only pay their subscriptions for a quarter of a year in advance, contrary to their previous custom, for they think that the war will be over before the end of the quarter. In a word, the shadow of the great homeward migration and, in many places, the bad condition of affairs, have brought the American-Hungarian papers to such a position that they must be careful in all matters which might cause them further loss by affecting the ability of their subscribers to pay their subscriptions in advance. In these circumstances, it is not only fair, but necessary, that if we wish to reckon on the enthusiastic and self-sacrificing support of these papers in the case of any strike movement, and we must be in a position to reckon therewith, it will be necessary to give these papers a certain degree of support, so that they may not suffer for their action. In the interest of successful action at Bethlehem and in the Middle West, besides thee Szabadság, the Nepszava, the new daily paper of Pittsburgh, must, be set in motion, and those of Bridgeport-Youngstown-Detroit district, etc., also two Slovak papers. In these circumstances, the first necessity is money. To Bethlehem must be sent as many reliable Hungarian and German workmen as I can lay my hands on who will join the factories and begin their work in secret among their fellow-workmen. For this purpose I have my men turners in steel-work. We must send an organizer, who in the, interests of the union will begin the business in his own way. We must also send so-called “soap-box” orators who will know, and so start a useful agitation. We shall want money for popular meetings, and possibly for organizing picnics. In general, the same applies to the Middle West. I am thinking of Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the first instance, as to which I could give details only if I were to return and spend at least a few days there.
I have already shown that much can be done with the newspapers. We must stir up men’s feelings.
In Bethlehem a sensation was caused by the articles which appeared at the time of the strike at Bridgeport, and they brought Bethlehem into the affair. It is evident that to start movement froth which serious results can [Page 938] be expected requires a sufficiency of money at the very start. The extent of subsequent expenditure for the most part depends on the work effected. For example, the newspapers must not receive the whole of the sum intended for them all at once, but only half of it.
To the union agitators only a certain amount should be given at first, and a larger sum in the case of success, or of a serious strike on the formation of a union.
It is my opinion that for the special object of starting the Bethlehem business and for the Bethlehem and Western newspaper campaign $15,000 to $20,000 must be at our disposal, but it is not possible to reckon how much will ultimately be required; when a beginning has been made it will be possible to see how things develop, and where and how much it is worth while to spend. The above-mentioned preliminary sum would suffice partially to satisfy the demands of the necessary newspapers, and to a considerable extent those of the Bethlehem campaign. It is in any case worth while risking this amount, for it will undoubtedly show some result, and, if circumstances are lucky and the leadership good, we can arrive at positive results in the West comparatively cheaply, whereas Bethlehem is one of the most difficult jobs. I will telephone at 8 a. m., and I request you then to let me know where and when I can learn your opinion of my proposal, which will require a considerable amount of verbal exposition. Finally, I make bold to point out the fact that hitherto I have said nothing on the subject to anyone connected with the newspapers, and am in the fortunate position that in the case of giving effect to this plan I can make use of other names in case of necessity, for I have already in other matters made payments through other individuals. In any event in the case of newspapers the greatest circumspection is necessary, and no one but the proprietors must know that money is coming to the undertaking from any source.
The Austro-Hungarian Ambassador ( Dumba ) to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs ( Burian )
Subject: Exposure of the secret activity of the German Embassy and of Geheimrat Albert
A map and a number of documents—typed but unfinished copies or statements of petitioners—were stolen from the financial adviser of the German Embassy here, obviously by the English secret service. These documents are now published in the current issue of the World, which has gone over to the English “Yingolager” (Jingo camp) as a great sensation, with cheap advertisement. The paper makes the most violent accusations against the German Embassy, mainly against Count von Bernstorff, Military Attach Captain von Papen, and Geheimrat Albert, who are said to have conspired secretly against the safety of the United States, in that they have bought arms and munition factories, have concluded bogus contracts for delivery with France or Russia, have purchased large quantities of explosive materials, have incited strikes in the munition factories, have sought to corrupt the press, and have spread far-reaching agitation for the effecting of an embargo in the different American circles. The other important New York papers second the World, although with less violence, for, in their leading articles, by misrepresentation of the facts, they accuse Germany of all possible and impossible machinations—for instance, they, like the World, bring forward the assertion that the German Government wished to stop the supply of ammunition to the Allies, while secretly sending large quantities over itself.
Count von Bernstorff took the view that these calumnies were beneath reply, and by a happy inspiration, refused any explanation. He is in no way compromised. On the contrary, it appears from the published correspondence of various press agents that he vetoed the purchase of a press agency.
On the other hand, Geheimrat Albert published in the newspapers a very cleverly worded explanation, the tenor of which I venture to submit to your excellency in an enclosure. It is especially to the credit of the German Embassy that on July 15 last it informed the State Department officially that it found itself compelled to buy as many materials of war in this country as it possibly could, and to control their production, with the intention of preventing their being supplied through the enemy. These materials, it stated, were [Page 939] at any time at the disposal of the American Government at favorable prices, either as a whole or in parts, and of course this could only further the readiness of the United States for taking the field in war.
Here the absurd accusations of the conspiracy collapse. Also, with regard to the accusations as to the incitement of strikes, there is no proof of the empty statements made. Nevertheless everything German here is slandered and run down with emphasis and consistency. An impartial individual can hardly escape the feeling of appreciation with which the far-reaching activity of Geheimrat Albert must inspire him. But there are very few impartial persons in New York.
The torpedoing of the Arabic, in the event of its having been done without warning, or its having caused American passengers to lose their lives, will do more than any newspaper accusations to prejudice Germany in the public opinion of the United States.
The German Military Attaché ( Von Papen ) to the German Ministry of War
the “sensational revelations” in the new york “world”
On July 31 important papers were abstracted from Herr Geheimrat Doctor Albert in the elevated railway, apparently by an individual in the employ of the English secret service. These papers were sold to the World and formed the basis of the revelations (Enclosure I) which gave to the New York press, friendly to the Allies, a welcome opportunity to make a fresh outburst against the Imperial Government and the Imperial representatives in this country.1
That Washington knew of the forthcoming publication and was consulted as to the appropriateness of such publication is practically certain. A proof of this also is the suppression of all political papers. As to what were the motives of the Washington Government in connection with the publication, the article which appeared in the World under yesterday’s date (Enclosure II)1 enables one to draw inferences, for in this the idea is clearly expressed that the Government here proposes through these publications to bring pressure to bear on the decisions of the Imperial Government in the Lusitania question. It is this standpoint which has also guided the Imperial Ambassador in the drafting of his memorandum to the State Department (Enclosures III & IV).1 Apart from political results the consequences of the publications for us show themselves in connection with business.
Bridgeport Projectile Company.
The report of June 30 of the treasurer of this company which I forwarded to the Royal Ministry of War on July 13, J. No. 1888, was among the stolen papers.
The declaration, published in the papers, of the president of the Aetna Explosive Company that he intended to throw up powder contracts with the Bridgeport Projectile Company is of course only newspaper gossip and was already much weakened yesterday through a fresh explanation by the firm (Enclosure V).1
In connection also with the delivery of presses, I do not believe that the manufacturers will place difficulties in our way because the careful drawing up of the contracts excludes all attack on the Projectile Company under the well-known Sherman law, and the claim that the manufacturers had supposed the deliveries to be intended for the Allies—in other words that the contracts had been obtained by us under false representations—offers a legal basis too weak to enable the persons who undertake delivery to risk the expense and results of a lawsuit.
The only actual damage consists in that the Russian and English committee have at once broken off their negotiations with the Bridgeport Projectile Company [Page 940] and that thus our plans to cut off by the acceptance and non-delivery of a shrapnel contract, other firms here from the possibility of beginning the furnishing of war material have come to nothing.
The purchase of phenol by Doctor Schweitzer of the Edison Company which has at the same time been disclosed is disposed of by the explanation published to the effect that this phenol is only to be worked up into medicine.
Most of all have our efforts for the purchase of liquid chlorine been interfered with, since the tying up through middlemen of the Castner Chemical Company, which is friendly to England, appears now to be out of the question.
I shall use the means placed at my disposal (information of Herr Grethen) for the purpose of arriving at an agreement with the Electro Bleaching Company. The published negotiations for the acquisition of the Wrights’ patent is without importance, since on our behalf a judicial decision against the Curtiss Company, so far as one can see, could not have been obtained.
The main points of all attacks upon us consist in asserting the “unstraight-forwardness and mendacity” of the German policy, which on the one hand carries on by all means at its disposal a propaganda for the prohibition of the export of arms, and on the other hand secretly purchases war material itself. These criticisms cannot be better met than by the publication of the memorandum which the Imperial Ambassador at my request has already submitted to the Government here (Enclosure [VI ?]).
It is worth noting that upon his excellency’s requesting the State Department by telegraph for the publication of this memorandum the answer was returned “We cannot find it. Please send a copy.”
Through the fact of this memorandum having been made it is beyond doubt established: first, that the purchase on our part of war material is a logical part of our propaganda for the prohibition of the export of war material, and secondly, that our action tends in the widest sense to promote the intentions of the United States Government to strengthen at the present moment its own means of defense.
Viewed from this standpoint the publication can only be advantageous.
The German Military Attaché ( Von Papen ) to the German Ministry of War
Recently news has come in here from various sources that the Dutch and Norwegian Governments are buying war, material, such as powder, toluol etc.
I respectfully beg the Royal Ministry of War to be good enough to let me know whether there would be any objection to a sale of war material by us to the countries mentioned, in the event of the Governments or their representatives here guaranteeing that no further sale of the goods shall take place.
On the Norwegian Government I could probably unload a large portion of the Lehigh Coke Company’s toluol which is lying here useless in storage.
The German Military Attaché ( Von Papen ) to his wife
I am enclosing you a few newspaper clippings which will amuse you.1 They unluckily stole from the good Albert in the Elevated a whole thick portfolio (the English secret service of course!) and then published the principal part of the contents. You can picture to yourself the sensation of the Americans. In it unfortunately were also a few very important things from my report, such as the buying up of liquid chlorine and something about the Bridgeport Projectile Company, as well as the documents about the buying up of phenol (out of which explosives are made) and the acquisition of the Wright flying machine patents.
Well! one must after all have things go like this. The answer of Albert I am sending you herewith so that you may see how we defend ourselves.1 The document we drew up together yesterday.
It appears to me still very possible that we may soon see each other again. That would be too nice. The sinking of the Adriatic [sic] might knock the [Page 941] bottom out of the barrel. In the interest of our cause I hope the danger may pass.…
How splendid in the East! I always say to these idiotic Yankees that they should shut their mouths, and better still be full of admiration for all that heroism. My friends from the Army are in this respect quite different.…