The Minister in the Netherlands ( Garrett ) to the Acting Secretary of State
[Received December 30—9:22 a.m.]
5589. The disorders of the past week in Berlin have so glaringly revealed the incompetency of the present Government that important [Page 124] changes seem inevitable. The firing on the marines by regular troops under command of General Lequis is now claimed to have been unprovoked although the first reports claimed a revolt by the marines. It has not yet developed who was responsible for the orders which General Lequis claims to have received from the government as his authority for proceeding against the marines, but the assertion of the radical element that Ebert practically gave carte blanche to the military leaders and is in effect a mere puppet in their hands gains plausibility. The ostentatious support of Ebert by the troops returning from the front may be attributed to the influence of the military officers who feel confident that they can manage Ebert or they [it] may, like the support of Ebert by the democratic bourgeois parties, arise from the sincere desire for law and order and the willingness to accept any man who seems to promise that order will be maintained. Ebert’s personal popularity has however suffered a rude shock from the demonstration of his utter lack of the qualities of leadership. Scheidemann keeps in the background and the resignation of Ebert is now discussed as a means to relieve the situation. It is scarcely conceivable that the Majority Socialists should now yield preference to the radical element in the Provisional Government since their position in the whole country seems far stronger than that of the Independent Socialists. The peculiar conditions at Berlin appear however to necessitate great indulgence toward the Independents. Reactionary circles might naturally welcome a Liebknecht Government since that would mean a very considerable improvement of the chances of new military dictatorship. The Independent Socialist press now openly proclaims the overthrow of the present Government as the end of a stage of the revolution which has unmasked the false leaders of the working classes. It is not known what attitude the military authorities and the great army of Government employees would take in the event of the formation of a purely radical Socialist Government. On the other hand the formation of a purely Majority Socialist Government would expose the leaders to attacks which they would not relish because coming from a quarter with which they would prefer to remain on friendly terms. The elimination of Independent Socialists from the German Government would have the merit of establishing a homogeneous Government but would set up a sharp dividing line between it and a minority so strong as to be difficult to control at least in the surcharged atmosphere of Berlin. The feeling in the provinces seems to be one of great dissatisfaction and anxiety at the turn which affairs have taken in Berlin and the suggestion meets with increasing favor that the seat of Government should be removed from Berlin to some other city. Paris informed.