Page 3427

3427 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

constant communication (with Germany) and

near enough to be reached at any moment.

All one could do now was to wait and see

what happened. One must hope that the

Austrians-who of course did not expect

the ultimatum to be accepted-would

act quickly, before the other Powers had

time to interfere. The Deutsche Bank

had already made its preparations, so that

it was ready for all eventualities."

Another German who told some of the

real facts regarding the beginning of the

war was August Thyssen, who was one of

the chief iron, coal, and steel magnates

of central Germany. At the beginning

of the war Thyssen owned mines, iron

works, and other enterprises in British

India and other colonial possessions, as

well as in France and Russia, and controlled the Vulcan Iron and Steamship

Building Company of Germany. Herr

Thyssen published a pamphlet, late in the

war, for the purpose, he said, of opening

"the eyes of Germans, especially of the

business community, to facts. When the

Hohenzollerns wanted to get the support

of the commercial class for their war plans,

they put their ideas before us as a business

proposition. A large number of business

and commercial men were asked to support

the Hohenzollem war policy on the ground

that it would pay them to do so. Let me

frankly confess that I am one of those who

were led to agree to support the Hohenzollem war plan when this appeal was made

to the leading business men of Germany

in 1912-13. I was led to do so, however,

against my better judgment."

Herr Thyssen asserts that in the period

just before the war the Hohenzollems

might have so directed the foreign affairs

of Germany as to have secured peace for

fifty years, but they realized that a prolonged peace would have resulted in the

breakdown of the military system and

with that breakdown the power of the

Hohenzollems would have come to an end.

For this reason the Emperor and those

about him decided to embark on a great

war of conquest, and it was necessary to

get the support of the commercial community. "They did this," continues Herr

Thyssen, "by holding out to them hopes

of great personal gain as a result of the

war. In the light of events that have

taken place since August, 1914, these

promises now appear supremely ridiculous,

but most of us at the time were led to believe that they would probably be realized."

Herr Thyssen was personally promised a

free grant of 30,000 acres of land in Australia and a loan of (pound)150,000 to enable

him to develop his business in that continent. Other firms were promised land

in India, which was to be conquered by

Germany. A syndicate with a working

capital of (pound)20,000,000, one-half of which

was to be furnished by the Government,

was formed for the exploitation of Canada.

Huge indemnities were, of course, to be

levied on the conquered nations, and as

a result the German manufacturers were

to be relieved from taxation for years after

the war. On three occasions, the Kaiser

himself addressed large private gatherings

of business men at Berlin, Munich, and

Cassel, and in flowery words made profuse

promises to his hearers. He was particularly enthusiastic over conquering India.

"India," he said, "is occupied by the

British. It is in a way governed by the

British, but it is by no means completely

governed by them. We shall not merely

occupy India. We shall conquer it, and

the vast revenues that the British allow

to be taken by Indian Princes will, after

our conquest, flow in a golden stream into

the Fatherland. In all the richest lands

of the earth the German flag will fly over

every other flag."

The victory was to have been achieved

not later than December, 1914, and, at

that time, Thyssen and others were to

obtain their rewards. In reality, of course,

the war did not end at that time, and, a

year later, Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg, one of the chief promoters of

the original scheme, began to have interviews of another sort with business men,

the object of which was to obtain more

money to finance the war. Pressure was

put upon these men to force them to subscribe to the utmost of their ability, and

Thyssen himself was personally asked to