Title Page
 The causes of the European...

Group Title: Germanistic society of Chicago. Pamphlets dealing with the war in Europe
Title: The causes of the European conflict
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098491/00001
 Material Information
Title: The causes of the European conflict
Series Title: Germanistic society of Chicago. Pamphlets dealing with the war in Europe
Physical Description: 15 p. : ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Burgess, John William, 1844-1931
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Chicago?
Publication Date: 1914
Subject: World War, 1914-1918   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by John W. Burgess ... Pub. under the auspices of the Germanistic society of Chicago.
General Note: Reprinted from the Boston evening transcript, August 19, 1914.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098491
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00730055
lccn - 14017234
oclc - 730055


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Table of Contents
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    The causes of the European confict
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Full Text




Number Two




Number Two


The Germanistic Society plans to issue a series
of pamphlets to appear from time to time, dealing
with the war in Europe and its underlying causes.
The Society has solicited contributions from various
writers and historians. The pamphlets are to serve
the cause of truth, to correct misrepresentations, and
to exemplify the spirit of objectivity and fair play.
The present issue is a reprint of a letter which
originally appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript
of Wednesday, August the nineteenth, 1914.
Copies of these pamphlets are for sale at the
office of the Society at the following prices:
Single copies ............... $ 0.05
10 copies ................ 0.25
100 copies ................ 1.50
1000 copies (f.o.b. Chicago) ..... 10.00
Profits, if any, will be turned over to the Society
of the Red Cross.

OF CHICAGO ..........
LOUIS GUENZEL, Recording Secretary
332 So. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.

The Causes of the European Conflidt


Ph. D., Ju. D., L. L. D.

This is no time and no subject when, or upon which, one
should speak lightly, ignorantly, or with prejudice. It is one
of the world's most serious moments and the views and sympa-
thies now formed will determine the course of the world's de-
velopment for many years to come. Heavy indeed is the respon-
sibility which he incurs who would assume the role of teacher
at this juncture and it is his first duty to present the credentials
which warrant his temerity.
First of all, I am an Anglo-American of the earliest stock
and the most pronounced type. I have existed here, potentially
or actually, since the year 1638 and my European cousins of to-
day are squires and curates in Dorsetshire. Moreover, I admire
and revere England, not only because of what she has done for
liberty and self-government at home, but because she has borne
the white man's burden throughout the world and borne it true
and well.
On the other hand, what I possess of higher learning has
been won in Germany. I have studied in her famous universi-

ties and bear their degrees and in three of them have occupied
the teacher's chair. I have lived 10 years of my life among
her people and enjoy a circle of valued friendships which extends
from Konigsberg to Strassburg, from Hamburg to Munich and
from Osnabrfick to Berchtesgaden, and which reaches through
all classes of society from the occupant of the throne to the
dweller in the humble cottage. I have known four generations
of Hohenzollerns and, of the three generations now extant, have
been brought into rather close contact with the members of two
of them. While, as to the men of science and letters and poli-
tics who have made the Germany of the last half-century, I have
known them nearly all and have sat, as student, at the feet of
many of them. I must concede that of English descent though
I am, still I feel somewhat less at home in the motherland than
in the fatherland. Nevertheless, I am conscious of the impulse
to treat each with fairness in any account I may attempt to
give of their motives, purposes and actions.


It was in the year 1871, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian
war, that I first trod the soil of Germany and it was from and
with those who fought that war on the German side that I first
learned the politics and diplomacy of Europe. Almost from the
first day that I took my seat in the lecture room of the univer-
sity, I imbibed the doctrine that the great national, international
and world-purpose of the newly-created German empire was to
protect and defend the Teutonic civilization of continental Eu-
rope against the oriental Slavic quasi-civilization on the one side,
and the decaying Latin civilization on the other.
After a little I began to hear of the "pan-Slavic policy" of
Russia and the "revanche policy" of France. For a while the lat-
ter, the policy of France for retaking Alsace-Lorraine, occupied
the chief attention. But in 1876, with the Russian attack upon the

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Turks, the pan-Slavic policy of Russia, the policy of uniting the
Slavs in the German empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire and
in the Turkish empire with, and under the sway of, Russia was
moved into the foreground. All western Europe recognized the
peril to modern civilization and the powers of Europe assembled
at Berlin in 1878 to meet and master it.

The astute British premier, Lord Beaconsfield, supported by
the blunt and masterful Bismarck, directed the work of the con-
gress, and the pan-Slavic policy of Russia was given a severe
setback. Russia was allowed to take a little almost worthless
territory in Europe and territory of greater value in Asia;
Roumania, Servia and Montenegro were made independent states;
Bulgaria was given an autonomous administration with a Euro-
pean Christian prince, but under the nominal suzerainty of the
Turkish sultan; and the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herze-
govina, then almost free zones infested by bandits, were placed
under Austro-Hungarian administration, also subject to the nom-
inal suzerainty of the sultan.
With this the much suspected and dreaded activities of Rus-
sia were directed toward Asia, and Russia was now for more
than 20 years, from 1880 to 1902, occupied chiefly with the ex-
tension of her empire in the Orient. The German empire and
the Austro-Hungarian empire were delivered for the moment
from this great peril and enabled to pursue the line of peaceable
development and progress. The greater security to the eastern
borders of these great states, thus established, also helped to
reduce the force of the French spirit of revenge, as the prospect
of its satisfaction became more distant.
It was during this period, however, that Germany developed
from an agricultural to a manufacturing and commercial com-
munity, that is, became a competitor of Great Britain and France,
especially of Great Britain, in world industry. Her marvelous
growth in this direction excited soon the jealousy, the envy and

then the hostility of Great Britain. We in the United States,
however, reaped great advantage from the industrial and com-
mercial competition between the two great powers and we were
amused at the pettishness of Great Britain in representing it
as something unfair and illegitimate. We little suspected to
what direful results it would lead.


When Edward VII came to the throne, in the year 1901, he
saw Great Britain's interests in the Orient threatened by Rus-
sia's policy of extension in Asia and her commercial interests
throughout the world threatened by the active and intelligent
competition of the Germans. He, as all rulers at the moment of
accession, felt the ambition to do something to relieve the disad-
vantages, to say the least, under which in these respects his coun-
try was laboring. He began that course of diplomacy for which
he won the title of peace lover. The first element of it was
the approach to Japan and encouragement to Japan to resist the
advance of Russia. This movement culminated in the war be-
tween Russia and Japan of the years 1904-1905, in which Russia
was worsted and checked in the realization of her Asiatic policy
and thrown back upon Europe.

The next element in the diplomacy of the peace-loving king
was the fanning into flame again of the "revanche" spirit of
France by the arrangement of the quasi-alliance, called the en-
tente, between Great Britain, France and Russia, aimed distinctly
and avowedly against what was known as the triple alliance of
Germany, Austria and Italy, which had for 30 years kept the
peace of Europe. The third and last element of this pacific pro-
gram was the seduction of Italy from the triple alliance, by rous-
ing the irredentist hopes for winning from Austria the Trente
district in south Tyrol, which Italy covets.

It is hardly necessary for me to call attention to the extreme
peril involved in this so-called peaceful diplomacy to the Ger-
man and Austro-Hungarian empires. I myself became first
fully aware of it on June 27, 1905. On that day I had an ex-
tended interview with a distinguished British statesman in the
House of Commons in London. I was on my way to Wilhelms-
hohe to meet his majesty the German emperor, to arrange with
his majesty the cartel of exchange of educators between universi-
ties in the two countries. When I revealed this fact to my host
the conversation immediately took a turn which made me dis-
tinctly feel that a grave crisis was impending in the relations of
Great Britain to Germany.

I was so firmly impressed by it, that I felt compelled to call
my host's attention to the fact that the great number of Ameri-
can citizens of German extraction, the friendliness of the Ger-
man states to the cause of the Union during our civil war, and
the virtual control of American universities by men educated at
German universities, would all make for close and continuing
friendship between Germany and the United States. When I ar-
rived in Germany, I asked in high quarters for the explanation
of my London experience and was told that it was the moment
of greatest tension in the Morocco affair, when all feared that,
at British instigation, France would grasp the sword.

The larger part of the next two years I spent in Germany
as exchange professor in the three universities of Berlin, Bonn
and Leipsic, also as lecturer before the bar association at Vienna.
Naturally I formed a really vast circle of acquaintances among
the leading men of both empires, and the constant topic of con-
versation everywhere at all times and among all classes, was the
growing peril to Germany and Austro-Hungary of the revived
pan-Slavic policy and program of Russia, the reinflamed "re-
vanche" of France and Great Britain's intense commercial
jealousy. "


In the month of August, 1907, I was again at Wilhelmsh6he.
The imperial family were at the castle and somewhere about the
10th of the month it became known that King Edward would
make the emperor a visit or rather a call, for it was nothing more
cordial than that, on the 14th.
On the afternoon of the 13th, the day before the arrival of
the king, I received a summons to go to the castle and remain
for dinner with the emperor. When I presented myself, I
found the emperor surrounded by his highest officials, Prince
Buelow, the chancellor of the empire, Prince Hohenlohe, the im-
perial governor of Alsace-Lorraine, Prince Radolin, the German
ambassador to France, Excellency von Lucanus, the chief of the
emperor's civil cabinet, Gen. Count von I-uclsen-Haeseler, the
chief of the emperor's military cabinet, Field Marshal von Ples-
sen, Chief Court Marshal Count Zu Eulenburg, Lord High
Chamberlain Baron von dem Knesebeck and the Oberstallmeister.
Baron von Reischach.
The dinner was on the open terrace of the castle looking to-
ward the Hercules heights. At its close the empress and the
ladies withdrew into the castle and the emperor with the gentle-
men remained outside. His majesty rose from his seat in the
middle of the table and went to one end of it, followed by Prince
Buelow, Prince Hohenlohe, Prince Radolin and Excellency von
Lucanus. His majesty directed me to join the group, and so
soon as we were seated the chief of the civil cabinet turned to
me and said that he was afraid that our good friend, President
Roosevelt, unwittingly did Europe an injury in mediating be-
tween Russia and Japan, since this had turned the whole force
of the pan-Slavic program of Russia back upon Europe. All
present spoke of the great peril to middle Europe of this change.
Then both the German embassador to France and the gov-
ernor of Alsace-Lorraine spoke discouragingly of the great in-

crease of hostile feeling on the part of the French toward Ger-
many, and, finally, the part that Great Britain had played and
was playing in bringing about both of these movements was
dwelt upon with great seriousness mingled with evidences of
much uneasiness. King Edward came the next morning at about
10 o'clock and took his departure at about 3 in the afternoon.
Whether any remonstrances were made to his majesty in re-
gard to the great peril, which he, wittingly or unwittingly, was
helping to bring upon middle Europe, I have never known. It
seemed to me, however, that after that date he modified consid-
erably his diplomatic activity. But he had sown the seed in
well-prepared ground and the harvest was bound to come. The
three great forces making for universal war in Europe, namely,
the pan-Slavic program of Russia, the "revanche" of France and
Great Britain's commercial jealousy of Germany, had been by
his efforts brought together. It could not fail to produce the
catastrophe. It was only a question of time.


The following year, the year 1908, saw the revolt of the
young Turkish party in Constantinople which forced from the
sultan the constitution of July, 1908. According to this consti-
tution, all the peoples under the sovereignty of the sultan were
called upon to send representatives to the Turkish Parliament.
Both Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina were nominally subject
to that sovereignty, according to the provisions of the Berlin
congress of the powers of 1878. For 30 years Bulgaria had
been practically an independent state, and during 30 years Aus-
tro-Hungary had poured millions upon millions into Bosnia-
Herzegovina, building roads, railroads, hotels, hospitals and
schools, establishing the reign of law and order, and changing
the population from a swarm of loafers, beggars and bandits to
a body of hard-working, frugal and prosperous citizens.
10 -

What now were Bulgaria and Austro-Hungary to do? Were
they to sit quiet and allow the restoration of the actual sov-
ereignty and government of Turkey in and over Bulgaria and
Bosnia-Herzegovina? Could any rational human being in
the world have expected or desired that? They simply, on the
self-same day, namely, October 5, 1908, renounced the nominal
suzerainty of the sultan, Bulgaria becoming thereby an inde-
pendent state and Bosnia-Herzegovina remaining what it had
actually been since 1878, only with no further nominal relation
to the Turkish government. Some American newspapers have
called this the robbery of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austro-Hun-
gary, and have made out Austro-Hungary to be an aggressor. I
have not seen, however, the slightest indication that any of these
have the faintest conception of what actually took place. Europe
acquiesced in it without much ado. It was said that Russia
expressed dissatisfaction, but that Germany pacified her.
Four more years of peace rolled by, during which, in spite
of the facts that Austro-Hungary gave a local constitution with
representative institutions to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Alsace-
Lorraine was admitted to representation in the federal council,
as well as the Reichstag of the German empire, that is, was
made substantially a state of the empire, the pan-Slavic schemes
of Russia, the French spirit of revenge and the British com-
mercial jealousy grew and developed and became welded to-
gether, until the triple entente became virtually a triple alliance
directed against the two great states of middle Europe.


Russia had now recovered from the losses of the Japanese
war and the internal anarchy which followed it; France had per-
fected her military organization; Turkey was now driven by
the allied Balkan states out of the calculation as an anti-Russian
power; Bulgaria, Austro-Hungary's ally, was now completely
11 -

exhausted by the war with Turkey and that with her Balkan
allies, now become enemies; and Great Britain was in dire need
of an opportunity to divert the mind of her people away from
the internal questions which were threatening to disrupt her
The practiced ear could discern the buzz of the machinery
lifting the hammer to strike the hour of Armageddon. And it
struck. The foul murder of the heir of the Hapsburgers set the
civilized world in horror and the Austro-Hungarian empire in
mourning. In tracing the ramifications of the treacherous plot,
the lines were found to run to Belgrade. And when Austro-
Hungary demanded inquiry and action by a tribunal in which
representatives from Austro-Hungary should sit, Servia repelled
the demand as inconsistent with her dignity. Believing that
inquiry and action by Servia alone would be no inquiry and no
action, Austro-Hungary felt obliged to take the chastisement of
the criminals and their abettors into its own hands.

Then Russia intervened to stay the hand of Austro-Hun-
gary and asked the German emperor to mediate between Aus-
tro-Hungary and Servia. The emperor undertook the task. But
while in the midst of it he learned that Russia was mobilizing
troops upon his own border. He immediately demanded of
Russia that this should cease, but without avail or even reply.
He protested again with the like result. Finally, at midnight on
the 31st of July, his embassador at St. Petersburg laid the de-
mand before the Russian minister of foreign affairs that the
Russian mobilization must cease within 12 hours, otherwise
Germany would be obliged to mobilize.
At the same time the emperor directed his embassador in
Paris to inquire of the French government whether, in case of
war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
The time given expired without any explanation or reply from
Russia and without any guarantee or assurance from France.
12 -

The federal council of the German empire, consisting of repre-
sentatives from the 25 states and the imperial territory of Alsace-
Lorraine, then authorized the declaration of war against Russia,
which declaration applied, according to the sound principle of
international jurisprudence, to all her allies refusing to give
guarantee of their neutrality.


As France could move faster than Russia, the Germans
turned the force of their arms upon her. They undertook to
reach her by way of what they supposed to be the lines of least
resistance. These lay through the neutral states of Belgium
and Luxemburg. They claimed that France had already vio-
lated the neutrality of both by invasion and by the flying of their
war airships over them, and they marched their columns into
Belgium resisted. The Germans offered to guarantee the
independence and integrity of Belgium and indemnify her for
all loss or injury if she would not further resist the passage of
German troops over her soil. She still refused and turned to
Great Britain. Great Britain now intervened, and in the nego-
tiations with Germany demanded as the price of her neutrality
that Germany should not use her navy against either France or
Russia and should desist from her military movements through
Belgium, and when the Germans asked to be assured that Great
Britain herself would respect the neutrality of Belgium through-
out the entire war on the basis of the fulfilment of her require-
ments by Germany, the British government made no reply, but
declared war on Germany.
And so we have the alignment, Germany, Austria and prob-
ably Bulgaria on one side; Russia, Servia, Montenegro, Belgium,
France and England on the other, and rivers of blood have
already flowed. And we stand gaping at each other, and each
13 -

is asking the others who did it. Whose is the responsibility,
and what will be the outcome? Now if I have not already an-
swered the former question I shall not try to answer it. I shall
leave each one, in view of the account I have given, to settle the
question with his own judgment and conscience. I will only say
that, as for myself, I thank John Morley and John Burns, the
man of letters and the man of labor, that they have rent the
veil of diplomatic hypocrisy and have washed their hands clean
from the stain of this blunder crime.


Finally, as to the outcome, not much can yet be said. There
is nothing so idle as prophecy, and I do not like to indulge in
it. Whether the giant of middle Europe will be able to break
the bonds, which in the last ten years have been wound about
him and under whose smarting cut he is now writhing, or the
fetters will be riveted tighter, cannot easily be foretold. But,
assuming the one or the other, we may speculate with some-
thing more of probable accuracy regarding the political situation
which will result.
The triumph of Germany-Austro-Hungary-Bulgaria can
never be so complete as to make any changes in the present
map of Europe. All that that could effect would be the mo-
mentary abandonment of the Russian pan-Slavic program, the
relegation to dormancy of the French "revanche" and the stay
of Great Britain's hand from the destruction of German com-
merce. On the other hand, the triumph of Great Britain-Russia-
France cannot fail to give Russia the mastery of the continent
of Europe and restore Great Britain to her sovereignty over the
seas. These two great powers, who now already between them
possess almost the half of the whole world, would then, indeed,
control the destinies of the earth.
Well may we draw back in dismay before such a consum-
14 -

nation. The "rattle of the saber" would then be music to our
ears in comparison with the crack of the Cossack's knout and
the clanking of Siberian chains, while the burden of taxation
which we would be obliged to suffer in order to create and main-
tain the vast navy and army necessary for the defense of our
territory and commerce throughout the world against these
gigantic powers with their oriental ally, Japan, would sap our
wealth, endanger our prosperity and threaten the very existence
of republican institutions.
This is no time for shallow thought or flippant speech. In
a public sense it is the most serious moment of our lives. Let
ius not be swayed in our judgment by prejudice or minor con-
siderations. Men and women like ourselves are suffering and
dying for what they believe to be the right, and the world is in
tears. Let us wait and watch patiently and hope sincerely that
all this agony is a great labor-pain of history and that there shall
,e born through it a new era of prosperity, happiness and right-
eousness for all mankind.

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