« AnkstesnisTęsti »
became convinced that the air-service is forming its traditions and developing a new type of mind. It even has an odor, as peculiar to itself as the smell of the sea to a ship. There are those who say that it is only a compound of burnt castor oil and gasoline. One might, with no more truth, call the odor of a ship a mixture of tar and stale cooking. But let it pass. It will be all things to all men, I am conscious of it as I write, for it gets into one's clothing, one's hair, one's very blood; but if I should attempt to analyze it, to say what it is to me, some of my fellow aviators would be sure to say, 'Nobody home.'
We were as happy during those days at G.D.E. as any one has the right to be. Our whole duty was to fly, and never was the voice of Duty heard more gladly. It was hard to keep in mind the stern purpose behind this seeming indulgence. At times I remembered Drew's warning that we were military pilots and had no right to forget the seriousness of the work before us. But he himself often forgot it for days together. War on the earth may be reasonable and natural, but in the air, it seems the most senseless folly. How is an airman, who has just learned a new meaning for the joy of life, to reconcile himself to the insane
business of killing a fellow aviator who has just learned it, too? This was a question which we sometimes put to ourselves in purely Arcadian moments. But I would not have it believed that we did not answer it, or that we were two silly sentimentalists who either lived or cared to live in a fool's paradise. We would have been shamed into answering it as we ought, from a feeling of obligation if for no weightier reason. Our training represented a costly investment on the part of a government which was fighting for its existence. We knew that returns were expected from it, and were never so glad as on the day when we were asked to begin payments.
I was sitting at our two-legged table, writing up my carnet de vol. Suzanne, the maid-of-all-work at the Bonne Rencontre, was sweeping a passageway along the centre of the room, telling me, as she worked, about her family. She was ticking off on her fingers, the names of her brothers and sisters, when Drew put his head through the door
'Il y a Pierre,' said Suzanne.
I shall never know the names of the others.
(To be continued)
A MAYOR IN ALSACE
BY DANIEL BLUMENTHAL
THE question of Alsace-Lorraine can
not be thrust aside at the time of the general settlement of accounts to which the future peace congress will have to give its attention.
The war did not break out over Alsace-Lorraine, but nothing is more certain than that the brutal treatment of which France was the victim, at Germany's hands, in 1871, had had its influence on the policy of the whole world in the matter of armaments. All the nations said to themselves that what had happened to France might well be their own fate to-morrow, if they neglected to take the precautionary defensive measures, that were demanded against an empire which, as Germany did, aspired to the hegemony of the world, and of which war had been, from time immemorial, the national industry.
The only claim of right and that was nullified by being founded on violence on which Germany has relied, down to the present time, to justify her occupation of Alsace-Lorraine, depends upon the treaty of Frankfort (1871). As Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg in the first days of August, 1914, tore up this document, together with divers other 'scraps of paper,' Alsace-Lorraine should be restored to France without the necessity of any previous retrocession on Germany's part.
The restoration of those provinces to France, unconditionally, is moreover the only solution that will fulfill the un
changing aspirations of their native population, which forms the vast majority of the present inhabitants — 1,500,000 out of 1,900,000.
The native Alsace-Lorrainers, with very few exceptions, have always given evidence of their immovable attachment to the French fatherland, and of their inextinguishable hatred of Germany. There are two principal reasons for this: the community of ideas and feelings with France, and Germany's inability to stamp out that frame of mind and to assimilate the population to Deutschthum, to germanize it by means of the procedure suggested by the famous Kultur.
We must remember that the Alsatians and Lorrainers have always been extremely independent in character, permeated with principles of justice and equality; and that they saw in the establishment and consolidation of the Third Republic the means of realizing their democratic longings.
It was at that moment that they were torn from their fatherland, to be incorporated by force in a detested enemy state, where autocratic government was the essential condition of prosperity in its militaristic policy. And even then they were not to enjoy the rights-albeit closely restrictedof German subjects. They were placed under an exceptional régime: instead of being German citizens, or, at least, German subjects, they became mere objects of domination.
That is why Germany was destined. to fail lamentably in all her efforts to
amalgamate Alsace-Lorraine with Germany: the gulf between the native population and the immigrants became wider and wider; and we may say that the new generation was more bitterly opposed to the new masters than the generation of 1871 had been.
In the different constitutions which the German Empire bestowed, one after another, upon the 'Reichsland,' there was no change in the essential features which characterize to this day German domination in Alsace-Lorraine. The King of Prussia, who, in the capacity of German Emperor, possesses the executive power, is the most important factor in the legislative power - which is contrary to every modern conception of a well-governed state according to the principle of separation of powers.
The democratic forms with which Germany delighted to mask the autocratic substance of her institutions never deceived anybody in Alsace-Lorraine, where political progress had made much greater strides since the great Revolution than in Germanic countries.
The present constitution of AlsaceLorraine, which goes back to 1911, provides for a parliament consisting of a first and second chamber. Now, the first chamber is so made up that the Emperor is always sure of an overwhelming majority. He can name half of the members, and among the other half there are persons whose functions necessarily make them dependent on the government.
To pass a law, the assent of both chambers and the Emperor is required, so that the latter has two votes to one in the legislative deliberations.
All the proposed laws concerning Alsace-Lorraine are first submitted to the Prussian ministry, which gives its opinion thereon from the standpoint of the interest of Prussia. Only when
that interest is fully protected, can a law be passed in Alsace-Lorraine.
Germany has chosen to lay great stress on the concession of three votes to Alsace-Lorraine in the Federal Council; but these three votes must, according to the constitution, receive their instructions from the Statthalter, who is an official appointed by the Emperor and may be removed by him at any moment. So that these votes are absolutely at the disposal of the King of Prussia, German Emperor.
Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, with his customary cynical frankness, has not hesitated to emphasize this dependence upon the King of Prussia of Alsace-Lorraine's representatives in the Bundesrat. Being questioned in the Prussian parliament concerning the danger of the grant by the Empire of this representation, the Chancellor declared explicitly that that danger did not exist because the Emperor controlled the votes.
When I, in my turn, took the liberty of interpellating the government of Alsace-Lorraine concerning this assertion of Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, Von Bulach, the Secretary of State, replied in the first place that he did not know whether the assertion was accurately reported by the press; and when, a few days later, I laid before the First Chamber the official report of the Prussian Assembly, in which the Chancellor had made his declaration, poor Herr von Bulach could think of no other reply than, 'There must be some mistake.' But, despite my urgent and repeated questions, he was very careful to do nothing to clear up the alleged mistake.
The tension between the people and the government became greater after it was perceived that the new constitution was in reality only a vulgar fraud.
A few incidents soon made it plain that the gulf between the sentiments of the Germans and those of the Alsace
Lorrainers, far from being filled, was growing wider and wider.
X The 'Sporting Club of Lorraine,' an
association of young native Lorrainers, had drawn down upon itself the thunders of the police of Metz by the French cut of its uniforms, and by its songs, which were altogether devoid of patriotic German spirit.
On the pretext that a concert, given to invited guests only, was in reality a public meeting, the police rushed into the hall. As a result of the dispersion of the assemblage there was a procession through the city, a clash with the military guard, prosecutions and convictions for alleged sedition.
At the hearing in the police court of Metz, where I had the honor of defending Alexis Samain, it was proved beyond dispute that the only individual who really was guilty of an act of rebellion was not a member of the society in question, but a German immigrant, an ex-convict, who, seeing a commotion in the street, had instantly joined the crowd in order to take an active part against the troops.
The club was dissolved by a decree of the prefecture of Metz confirmed by the Imperial Council of Strasburg, contrary to the law concerning the liberty of associations.
With the same contempt for the laws, the government proceeded to dissolve the club called 'The Memory of AlsaceLorraine,' whose purpose was to keep in order the graves of the French soldiers buried on the territory of the 'Reichsland.'
At Colmar, which has always been a very active centre of political life, the antagonism between the government and the people became more and more pronounced.
When, in 1910, it became evident that the new constitution with which they proposed to favor us would not be approved by the country, the govern
ment proceeded to abolish the Delegation of Alsace-Lorraine, the only parliamentary representative of the two provinces. On the very evening of this act of violence, I summoned a number of my colleagues in the Delegation to meet at the Hôtel de France at Strasburg, where we laid the foundations of a new party, the 'National Union,' which should unite all Alsatians and Lorrainers in a common effort to crush the Prussian autocracy. The centre of activity of this party was at Colmar, where the Abbé Wetterlé and the lamented Preiss and myself immediately opened the campaign, being opposed by the government with all the means at its disposal.
The first meeting that we held at Colmar was marked by disturbances, the disorder being fomented by government agents. The municipal police of Colmar, of which I had always, by agreement with the municipal council, declined to yield control to the state, was headed by the mayor,' whereas in the other three large cities - Strasburg, Mulhausen, and Metz-the police was in the hands of the government. Thus at Colmar there was this abnormal situation, that the commissioner of police was at the same time an official of the Sûreté Générale, subject to the orders of the prefect, and a municipal official who received his instructions from the mayor.
The commissioner at this time was a Lorrainer, a most worthy man, who performed his duties with scrupulous exactitude, and fell a victim to his honesty. Among his other functions was that of playing the spy-a painful task which I did nothing to make easier for him. After the above-mentioned meeting of the National Union, the prefect tried to extort false testimony from him by inducing him to say, contrary to the truth, that I had made an 1 The author was Mayor of Colmar.
improper use of the municipal police by putting it at the service of a political party.
The commissioner was removed, but I gave him a place in the municipal service, from which, however, he was expelled by the present mayor, who is a Boche of the worst sort.
At about the same time, we had at Colmar the notorious suits against Hansi the cartoonist and Abbé Wetterlé, for alleged insult to the manager of the Lycée at Colmar, who had been Hansi's model in his famous cartoon on Professor Knatschke. Preiss and myself, as counsel, took part in the defense, which the accused had urged us to undertake, and, by agreement with our clients, and at their request, we attacked the whole régime.
The political atmosphere was heavily charged. Whenever a society, singing, or instrumental, or gymnastic, returned from a competition in which it had taken part in France, the other societies of the city acted as escort, and the German agents had occasion every time to report the display of ribbons in the French colors, French flags, and clothes of French cut.
Whatever came from France was subjected to a meticulous surveillance, and I well remember the tragi-comic story of the arrest of the occupants of an automobile coming from France and flying French flags. The inquiry showed that the owner, who was in the car at the time, was no other than a German lieutenant colonel on the way from Schlucht to his home at Munich.
A performance of the Daughter of the Regiment in the theatre at Colmar gave rise to an interminable investigation, because a spy reported the appearance on the stage of an alleged French flag which was said to have aroused suspicious enthusiasm among the audience.
The so-called Grafenstaden affair marked another stage in the govern
ment's hostility to the people. On the pretext that the manager of the Alsatian Société des Constructions Mécaniques had manifested anti-German sentiments, the government demanded his dismissal, under the threat of causing the withdrawal of the orders for locomotives which that company received regularly from the Prussian railways.
The government seized the opportunity to demand, in general, that those establishments in Alsace-Lorraine having natives of the provinces among their employés and their directors should make room for Germans in their undertakings.
Acting in concert with the abovenamed company, I took this matter before the First Chamber, to protest against the illegal interference of the government in private business. The result of my intervention was an interpellation in the Second Chamber, which ended with a vote of censure against the government.
Finally, there came the Saverne [Zabern] affair, which covered Germany with disgrace and ridicule. Every one knows that extraordinary story, which resulted in the replacement of the entire government of Alsace-Lorraine by Prussians utterly devoid of any spirit of fair dealing toward the oppressed people of the 'Reichsland.'
A young lieutenant of the 99th Regiment of Infantry, one Baron von Foerstner, belonging to the garrison of Saverne, was in the habit of insulting the Alsatian recruits by calling them 'Wackes.' One day he said, in the course of a lesson in drilling, 'I'll give ten marks to any one who knocks down one of these dirty Wackes'; and a subaltern standing by added, 'I'll give three marks more out of my pocket.'
These opprobrious words were soon generally known, and there followed a period of excitement among the whole population of the town, which was one