(French Yellow Book NO. 2. M. Étienne, Minister of War, to M. Jonnart, Minister for Foreign Affairs.Paris, April 2, 1913.)
M. Étienne, Minister of War, to M. Jonnart, Minister for Foreign Affairs.Paris, April 2, 1913.
I have just received from a reliable source an official secret report concerning the strengthening of the German army. The report is divided into two parts; the first consisting of general statements, the second dealing with technicalities and describing in the greatest detail, for each branch of the service, the measures to be adopted. Especially striking are the instructions with regard to the employment of motor-traction and the utilization of aircraft. I have the honor to enclose a copy of the first part of this document, which seems to merit your attention.
Memorandum on the strengthening of the German Army, Berlin, March 19, 1913.
I. GENERAL MEMORANDUM ON THE NEW MILITARY LAWS
The increase has taken place in three stages:
(1) The Conference of Algeciras has removed the last doubt with regard to the existence of an Entente between France, Great Britain, and Russia. Moreover we have seen that Austria-Hungary was obliged to keep some of her forces mobilized against Serbia and Italy; finally our fleet was not at that time sufficiently strong. At the end of the dispute the first matter taken in hand was the strengthening of our coast defenses and the increase of our naval forces. To meet the British plan of sending an Expeditionary Force of 100,000 men to the Continent, it would be necessary to make a better formation of reserves to be used according to circumstances in the protection of the Coast, in fortresses and in siege operations. It was already clear at that time that it would be absolutely necessary to make a great effort.
(2) The French having violated the Morocco Conventions brought on the incident of Agadir. At that time the progress made by the French army, the moral recovery of the nation, the technical advance in the realm of aviation and of machine guns rendered an attack on France less easy than in the previous period. Further, an attack by the British fleet had to be considered. This difficult situation opened our eyes to the necessity for an increase in the army. This increase was from this moment considered as a minimum.
(3) The war in the Balkans might have involved us in a war in support of our ally. The new situation in the south of Austria-Hungary lessened the value of the help which this ally could give us. On the other hand, France was strengthened by a new loi des cadres; it was accordingly necessary to anticipate the date of execution contemplated by the new military law.
Public opinion is being prepared for a new increase in the active army, which would ensure Germany an honorable peace and the possibility of properly ensuring her influence in the affairs of the world. The new army law and the supplementary law which should follow will enable her almost completely to attain this end.
Neither ridiculous shriekings for revenge by French chauvinists, nor the Englishmen’s gnashing of teeth, nor the wild gestures of the Slavs will turn us from our aim of protecting and extending Deutschtum (German influence) all the world over. The French may arm as much as they wish, they cannot in one day increase their population. The employment of an army of black men in the theatre of European operations will remain for a long time a dream, and in any case be devoid of beauty.
II. AIM AND OBLIGATIONS OF OUR NATIONAL POLICY, OF OUR ARMY, AND OF THE SPECIAL ORGANISATIONS FOR ARMY PURPOSES
Our new army law is only an extension of the military education of the German nation. Our ancestors of 1813 made greater sacrifices. It is our sacred duty to sharpen the sword that has been put into our hands and to hold it ready for defense as well as for offense. We must allow the idea to sink into the minds of our people that our armaments are an answer to the armaments and policy of the French. We must accustom them to think that an offensive war on our part is a necessity, in order to combat the provocations of our adversaries. We must act with prudence so as not to arouse suspicion, and to avoid the crises which might injure our economic existences. We must so manage matters that under the heavy weight of powerful armaments, considerable sacrifices, and strained political relations, an outbreak (Losschlagen) should be considered as a relief, because after it would come decades of peace and prosperity, as after 1870. We must prepare for war from the financial point of view; there is much to be done in this direction. We must not arouse the distrust of our financiers, but there are many things which cannot be concealed.
We must not be anxious about the fate of our colonies. The final result in Europe will settle their position. On the other hand we must stir up trouble in the north of Africa and in Russia. It is a means of keeping the forces of the enemy engaged. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that we should open up relations, by means of well-chosen agents, with influential people in Egypt, Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco, in order to prepare the measures which would be necessary in the case of a European war. Of course in case of war we should openly recognise these secret allies; and on the conclusion of peace we should secure to them the advantages which they had gained. These aims are capable of realization. The first attempt which was made some years ago opened up for us the desired relations. Unfortunately these relations were not sufficiently consolidated. Whether we like it or not it will be necessary to resort to preparations of this kind, in order to bring a campaign rapidly to a conclusion.
Risings provoked in time of war by political agents need to be carefully prepared and by material means. They must break out simultaneously with the destruction of the means of communication; they must have a controlling head to be found among the influential leaders, religious or political. The Egyptian School is particularly suited to this purpose; more and more it serves as a bond between the intellectuals of the Mohammedan World.
However this may be, we must be strong in order to annihilate at one powerful swoop our enemies in the east and west. But in the next European war it will also be necessary that the small states should be forced to follow us or be subdued. In certain conditions their armies and their fortified places can be rapidly conquered or neutralized; this would probably be the case with Belgium and Holland, so as to prevent our enemy in the west from gaining territory which they could use as a base of operations against our flank. In the north we have nothing to fear from Denmark or Scandinavia especially as in any event we shall provide for the concentration of a strong northern army, capable of replying to any menace frown this direction. In the most unfavorable case, Denmark might be forced by Great Britain to abandon her neutrality; but by this time the decision would already have been reached both on land and on sea. Our northern army, the strength of which could be largely increased by Dutch formations, would oppose a very active defense to any offensive measures from this quarter.
In the south, Switzerland forms an extremely solid bulwark, and we can rely on her energetically defending her neutrality against France, and thus protecting our flank.
As was stated above, the situation with regard to the small states on our north-western frontier cannot be viewed in quite the same light. This will be a vital question for us, and our aim must be to take the offensive with a large superiority from the first days. For this purpose it will be necessary to concentrate a large army, followed up by strong Landwehr formations, which will induce the small states to follow us or at least to remain inactive in the theatre of operations, and which would crush them in the event of armed resistance. If we could induce these states to organise their system of fortification in such a manner as to constitute an effective protection for our flank we could abandon the proposed invasion. But for this, army reorganization, particularly in Belgium, would be necessary in order that it might really guarantee an effective resistance. If, on the contrary, their defensive organisation was established against us, thus giving definite advantages to our adversary in the west, we could in no circumstances offer Belgium a guarantee for the security of her neutrality. Accordingly, a vast field is open to our diplomacy to work in this country on the lines of our interests.
The arrangements made with this end in view allow us to hope that it will be possible to take the offensive immediately after the complete concentration of the army of the Lower Rhine. An ultimatum with a short time-limit, to be followed immediately by invasion, would allow a sufficient justification for our action in international law.
Such are the duties which devolve on our army and which demand a striking force of considerable numbers. If the enemy attacks us, or if we wish to overcome him, we will act as our brothers did a hundred years ago; the eagle thus provoked will soar in his flight, will seize the enemy in his steel claws and render him harmless. We will then remember that the provinces of the ancient German Empire, the County of Burgundy and a large part of Lorraine, are still in the hands of the French; that thousands of brother Germans in the Baltic provinces are groaning under the Slav yoke. It is a national question that Germany’s former possessions should be restored to her.
M. Jules Cambon, French Ambassador at Berlin, to M. Jonnart, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Berlin, March 17, 1913.
Our naval and military attachés are sending to their respective Ministers reports on the new German military-law. I take this opportunity of drawing the attention of your Excellency to these important documents.
The consideration of the financial expedients by which Germany intends to provide for these military measures is the sole cause of the delay in the publication of the definite proposals of the Government. In spite of the patriotism with which the rich classes affect to accept the sacrifices asked of them, they are none the less, particularly the business circles, dissatisfied with the financial measures which have been announced, and they feel that a compulsory levy imposed in times of peace creates a formidable precedent for the future. On the other hand, the Federal Governments have strongly opposed an innovation which grants to the Empire resources derived from direct taxation. Hitherto, taxation of this kind has been reserved to the Federal States, and the latter see in the surrender of this principle a new declaration of the corporate unity (personality) of the Empire, constituting a distinct diminution of their own sovereign power.
However this may be, in increasing the strength of the German army the Empire desires to leave nothing to chance in the event of a possible crisis. The German changes have produced a result unexpected by that country, viz., the proposal of the Government of the Republic to re-establish the three years’ service, and the manly determination with which this proposal has been welcomed in France. The surprise occasioned by these proposals has been utilised by the Imperial Government for the purpose of insisting on the absolute necessity of an increase of German military strength; the German proposals are represented as a reply to our own. The reverse is the case, since the immense military effort which France is undertaking is but the consequence of German initiative.