February 1st, 1917.
Received by James Padgett.
I am here, Bismarck:
Let me say a word, as I have listened to what has just been written, and am interested in the subject matter of that communication, and do not agree with the sentiments or the conclusions of the thoughts there contained. I am not impartial, I confess, but yet I think that I can do justice to both of the contending parties in the war, as I am a spirit and have learned that right is right irrespective of the person or nation that may claim to be in the right in its actions.
I was a German, and a rather important one, as men consider importance in the earth life, and was acknowledged by the world to be something of a statesman. I have kept in constant touch with the thoughts and motives of the leaders of the various nations that are engaged in this great conflict, and know the right and wrong of things to a great extent, I claim, than does the spirit who has just written you, and submit that my inferences opinions are as worthy of consideration and acceptance as are his.
In the first place, this was not brought about by the Germans without justification and cause, and for a long time the German rulers delayed and endeavored to postpone, and, if possible, avoid the war. But their rights, as a nation, were so seriously preyed upon and not recognized, that the only thing left for them to do was to compel their secret enemies to respect their rights by force of arms, and so you have the real cause of the conflict. The Germans were not desirous or ambitious for conquest or territory or advancement to the detriment of other nations, but only for what they, as a great nation, were entitled to. And England, in its greed, stood in the way of and prevented these rights from being recognized, and tried every way in her power to prevent the German nation from enjoying these rights, and especially from extending its commerce to countries in which England had established her commerce and trade, almost to the exclusion of every other nation.
The Germans waited in hope, that by diplomatic means their rights would be established and recognized but such hope was never realized and as a last and only resort, they threw down the gauge of battle, quick and sharp and destructive – with some violation of the rights of a neutral that stood in the way of accomplishing what the German nation considered its decisive blow. But this is history, and it is not necessary that I should further detail
And now, as the war has progressed for more than two years, Germany has naturally become depleted of its resources, and especially in those things that are necessary to sustain the physical existence of its people, and all through the action of the Allies in preventing foodstuff and other necessaries being imported from other nations. Its ports have been blockaded for a long time, and it has been unable to obtain supplies that were absolutely necessary to the existence of its people, until famine and want are staring them in the face, and more than that, have actually worked their ruinous effects, and the cry of the people is for sustenance.
Then, such being the fact, what is the duty of the German rulers? Can humanity ask that they shall sit supinely by and see their people starve and their country ruined, because of the conditions that I speak of, brought about by their enemies in preventing intercourse with outside nations? I know that international law should be respected by nations in war as well as in peace, and that it is for the good of all nations that such laws be held sacred and inviolable, and Germany has tried to observe these laws, even after some of its enemy nations have violated them.
Let me ask here, what difference does the means used in considering the right or wrong of a thing, make when the same result is accomplished? England, by her superior number of war vessels, has succeeded in blockading the ports of Germany, and preventing its people from getting the supplies necessary to their sustenance, and at the same time is enjoying the benefits of unrestricted importation of these necessaries, because Germany had not had it in its power to blockade the ports of England and thus prevent her from obtaining these supplies. This kind of blockade, the nations claim, international law justifies, no matter what the results may be.
And now, when Germany has found a way to accomplish the same thing, as regards the ports of England and place her and her people in the same condition that the people of Germany have been in for so long a time, and have given notice of its intention to use such means, the nations hold up their hands in horror because such means are not known to international law.
The effect of one blockade is just the same as the effect of another, then why should the means make any difference? America has not been permitted for a long time to send its products to a German port, and to that extent its, America’s have been blockaded, as the last writer says; but this is allowable, because, as they say, the English blockade is in accordance with recognized international law. All which means, that because one nation has the power to do a thing in accordance with international law, another nation has not the same right because the means used are not contemplated by that law. Well such reasoning is one that if applied to the progress of the world would have kept that progress in a state of stagnation. When international law was formulated the means and instruments used in this war were never heard of, and they are only the evolution of the war, growing out of the progress of man in the knowledge and necessities of war. Laws are always subject to change and that change need not be by agreement, for sometimes, and it has often happened, necessity has compelled and justified the modification of the law.
It is said that necessity knows no law, and it is a truth, and one that has been recognized and applied by many nations, at many times. In the present circumstances of Germany, this necessity has arisen to such an extent that the very existence of Germany, not only as a nation, but of her people as individuals is involved, and life is at stake, and the only remedy is that the nations who are fighting Germany, be placed in the same position as she is in, and that can be done only by preventing those nations from obtaining those supplies that are necessary to maintain their people, and this can only be accomplished by blockading their ports.
It may be said that the use of submarine is brutal and inhuman. Well for the argument admit this to be a fact, yet it is not necessary that any brutality or any murder be actually inflicted, for if the persons interested will heed the warnings and not attempt to run the blockade there will be no murder or outrage. And why, may I not ask, is it not just as reasonable to demand that the blockade established by the German submarines shall not be attempted to be violated as that the blockade which the English have established shall not be attempted to be violated? In the latter instance, the neutral nations recognize the blockade and do not attempt to have their merchant ships enter the ports that are so blockaded, and why is there any greater injustice done when Germany demands that these neutral vessels shall not enter the ports that she intends to blockade?
The only difference is in the means used, and if the neutral nations will observe the obligations that each blockade imposes to the same extent, there will become no necessity for using the means in either.
I do not see why the U.S. should feel that her rights are being violated to any greater or different extent, as a question of right, by the proposed German blockade, than by the blockade that has been created by the English, and for so long a time existed. Of course, the effects of the two blockades upon the business of the U.S. are different in degree, as more business is done and has been done with the Allies, than was done with Germany. But this does not enter into or affect the question of the right or wrong of the matter. Well, I will not write more along this line.
Now as to the results of the war, or rather as to its ending, I cannot prognosticate. Germany is fighting on very unequal terms, and she may be defeated, and I would not be surprised if such was the end of the conflict. But, nevertheless, and even though victory may come to the Allies, I assert as true that the right of the matter is with her, and that the neutral nations are not doing her justice, when they declare that she is the aggressor; and that she is not justified in the course that she is now pursuing.
I am told that I have written enough, and so I must stop, but what I have said is the right of the matter.