TWO WAR YEARS IN CONSTANTINOPLE
While the author of this work was waiting on the frontier of Switzerland for final permission from the German authorities to enter that country, Germany committed her second great crime, her first having completely missed its mark. She had begun to realise that she was beaten in the great conflict which she had so wantonly provoked with that characteristic over confidence in the power of her own militarism and disdainful undervaluation of the morale and general capacities of her enemies. In final renunciation of any last remnants of humanity in her methods, she was now making a dying effort to help her already lost cause by a ruthless extension of her policy of piracy at sea and a gratification of all her brutal instincts in complete violation of the rights of neutral countries.
It is therefore with all the more inward conviction, with all the more urgent moral persuasion, that the author makes use of the rare op-
[page viii] PREFACE
portunity offered him by residence in Switzerland to range himself boldly on the side of truth and show that there are still Germans who find it impossible to condone even tacitly the moral transgression and political stupidity of their own and an allied Government. That is the sole purpose of this publication.
Regardless of the consequences, he holds it to be his duty and his privilege, just because he is a German, to make a frank statement, from the point of view of human civilisation, of what have become his convictions from personal observations made in the course of six months of actual warfare and practically two years of subsequent journalistic activity. He spent the time from Spring 1915 to Christmas 1916 in Turkey, and will of course only deal with what he knows from personal observation. The following essays are of the nature merely of sketches and make no claim whatever to completeness.
With regard to purely German politics and ethics, therefore, the author will confine himself to a few indications and impressions of a personal kind, but he cannot forget the rôle Germany has played in Turkey as an ally of
[page ix] PREFACE
the present Young Turkish Government, nor can he ignore Germany's responsibility for the atrocities committed by them. The author publishes his impressions with a perfectly clear conscience, secure in the conviction that as the representative of a German paper he never once wrote a single word in favour of this criminal war, and that during his stay of more than twenty months in Turkey he never concealed his true opinions as soon as he had definitely made up his mind what these were.
On the contrary, he was rather dangerously candid and frank in speaking to anyone who wanted to listen to him—so much so, that it is almost a miracle that he ever reached a neutral country. After the war he will be in a position to appeal to the testimony of dozens of people of high standing in all walks of life that in both thought and action a deep cleft has always divided him from his colleagues, and that he has ever ardently longed for the moment when he might, freely and without fear of consequences, do his bit towards the enlightenment of the civilised world.
May these lines, written in all sincerity and hereby submitted to the tribunal of public
[page x] PREFACE
opinion, free the author at last from the burden of silent reproach heaped on him by a mutilated, outraged, languishing humanity, of being a German among thousands of Germans who desired this war.
• • • • •
Several months have passed since the original text of the German and French editions of this little book was written. Baghdad was taken by British troops before the last chapter of the German manuscript had been completed, and since then military operations have been more and more in favour of the Entente. A number of important political events have occurred, such as the Russian Revolution and the entry of the United States of America into the war.
Further developments of Russian politics may yet have a direct effect on the final solution of the problems surrounding the defeated Ottoman Empire. But the author has preferred to maintain the original text of his book, written early in March this year, and to make no changes whatever in the conclusions he had then arrived at as a result of the fresh impressions he carried away from Turkey.
Stuermer, Harry. Two War Years in Constantinople. USA: George H. Doran