The Mistakes of the Allies

By Count Julius Andrassy
(Hungarian Deputy and Former Minister)

[The New York Times/Current History, August 1916]

[Count Andrassy was asked recently by a representative of the Tägliche Rundschau of Berlin if he thought that the present war might have been avoided. His reply, translated for CURRENT HISTORY, is embodied in this article.]

Neither Austria-Hungary nor Germany wanted the war. Austria-Hungary, however, was obliged to insist that Serbia's intrigues be punished and atoned for. Austria did not wish to give up its political rights. The Austro-Hungarian Government did not believe that the Czar of Russia would play the role of protector of assassins, but was firmly convinced that Russia would abandon Serbia and hand it over. The very fact that the Czar protected Serbia and the Serbian instigators of assassination showed that Russia had decided upon war long ago. The defense of Serbia at all hazards started the war, a war which once begun was in the nature of things bound to develop into a world conflagration. After the deed at Serajevo Austria could no longer allow Serbia to menace the stability of Austria-Hungary and promote, both openly and in secret, the ideas of the South-Slavic Pan-Slavists.

But the friends of Serbia made a grievous mistake. When our enemies, be they called Frenchmen, Englishmen, Italians, or anything else, even today, after the sword of the Central Powers has administered to them one severe defeat after the other, keep their mouths filled with talk of confidence in victory, it is mere phrase making. A glance at the present military situation is enough proof of the truth of these words. Let us take, for example, the French. To me it seems indisputable that France will and must bleed to death at Verdun. That France entered into the war at once is politically comprehensible and intelligible. The thought of "revanche" had lain in the Frenchmen's blood since Sedan. And, believe me, France would have drawn the sword still sooner if she had felt herself strong enough to do so alone. Already in the 80s Bismarck laid stress upon the fact that, despite mutual attempts at understanding, despite the cooling off of the idea of "revanche," France would attack Germany the moment she became possessed by the delusion that she would be the victor in this bloody passage at arms. This fact has not been changed an iota by all the efforts for peace made by individual statesmen and parties, nor by all the agitation in favor of living side by side in peace.

In July, 1914, Russia shielded murderous Serbia, the war began, and, politically, lit was a matter of course that France fell upon Germany in an attack that she had secretly longed for during many years.

And today? After such a long world war? I go so far as to declare that we can no longer be defeated on the field of battle, neither in the West nor in the East, neither in the Southeast nor in the South.

And just because of this in March last year the English declared the economic war that scoffs at every article of international law. England and Germany. There is a chapter of world politics in itself. Germany did not hate England, nor did Germany seek England's life; just the reverse. When the world was still in complete peace the spectre of invasion was raised again and again in England. In England, through word and pen and picture, the great mass of the people had been forced into the delusion that Germany wanted a war with England, that Germany wanted to swallow up England. Germany would appear on English soil some day with its armies and destroy everything.

Consequently it is the biggest kind of a political lie when the English statesmen continue to assert that England was forced to take up arms in order to protect Belgium. Oh, no! the constant and long-continued open and secret incitation of hatred against Germany in England was the only thing that made it possible for the English Government to take a hand in the war, not to protect Belgium, but to destroy Germany's dreaded and annoying competition. Or does any sensible man really believe that the year-long anti-German agitation and, I might say, cultivation of the spectre of invasion, was, or could have been, unknown to the English Government? Impossible, for the gentlemen of the English Government surely know how to read, and they are very shrewd.

England, too, has made a mistake regarding this war. To be sure, we hear the old phrases repeated in the speeches by Messrs. Grey and Asquith, but their words lack substance. The broth is still there, but the bits of meat, that is, the demands for the destruction of militarism and the smashing of Germany, are all missing. They still talk about the salvation of Belgium. That England really entered the war for that purpose is certainly no longer believed by any one. But because England, in order to destroy Germany, brought upon itself all the sacrifices entailed by the world war, and now, after twenty-two months of fighting, finds itself in the position of the worried tanner whose hides have floated beyond his reach, England is really the most undeceived of all the belligerents. Besides the ridicule, there is naturally the damage which will result from England being compelled to pay very dearly for having played the fool.

The only thing to be said about the Italians is that they have cut themselves to the very quick by committing treason and breaking faith. Italy could have had everything for nothing, and now all she will get for nothing will be blows, and nothing else. The results of this world war for Italy will be the following: The loss through her own folly of the friendship of the Central Powers, the odium attached to treason, and failure to win the genuine friendship of her new allies. Italy followed the same policy as before.

Germany does not pursue a policy of conquest. The aim in the East and in the West is not the acquisition of land or an increase in territory, but the securing of the safety of the borders. In the West, as well as tin the East and South, there must be a guarantee against a hostile attack. What is necessary will probably have to be annexed, but nothing more. So far as Poland is concerned, I have already declared openly on several occasions that a partition of Poland would be the greatest mistake. The war must not bring a realization of the shibboleth: "The fourth division of Poland." The Poles would regard that as annihilation.

As for the Entente talk of disrupting the Hapsburg monarchy, Austria-Hungary is not so divided politically as her enemies pretend. In our internal affairs we, too, have our battles and our feuds, but unity has always prevailed in the foreign policy of Austria-Hungary. Neither is it true that enmity existed between Austria and Hungary. I personally am the leader of a party that has already had the sharpest conflicts, but in the matter of foreign policy we were always guided by nothing but the interests of the common monarchy. Austria- Hungary will also hold out economically during the war, and the world will witness our economic collapse just as little as it will that of Germany.

The end of the war will be coincident with the arrival of the moment when our opponents recognize this, when they finally become honest and admit to themselves that they had lost their reason in deluding themselves with the idea that they were able to smash Germany to pieces. This recognition will come. It must come. Then we shall have peace again.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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